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Training Tips for Getting Your Dog to Wear Shoes

March 08, 2018

dog shoes-dog boots-Penni

Dog shoes protect paws from the effects of harsh weather, sharp objects, and toxic chemicals. Despite the benefits, your dog may initially feel that shoes are awkward. Choosing the right pair of dog shoes and using positive reinforcement will help him adjust to his new footwear.

Get a Proper Fit

Outfitting your dog with dog shoes that are too tight or leave too much room will end any hopes of him wearing shoes without protest. You'll need to measure his paw using the instructions provided. Place a piece of paper on a hard surface, and then put one of his front paws on the paper. Make sure the opposite paw is elevated, so the paw on the paper will bear most of the weight.

Then, make a mark on both sides of the paw at its widest point, indicating the width. Make sure the pencil mark is as close to the paw as possible - even the extra width of the pencil on both sides of the paw can cause the shoes to be sized incorrectly.

Repeat the same steps for the back paws because in some rare instances your dog may have two different sizes.

These measurements coincide with different dog shoe sizes. Make sure to round up to the next size if his paw measurements are in-between sizes or ask the manufacturer what they would recommend.  

Putting Dog Shoes On

Fitting your dog’s paws into new shoes is like placing your feet in shoes. Start with one shoe, loosen straps or zipper, widen the inside with your fingers so there's room, and slip the shoe onto his foot. You should feel the dog’s toes in the front of the shoe. If you don’t, pull the shoe up more.

Place him in one shoe at a time. Give him a treat for being good and then move onto the next shoe. The shoes should be tight enough that the top doesn’t move or rub against his leg when you pull or twist them. If the top moves, it can rub against his claw or his skin, producing sores and blisters.

Remember Positive Reinforcement

Getting your dog used to wearing shoes calls for a positive reinforcement. Giving a treat after you put on and tighten each shoe is a first step. After he has on all his four shoes, wait a bit before taking him outside. Get his toys and play with him for a few minutes. Let him adjust to the feeling of his new accessories. You want him to see that his shoes can equal fun, and there's no better way to do that than immediately starting playful activities. After about 10 minutes, get him ready for a walk.

Freak Outs!

Some dogs don’t like shoes, even if you positively reinforce their experience. Some may buck like a bronco, while others fall to the ground and act like they can no longer walk at all. If your dog reacts in this way, take it slower, rewarding him for each successful step. For example, suppose he gets crazy when you place shoes on his front paws, wait for him to calm down, then remove the shoes. Start over, but this time let him sniff and feel the shoes. Make sure to give him a treat for reacting positively. Place his paw inside the shoe again, give him another treat, then take it off. Slowly exposing him more and more to the shoe until he has one on without getting nutty; move onto the next shoe.

Final Tip

Although over-tightening a shoe is unlikely, it’s possible. Some dogs with sensitive skin may require socks (baby/infant socks are fine). 

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