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Training Your Dog to Wear Boots: Step-by-Step Instructions
By Canada Pooch on Sep 4, 2023
Getting your dog comfortable wearing boots can take some time and patience, but it is an important skill for dogs that will be walking on hot pavement or in snow and ice. Following these step-by-step instructions will help make the training process smoother for you and your pup.
Choose the Right Boot Style
The first step is choosing the right dog boot style and size for your pup.
Slip-on dog boots are often the easiest style to put on and take off your dog's paws. They utilize Velcro straps, elastic closures, or simple slipping on and off to secure them. This makes them convenient for quickly heading outside. However, slip-on boots may not always stay on as well if your dog is highly active or plays roughly. The closure may get pulled open. They work best for calmer, less active dogs. When fitting slip-on boots, carefully measure the circumference of your dog's front and hind paws. Choose a size that will feel snug but not pinch or bind. You want the boot to stay on without excessive tightness. Test the fit to make sure the velcro or elastic does not rub or chafe. Proper sizing and comfortable securing will mean easier wear.
Get Your Dog Used to Wearing the Boots Indoors
Don't expect your dog to suddenly tolerate wearing clunky boots outdoors. You'll need to get them comfortable wearing the boots indoors first:
- Place a boot on one paw and immediately give your dog praise and a high-value treat like cheese.
- Distract your dog with more treats and praise while you put the boot on the other paw.
- Continue to treat and positively reinforce your dog while they have the boots on for 5-10 minutes.
- If your dog seems anxious or tries to remove the boots, redirect their attention with a toy or command like "sit." Don't scold them.
- After a few sessions indoors, walk your dog around the house with the boots on while continuing to praise and reward them.
Going slowly allows your dog to get used to the feel of wearing boots in a safe, comfortable setting first. As they master each step, gradually increase the amount of time spent wearing the boots.
Practice Outside in Short Sessions
When your dog seems comfortable wearing the boots indoors, it's time to practice outside. But start with very short sessions:
- Put the boots on and walk your dog in your backyard or a park for just 5-10 minutes the first few times.
- Bring plenty of treats, and continue to reward your dog for leaving the boots on.
- If they try to remove them, distract them with a treat or toy. Gently guide them to keep walking if they stop to paw at the boots.
- After a few short sessions over several days, gradually increase the duration of your practice walks.
Taking it slowly allows your dog to get used to how the boots feel on different surfaces like concrete or gravel. Continue with positive reinforcement every time they move and walk normally in the boots.
Be Patient and Consistent
For many dogs, it takes several weeks or more of regular practice to truly get comfortable wearing boots outside. Be patient and consistent with the training:
- Practice every day if possible, continuing to use treats and praise. This repetition helps reinforce it as a normal routine.
- If your dog frequently tries to remove a boot, check the fit again. He may signal when something doesn't feel right.
- Stick to short sessions until your dog reliably leaves the boots on for 20-30 minutes outdoors.
- Gradually increase walk lengths as your dog's tolerance to the boots improves.
With regular dog training sessions and plenty of positive reinforcement, even the most resistant dogs will learn to walk and play normally in boots. Consistency and patience are key!
Make Boots Part of Your Routine
Once your dog is comfortable wearing boots outside, make them part of your regular routine and gear:
- Have them wear dog boots for all walks, not just sometimes. This prevents any resistance to having them put back on.
- Add spoken cues like "Boots!" when you put them on and give your dog praise. This signals that it's time for fun walks.
- Practice in the boots regularly so the behavior doesn't fade. Dogs need repetition.
- Bring boots along on trips so routines stay consistent away from home.
Boots will quickly become a normal part of your dog's life if worn consistently. Regular use keeps your dog comfortable walking in them.
Frequently Asked Questions About Training Dogs to Wear Boots
Training your dog to accept and walk in boots is an important skill for owners, but it can be challenging at first. Here are answers to some common questions about the training process.
Why do dogs resist wearing boots at first?
Dogs naturally resist boots at first because:
- They alter the way a dog feels the ground, causing unfamiliar sensations.
- Boots may feel strange, tight, or uncomfortable until a dog adjusts.
- A dog’s instinct is to remove anything foreign from their paws.
With positive training methods and consistency, dogs can overcome the initial resistance and learn to love their boots!
How can I make boot training sessions more successful?
A few tips can help make boot training sessions more successful. Keep the first sessions very short as you reward your dog with treats for having the boots on. Use high-value treats like chicken or cheese to motivate them. Immediately praise and treat even small successes like one step in the boots. Practice in low-distraction areas at first. End on a positive note if your dog becomes frustrated. Be patient - dogs often need weeks of regular training to be comfortable in boots. Keeping sessions short, positive, and treat-based will go far.
What cues can I use when putting boots on my dog?
Use consistent verbal cues and a happy, upbeat tone when putting your dog's boots on. Say "Boots!" as you take them out to signal fun is coming. Give praise like "Good boots!" as you put them on each paw to mark the desired behavior. When finished, say an enthusiastic "Let's go!" to indicate a fun walk is next. You can also use a cue like "Leave it!" without scolding to redirect any pawing at the boots. Keeping things positive with clear cues will help your dog catch on faster.
When can I stop giving my dog treats for wearing boots?
Once your dog is perfectly comfortable wearing their boots on long walks of 30 minutes or more without trying to remove them, you can slowly phase out continuous food rewards and intermittently give treats. But be sure to continue verbal praise for wearing their “boots.” Persistent treats aren’t usually needed long-term.
Following these training steps and troubleshooting tips will help your dog master wearing those new boots in no time. Just be sure to reward their progress and start slow. With patience and consistency, you’ll have a stylish pup stomping around in style.