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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Rufus loves to run down the road for exercise. When I walk (he trots, walks, stops to mark, trots, walks, check pee-mail, etc), we usually go about 2 miles. When I let him really stretch out and run, I usually limit it to a mile. Our road doesn’t have a consistent shoulder and he’s not fond of walking/running in the ditch, so he gets at least 7-10 miles a week primarily on the pavement. I give him free choice to walk on the pavement or shoulder/ditch grass and he typically chooses the pavement. This week our area was in hell’s sauna apparently with crazy humidity and temps near 100, so the pavement is sweltering. I’m considering boots for him since this is his usual means of exercise, but I’m not sure about them. I’m wondering if his clean feet leads to more foot sensitivity or increased risk of foot injury (scrapes to his pads & such).

He has a pencil eraser sized scrape/raw spot right now on the front edge of his main pad on one of his front feet. I feel bad because I checked his feet several times when we went for his run and never saw an indication of a problem. However, later that night I checked his feet again and there was a scrape/raw spot. Of course, then he started licking it. It seems to have healed fairly quickly, but this is the 2nd time in 2-3 weeks he’s had this type of injury to his paws. He actually was favoring it enough yesterday that we didn’t do our usual walk at all, just a stroll to fetch the horses on the grass.

Would letting him have more hair between his pads help protect his pads?
Are boots a good alternative/option?
Do boots let their feet function properly (expand and contract, toe flexing, sweating from the pads, etc) & is that a concern for dogs like it can be for horses?

I’m not usually much on dressing my dogs or being overly fussy with over-protecting them, but I’m thinking Rufus is my heart dog. I also like the look and cleanliness of clean feet (and face). I actually give him high-waters a bit because he does love him some mud.

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I would not buy boots as you’ll be stuck with them forever. I would let his feet rest until they heal and start over, slowly and gradually increasing the distance so his feet have time to get used to it.

If you don’t want to got that way, there is also some kind of cream/grease that mushers apply to their dogs feet to protect from the hard snow that might be easier to use than boots. And more enjoyable for the dog.
 

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I’ve seen adhesive foot pads for dogs advertised a lot recently. I wonder if something like that would help during times of extreme heat?
 
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I agree that you should probably look into boots if you are getting raw pads.

I had to put my dearly departed boys Snarky and Pogo in boots for a season. They liked to help round pen my horses: equines inside the round pen, canines running along on the other side of the round pen fence. That year the sand outside the round pen hardened like concrete, and it wore the callous right off their feet. Musher's wax wouldn't have helped; it wasn't an issue of the feet drying out and cracking. They needed protection from abrasion.

I got them each a set of the original Muttluks, with mixed results. The design was a layer of soft suede leather on the bottom and nylon on top with a velcro ankle strap to hold the boot to the paw. The boots did indeed protect their feet, and the boots didn't rub. The boys happily ran full tilt while wearing them. However, one day the boots rotated, with the result that the boys were running with the boots nylon side down. This destroyed the boots; the nylon couldn't hold up to the abrasion. I was frustrated by the destroyed boots, but I was still pleased that the boots protected the feet even when worn upside down. I haven't tested any of the newer Muttluks designs or any other brand.
 

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I would not go down the route of boots. If it is that hot there are other reasons than hurt feet to overall limit exercise on days such as we had this week, like heat stroke for you and your dog. I do brain games in the house in super hot days. If you really think your dog needs his feet protected some way then I would use Musher's Secret. It is easy to apply and won't require getting pup to accept wearing them.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Today was a much milder day and mostly overcast, so I took Rufus out on the roads. I checked his pads before we left and they looked ok—not perfect, but not raw or scabbed. About halfway through his run—and man, can he RUN—I checked his pads again and one was bleeding. He, of course, never slows down even when his feet look bad (to me) until later when we’ve been home for a while. We turned around and now I’m guessing I will need to get boots. I’m not sure the heat of the road is the issue. I’m really thinking it’s the pavement’s roughness. I’m sure the heat probably amplifies the abrasive action of the road, but I think the main issue is abrasion. The location is odd to me though, but I don’t know nearly as much about the biomechanics of foot placement/impact for dogs as I do horses. It’s always the apex of the sort-of pentagon pad about half on the bottom of the pad and the other half in the crease between the big pad and the toe pads. (I’m going to Google the biomechanics now.)

I do brain games and indoor training with him almost everyday and increase it when it’s brutally hot. However, I’ve found that he needs the exertion of running at least once a week to let him focus. He’s a very busy dog without pacing, but vigilant—checking the perimeter, checking in with me, and listening for interlopers (sometimes just a car going down the road). Even with brain games & indoor ‘obedience’ training, he gets into more trouble—barking at every frog peeing in the road, getting in his peoples’ faces, mouthing and trying to wrestle with his people, chasing the bunnies by running around their pen, wrestling with the Aussie until she gets quite angry, etc—if he doesn’t get a good long walk or a shorter run.

Maybe I’m not doing the right kind of brain games…I’m teaching him various tricks, teaching him to play seek while I hide, fetch, working on impulse control using his ‘place’, jumping over obstacles I’ve made for him in the house, basic obedience-type things, using his Kong gyro-ball, and probably more, but I’m not remembering right now. We don’t necessarily do all of these things every time or every day, but when we can’t get good exercise outside I try to do several 15+ minute sessions with him doing one or more of these activities while getting him to focus on me and what I’m asking. The worst days for him are the ones after I have a flare-up of my migraine and can’t leave the darkness of my room for a day. When I’m feeling bad, he’s really good and stays near me, very calm and quiet. When I recover though, that next day I usually have to work extra hard to feed his brain and drain his battery. My kiddos have tried to do the same kind of things with him when I’m down, but he wants to stay with me and loses interest in whatever they’re trying to do with him.

if he were a horse having this trouble I’d probably boot him, so I’m thinking that’s what I should do.
 

