To dog owners, snow in New York City can only mean one thing: salt on sidewalks. When Annie
worries that the salt and de-icer on the pavement is harming Ralphie’s paws, she calls on her
friend and Animal Planet Pet Expert, Travis Brorsen, for help.
Welcome to PAWcademy with Travis Brorsen! Animal Planet Pet Expert, Travis Brorsen,
spends most of his days training New Yorkers and their dogs. From pups who pull to dogs that
won’t come when they’re called to choosing the best products for your fur-baby, there are so
many tricks that Travis is passionate to share with dog owners. In each online episode of
PAWcademy, you’ll go behind the scenes with Travis and his four-legged friends as they tackle
various dog training obstacles. Get your pen and paper because class is officially in session!
Episode 1: Winter Walks
Winter brings many challenges, but with challenges come opportunities. I recently worked with a
dog owner named Annie. She has been battling the snow and ice with fear that if she doesn’t
protect her dog’s paws from the winter elements and salt deicer they will burn off. It’s no wonder
she feels this way. We read about the chemicals in deicer and how bad they are for our dogs.
Then, when a piece of salt gets stuck between the pads of our dog’s paw, our dogs react as if
they’ve been shot. In most cases, it simply resembles the feeling of us having a rock in our
shoe, which on occasion causes us to react as if our foot is broken. So I can see how we, as
owners, are led to believe that all winter elements are dangerous.
Let me start by saying this; salt and chemicals in de-icer can be very harmful to our dogs. But
don’t let it keep you from going outside. The chemicals and salt are most dangerous when they
are ingested or after prolonged exposure to our dog’s paws and skin. I recently saw a picture on
the internet of a dogs paw pads before walking on elements and after. It looked like my hands
after working on the ranch for a day without wearing gloves. Guess what! My hands are fine.
Take these three simple steps to insure you set your pup up for success:
1. Avoid the salt if possible.
For those of us that have small dogs, simply carry your dog over or around the salt. Find
a nice place where the snow has been untouched. You never know, they might like it.
2. Remove the salt from between the paw pads.
When our pups walk through salt without booties they tend to get the salt stuck between
the paw pads. It’s not necessarily chemicals burning their pads. Remember, the biggest
concern is ingestion of the salt and chemicals or prolonged exposure.
3. Clean the paw pads after every walk.
To avoid prolonged exposure to the chemicals, simply wipe your dogs paw pads as soon
as you get home from your outing with water and a washcloth.
If you are worried about your dog’s paws getting too cold, well don’t worry. They have blood
veins that run through their pads that flow from a main artery, keeping the pads nice and warm
in temperatures well below zero.
So if you didn’t prepare for the winter storm, don’t let it hold you back. Take the safety
precautions necessary and get out there have a blast!
About Travis Brorsen - Animal Planet Pet Expert & Trainer
Travis Brorsen is one of the most sought after dog trainers in America today. Travis is Founder
and CEO of Greatest American Dog Trainers, and is Animal Planet’s pet expert and trainer,
hosting their new series, My Big Fat Pet Makeover, which just finished Season One.
Travis and his team of trainers at Greatest American Dog Trainers not only provides hands-on
training and structured dog walking to their canine clients and their humans, but are also
focused on helping pets become more holistically healthy, fit and happy.
Growing up on a farm and ranch in Oklahoma, Travis has been around animals large and small
his entire life. However, choosing to pursue a career in entertainment rather than agriculture, he
moved to Los Angeles after college where he appeared in more than 20 national commercials
and guest starred in several hit shows such as Desperate Housewives, JAG, Bones, Drop Dead
Diva and many others.
In 2008, Travis and his 14-month old, highly energetic and untrained boxer, Presley, were
selected as contestants for CBS’ national dog training competition, Greatest American Dog.
While producers (and Vegas) gave the duo little chance of advancing past the first week, Travis
and Presley pushed themselves to their limits and after 12 weeks of grueling competition, beat
the odds and won the entire competition.
As a result of the show, Travis discovered he had a passion to help other dogs and their owners
create similar positive learning and relationship building experiences and spent the next five
years building a highly successful dog training business in Los Angeles. After moving to New
York City in 2012 to marry his sweetheart Heather, he founded Greatest American Dog Trainers
and can currently can be spotted in Manhattan working intently with a Park Avenue pooch.
Travis was nominated for TV’s Best Dynamic Duo for the Fox Reality Awards, and is a frequent
guest on many TV and Radio shows such as Rachael Ray, Fox and Friends, Animal Planet’s
Faithful Friends, National Geographic’s Brain Games, E! and others. He has contributed to
many magazines and websites such as Good Housekeeping, Life and Dog Magazine, Boxers
Magazine, Star and Hollywood Life.