Tuesday, February 5, 2013

CIty Dog: Teaching your Dog to Wear Dog Boots for Salty City Sidewalks

We've noticed a lot of Chicago dogs preparing for the cold, but one thing we don't have control over is walking over salt and ice. Without our own backyard, we still need to make our daily walk which often means walking over unshoveled sidewalks or encountering some toxic de-icers.
The salt can be painful to our pups and seeing the 3-legged prance too many times led us to the phenomena of dog boots. We've been getting a lot of questions about the boots we use and how we make our pups comfortable wearing boots. Here are some things that worked for us:

Handling Feet and Creating Positive Associations with Boots:
Since we don't like tracking 'Chicago Grime' into our home, we are always wiping and handling our dogs feet several times a day. I never realized the he positive side-effect is they are comfortable having their feet handled. This was our step in allowing us to put the boots on them.

We also recognize that whenever we're introducing new gear to the pooches, we always make sure to do it slowly and create positive associations. We allow the pooches to sniff out the boots. They get a lot of petting and treats. We will try on one boot for a short amount of time where they will also get a lot of petting and treats. Eventually we are able to work our way up to wearing all of the boots.

Practicing Inside:
For some reason, the pooches were rendered immobile and didn't realize they could walk once they had the boots on their feet. We spent a lot of time inside, practicing walking, before we took them outside. We do short distances, back and forth in the living room, until they become more comfortable. The fun part is that they prance around like ducks and you can make funny videos. Here are our dogs practicing/dancing inside.

Finding what Works:
It took us awhile to find the boots that worked best for us. The first time Miss M's feet ever touched snow, we both panicked and I ran out and bought the first pair of Muttluks I could find. While these boots cost around $50, I was living in constant paranoia because each walk at least one boot would fall off. Which would become expensive to replace. And also frustrating to deal with when it's cold and I need to take off my gloves and try to put the boot on again mid-walk (where it would still fall off!).
We have had success with Pawz Disposable Rubber Boots which are like balloons that fit around their feet. Mr. B wears the purple boots (size Large) and Miss M's 'talons' make her size Extra-Large (Green Elf Shoes!).
I know some people have had some issues with the boots tearing, but since our dogs aren't running, they're merely walking on the sidewalk, we can typically use a pair 5 times.


We have also had some people report success with Musher's Paw. We tried using this, but I was just having issues rubbing it into their feet and for us I thought it saved time to just put the boots on the dogs.

What has everyone else's experience been? Do you use boots, mushers paw...or is your dog just a natural snow pup?

Also:
Layering!
How we prepare ourselves for the cold
When we'd rather stay in

14 comments:

Unknown said...

Our big dog wears Muttluks, and we've had good luck with them. They seldom fall off if I snug them up with the velcro.

Luv My Rosie said...

I just bought Rosie a pack of disposable boots. I wasn't sure how she would react so I didn't want to spend alot of money on something I would be looking for in the snow. She did the duck walk for a few minutes but once she realized she was more comfortable outside she was OK with them. Now, Im looking into a permanent pair for her precious paws.

Hannah@Eriesistibull said...

We need to try these! Ed doesn't seem to be too bothered by the salt, but Tess is terrible with it. We had some pet-safe salt on the back walk and Tess ended up doing the three-legged dance. It was so bad yesterday, she wouldn't walk to come inside! I wonder if she'll let us put the booties on her feet...

ohmelvin.com said...

I have not had great success with boots staying on their feet, not for lack of trying. The part about M & B being rendered immobile is exactly what Melvin does! I dressed him up as a punk rocker for Halloween and I put a (soft) spike bracelet on him and he couldn't move an inch until I removed it!

Kiira said...

Uggh, the salt is the worst part about the winter. For the two days after a snowfall, when the salt is at its worst, we use the Pawz disposable booties. Even if they develop really small holes, they still protect the feet well, especially if you rotate the sides that face the ground. We use them until they actually tear. For first time users, it's helpful to stretch out the opening for a little while, since they can be difficult to get on fresh out of the box.
We've tried Muttluks--there was a major fit issue with the front strap hitting at the dew claw, which caused a lot of discomfort. Mushers Wax and the other paw balms work well if ice is the issue, but they do nothing to prevent salt burn. My dogs love the taste too, so smearing it on 12 paws while battling 3 tongues at once and sweating in all of my winter layers is just the worst.

j said...

Kiira - great tip about stretching out the Paws bootie opening. Our boxer-pit gal had no problem with them, other than the duck walk indoors (http://youtu.be/1rs-GvdEhR0) and checking 'em out with her teeth. They have tiny holes from trying to put them on limp relaxed paws, but as long as it's not too wet and just snowy it keeps her feet protected. I certainly hope they last longer than 5 wearings though!
The only thing I don't like is that she needed the blue booties and has a green coat; hopefully next time we can color coordinate a little better. ;)

thegirlandherdog.com said...

I know the three legged prance too well. May need to try these!

SherBear said...

My mom has had great success with www.dogbooties.com for her two rambunctious Springer Spaniels who have daily walks through woods and fields and such. It's also nice that they sell the booties individually, so she usually orders 6 at a time per dog as booties do occasionally go missing. I am going to order some for Nala too!

Two French Bulldogs said...

We are not wearing those things. Treats or not. But you guys look like pros. It is very beneficial to be touchy feely cause we let momma touch us all over
Snorts,
Benny & Lily

Jacquelin Cangro said...

Reggie has been so bothered by the salt this winter, I'm going to give the booties a try. I've had a hard time finding a good size. His front paws are much larger than his back paws. I'll probably by two different sizes and mix-and-match.

jet said...

a lot of dogs have bigger front paws and smaller back paws... when I measured Bender's feet he came out as two different sizes.... thankfully we dont have snow and salt to deal with here, just rough walking surfaces, and I've found that Bender's paws do condition up nicely to those kinds of conditions if we build up gradually. Barbie has booties for long bush hikes on rough ground but we haven't really used them for that. I have walked her around the neighbourhood in them though.

liliana876 said...

Love the the pictures of the pooches with, they always seem ready to go :)

Love the video, too!

Jennie said...

After lots (I mean LOT$!) of trial and error, I think that our favorite boots are by Ruffwear. They're a bit pricey but they rarely fall off and if we lose one, we can order a replacement (rather than having to buy a whole new set). You'd think that we are torturing the dogs when we put them on but, once they're outside, they don't even notice the boots and I don't spend my whole walk wiping salty paws on an immobile dog!

Jennie said...

After lots (I mean LOT$!) of trial and error, I think that our favorite boots are by Ruffwear. They're a bit pricey but they rarely fall off and if we lose one, we can order a replacement (rather than having to buy a whole new set). You'd think that we are torturing the dogs when we put them on but, once they're outside, they don't even notice the boots and I don't spend my whole walk wiping salty paws on an immobile dog!

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