Are you looking to purchase a great new pair of shoes to keep your dog's paws warm and dry? Or do you want to avoid those muddy prints on your nice clean floor? Like their human owners, a dog's paws are furthest away from its' heart, and thus face potential circulatory problems (especially if your dog was not bred to withstand cold temperatures). The salt used to commonly melt ice can be harmful and very painful to their feet.
Whatever the reason for your new-found gift, you want to be sure they will fit nicely on your dog’s feet! It is quite simple to measure your dog's paws for shoes; let me tell you how!
Measure Your Dog's Paws
A relatively simple, and consequently most common, way to measure your dog's paws for shoe fitting is performed by way of paper markings. Simply place a sheet of paper on a hard surface your dog is comfortable standing on, and clearly mark each side of your dog's paws at their widest points. Be sure to account for nail size and the potential for growth or trimming.
Now simply measure the distance between points with a ruler/tape measure.
Keep in mind- when a dog applies pressure (weight) on a limb, that particular paw will 'splay apart'. If no weight is on that foot, it won't splay and the shoe will consequently be too small. Make sure the dog is applying weight to the foot being measured; you can do this by lifting the opposite limb.
- A fraction of an inch of (allowance) extra space is recommended; you don't want your booties to fit too tightly snug. Think of this in terms of human shoes- those that are an 'exact fit' would cause discomfort and increase the rate of wear.
- On the other 'hand'- if the boots/shoes are too big- they might rotate, causing a tripping hazard.
- Mark points at widest ends
You can also measure the length you want your shoe to be in the same fashion; apply a tape measure to the side of your dog's leg (up/down) and measure the height (up to the point which you want your shoe to stop).
Steps to Follow:
- Have your dog stand on a sheet of paper, applying his weighton the paw you are to measure.
- Create markings on either side of the dog's paw/s at their widest points, measuring both length and width, accounting for toenails.
- Measure distance between points with a tape measure/ruler.
Alternative Technique (for the Dog Who Won't Cooperate)
If your dog simply won't allow you to touch/hold his paws/limbs, you can wet them with water and have him walk across your sheet of paper (you may still need to lightly apply pressure to the paper). The wetness will produce measurable prints!
As with the first technique, it is important to make sure the dog's paw being measured is splayed, accounting for toenails.
Your dog's paws may differ in size; be sure to measure them individually if you require shoes for each!
- If you still can't properly measure your dog's paws using the first two methods, you can attempt to have him stand on a tape measure.
Note: Size chart is just for point of reference.
How to Handle the Unsure Dog
Your pet is probably going to promptly snatch back his foot if you just 'jump in; trying to measure your dog's paws with no preparation. He won't understand what it is you are trying to do, and have no idea why you are doing it. Realize- balancing on a piece of paper with one paw being traced/ measured while you hold the other in the air isn't exactly a natural position.
Don't worry, there is a perfectly simple solution to measure your dog's paws! Rather than risk frustration for both of you, simply turn this little excursion into a game (or what your pet thinks is a game). Show him that this act of 'paw measuring' means only good things for him with a combination of praise and rewards!
- Keep this in mind, and it is important- expressing frustration will only cause your pet further frustration and confusion, thus increasing your difficulty. Remember- they communicate to each-other mainly based upon body language, and are very good at reading yours.
If your pet remains overly jittery, try soothing him. Hold off on the rewards until he is able to stand still, allowing you to work. For instance, wait until he can remain still a few seconds, then reward. Now repeat the process, but wait twice as long this time; don't reward if he falters. Continue in this fashion until you are able to complete your job.
Congratulations on your new dog shoes!