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I met a GSD expert in person the other day and she said my GSD must have hiking shoes. For context, she’s only 9 months and we haven’t taken her for any hikes and don’t plan to for awhile until she’s older, but I would like to work on her breaking them in if she does need them.

So.. Does a GSD need booties for hiking?! I’ve read conflicting information now and I don’t know what to do. I saw photos of dogs that got worse blisters in the booties and were miserable.
 

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I do a lot of hiking with Crios during the winter. Off trail, in the desert. Lots of rocky hills and mountains to traverse. He doesn’t wear booties. I tried a peel and stick version that covers just the pads, and has a grip on the side facing out, but he got blisters from those. I felt horrible having to peel them off those blisters!

What I do is have Crios carry 2 memory cool gel pads long enough to get two paws on one pad. So when we take breaks, or I see him energy go from go go go to looking at his paws, it cues me into his feet bothering him. We take as long of a break as he needs, and he will step off when ready. So I roll them back up, put them in his backpack, and either continue the hike if he goes in a forward direction, or head back to the car if he turns around and heads that way.
 

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This almost made me scoff and laugh, because I'm one of those people that believes humanizing dogs and other animals is the worst thing we've ever done. Treating them as our babies or fur kids disrespects both humans and dogs. They are two different species, and dog's feet are well design for travelling over rough terrain. Most GSd owners I know would feel the same way if anyone suggested their dogs needed boots for hiking.

Then I started thinking about the differences in climate between the U.S. and Canada. Dogs CAN burn their pads on hot asphalt, or hot rocky surfaces, so I could maybe see the need for booties.

A lot depends on how you condition your dog to rough terrain, how hot it is, the type of terrain, length of the hike, etc. Dog's foot pads become tougher and more callused with wear and tear, just like human feet. And just like humans, they will get sore if you do too much too soon.

OTOH, in many tropical countries in the world, most of the HUMAN population goes barefoot. An article I saw in the Huffington Post said there are 300 million people in the world that can't afford shoes. Why the heck are we worrying about dogs' feet?

First world problems...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I do a lot of hiking with Crios during the winter. Off trail, in the desert. Lots of rocky hills and mountains to traverse. He doesn’t wear booties. I tried a peel and stick version that covers just the pads, and has a grip on the side facing out, but he got blisters from those. I felt horrible having to peel them off those blisters!

What I do is have Crios carry 2 memory cool gel pads long enough to get two paws on one pad. So when we take breaks, or I see him energy go from go go go to looking at his paws, it cues me into his feet bothering him. We take as long of a break as he needs, and he will step off when ready. So I roll them back up, put them in his backpack, and either continue the hike if he goes in a forward direction, or head back to the car if he turns around and heads that way.
Ooh I like this idea! I know that sometimes I prefer to walk barefoot because blisters suck from shoes far more than your feet getting a little raw

This almost made me scoff and laugh, because I'm one of those people that believes humanizing dogs and other animals is the worst thing we've ever done. Treating them as our babies or fur kids disrespects both humans and dogs. They are two different species, and dog's feet are well design for travelling over rough terrain. Most GSd owners I know would feel the same way if anyone suggested their dogs needed boots for hiking.

Then I started thinking about the differences in climate between the U.S. and Canada. Dogs CAN burn their pads on hot asphalt, or hot rocky surfaces, so I could maybe see the need for booties.

A lot depends on how you condition your dog to rough terrain, how hot it is, the type of terrain, length of the hike, etc. Dog's foot pads become tougher and more callused with wear and tear, just like human feet. And just like humans, they will get sore if you do too much too soon.

OTOH, in many tropical countries in the world, most of the HUMAN population goes barefoot. An article I saw in the Huffington Post said there are 300 million people in the world that can't afford shoes. Why the heck are we worrying about dogs' feet?

First world problems...
Yeah unfortunately, my dad walked my dog once and didn’t realize how hot it was for her feet and she was just dripping blood as she walked along. Plus frankly, if I had control over what happens in the rest of the world, everyone would have shoes 😕 But I can only protect my own dog and donate to others!
 

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Yeah unfortunately, my dad walked my dog once and didn’t realize how hot it was for her feet and she was just dripping blood as she walked along.
If it's too hot for us to walk barefoot for a long time on the concrete areas it probably is for our dogs too ;) Can't tell you how many times I've seen people walking their dogs down the sidewalk or street without a understanding of what it could be doing to their dogs feet.

https://www.facebook.com/MedicalLakeVeterinaryHospital/posts/2166505496730257
 

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Just be mindful of the climate, and the surfaces your dog is walking on. Common sense goes a long way. When I was a kid, we usually went barefoot in summer. But then, broken glass and dumped syringes weren't an issue back then.
 

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Yeah unfortunately, my dad walked my dog once and didn’t realize how hot it was for her feet and she was just dripping blood as she walked along.
If it's too hot for us to walk barefoot for a long time on the concrete areas it probably is for our dogs too /forum/images/smilies/wink.gif Can't tell you how many times I've seen people walking their dogs down the sidewalk or street without a understanding of what it could be doing to their dogs feet.

https://www.facebook.com/MedicalLakeVeterinaryHospital/posts/2166505496730257
I’d walk barefoot on asphalt before I would make my dog walk on it.. It is crazy how many people do it anyway. 😕
 

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I also do the 15 second rule. If I can keep my bare foot on the asphalt, not just the sidewalk, so can my dogs. So far, it’s been too hot at night as well. We do a lot of activities in the winter, or the butt crack of dawn, doesn’t seem to be a happy medium yet!
 

