How to Get Your Dog Used to Wearing Shoes

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All dogs should wear shoes to protect their feet from the cold.

Teaching your dog to wear shoes helps protect its feet during walks on summer sidewalks and winter snow. Shoes also prevent pebbles from lodging between the toes, protect the dog’s feet from broken glass and keep them dry and mud-free when it rains. During winter, heavy-duty shoes provide a warm pad between the dog’s feet and the ground, prevent ice and salt from cutting the pads and lower the risk of frostbite. Shoes will help your dog retain body heat and prevent hypothermia.

  1. Size Matters

    • To get your dog used to wearing shoes, buy the right size for your dog. Shoes that are too large will be awkward on the dog’s feet and make it difficult to walk, and an older dog may trip over shoes flapping underfoot. Shoes that are too small will be tight and uncomfortable and can hurt your dog’s feet. Measure the length of the paw, starting behind the large base pad and ending at the tip of the toenails. Measure the width from side to side across the widest part of the food, when the paw is standing flat on the ground with the toes splayed.

    Type of Shoes

    • To get used to wearing shoes, your dog must be comfortable or it will try to remove the shoes until it succeeds. Check the measurements against the pet store’s dog shoe charts for the right size to buy, and choose shoes that are appropriate for the dog, the environment and the weather in your region. Summer shoes are lighter than winter shoes, which should be waterproof and have a thicker undersole to protect the feet from ice and snow.

    First Fitting

    • To get the shoes onto the dog the first time, tempt it to roll over on its back by asking another person to hold a treat close to its nose. This will keep it occupied while you fit the shoes. Alternatively, hold the dog in a standing position and lift first one front leg, then the other to fit the shoes, which should slip on quickly and easily. Avoid catching the dog's nails, especially the dew claws further up the leg, because this could hurt and upset the dog.

    Trial

    • Once you have the shoes on, take the dog outside immediately to distract it from bothering with the shoes on its feet. Play a game outdoors, or take it for a walk, giving it no opportunity to chew or pull the shoes off. Have someone hold the dog’s leash while you walk away, then call it to you. This will give it practice walking in the shoes, without having a chance to remove them.

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  • Photo Credit Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

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