I made these for my Australian Shepherd, Copper, who drags his hind feet badly, especially when relaxing in his wheelchair. I got the idea from Amy on the Able Dogs list. .If your dog is smaller or larger, you may have to adjust the instructions appropriately. These are working well for us as an "emergency" pair when I don't have better ones available, the materials are widely available and inexpensive. They are a work in progress and I'm sure the design will evolve over time. the way I'm making them, they are probably not waterproof.
Roll of duct tape
Approx 6" (two 3" pieces) Stick-on velcro, 1/2 wide - hook side
Approx 24" (two 12" pieces) Sew-on velcro,
1/2" wide - loop side
If you can't find sew-on easily, you can back a couple feet of stick-on with any available fabric or lightweight plastic (maybe from a baggie?). First aid tape? Cut down this backing material to fit the velcro piece. Using duct tape would make it too stiff, it will be wrapped around the dog's leg. If necessary, you can finish the ends of sew-on velcro to prevent unravelling if that becomes a problem, using school glue.
Scissors (not your GOOD pair!)
Measuring tape for your first pair at least.
Gotta have a Canine Supervisor too:
Measure your dog's foot:
These photos are of Leilah's foot, not the dog I'm making these for. But her short hair makes for better photos.
Measure around the widest part of the foot:
Leilah measures 4.5. Copper measured 5.5.
Measure the length around the foot, including
the long leg bones. I measured just about to the hocks
Leilah measured almost 11", Copper measured 12". These are being made for Copper, so further instructions will be for his size.
For a medium dog, you'll want to add about 1/2" to the width of the boot. Copper measured 5.5" around at the foot. So I want the boot to be about 6" around at the foot. Half of that is 3", wider than the duct tape. So, I had to overlap two pieces, each about 12" long (Copper's length measurement):
Then lay two more pieces on the first pieces, sticky sides together:
Don't worry about the ends, they'll get trimmed later.
Now fold it in half. The fold is the toe end.
Wrap duct tape around at the toe two or three times
You need to wrap it up high enough to get to the long bone of the dog's leg. So, slip it onto your dog's foot and see how far you need to go. Remember, when the foot is flat, it will bring it down a bit. And it may slip down a bit more when the dog drags his foot. So be on the generous side when doing this part. Copper needed two wraps. If you need less than the width of the tape, you might want to cut it lengthwise instead of overlap it. That will make it less stiff.
(Note: in my first try I tried to make darts for the toes - the extra angles you see at the toe in this photo.. They weren't worth the effort, so ignore that.)
Now trim the top a few inches above the last wrap, leaving the upper part split open as tabs. Attach a 3" piece of stick-on velcro, hook side, to the center of one side. Stick a 12" piece of the loop side onto it (loop side is usually more flexible, for wrapping around the dog's leg). That's it!
(again, ignore the extra corners at the toe)
When you put it on your dog, you will tuck
one tab's edges under the other as you fit it around the leg. Then wrap
the velcro around a couple times.
They will be stiff at first, but they do break in and bend better with use. Copper was walking in them much better by the end of our test drive. They don't seem to really encourage flat foot walking enough for Copper's problems, which is why I'd probably not use them for him if I had something better on hand. He doesn't have enough strength and coordination in his feet to bend them easily, it took some break in before he could walk well. Being in a cart wheelchair/walker, it's not a big problem if his hind feet aren't cooperating as much because of the boots and it definitely beats staying home or scraping up his feet. He did pretty well in them overall. If the velcro looks kind of funny in these last pics, it's because I reused the velcro straps from a commercially made pair of booties and I edited the company's name out.
After our first test drive, (almost 2 hours on mostly concrete, but also grass and decomposed granite) Copper did wear through the very tip of them at the fold. That was from a toenail, and it wore in an area where it wasn't overlapped. The tops of his feet where he drags them were still fully covered. . So, I'll need to layer more duct tape at the ends next time I make them. . In the meantime, repairs are very easy, just add some more tape over the end.
If you want some kind of lining, you can probably use a baby sock.
Toe caps I've tried:
Aluminum tape: Didn't hold up
Aluminum cut off a disposable roasting pan: Lasted through one walk except for in a corner. The edges are pretty sharp. I can't do this smoothly enough to safely try again unless I find a better way to do it. I did cut myself and I don't want Copper to do the same..
"Glass Cloth Electrical Tape" (fiberglass): Didn't hold up
I want to try:
Heavier fiber glass
Combinations of the above