This article was reviewed by professional dog trainer Shelby Semel, an advocate of Positive Reinforcement Dog Training.
Between the snow, ice, and salt on the ground, you may find that your dog’s paws need a little extra pawtection during the winter. Dog boots are a great way to protect your pup’s feet. The problem here, is that many dog’s can be less than eager to wear booties. Follow these 8 simple steps when introducing your pup to their pair of winter boots, and you will be strutting through the snow with your pup in no time!
1. Start Small
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 Booty On One Paw
Once your dog has a positive reaction to the sight of his 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 his 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
Repeat the previous step once for each paw. If you are thinking about skipping this step, stay strong and don’t do it! The patient 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 Booty
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. The First Steps…
Now encourage your dog to walk around the house in his booties, and reward him constantly. **Cuteness Warning: your dog’s first few steps in his boots will probably look something like this…
7. Indoor Play
Allow your pup plenty of time to acclimate to wearing his booties around the house, before taking him outside or on a walk. Make sure you bring plenty of treats and reward your pup during the first couple of walks!
8. Wearing Booties Just For Fun
Do whatever you can to help your dog build a positive association with his booties. This might mean having your dog wear his booties while you play a quick game of tug or fetch, or putting his booties on before he eats his breakfast or dinner.