Dogs don't need ugg boots, but a sturdy set of booties might serve your pal well if his adventures outdoors with you expose his paws to harsh conditions, or if an injured pad needs temporary protection. A custom set of non-slip booties for your buddy is a good DIY project.
It's a Rough World ...
Our dogs’ feet are far more resilient than ours, but hot summer pavement can still scald them. During winter, exposure to rock salt and de-icing chemicals dumped on frozen roadways can open the door to chemical burns, over-drying of the feet, and poisoning from post-walk licking. At any time of year, booties can help prevent unwanted scratching or licking when your furry pal needs to allow a torn pad or other injury to heal.
Function, Fit and ... Fashion!
Sure, your local pet shop sells booties. Chances are they won’t fit your pal nearly as well as a set you have lovingly shaped to his very own feet. We humans have all sorts of options for fit and comfort when we buy our footwear, but store-bought dog booties generally are limited to small, medium or large. Even a quick glance around your neighborhood will show how inaccurate that is. Moreover, with DIY dog booties, you can inject some of your best pal’s personality into his footwear -- be it army camouflage or princess pink.
Select Fabric Carefully
Spend time deciding what material will work best for your pal's needs. Do you want the booties to insulate the feet? Do they need to be waterproof? Fleece dries quickly and conserves warmth, but it does get wet. Suede and leather are strong and provide good traction, but they are not easy to work with. Vinyl offers good grip, but it's thin. Consider combining two materials, such as a fleece interior with a waterproof or leather exterior.
Getting Down to Business
Measure your dog’s feet at their widest point. Measure the length from toes to hock. Cut eight pieces of fabric one inch longer and wider than those measurements, tapering them in at one end if necessary. If you’d like more grip, sew an additional swatch of suede, leather or vinyl on half of these pieces where your buddy's paws will hit the ground. Sew each pair together, outsides facing in, leaving a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Leave the shortest, non-tapered end open. This is where his paw will enter the bootie.
The Perfect Fit
Now that you have four sturdy booties customized for your canine buddy’s feet, it’s important to make sure they will stay in place when he's wearing them. Two-sided Velcro with some elasticity will do the trick. Find a spot on the booties where you can attach the Velcro so that it can't fall down when it's looped around your dog’s leg. Be careful when you put the booties on your dog not to pull the Velcro so tight that it’s uncomfortable, or leave it so loose that the booties can slip right off.
There's a good chance that at the start your dog won’t love the feel of something as strange to his world view as booties on his feet. Let him get accustomed to them gradually, with plenty of rewards for increased time wearing them without protest. Never leave him unsupervised with his booties.
Now is a good time to bring out the camera. Your pal's antics as he tries to navigate for the first time in his stylish new booties can be adorable.
Laura Kenyon spent five years as a newspaper journalist in Connecticut, including 18 months as combination features/assistant editor, and another 15 months as chief editor. She has also been published in many regional magazines and several national magazines. Kenyon's work has been recognized with awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association (formerly NEPA) and the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Boston College.