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Summer Heat & Dog Boots

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

The temperature is rising again, so it’s time to think about the temperature of the ground that your dog is walking on. Humans (normally) wear shoes, which protect your feet, but a dog’s paw pads are sensitive and often left unprotected.

You can (and should) test how hot pavement and sidewalks are if the sun is out and it’s warm out. If you can’t hold the back of your hand against the ground for 5+ seconds, the ground is too hot for your dog’s paws. If you think it’s almost too hot, it is probably too hot.

If the pavement/sidewalk/street is too hot for your dog, you can do a few things! Boots are the most versatile protection for your dogs’ paws, but you could also walk only on grass, which tends to be much cooler. Another thing you can do is make sure to walk early in the day, before the temperature rises.

Especially if you have a service dog (or one in training), I recommend boots, but boots do require training and desensitization. You have to introduce boots slowly, to prevent the boots from becoming an aversive experience.

How to introduce boots slowly:

1) Show your dog the boots, let them sniff them, reward them with a high value treat, and then put the boots away (don’t try to put the boots on your dog yet)

2) Have the boots visible and lift your dogs’ paws one at a time. Reward throughout with a high value treat.

3) When your dog stays calmly in place while you handle their paws, then you can slip the boots on and make sure you reward heavily. Put the boots on, then take them right back off.

4) When they’re comfortable with that last step, then put all four boots on and encourage them to walk around while rewarding your pup. Call them over to you and play with them. Just encourage them to move around on the boots while forgetting about them.

Once your dog is comfortable with their boots, use them to protect your dogs’ feet from heat, cold, and hazards (like broken glass). Just remember that dogs sweat only through their paws, so make sure to give them lots of water and take their boots off as necessary.

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