Do Dogs Need Shoes?

Does your dog wear shoes? Dog shoes may sound silly, but depending on your climate and the activities you and your dog do, dog shoes can help protect your dog’s sensitive feet.

Wondering if dogs need shoes? Here’s what you need to know about dog shoe options and how to get your dog to wear shoes. Photo: damedeeso/Getty Images

Do dogs need shoes?

Properly fitted dog shoes can be essential for protecting the feet of your dog, particularly for the hot weather in summer and cold weather in winter.

Hot summer concrete can lead to serious burns to your dog’s pads. While in the winter, ice can lead to cuts or foot injuries and common de-icing chemicals can be hazardous to your dog’s paw pads.

In addition to helping your dog stay safe in extreme weather shoes help prevent dogs from slipping on hardwood, tile or other highly polished floors. If you do a lot of hiking you may also want your dog to wear shoes to prevent injury to your dog’s paws from sharp rocks.

Getting your dog used to wearing dog shoes can make it possible for your dog to safely go places with you in all kinds of situations.

What kind of dog shoe options are there?

Footwear options for dogs range from aesthetically designed shoes intended to resemble designer sneakers to more utilitarian options. There are no-skid socks for dogs to help prevent slipping inside, thin balloon-like rubber dog shoes and thicker shoes designed to protect feet from hot or cold conditions without impacting a dog’s natural gate.

Some dog shoes are intended for all-weather wear while others are designed only for protecting your dog’s feet from snow and chemical de-icers. The shoes you purchase for your dog should be appropriate for the conditions where you will be walking.

When purchasing shoes for your dog, follow all fit and measurement instructions. Each shoe brand will have sizing information for its shoes with information on how to properly measure your dog’s feet to ensure the shoes will fit properly. This is essential to make sure the shoes stay on and are comfortable for your dog to wear.

do dogs need shoes?

This Yorkshire terrier wears dog shoes to play in the snow wearing. Read on to learn how you can get your dog to wear dog shoes. Photo: Annaartday/Getty Images

How can I get my dog to wear shoes?

Once you have the right shoes for your dog, be intentional as you introduce your dog to the shoes. The goal is to move slowly and help your dog to create positive associations with the presence of the shoes. We’ve all seen the viral videos online of dogs struggling to walk in shoes, that’s not what we are going for; we want our dogs to be confident and comfortable in their shoes.

Step 1: Show your dog the shoes then praise and treat for any interaction, such as approaching, sniffing etc. at the shoes. Make sure your dog has a chance to see what the shoes are and not be afraid of them.

Step 2: After several repetitions of letting your dog explore the boots and get treats, take one of the shoes in your hand. Let your dog sniff and investigate — praise and treat. Then take one shoe and put it on your dog’s foot. Give lots of praise and treats then quickly take the shoe off. Repeat this several times over multiple practice sessions and don’t forget lots of treats and praise.

Step 3: Now start to introduce a second shoe to your dog in the same way. Lots of treats/praise with the shoes on and then quickly remove both shoes. After several practice sessions,start to build duration and make sure your dog is comfortable with the shoes on. One way to do this is to start playing with your dog with two shoes on: toss treats for your dog to chase or bring out a toy and play fetch or tug with your dog while the shoes are on. This will help your dog to continue to build even more positive associations with the shoes being on.

Step 4: When your dog is comfortable wearing and playing with the first two shoes on, you can add the third shoe. When your dog is comfortably playing with two shoes on, put one more on, give lots of praise and treats. After a few repetitions of putting the third shoe on and taking it off,   incorporate play with the three shoes on. After several training sessions when your dog is comfortable, add the fourth shoe with the same approach.

If at any point your dog struggles with the shoes, becomes nervous or uncomfortable, remove the shoes and go back a step for your next training session. This isn’t a race, and the priority is to ensure your dog is comfortable wearing shoes before moving to the next stage.

Step 5: When your dog is able to happily and comfortably wear his shoes inside the house,  you can start to build their confidence wearing them in more exciting environments like in your yard, on a walk or at a park. This is where all the foundation training you did of helping your dog to slowly build positive associations with wearing the shoes will pay off as your dog will be confident in the shoes and ready to face the world.

Getting your dog used to wearing shoes can take a little while.  It’s a good idea to start early during mild weather and in advance of traveling to a location where your dog will need appropriate footwear.

Featured Image: Nataba/Getty Images

Read Next: Hiking With Dogs: A Guide to Safely Taking a Hike With Your Dog

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