6 Tips for Breaking in Ruffwear Dog Boots

Boots can help dogs with grip and traction on loose, rocky terrain, on ice and snow, and on other wet or slick surfaces. They protect paws from hot pavement, coarse, rocky trails, clumpy snow, salt and snowmelt chemicals, and more. Yet, just like human boots, dog boots need a break-in period. To make it easy, we’ve got 6 tips for breaking in Ruffwear dog boots.

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1. Work ‘Em

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 of their boots, so breaking them in with your hands can really help them become more comfortable, quickly.

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2. 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. We recommend using treats or toys and keeping the activity fun and rewarding to take the focus away from the boots. Along with breaking in the boots, you’ll help your dog get accustomed to wearing them.

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3. 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 to make sure the boots stay secure.

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4. Try Socks

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. Socks can also help protect the dew claws and enhance fit.

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5. 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. For the best fit, check out our video below and download and print our Paw Measurement Chart to find the proper measurement of your dog’s paw — note that paws can vary in size, so be sure to measure all four.

6. Embrace the Boot Dance

Your dog will most likely “dance” their first time in boots, shaking their paws and high stepping. This is a natural reaction! Don’t be alarmed and try not to laugh — dogs are sensitive and laughing can cause anxiety for them. You might be surprised how quickly your dog will get used to the idea of boots if you follow the tips above, and perhaps most importantly, use lots of rewards to make it a fun and engaging experience.

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Do you have questions or feedback about our boots or any other Ruffwear gear? Get in touch! Going on an adventure? Share your stories with us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. And let us know what your dog means to you using the tag #mydogismy.

12 thoughts

  1. I don’t understand why you haven’t made a suggestion to the person with the GSD and their issues. I have a doodle with dewclaws and they irritate them. Otherwise the boots are great. We have had 6 pairs, 3 sets each, the first 2 pair had issues but we muddled through for the season (after a few weeks into the season the velcro straps, came apart, tried another pair and the same thing happened). We upgraded to more expensive, zippered boots with the fold down. These do no work at all for a dog with dewclaws.
    I really think you should come up with some for those dogs who do have the dewclaws so their paws are protected without irritation on that one special area.
    Our dogs will always wear boots in the winter, maybe next year we will try another brand.

    1. Hi Michael – thanks for your note. The lack of response to DiAnna’s question back in January was an oversight and completely our fault. I’m going to reach out to her today. We appreciate the feedback about dewclaws and boots. We’ve been seeking a solution to this problem for years. I will share your comments with our Product Designers. Have you reached out to our Support Team regarding a warranty claim for the boots with the failed velcro straps? If you would like to learn about your warranty options would encourage you complete this form, https://ruffwear.com/pages/our-guarantee, to start a conversation with our team here regarding the product failure that you’ve experienced. I apologize for the inconvenience and trouble you’ve had with our boots. If you prefer the phone, we can be reached at 888-783-3932, Mon – Fri, 8am – 4:30pm Pacific Time. Thank you!

  2. we did all your recommendations. socks and boots. German Shepherd. 10 minutes a day, top of toes were raw by day 3. duclaw between paw and claw horrible sores. tightened good and snug per phone calls with Reps. even tried duclaw out of sock vs tucked in sock. not good either way. debris does get caught in Velcro and shoe. haven’t put them back on after working with the shoes for 10 days, he gets sores way to fast which is what we were trying to avoid. i think the socks make their feet sweat more, hence the blister type sores in between duclaw. then without the sock, the inside materials rubs on the toes. it might be a good idea to change inside material to something more organic and softer. very big expense for a try out

    1. Hi DiAnna – my apologies for this very late response to your comment. Did you resolve the problem to your satisfaction with our Customer Service reps? I’m happy to help if you are still having problems with the boots. Please comment back here if there’s something I can do to make this right. Thank you.

      1. I also have a GSD and these are some of my concerns before buying him boots for hiking in the hot desert. We’re these issues addressed? if so what is the resolution to this problem? Thank you

        1. Hi Rebeka – we recommend the Grip Trex boots for hot conditions. Some dogs’ paws are more sensitive than others. In this case, the best way to get started with dog boots is to let your dog wear them frequently for short periods of time, and then check their paws for any signs of irritation. The problems we hear about tend to arise when dogs who have never worn boots wear them for an extended period of time, particularly in extreme weather conditions. Please call us at 888-783-3932, Mon – Fri, 8am – 4:30pm Pacific if you’d like some more info!

  3. If you use the socks do you need to upsize the boots you buy, or should the fit be the same as the original measurements?

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