Non-dog people have a hard time grasping why in the world a dog would need to wear dog boots. Yes, they think it’s funny and get a kick out of seeing a dog in a video getting his first pair of boots and trying to adjust to them. Other than that, those who don’t know much about dogs just assume the boots are more for the benefit of the owner, to give them a good laugh, and they think, but dogs have paws, isn’t that enough? But us dog lovers know, that a dog’s paw pads are not always enough protection for dogs. They are not indestructible and can get damaged. A dog’s paws are protected by the leathery thick skin of the pad, and they have a shock-absorbing fatty inner layer that gives them the cushioning, but outside of that, they can still get injuries, such as burns, cuts, and irritations. This is what the boots are for, added protection. Here is everything you need to know about dog boots.
Which dog breeds should be wearing dog boots?
Dogs who live where the temperatures are extreme, either very hot or cold, are susceptible to injuries and irritations on their paws, this is because there is no dog breed who was bred to handle scalding hot pavement, and there is no breed of dog that was bred to ward off the snow-melting chemicals they often come in contact with during winter months. Not only are these issues hard on their paws, but when it comes to the chemicals, they can lick their paws and ingest them harmful products.
According to Susan Strible, director of marketing for performance dog gear company Ruffwear, says that dog boots are also extremely important for working dogs. They often come in contact with harsh elements, dangerous terrain, and potentially hazardous materials that can harm their feet. Dog boots should be a part of their work gear, she says. Strible was interviewed and quoted as saying, “After the catastrophic events of 9/11, a journalist asked a rescue worker what they needed most, and the answer was ‘dog boots.’ Working dogs, from canine field researchers to search and rescue teams, have used Ruffwear boots to safely perform their duties. For instance, recent news shared Piper’s story, a dog who chased birds off the airport runway and wore boots as part of his uniform.”
What types of things do dog boots protect a dog’s paws from?
Strible discusses the types of things that dog boots can protect a dog’s paws from. She says for one, they can protect a dog’s paws from things like hot pavement, rocky and coarse walking trails, harsh elements like ice, snow, salt and snow melting chemicals, plus much more. She goes on to explain that what dogs encounter when walking along outside, and what it can do to their feet, is similar to what a human can encounter when they walk around barefoot. This is the reason that you should consider covering your dog’s feet in boots if you plan to take him on a long hike or a place where you know he might encounter any of the following:
- Snow melting chemicals
- Hot pavement
- Animal feces
- Foreign objects, such as glass, splinters, or burrs, such as you’d find in the sand
- Insects or pests that could sting or bite (ants or spiders)
How do you choose the right type of boots for your dog?
The head of Ultra Paws, active gear company for dogs, says that not all styles of boots will work in all different types of situations. You have to determine the types of situations your dog will be encountering and choose a boot (or boots) to fit those needs. Ultra Paws created seven different patented styles of boots for that very purpose. Some factors that will help you decide on the type of boots, include, the types of situations your dog will need them for, your budget, and which style will perform the best for what you need them for.
One thing to keep in mind, according to Micahel of PawZ, is to choose a pair that is actually going to fit and stay on. You don’t want to just choose a pair of dog boots because you love the way they look, otherwise you will probably be dealing with the boots always falling off and end up losing at least one of them.
How do you choose the right size for your dog?
Like a human choosing the right-sized shoes, you have to measure your dog’s paws first to get the right fit. Dog boots are typically sized according the width of the paw. The best way to measure is to put your dog’s paw on a piece of paper and make a mark to the left and the right side of his paw. Once you’ve removed his paw from the paper, measure the distance between the two marks. You want the boots to be comfortable for your dog, and you want them to stay on his paws, and do the job they’re supposed to do – protect his paws. One thing that some pet companies will do, since they know that paws can vary in size, is sell dog boots in pairs or in fours, just in case two paws measure one size and the other two are tad different.
Tips for getting your dogs used to wearing boots on their paws.
For at dog who has never had anything on their paws, like boots, it will be a big adjustment. It doesn’t feel natural to them at first, and hence, all the funny videos we see with dogs walking crazy, some on their two front feet holding up their back legs, trying to figure out what they’re supposed to do with the foreign things on their feet. The trick is to make it a positive experience for them and introduce the boots to them slowly for a better adjustment. According to Jill Breitner, creator of the Dog Decoder app, she recommends the following tips:
1. Start with showing and allowing them to smell – Let your dog see the boots, sniff the boots and be around them. If your dog actually reaches out to touch them or have contact, give her a little treat to show that she is being rewarded for something that she shouldn’t fear. The boots are positive. Try playing a little game of fetch with one, if she shows interest, then reward with another kibble. Do this repeatedly for a few days and maybe even give her alone time with the booties to get used to their look, smell and being around them in general.
2. Touch the booties to her feet – Slowly graduate to touching a bootie to one of her feet. Try repeating this about fifteen times and reward her with a treat each time. Go through each foot, getting her used to the booty touching each foot.
3. Slip a bootie on a foot for a second – Try slipping one on a paw, then quickly take it off (not too fast it startles her), but repeat it with each foot about fifteen times. If this is hard for your dog and making her nervous, go back to step two and repeat that step. Only move forward once you have completed a step successfully, but be sure to reward her every time she completes what you want her to, successfully. Once your dog is successful in leaving the booty on for 15 seconds, move up to 20 and so forth.
4. Fasten the booty on – Once your dog seems comfortable with having a booty on her feet, fasten it with the Velcro and be sure to give her a few treats for allowing you to Velcro it. Leave it fastened for a few seconds, undo it, then refasten it. If it is difficult for your dog, leave it alone and try again in a few days, picking back up at the last successful step.
5. Play fetch with one booty on – Now, put one booty on one foot and fasten it. See if you can get her to engage in a game of fetch, wearing the one booty. Play for a few minutes, then take it off and treat her.
6. Try two booties and a game of fetch – Next time you work with her on her booties, try putting two booties on, fastening them, and get her to play a game of fetch. If your dog seems comfortable with two, try putting them all on and getting her to walk around the house, toss her favorite toy to go chase, and take your dog treats with you as you get her to maneuver about, wearing all the booties.
7. If all goes smooth inside, time to try outside – Once your dog seems comfortable with all four booties on while inside, and showing no signs of stress or anxiety, try getting her to go outside and take a walk on her leash while wearing them. Remember to keep a pocketful of treats to keep reminding her what a good job she is doing.
Remember that just like with human shoes, dog boots need a breaking in period where they mold to the dog’s individual paws, the way they walk and loosen up the rubber soles and become more flexible. They are made so that the dog can feel the ground and have a sense of security, as opposed to being like a hard sole that you would find in a human shoe.
How long do these boots last?
There are a number of factors that that will determine how long a set of boots last. For one, the type of boots, how often they are worn, and where they are worn. If you use them often on rough terrain, they may not last as long as a set that is used occasionally in more gentle environments. Also, how rough is your dog in his playtime and outdoor time? Every dog is different and every set of circumstances is different, so it will vary. Just shop for high quality boots and maybe purchase a pack of 12 so that you are always sure to have some on hand.