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! So, of course, I needed to get my hands and our boys paws on some for taking prints.
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. 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 pad for touchless imprinting. I put it on my Christmas list and lucky me! The stretchy inked portion sits in a thin 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 demo below with pressure and print examples, noting that the latter photos were taken 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). Some are marketed as pet paw kits and appear to be the same product. If you’re very creative, you might be able to make a 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. Not ideal. I wish I’d done them sooner, like our DIY clay paw prints.
The kit was indeed mess free. Yay! With some pre-planning, we came up with a way to take both of the dogs’ 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. Read on for our method and tips for making you own no-mess paw prints.
Selecting a Touchless Ink Kit for Paw Prints
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.
Using a Touchless Ink Pad for Pet Paw Prints
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 Methods First, then Take Prints
I’d also suggest doing 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 photos taken for the collage in the instructions 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!
Taking DIY Ink Paw Prints with a Touchless Kit
Supplies and Materials
To make similar DIY ink paw prints you will need:
- Touchless ink baby print kit or paw print kit (affiliate links)
- 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. It helped immensely, and I’d recommend using a base no matter what your surface. The base 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 helped to protect the countertop during prep and the floor from accidents while we were taking the paw prints. A good buffer in case I fumbled the ink pad or it slide off the paper under a paw during printing. Fortunately neither happened, but the base was still very handy for moving things around.
Making Touchless Ink Paw Prints
To take the DIY ink paw prints, it’s best to follow the instructions that come with your specific product, if they differ from below. If, like mine, there are no instructions at all (yikes!) you can try checking the website or Googling. But not to worry! Most of these kits are pretty simple to figure out and use, even if you don’t have instructions for your specific kit. 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.
Prints, Prints, and More Prints
As noted in our initial verdict above, you can reuse touchless in pads, but the best chance for clear prints comes with the first use. Each impression will consume ink. After first use, follow-on print might be uneven and will become incrementally lighter as you deplete the thin layer of ink on the strechy pad. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try making a few bonus prints. Once you have your first good print, you can reuse the pads 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, as shown in the collage above and photo below.
Using Your Ink Paw Prints
Success? Yay! What to do with your finished DIY ink paw prints is completely up to you. Some owners like to display their pet prints while other like to tuck them safely away as 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 and/or use a UV protecting glass frame. I’d also suggest taking a scan or detailed photo of the prints. That gives you a backup copy. The scan or photo 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.