On my own blog, you’ll find one post that’s generated more discussion than all the others combined. It’s not about hunting strategy, secret spots, dog training, or bird behavior. It’s about dog boots, and as we grind into the meat of upland bird season, it’s a topic that’s on many dog-owners’ minds.
You either love dog boots or you hate ‘em. Good ones cost an arm and a leg (pun intended). They fall off everywhere, or they wear out on the lava-strewn slopes where we hunt chukars. My solution? Duct tape.
Duct tape has a dark side and a light side. And like The Force, it does hold the universe together. It may also extend your dog’s time afield.
A roll will last several seasons. And the cost-per-boot is pennies. When one does come off in the field, you’re not mad at yourself or the dog, or the retailer who may have sold you specialized booties for upwards of $20 a pair.
It’s simple, easy, and you will slap yourself for not using this miracle-in-a-roll sooner.
Here’s how to do it: Tear off a piece about a foot long. Some guys will fit their dog’s paw into a baby sock or apply Vet Wrap first to protect their leg hair. My dogs can afford to lose a few hairs, so I don’t bother. If you’re booting up to protect a torn or cut pad, lay some gauze over the wound before you start taping.
Lay the tape on the tailgate, sticky side up. Put the dog’s foot in the middle, and loosely wrap Roman-sandal style (spirally) up and around each foot and lower leg. No need to close off the toe end, in fact, you want any gunk that gets in to have a way out. If you find them falling off prematurely, wrap a little higher on the leg so there’s more tape surface contacting dog leg. Go as high on the front foot as over the carpal pad (“thumb”), on the back over to the “knee” joint.
Check often to make sure you haven’t restricted blood circulation – keep it nice and loose all the way up. It’s the wrapping all the way over the fat part of the foot/leg that holds on the tape, not how tight it is. By the end of most hunts, you can usually just pull off the entire boot.
Every dog is puzzled by boots on his first wearing. Some look downright comical trying to walk for a while, and the bootie dance has been the subject of many a YouTube video. But once all four boots are on and bird scent is in the air, no self-respecting dog will give his new fashion statement a second thought.
And, as you extend your season with a footloose dog, you’ll be glad to know this simple, cheap, and useful hack.