When dogs go outside and run around, they generally do so without the benefit of anything on their feet. Instead, they rely on the tough pads and wiry hair on the bottoms of their feet to handle the heat, cold and rough terrain that they may encounter on a daily basis. Some people prefer to protect their dog’s feet by putting shoes on them, commonly called dog booties. This type of dog footwear often looks a bit like a pair of socks, but they are typically made of hard rubber or plastic, held on with elastic or laces. Dog booties come in a wide variety of styles, shapes and sizes, with something to suit virtually every pet owner and situation.
For the pet owner who wants to dress up his or her pet there are plenty of choices. There are colored booties, booties with ribbons, striped booties and plaid booties. Some are made to look like running shoes, some like hunting boots, while others look like tiny snow boots.
Not all dog owners buy booties just to be able to dress up their dogs. For many working dogs, they are considered a necessity, enabling the dogs to work with a minimal risk of harming their feet. Dogs that pull sleds in competitions such as Alaska’s famous Iditarod race are usually fitted with tough boots in order to protect their feet from the freezing cold and sharp ice they encounter while racing. Such booties are made of tough materials and meant to last under very harsh working conditions. These booties don’t usually have ornamentation, instead focusing on a functional design and strength.
Many hunting dogs are also fitted with dog booties, especially those that work in areas where it is very hot, very cold, or the terrain is littered with sticks or sharp stones. Australian-style hunting booties for dogs are made of leather, with holes in the front for the dog’s toenails. This lets the dog use its nails to grip steep or slippery surfaces while still protecting its feet.
The first time a dog wears dog booties is often comical, as it shakes its feet and tries to walk around while lifting first one foot and then another off of the ground. Eventually, though, most dogs get used to the feeling of having something on their feet and will walk normally even with the booties on. For working dogs the adjustment to dog booties often begins in puppyhood, so that by the time the dog must work it accepts the booties as a normal part of life.