Dogs can be sensitive with their paws. It is their instinctive desire to protect their paws from any harm. This is why most dogs squirm when you try to get them to wear shoes.
It might take a lot of treats, belly rubs, and praise to get them into shoes. But, pets do not take to shoes instantly. They might even try to shake and remove the boots. And when they walk, they are not a picture of elegance.
Have you wondered why dogs walk funny with shoes? Are they in pain, uncomfortable, or simply do not like the idea of anything around their paws? Let us find out.
7 Reasons Why Dogs Appear Funny Walking With Shoes
You may want to protect the dog’s feet and keep them clean when outdoors. But it is rarely the case that the pet will take to the idea of wearing shoes.
Here are seven reasons why the dog does a funny walk with shoes.
1. The Dog is Adapting
When you buy a new pair of shoes, you need time to break into them. The shoes might fit you a little too snug at the beginning. You might find it challenging to keep the shoes on for longer periods. The same goes for your furry friend.
If the dog is trying on shoes for the first time in its life, it will need some time to adapt. This is because it has relied on its paws to understand how, where and what speed to walk in. And now it has a funny feeling material under its paws.
It is normal for the dog to walk funny with shoes during the initial phase. Be consistent with the walking practice, and the dog will gradually adapt.
2. The Dog is Uncomfortable
Paws are a channel through which dogs understand their surroundings. The area underneath the paws has a complex structure of veins and capillaries. It is what protects them from varying weather conditions.
So it is natural for the pet tries to protect its paws. If the dog has had a traumatic nail trimming experience, it would be extra sensitive about its feet. It will be uncomfortable if you try to get the dog to wear shoes in such scenarios.
The dog will try to shake and get the shoes off, resulting in a funny walk. We will see below how you can get the dog comfortable with shoes.
3. The Shoes Do Not Fit Right
If you wear a shoe that is too small or big, you will be able to tell the difference instantly. You may experience pain while walking, or your foot may just slip out. The wrong size of shoes will definitely turn your walk funny as well.
If the dog’s shoes are tight, it will feel discomfort with every step that it takes. Dog shoes do need breaking in, but a small-sized shoe will not miraculously fit your dog. If the shoe is big, chances are your dog could trip in them.
You need to measure the paws and how the dog spreads them while walking to get the right-sized shoes.
4. The Shoes Are Heavy
What would you be more comfortable on, a pair of flip-flops or boots? Flip-flops are lightweight and give your feet breathing space. On the other hand, boots can be heavy and can take additional effort while walking. But, for example, if you are going out in the snow, it is boots that will protect your feet.
Your dog, too, will feel the difference between lightweight and heavy shoes. If you suddenly dress the dog up in heavy boots, the weight will result in an awkward walk.
The trick is to familiarize the dog with the boots before going out. Let the pet feel the weight of the shoes. Then, let it walk indoors for a few minutes. And ensure you praise its effort and give it treats.
5. Lack of Sensory Information
Humans and animals alike have an ability known as proprioception. Also called kinesthesia, it is how your body moves freely without much thought.
It is the ability to sense the surroundings, location, movement, and action. It is how the sensory receptors located all over the body communicate with the nervous system.
A dog uses its paws to gather information and send it to the nervous system. With shoes on, this connection is interrupted. The information that it is used to rely on suddenly becomes unavailable. It will be unsure of how the terrain is and where it should place its feet.
Do not worry; your dog can still walk. But it will take time for the dog to build its confidence in shoes.
6. Poor Grip on the Ground
Walking in heels on rough terrain sounds difficult, right? You have to use your sight to see where you are constantly stepping. Or you could risk losing balance and falling.
A dog’s paws are designed to grip surfaces. It is used to feel the ground below its paws to decide where and how fast to walk. In addition, paws provide the dog with traction.
With this information removed from the equation, the dog can hobble and lose its balance even on straight roads.
7. Restricted Movement
The dog needs space around its toes and ankles to walk freely. So, apart from the size, you should also consider the type of shoes that will best suit the dog.
For example, if the shoe goes well beyond the dog’s ankles, it might be uncomfortable for the dog. This is because the joints that it could use freely before are now restricted.
If you are going out in the snow, knee-high boots can protect the dog well. But, if you are taking the dog out for its daily walk, stick to other lightweight and comfortable shoe options.
