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Snowshoeing with a dog - are the Ruff Wear Bark'n Boots any good
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Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Snowshoeing with a dog - are the Ruff Wear Bark'n Boots any good on 02/22/2011 19:19:00 MST Print View

I'm relatively new to dog ownership (as an adult at least) and I'm wondering what those of you who snowshoe with your dogs do to protect their paws from the cold. I've been doing some short (5-8 mile) training trips with my Australian Cattle Dog and, on the last trip, I noticed a few times where he seemed to be suffering a bit from cold paws (favoring a leg temporarily - then another). This was right after a lunch break, so we were lucky in that he was okay after we got moving again and got our temps back up. Still...made me think I might have been irresponsible to take him out in 12 degree weather.

I got some Bark'n Boots today. Not sure they fit too well. But I'm also not sure he'll hike in them if they did fit any better...or that they'd help if he did.

Looking for some advice from those of you who are experienced with cold weather dog hikes and paw protection.


tyler marlow

Locale: UTAH
Booties on 02/23/2011 09:14:49 MST Print View

I don't have experience with cold weather but when my dog used the Ruff Wear boots she hated it and so did I.

When i first put them on her she was high steppin' trying to step out of them, totally hilarious but probably embarrassing for her. Once we started hiking they would not stay on, about every 10 minutes one would fall off. I am pretty sure they were the right size too, i dont think they could have been any smaller.

Overall i didn't think they were worth it, I bought them at the end of the Maine AT section cause the rocks wore down her nails and I heard lots of things about the rocks in New Hampshire being bad. End of story, they didn't come in time and we didn't need them at all.

Snow may be a different story, my dog was a Husky so snow is obviously not an issue. Your Australian might be a different story.

Matthew Marasco
(BabyMatty) - F

Locale: Western/Central PA, Adirondacks
re: on 02/23/2011 09:31:25 MST Print View

My dog Baby, a 45 lb pit bull, did the same high step you were talking about. She never learned to love the booties, but she is a bit prissy. I can't get her to tolerate a pack, either.

Zack Karas
( - MLife

Locale: Lake Tahoe
dog booties on 02/23/2011 09:37:05 MST Print View

I use my beard trimmer to shave off all the hair in between my dogs paw pads to help alleviate the tendency of snow to clump to the hair there. There is a product called Musher's Secret which you work into the hair in between their pads if you don't want to shave it off.
Also, I have yet to find a bootie to fit her front paws that doesn't push her dew claw into her skin, which has led to bleeding in the past. I like for booties--they are priced well and give the dogs a feel of what they are walking on, which avoids that high stepping a bit.
Hope this helps.

Jason Wine
(its_not_a_tuba) - MLife
Pawz on 02/23/2011 11:35:45 MST Print View

Pawz makes a rubber disposable dog bootie that may fit your needs. They stay on much better than the Ruff Wear booties and will keep the snow our of your dog's paws. They don't last long on rocky trails but should work great for snow hikes.

Morgan Rucks
(rucksmtr) - F
... on 02/23/2011 12:44:40 MST Print View

Way cheaper than other brands and just as good for snow.

Rub Vaseline into the paw to keep snow and ice from sticking.

Eric Swab

Locale: Rockies
Snowshoeing with a dog - are the Ruff Wear Bark'n Boots any good on 02/23/2011 21:54:40 MST Print View

My dog (Border Collie mix) will hike in them, I get everything ready, then put them on and go, he is more interested in sniffing than "high stepping". However they do fall off, I have tried two different sizes, I think they will be going back to REI.

I find for the winter keeping the toe hair trimmed short solves most problems, when we stop I pick the clump of ice out from between the toes each time.

A friend of mine uses them on her Great Dane but she tapes them on as well, the dog also has wide feet and skinny legs.

If you do try them I would get a contrasting color so you can see when one falls off.(I got red shoes for a black dog.) Also your dogs back feet may be smaller than the fronts. Order from REI so you can return them if they don't work out.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Re: Snowshoeing with a dog - are the Ruff Wear Bark'n Boots any good on 02/24/2011 07:28:15 MST Print View

Thanks for all the feedback.

Ringo definitely does a high step jig when I try to but his boots on. I only put them on once to check the fit though - I'm not putting them on again until we're at the trailhead. My plan is like Eric's: put 'em on right before a hike and hope that being on the trail is distracting/rewarding enough that he just goes with the flow.

Ringo's problem isn't that ice collects on or in his paws. He's got little to no fur on his paws and I do use Musher's Secret. I think his problem is just that he can only tolerate having his paws in contact with snow and ice for so long before it gets uncomfortable.

We'll see how it works out. He's no husky and I know that Australian Cattle Dogs weren't bred for this sort of thing (he's got a thin, short coat and is better suited to herding cattle in the Australian outback than snowshoeing). I guess he might just be a three season dog if I can't get some boots to work for him.

Thanks again.

Edited by Ramapo on 02/24/2011 10:36:33 MST.

Jeremy Osburn

Locale: New England
useless on my dog on 02/24/2011 09:53:19 MST Print View

I can't remember which brand I bought for sure but I think they were the ruff wear. My dog did the high step at the house but once we were at the trail he got used to them and ran fine in them... while they stayed on. Every 100 yards or so one of the 4 was slipping off and I had to dig it out of the snow and attempt to put it back on. After about 3/4 of a mile I was done with them took them all off and put them in my pack and returned them when we got back home. I think the problem with him was that he has big paws and no ankle or whatever leg part that would be called. So the velcro attachment for his size of paw was too small to get a good tight synch on his feet. Since then we just keep a close eye on his paws and make sure the pads are getting full of ice and snow. He doesn't seem to mind cold feet.

Leon K
(leonk) - F
booties on 02/24/2011 10:24:04 MST Print View

some good ideas upthread. are ok - simple and cheap, get 1 spare.
Dogs get used to walking in them very quickly, they just slippery on ice.

There are 2 possible issues - cold and snow balls. Latter more likely in wet snow around freezing point.

Cold sensitivity is a breed and individual dog specific.
Sled dogs use booties to protect them from ice and such - abrasions and cuts.
Such boots certainly protect from cold as well to some degree.

Trimming hair in pads and/or spreading Mushers Secret of petrolium jelly will prevent snowballs. Musher's will not mark clothing or carpet at home as much as vaseline. My late spaniel was lifting her paws only at -30 C. My current pup hasn't seen more than -15 C and she didn't show any signs of trouble.