Scott B. called with a question I’ve had a LOT of personal experience with: dog boots. This topic has generated more frustration among more hunters than almost any other (besides over/under vs. side-by-side).
Whether it’s cactus or lava rock, sand burrs or goatheads, our pooches’ paws sometimes need a little help if we’re going to hunt more than a day or two in a row. If not, the risk of a foot injury immobilizing your hunting companion is just too high. Besides the cost, I’ve found most dog boots fall off and get lost, or wear out in the course of a day of chukar hunting. I’ll offer my own solution in a minute, but if you insist on using boots, here are some suggestions:
Augment whatever attachment scheme the manufacturer provides. Many hunters will duct-tape the top of the boots to their dog’s leg … just be careful not to wrap too tight and impede blood circulation. To avoid the inevitable howls when removing the duct tape, some guys will put a turn or two of Vet Wrap on the dog’s leg first, and wrap the duct tape on that.
In Texas, a lot of professional guides will do the same with short lengths of inner tubes – motorcycle seems about the right diameter. Cheaper, the foot still “breathes,” and you’re not as mad when they fall off in the puckerbrush. tape the “toe” up if you like, many leave it open so grit falls out with each step.
Here in the volcanic Northwest, we’ve gone completely over to duct tape alone. Dozens of boots per roll, and the price is right. Be very CAREFUL about wrapping – loose is better than tight. Tear off a foot or so of tape, and place your dog’s foot in the middle (sticky side up). Slowly and carefully (not too tight), spiral each end in alternating wraps around the foot (a couple layers), then up the leg a few inches. Kinda like a bandage. If your dog is the strong sensitive type, you can put a baby sock on first, so the tape sticks mainly to that.
It’s not pretty, but it works as well as Cordura, leather and rubber, and the price is right. And when Fido comes back with a bare paw, you’re out a few cents and a couple minutes of re-application, not a pile of dollars.
PS: If you know of a really, really, great dog boot, let me know. I’d love to find one that works!
PPS: Starting to get a lot of requests for the Blaze Buddy Bandana – see here for details on this great safety item for your dog and fundraiser for a good cause. And if you haven’t downloaded the newly-updated Ultimate Upland Checklist, do it now and make sure your season is hassle-free!