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Train Your Dog to Wear Shoes!

Ever seen a dog wearing shoes? The police dogs in Germany have already been trained to wear shoes; is a great pair of Gucci loafers in your dog’s future?Police dogs (German Shepherds and Belgian Malanois) in Berlin and Duesseldorf have been outfitted in special shoes to protect them as they perform their duties. German police officials are horrified if these are referred to as “booties;” what kind of macho image is a police dog in booties? These are blue plastic fiber shoes, said K-9 unit officer Andre Hartwich. All twenty of the dogs in his unit are now being trained to wear the shoes; he’s not sure they like it at all, but hopefully they’ll get used to it.

Most dog owners have tries to put booties (ugh!) on their dogs to protect their feet from snow, ice, and hot pavement. This usually results in the dog walking around like he’s stepping into acid! Dogs and shoes just don’t seem to go together. Still, in cold climates ice can collect in between a dog’s toes; this is both very painful, but prevents the dog from walking his way out of the snow and ice. Veterinarians all too often treat dogs’ feet for frostbite; severe cases require toe amputation.

If you’ve ever walked barefoot on hot pavement, then you know how your dog’s feet feel doing the same thing. Even though dogs’ paws are more padded than our feet, hot sun can still turn pavement into a frying pan that can cause burn injuries. Seeing-eye dogs for the blind often grow up learning to wear shoes. Humans wear shoes to protect their feet; why shouldn’t dogs?

There’s a very good reason to train police dogs to wear protective shoes; their paws are easily injured by broken glass in and around bars and taverns where the dogs might be trailing a suspect. It’s not uncommon for fleeing suspects to spread a trail of glass and other sharp objects in their wake to confound the police dogs. The shoes allow the dogs to perform their duties and avoid painful paw injuries.

Training your dog to wear shoes of this type takes only time and patience as she gets used to them. Expect to laugh heartily watching her try to figure out what suddenly appeared on her feet, and her efforts to remove these foreign objects! First, have your dog wear the shoes around the house to get used to them before you take her out for a snowy or hot-pavement walk. Let her exhaust all attempted means to remove the shoes; don’t stop her from trying! She’ll become resigned to wearing the shoes sooner or later. This type of training is best implemented when your dog is still a puppy.

The German police dogs’ shoes come in small, medium and large, and are blue to match their handlers’ uniforms. A fashion statement, perhaps? Hartwick joked that now they need to teach the dogs to tie their own shoes!

Courtesy of the Associated Press

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