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Elroy: Standard Poodle, Born 02/20/21
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Calluses take time to form. They form due to tiny abrasions that heal. Rinse & repeat. Perhaps this surface is too abrasive for his current level of calluses. I would allow the injury to heal, and then limit his exposure to the abrasive roads to help him develop thicker calluses where needed. Shoes will inhibit formation of calluses.
 

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When I question how hot the pavement is, I do the bare foot test. If it's too hot for my feet, then it's too hot for hers. This summer, I got these for Basil when it's above 83F/28.3C. We're in the city our general strategy is to go from shady spot to shady spot until she stops panting. It's peace-of-mind more then anything. These shoes are overkill and it's tough to swallow $40. But, Seattle's getting warmer and warmer and I would rather bite the bullet now.

In the size 7 for a 3" foot. Her foot is 2.5" wide.

We have other winter/rain "socks" that are thin.
 

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I have ruffwear boots for Misha. He does pretty well with them but I would advise socks with boots because they can cause calluses and rub hair off of clean feet. I think if you are seeing raw pads that it may be time for boots.
We use Ruffwear with our service dogs, too. Did a lot of experimenting to reach this choice. Primarily we are concerned with hot pavement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you! I’ll probably buy some boots to keep with me on our walks if he begins to have trouble. That way hopefully I can build up his callouses while still giving him the exercise he needs.
 

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Thank you! I’ll probably buy some boots to keep with me on our walks if he begins to have trouble. That way hopefully I can build up his callouses while still giving him the exercise he needs.
When my guys wore their feet down it took several weeks to build the callous again. They generally had more trouble with frozen sandy ground than hot ground, probably because they got hot and took a break before destroying their feet in warm weather. In your case I would be concerned both about the foot abrasion and the possibility of overheating when running on roads.
 

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Do you have horse pasture you could run him on instead of the road? I agree, my poodle requires a good RUN at least once a week for both of our sanity but it's never me running lol. I take her to the field to play with other dogs, play fetch, or go on an offleash hike. I'm not a big fan of exercise on hard pavement for humans or dogs. Otherwise, yeah, boots are worth a try.
 

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My poodle needs a good run 3 times a day. Luckily we have a lot of fields near by.

My collie, rip, had boots to protect her paws from getting wet as she was getting sores between the pads due to mishapen arthritic paws.

Got them from amazon. They werent a great fit but did the job.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Do you have horse pasture you could run him on instead of the road? I agree, my poodle requires a good RUN at least once a week for both of our sanity but it's never me running lol. I take her to the field to play with other dogs, play fetch, or go on an offleash hike. I'm not a big fan of exercise on hard pavement for humans or dogs. Otherwise, yeah, boots are worth a try.
My horse pasture uses electric fencing & Rufus is more than capable of running under the fencing. He can find holes my horses only dream of using. I used to let him run the forest behind my parents’ house, but a run-in between my dad & Rufus made that option no longer viable. I’d prefer to not use The hard pavement either, but needs must…
 

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I would absolutely be moving your runs off the road. 100 degrees is too hot on asphalt, and dogs are hardwired to keep up with us, even when it causes them pain or longterm injury.


This was on a 92 degrees day:

“Asphalt, depending on its age, is black so it absorbs the most energy of any color and should be the warmest substance found. The asphalt I measured had an average temperature of 145°.”


Boots could easily cause their own problems, by causing your boy to overheat. But another option would be to run him very early in the day, checking the temperature of the road with your own skin to be safe. I like to use something other than the palm of my hand.
 

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Can you run with him onleash in the pasture?

When Annie wasn't offleash reliable and was bouncing with adolescent energy, I used a 50' long line (read, rope from the hardware store) attached to the back of a harness, and let her drag it if I thought she was being good, held on to end if I thought she might run off. I would walk, toss her ball behind me, and keep walking so she had to run 30 ft behind me then run to me. I have never had a fenced yard but would walk to sports fields/industrial fields etc to exercise her.

One really good toy for on leash play is a jolly soccer ball. 15 min of soccer and Annie is lying on the ground, teeth sunk into the ball, panting.


Here's a list I came up with when living with a crazy adolescent spoo in an apartment.

 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Can you run with him onleash in the pasture?

When Annie wasn't offleash reliable and was bouncing with adolescent energy, I used a 50' long line (read, rope from the hardware store) attached to the back of a harness, and let her drag it if I thought she was being good, held on to end if I thought she might run off. I would walk, toss her ball behind me, and keep walking so she had to run 30 ft behind me then run to me. I have never had a fenced yard but would walk to sports fields/industrial fields etc to exercise her.

One really good toy for on leash play is a jolly soccer ball. 15 min of soccer and Annie is lying on the ground, teeth sunk into the ball, panting.


Here's a list I came up with when living with a crazy adolescent spoo in an apartment.

Leashed running in the horse field is also a no-go because it has quite a few trees…it’s not pasture so much as making-due with what we have. This was last winter/fall. The girls were sleeping near the fence, but the trees are like this throughout. i rely pretty heavily on hay and small plots of grass that I use portable electric fencing for grazing. I wish he were horse-safe because then I could exercise the horse & him at the same time, but he has a pretty strong prey-drive and sees the horses moving as them running away prey. The smaller (headless in this photo) horse sees dogs as prey & chases them if they infringe on her space.

thank you for the list of activities!

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