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How to Get Your Dog’s Paw Print Without Paint: 2 Vet Approved Alternatives

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Dog paw print in the sand

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Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

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Getting your dog’s paw print is a fun project for your kids or if you want to create a personalized piece of memorabilia that you’ll always have with you. Using the right materials and making sure your dog is comfortable will ensure that everyone enjoys the craft project.

There are three ways to get your dog’s paw print. You can use non-toxic ink or paint, make salt dough, or create a digital print with a photo. We cover the steps for the two last methods here.

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Before You Start

DIY projects like getting your dog’s paw print are fun, but there are a few things to keep in mind before you start.

Use Non-toxic Materials

Your dog might be more than happy to take part in your DIY project, but this doesn’t mean you can use the first materials that you see. You need to make sure the dough, ink, or paint that you use is as safe for your pet as possible.

Only use water-based paints and inks, so they’re easy to clean up without chemicals. You’ll also need to double-check that the materials are non-toxic just in case your dog licks their paws before you can clean them up. Never leave your dog unattended with the ink, paint, or raw dough.

a woman holding the paw of brown dog
Image Credit: Ivan Babydov, Pexels

Ensure Comfort First

Always make sure your dog is comfortable when you include them in your DIY projects. If they’re not happy having their paws messed with, they might become aggressive to get you to leave them alone. Only try these tips if you know that your dog is happy to join in and will have fun too.

Clean Your Dog’s Paw

First, clean your dog’s paws with a damp cloth. This will help prevent any dirt from their outdoor adventures from mixing with the paint and ruining your pristine paw print design.

close up of person cleaning or washing a dog paw
Image Credit: 220 Selfmade studio, Shutterstock

Use Treats

The best way to make sure your dog associates this with a positive experience is to reward them when the prints are made. Use their favorite treats to say, “thank you,” and, “well done,” for letting you borrow their paws for your DIY project. Their favorite treats will also help you keep their attention away from the ink or paint on their paws until you can clean up.

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Method 1: How to Use Dough to Get Your Dog’s Paw Print

1. Prepare the Dough

A cleaner alternative to inks and paints is dough. The best part is that you’ll likely already have all the ingredients that you need in your kitchen. To make the dough, you need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • ½ cup water

Add the water slowly until you can press the dough into a smooth ball or roll it into flat “cookies.” If you find that your dough is too sticky, add more flour to dry it out a bit.

Although this is a safe method of getting your dog’s paw print, never leave them unattended with the dough. The dough contains a large amount of salt. Eating it can cause salt poisoning (hypernatremia), which can result in signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, lack of appetite, lethargy, and incoordination. In severe cases, tremors, seizures, coma, and death can occur.


2. Create the Print

Once the raw dough is complete, it’s time to add your dog’s paw print. Your ball of dough needs to be soft enough that you don’t need much pressure to leave an imprint but firm enough that it doesn’t break into pieces. You can test it by creating an imprint of your own finger before you create your dog’s paw print.

When you’re happy with the dough, place it on a flat surface and cover it with wax paper. Make sure your dog is comfortable with you holding their paw and gently press your dog’s paw into the dough. If you’ve made enough dough, you can make more than one imprint and choose the best one. Remember to clean up properly and give your dog a treat for their patience.

Dog makes cookies from dough in the kitchen
Image Credit: Viktor Osipenko, Shutterstock

3. Bake the Dough

With the print complete, shape the dough into a circle, heart, or another design, and place it on a baking tray. Preheat the oven to approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and slowly bake the dough. This will take a while, but it’s important not to use a too-high temperature, or the dough might split while it’s being baked.

Check the dough regularly as it bakes until it’s completely dry—it might take 20–30 minutes or a little longer—and then set it aside to cool. You can leave it as-is, give it a glossy sheen with varnish or polyurethane, or paint it.

Divider-Dog bone- New

Method 2: How to Make a Digital Paw Print

1. Take a Photo of Your Dog’s Paw

Not all dogs like having their paws messed with, or maybe you don’t want to use ink, paint, or dough to make a print. Taking a photo of your dog’s paw is a simple and quick alternative that doesn’t require you to mess with sensitive paws too much.

Wait until your dog is asleep or otherwise relaxed, and carefully take a few pictures of their paw. You can ask a friend to help by distracting your dog or holding their paw so you can take a picture.

pads of the paws of a small homeless puppy
Image Credit: Vladimir_Kazachkov, Shutterstock

2. Edit Your Photo

For the best results, take several pictures of your dog’s paw so you can choose the best one. Once you’ve got a picture that you like, you can edit the photo yourself or invest in a company online that’ll do it for you.

If you plan on editing it yourself, you’ll need photo editing software and patience. Zoom in and outline the shape of your dog’s paw pad, and create a simple black-and-white print. Remember to save it and you’re done!

You can also hire a company to make a digital print for you. They’ll make a print from your dog’s paw print photo and make it into a framed picture or another type of memorabilia.

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Final Thought

A keepsake of your dog’s paw print is the perfect way to decorate your home with personalized art and keep your pet with you always. Getting your dog’s paw print is easy, and there are three methods that you can try.

Non-toxic ink or paint and salt dough are the most common methods for dogs that don’t mind having their paws handled. If your dog is more nervous about their paws, though, you can take a picture of their paw and create a digital print or purchase a personalized dog paw print online.


Featured Image Credit: PeskyMonkey, Shutterstock

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