Does breaking in your boots leave your dogs barking?  Well, just like human shoes, dog boots have a break-in period, too.

Have you ever taken your dog on unfamiliar terrain that had them limping the next day?  That’s because dogs’ pads harden over time and terrain.  Dog boots can help with that, but they still need a break-in period—after all, would you go for a long run in brand new shoes without socks?

Here are a few things you can do to help break-in your dog’s boots.

Work them. When you first get the boots, work them in your hands so the sole becomes more pliable.  Because of their weight, small dogs have a particularly hard time softening the outsole, so breaking them in with your hands can really help them become more comfortable, quickly.

Take it slow. Start by putting the boots on in the house for a couple minutes, then try short adventures outside; gradually increasing the time spent in the boots.

Stop and check. Each time you use the boots during the break-in period, stop and check for rubbing and hot spots.  This is also a great time to check the strap tension and fit, so the boots stay secure.

Socks for dogs? Just like socks help with the overall comfort of our shoes, boot liners can help with a dog’s overall comfort, providing a soft, wicking layer between the paw and the boot.

Get the right fit. Getting the right size boot not only ensures the boot will stay on and upright, but it also helps with boot comfort.  The boot strap should fit snugly above the metatarsal/metacarpal pad, but below the carpal pad and dew claw.  It should fit with little excess room from left to right, and front to back, and bend at a 45-degree angle where the dog’s paw naturally bends.  Click for more tips on getting the right fit or check out pictures of the correct boot fit.

The boot dance. Your dog will most likely “dance” their first time in boots.  Don’t be alarmed—this is a natural reaction.  You might be surprised how quickly your dog will get used to the idea of boots if you follow these tips for getting your dog used to boots.

10 thoughts

  1. Recently bought a pair of boots & liners after measuring my dog’s paws as described in the video. I still have two issues with them even after allowing for the normal “break-in period”. My dog gets hot spots on his dewclaws and above the first knuckle of his front feet, I thought the liners would help but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Also, I live/work at Death Valley NP (the hottest place on the earth) and the liners are just too thick for my dog to comfortably wear even a 5-minute walk outside in this heat means that his socks are completely wet with sweat. Do you offer thinner socks?

  2. HI there, I got my SAR dog some boots because she kept tearing paws in the wilderness. She did ok in them the first couple of short trips, then I took her for a long walk to her favorite park. She kept wanting to lick and gnaw around the cuff. I took them off today and was dismayed to find her dew claws bloody and irritated. I feel horrible and now I am not sure if I should have her wear them more to break them in, or if the socks would help.

    On another note, her rear boots are xs and they fall off.

    1. Hi Bridget,

      Thanks for writing. Sorry to hear your dog’s dew claws were getting irritated from the boot cuff. One recommendation is to use a little vet wrap and wrap first, underneath the claw (between the claw and the skin) and then the second wrap can lightly cover the claw. This keeps the claw in place but also protects the skin from the end of the claw. Call us if this does not make sense! 888-783-3932

  3. Very disappointing with these boots, I took my dogs out on a serious snow hike today, one dog lost 2 boots, the other dog lost 1 boot. Very difficult to get them on, the elastic strap is poorly designed, the metal end came off when I was fitting them. Considering the price of these boots, I’m really disappointed!

  4. Yes my dogs dew claws are irritated from the shoes. I measured his feet and they are 3.5 inches in the front. …. any suggestions

    1. Hi Rubia – please get in touch with our Customer Service team here at Ruff Wear so that we can get more information from you and offer some suggestions. You can email or call us at 888-783-3932 (Mon – Fri, 8:00am – 4:30pm Pacific Time). Thank you!

    1. Hi Annie – Thanks for your question and our apologies for the late reply!

      All dogs’ dew claws are different (and of course, some dogs do not have dew claws at all). If the top of the boot covers the dew claws, you’ll want to check the dew claws and the area around them after a few minutes of wear to ensure that they are not being irritated by the boot. Some dogs do fine with their dew claws covered by the boot and some find that it causes sore spots. If you would like more personalized help over the phone or on email, please feel free to contact us at or 888-783-3932.

      Thanks! And again, we’re sorry this took so long to get to you!

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