No mess? Oh yes! Pawfect indeed. I’d always wanted to make ink pet prints with our boys, but was nervous about the potential for messy paw prints everywhere, even if we tried outdoors. I could imagine a rapid escape and pitter patter prints across the patio. Or missed residual ink sneaking from paws onto furniture or carpets. Yikes. See how we made these super simple keepsake DIY ink dog paw prints with Oli and Humphrey. Quick and mess free!
This DIY was inspired by baby footprints and handprints. Not having any human babies ourselves, it wasn’t something we’d thought much about, but I figured there had to be products for all those keepsake prints I’ve seen over the years that didn’t involve too much mess. Maybe? Yes indeed!
Baby Handprint and Footprint Kits
There are products that use “inkless” wipes and special reactive paper. They work similar to invisible ink and developers. Cute, but not ideal for pets as it would be very tricky to apply the inkless solution to paws and get them straight into paper without stepping, wiping, or smudging. Perhaps small pets that are easily lifted and hovered for wiping and printing. No chance of hovering here!
The product I decided to try comes as a pre-inked touch-less pad. I put it on my Christmas list and voila! The stretchy inked portion sits in a frame and is placed on top of paper for making a print under applied pressure. They aren’t inkless, although they’re often labelled or described as such, but you don’t touch the ink to make the print. With careful handling, the baby’s hands and feet (or pet paws in my case) don’t touch the ink at all. See my finger tip demo below using scrap paper after the main part of the pad had already been used for taking paw prints.
Touchless Ink Print Kit Sources and Suppliers
Although this DIY did require buying special supplies, this type of kit is inexpensive and readily available through baby stores and online retailers. Hubby bought mine as a gift, but Amazon has a variety of similar looking baby handprint and foot print kits (affiliate link). A few are also marketed as pet paw kits and appear to be the same product. If you’ve very creative, you might be able to make your own touchless pad with cardboard, stretchy plastic material, and gel ink; however, for the price and avoiding the potential mess, ready-made is pretty appealing.
After my husband bought the kits, it was still a year before we finally used them. We took these DIY ink paw prints shorty before Oli passed away. Take a lesson from us and don’t wait until it’s too late. I was panicking about screwing it up. I only had two pads and I didn’t know how well they’d work, how many prints attempts they’d last for, and it was unlikely I could get more in time to try again with Oli. Even worse, the product didn’t have any instructions at all in the package. Yikes.
The kit was indeed mess free. Yay! With some pre-planning, we came up with a way to take both of the boys prints (see below) with minimal effort and good results. Be forewarned, however, that the first print (or print attempt) will consume ink and any follow-on prints (or print attempts) will be uneven and incrementally lighter and lighter and lighter as you deplete the ink. So no pressure, but try to get it right the first time or pick up a spare kit. Once you have a good print, you can reuse them as much as you’d like just for extras and fun. Who cares if they’re not perfect? I cut up some extra paper and used the pads until their ink was well and truly worn out.
Using a Touchless Ink Pad to Take Mess Free Pet Paw Prints
Selecting a Kit
Although most touchless ink kits are similar, there are different colour options (ours are classic black) and size options. If you have a large pet, at minimum, make sure that the ink pad is larger than your pet’s paw. Check the product dimensions carefully before buying. As noted above, the kits don’t reuse well, so look for a bargain and buy a spare or pick a product that comes with spare pads. The imprint cards aren’t as important. You can easily cut your own extras or substitutes. Some of the ones with our kits were squished in the packaging, but the edges won’t be visible in framed use, so no biggie.
Preparing Your Pet for Taking DIY Ink Paw Prints
For clear impressions, start with clean paws and trimmed nails (if needed). If your pet has furry feet, they may also benefit from a groom and trim since the fur will create blurry prints. Or leave them and love them just as they are, blurry fur and all. As with our DIY clay paw prints, this is a project best undertaken when your pet is feeling relaxed and cooperative, so you may need to take care of the trimming and grooming well ahead of schedule, especially if your pet isn’t a fan.
Unlike clay that can be rolled to start again, touchless ink kits have limited reuse as noted above. An extra helper goes a long way towards keeping it low stress and getting a clean print. I handled the pad positioning and my husband took care of dog wrangling. I’m not sure I could have gotten clean prints solo. Obliging Oli perhaps, but probably not wiggly young Humphrey.
Test then Print
I’d also suggest a few dry runs (literally) without the ink pad to refine your technique before you try taking ink paw prints. This helped us figure out the positioning and what worked best for the dogs before risking the ink pads. Hubs gave poor sweet Oli a sling assist to ensure he was comfortable and steady with a lifted front paw. Humphrey did best with a trick and treat distraction.
With the exception of the demo photo taken for the collage below, Humphrey’s prints were taken with him seated and both of us in front of him. My husband had him shake, and I gently guided the returning paw onto the waiting pad on the floor while he received his treat. Excellent distraction! Humphrey dislikes having his paws handled, but this worked very well for him and for us. Sorry – no action photos as it was all hands on the job!
Supplies and Materials
To make similar DIY ink paw prints you will need:
- Touchless ink hand/foot/paw print kit(s)
- Extra paper (optional)
- Base support (optional) such as a cutting board, firm cardboard, or other suitable material
I used a cutting board as my base support. Our concrete floors are slippery, and I was worried about the pad sliding using printing. Based upon how easy this made printing, I’d recommend a base no matter what your surface. This made it very easy to move the ink pad and paper in and out of position, and rapidly slide to adjust on the fly if needed as paws went down. It also protected the counter or floor in case I fumbled the ink pad or it slide off the paper under a paw during printing. Fortunately neither happened, but it was still very handy for moving things around.
Taking the DIY Ink Paw Prints
To take the DIY ink paw prints, follow the instructions on your specific product. If, like mine, there are none (yikes!) you can check the website or try Googling. Here’s how ours worked:
- Create a safe working area by covering your counter or table top, just in case. The kits aren’t messy when used correctly, but better safe than sorry. Especially if you’re clumsy. Like me.
- Remove the kit items from the packaging.
- Place the touchless in pad, ink side down, on the imprint card (or your own paper). I recommend using a moveable non-slip base material (optional) underneath as noted in the supplies and materials section above. In addition to added protection, this makes it easy to move, position, and use the pad. Especially helpful if working on the floor with large pets, like our boys.
- Double check that your pad is ink side down, non-ink side up and that the paper is in place underneath.
Taking the Prints:
- Move the materials into position for printing.
- Gently press your pet’s paw on pad. Be as controlled and even as possible. Try not to wiggle, slide, or rub. As noted above, how to do this will vary depending on you and your pets. I recommend some dry runs before printing.
- Return your materials to your safe working area.
- Carefully remove the pad from the paper to (hopefully) reveal a great pawprint.
- Repeat with new imprint paper, if/as you wish. If you are taking different paws or different pets, you may want to have prepared labelled places or sticky tabs to keep the prints separately identified,
- Place the printed paper(s) individually paw print side up, somewhere safe to complete dry for the time period recommended by your kit before use or storage. If (like mine) no instructions are included, leave it for a minimum of 48hrs.
Using Your Paw Prints
What to do with your prints is completely up to you. Some owners like to display their pet prints while other like to tuck them safely away and a more private memento. Framing is a very easy display option for ink paw prints. To protect your precious paw print mementos from time and fading, it’s best to keep framed prints out of the sunshine, though. I’d also suggest taking a scan or detailed photo of the prints. That gives you a backup copy. It can also be used for printing and display instead of using the original or you can use it to create (or special order) all sorts of customised paw print projects.