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This almost made me scoff and laugh, because I'm one of those people that believes humanizing dogs and other animals is the worst thing we've ever done. Treating them as our babies or fur kids disrespects both humans and dogs. They are two different species, and dog's feet are well design for travelling over rough terrain. Most GSd owners I know would feel the same way if anyone suggested their dogs needed boots for hiking.

Then I started thinking about the differences in climate between the U.S. and Canada. Dogs CAN burn their pads on hot asphalt, or hot rocky surfaces, so I could maybe see the need for booties.

A lot depends on how you condition your dog to rough terrain, how hot it is, the type of terrain, length of the hike, etc. Dog's foot pads become tougher and more callused with wear and tear, just like human feet. And just like humans, they will get sore if you do too much too soon.

OTOH, in many tropical countries in the world, most of the HUMAN population goes barefoot. An article I saw in the Huffington Post said there are 300 million people in the world that can't afford shoes. Why the heck are we worrying about dogs' feet?

First world problems...
Funny you should mention. I don't have dogs that wear boots. However, a few years back Shadow got a nasty burn on her one pad from the ice melt crap in the winter.
I have discovered, with help from this forum that Mushers Secret is the way to go. It basically helps mitigate the damage to her pads from all the nasty stuff city living will cause.
We had one dog rejected from the K9 team due to soft feet though. If he even looked at gravel he was foot sore for days. Good dog, went on to a detection career, but no amount of conditioning was making his feet tough enough to work outdoors.
I hike routinely with my dogs and always have. Never needed boots, and we have toured some pretty awesome terrain. They do need conditioning though, and be very cautious in areas where shale in prevalent. That crap is sharp and will do a number on even a veteran dogs feet.
 

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This depends a lot on your local topography and climate. I second that common sense should come into play here, I do a lot of hiking with my dogs here in the southern appalachians over some pretty sketchy rock work with no issues.
 

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My dog doesn't use boots, but I've learned to keep an eye on the terrain...

The black asphalt in full summer sun is tough. If for some reason he has to cross some, we both jog to the next shady patch or patch of grass!

He dislikes gravel and prefers to walk on the side of the path.

When he crosses on slanted rocks, I've noticed that he spreads his toes to get a better grip!
Would walking on the rocks get slippery / difficult in boots?
 

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GSDChoice, I seem to recall from a book I read about Search and Rescue, S&R dogs very rarely wear boots because they need to be able to spread their toes to grip on the uneven surfaces of disaster sites.

But yeah, awareness and common sense goes a long way in keeping your dog's feet healthy! I used to use Musher's Secret when I walked my dog a lot in winter on sidewalks that were salted.
 

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This is what we do in 112 weather
Jchrest, EXACTLY!

Probably the only dogs that work in that sort of heat are military dogs in Afghanistan, but they wear cooling vests, and are sometimes hooked up to IV fluids to keep them from getting dehydration and heat stroke. From an article on MWD: Booties are used occasionally on the dogs’ front paws to prevent topical burns but are used conservatively because they prevent the dogs from dissipating heat by perspiring through the interdigital areas of
the foot.
 

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I didn’t read the replies, just adding my personal experience as an avid hiker and somewhat regular backpacker. In short, I have them... but I have yet to need them. No need on local trails and when backpacking I only bring 1 or 2 in case of injury. Periodically I will take my boy for walks wearing all 4 just so that he’s used to them when the time comes. He’s pretty sensitive to equipment. We have a trip coming up this summer where it is highly recommended for dogs to wear boots, so he will, a we’ll prepare for that accordingly.

Generally speaking, I prefer not to use them, to toughen up and condition their feet.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
This is what we do in 112 weather
Hahahaha!!! Same with us! Love it

This is what we do in 112 weather
Jchrest, EXACTLY!

Probably the only dogs that work in that sort of heat are military dogs in Afghanistan, but they wear cooling vests, and are sometimes hooked up to IV fluids to keep them from getting dehydration and heat stroke. From an article on MWD: Booties are used occasionally on the dogs’ front paws to prevent topical burns but are used conservatively because they prevent the dogs from dissipating heat by perspiring through the interdigital areas of
the foot.
Thank you!! This is exactly the type of information I was looking for when I posted this! That makes sense.

Thank you everyone for all the great replies! I’ve decided not to get booties for now and just be cautious as we very very slowly condition her feet when we start going on short hikes.
 

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I should have added to my post.... when I say I haven’t needed booties, we’re approx 5,000 miles in if I had to guess and this Aug will be Keystones first hike wearing them. Mild temperatures yes, but just some context.
 

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OP, why haven't you taken her on trails at this age? Huskies in the Arctic, I can understand that they might need boots. But for the average dog not so is my opinion. There are areas in Eastern OR, ID and WA where there are very scary weeds with heavy thorns but they would pierce any bootie.
What's next; umbrellas? Scarfs?
Never had a dog that couldn't handle any kind of trail. Even my tiny little poodle mix (10 pounds) did well. But before you take her out, start with short distances like a few miles to condition the pads, no pedicures needed.
 
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