Between the snow, ice, and salt on the ground, you may find that your dog’s paws need a little extra protection during the winter. Dog boots are a great way to protect your pup’s feet from the elements! Unfortunately, not all dogs are eager to strut around in their new kicks right off the bat.
But with a few simple steps, some patience, and plenty of treats, they’ll be walkin’ a mile in those Louboutins in no time.
1. Start Small & Slow
You could begin by rewarding your dog for looking at the boot, or for moving towards one in your outstretched hand. This may seem like a really small place to start, but if you can get your dog to think “Hey, when I see that boot, I get a treat!” then you will be starting off in a really good place.
2. Place One Boot On One Paw
Once your dog has a positive reaction to the sight of the booties, try placing one paw in a boot without fastening it. Slip the bootie on, reward, and slip it off. Do this for a couple of training sessions, or until your dog is more focused on the treat than the boot.
If your dog is immediately uncomfortable with his paw being handled, or placed in the boot, try lightly touching the boot to his paw for a couple of training sessions before attempting to place his paw in the boot.
3. Repeat Step Two For All Paws
Repeat the previous step once for each paw. If you’re thinking about skipping this step, stay strong and don’t do it! The patience will prevail! Think of it this way: you wouldn’t assume that your dog knows how to shake with his back leg just because he knows how to shake with one in the front. Teaching your dog to wear booties is the same.
4. Secure The Boot On The Foot
After your dog is comfortable with a loose bootie on each paw, try placing one bootie on, securing it, rewarding your dog, and then taking it off. Similarly to the previous step, do this one at a time for each paw until your dog is comfortable and eagerly anticipating his reward.
5. Fasten All Booties
Next try securing a bootie to each paw. Leave the booties on for a couple of seconds, reward your dog, and then take them off. When your dog seems comfortable, gradually increase the amount of time he spends in his booties during each training session.
6. Take The First Steps
Now encourage your dog to walk around the house in their booties, and reward them constantly. Cuteness Warning: your dog’s first few steps in his boots will probably look something like this…
7. Engage In Some Indoor Play
Allow your pup plenty of time to acclimate to wearing their booties around the house, before taking them outside or on a walk. Make sure you bring plenty of treats and reward them frequently during the first couple of walks!
Related Article: 17 Fun Things To Do With Your Dog This Winter
8. Have Your Dog Wear Booties Just For Fun
Do whatever you can to help your dog build a positive association with their booties. This might mean putting them on while you play a quick game of tug or fetch, or before they eat breakfast or dinner.
Patience and consistency is key! You can even use protective dog boots during the hotter summer months to shield paw pads from hot asphalt and concrete, or on rough terrain to avoid any accidental cuts or scrapes. Stay safe no matter the season, and happy walking!
This article was reviewed by professional dog trainer Shelby Semel, an advocate of positive reinforcement dog training.