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Does my dog need shoes?

You may have seen dogs walking around in boots lately and are wondering why! Boots protect your dog’s paws from harsh weather such as cold icy surfaces during winter months or hot pavement in the summer. Many service dogs utilize these fun little things to keep their paw pads in tip-top shape while walking in cities. Other dogs use them in the mountains when crossing rough terrain.

If your dog spends a lot of time outside during the summer, pay attention to the temperature of the surfaces your dog is walking on. Pavement can heat up to temperatures hot enough to boil an egg (around 131 degrees F) when the outside air temperature is in the 80’s. That’s intense! As a general rule of thumb, test whether the surface is safe for your pet by placing the back of your hand or barefoot on the surface and hold it there for 5-10 seconds. If it is too hot to keep your hand or foot there, it is too hot for your puppy's paws. Get a pair of boots to protect your dog’s paw pads if you walk on hot surfaces frequently.

Once you get your pup a pair of boots, keep in mind your pooch sweats through his paws so don’t keep the shoes on too long at any one time or his feet may get yeasty. For our service dogs, we put the shoes on while walking outside, but once we are inside the store, restaurant or other establishment, the shoes go off.

Our favorite boots are made by Ruffwear. The Grip Trex boots stay on well and are very durable. If you have a doodle or other pup with lots of fur/hair, buy a pair of socks too. They make a huge difference in getting the shoes on amidst all the fluff! (And no this is not a paid review lol! We really do like their stuff!)

To help your dog like wearing boots, pair them with play! Use a lick mat or have someone feed your dog a food reward as you put the boots on. Then go right into your dog's favorite game. Toss a toy or play a little tug. Whatever helps get your dog's mind off of what's on their feet and onto something else works best. Have fun! Keep the first few sessions short. After 2-3 minutes, take the boots off and repeat later in the day.

While boots are not necessary for all dogs, every owner should be aware of hot summer temps and cold icy conditions which cause damage to puppies' paws and take necessary action to prevent paw damage from occurring. Some things you can do instead are: go for walks during the early morning or later evening hours, find grass to walk on instead of pavement or carry him across hot surfaces if he is small enough. Just be aware of the danger hot surfaces can be to your pup so you can avoid causing him injury or discomfort, then go enjoy the outdoors during the summer months! Your pup will love you for it.

Happy Training!

Amy & Team

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