6 Tips for Breaking in Ruffwear Dog Boots

6 Tips for Breaking in Ruffwear Dog Boots

  • Allison Hartz

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.

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.

Human twists and flexes grip trex dog boot.

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.

Woman walks her dog in the snow, dog is wearing a climate changer fleece layered under overcoat dog utility jacket and polar trex boots.

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.

Human cinches down top of grip trex dog shoe.

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.


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. 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, 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. We've also got a video to help. 

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.

Human holds up stick while dog in summit trex waterproof dog shoes jumps up to grab it.

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 Facebook and Instagram. And let us know what your dog means to you using the tag #mydogismy.

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  • Jean

    I lost a back boot while our dog Murphy was swimming. I try to keep them snug and this is the 2nd time this has happened but fortunately the first time I found the boot and sock in the mud. Just curious if it’s best to not use the boots when in the water swimming?

  • Matthew Krumwiede

    Why do you recommend sizing down if in between measurements?

  • Megan

    These are the best dog boots ever. But can they be washed? Any care recommendations would be appreciated.

  • Denis Darling

    Sorry, it was almost the funniest dance I have ever witnessed. We celebrated and laughed the entire time until our GSD got a chance to walk outside. I wish I had a video, she looked like she was walking through a mud puddle, high stepping and side stepping for about 2 minutes. She then realized it was ok and we were able to get her to walk without a high step and dance.

    Best gear for our GSD as she loves to fetch but will typically her herself on the stone and roadway, plays hard till she cant. WE now play hard until we are tired! Thanks for the great Green Shoes ever!

  • Brian


    We have two small dogs (20 & 16 lbs) with small feet and thin ankles. We got them each a pair xs grip trex. Because their ankles are so thin, I need to pull the fastening strip tight to keep the boots on their feet. When I do this, it causes irritation to the point of bleeding on their dewclaws. Is there a trick to keeping the boots on their feet without hurting them?