Also Read: 7 Best Ground Cover for Dogs (2022 Updated)
Is Dog Walking Funny with Shoes a Problem?
It is entirely ok for dogs to walk funny for the first few days they have shoes on. The shoes might make them uncomfortable, but it is rare for a dog to end up in pain.
It is a new experience for the dogs. Their paws are what they heavily rely on to understand their surroundings, grip, balance, and walk steadily. With shoes, there is suddenly a foreign material under their paws. They will take time to make sense of this new accessory.
Of all the seven reasons mentioned above, know that your dog can overcome them with training and consistency.
It is the same case with you as well. If you have never worn heels, it will take a few practice runs before you learn to balance and walk gracefully in them. The same goes for dogs; give them time, and they will adapt.
Do Dogs Really Need Shoes?
A dog’s paws provide them with good protection in cold weather. This is because the vessels in the paws become smaller to reduce the amount of heat leaving the body. How cool is that? But if you plan to venture into the snow and stay out for a longer period, it is best to get some quality shoes for your dog.
Winter months are also when the roads are spread with salt. The salt helps prevent the ice from forming, making roads safer. However, you do not want dogs walking on the salt barefoot, as it can affect their paws.
Heat is another condition in which you should protect a dog’s paws. Spending the day on the beach on a hot summer day may sound nice. But during summers, the sand can get scalding hot. If you can barely four steps without wincing, know that your furry friend will need protection too.
Apart from varying temperatures, shoes can help protect a dog’s paw from sharp objects. It will also prevent them from getting dirty and accumulating snow or mud under their paws.
How to Find the Right Size of Dog Shoes?
You need to measure the dog’s paw size and compare it to the shoe-size chart to find the right shoes for your pet.
The easiest way to measure your dog’s paws is to make an impression on paper. Encourage the pet to keep its paw on a blank paper. Make sure it is putting pressure; the paw should be splayed. If the paw is not splayed, the resulting shoe size will be small for them.
Once the paw is placed and splayed, draw an outline around it. Now, measure the farthest points on the paw, both the length and width. Compare the measurement with the vendor’s shoe-size chart.
Make it a habit to confirm the measurements every time you buy shoes, as the sizes might vary according to the brand.
How to Help Your Dog Walk with Shoes?
Now that we have gone through the reasons why do dogs walk funny with shoes, here are a few tips that can help your dog.
- Trim your dog’s nails routinely. Unkempt nails can hinder walking.
- Wash and clean its paws when they are back from outdoors. These activities make them less sensitive to you touching their feet and having foreign accessories like shoes on them.
- Show the dog its new shoes. Let it see and smell the shoes. Familiarize it with the accessory. Ensure you pick the right shoe using the sizing guide above.
- When at home, put just one shoe on its paw for two minutes. Give it a treat and praise its effort.
- Gradually start putting the shoes on other paws and increase the time the shoes are kept on. Most dogs do not like shoes in the beginning. Remember, praise and treat.
- When your dog does not squirm with shoes on all its paws, you can make it walk inside the house. Play with it, and have fun. Show some encouragement.
- Start taking your dog out for short walks.
If they are comfortable with the shoes indoors, that does not mean they can hike a mountain in the same shoes. It would help if you built your dog’s confidence over time. Be patient with this process.
Why do dogs walk funny with shoes? It could be the wrong shoe size, your dog could be uncomfortable, its movements could be restricted, or it is simply in the process of adapting.
A funny walk with shoes is not a cause for concern. In fact, it is common for dogs to take some time to find their balance and walk steadily with shoes.
You can help the dog get comfortable with shoes by ensuring you buy the correct size. Next, put on the shoes for a few minutes at a time to get them used to the material. Then, finally, get some practice run indoors before they are ready to explore the outdoors.
Consistent training is key. Give them treats, encourage and show them some love.
Elena Gherman is a highly skilled and knowledgeable animal care expert. At the start of her career, she gained practical expertise with multiple animals. In addition to that, she works as a DVM veterinary editor for Joy Pet Products, which focuses on offering reliable information on pet health and wellbeing. She meticulously reviews each piece of writing before it is published to make sure pet owners get the most precise and updated information possible.