The Pet Paw Print Impression Process
A step-by-step procedure on how to get the perfect impression of your pet's paw print.
And everything you will need to know about getting a good impression.

First, a word on impression materials:

Play-doh, home made or store bought (any color), is my preferred material to use for impressions. Play-doh is softer than clay so the paw can sink into the material easily with very minimal pressure.

A cat paw impression using home made Play-doh.
A catfood can makes a great impression container for a small paw.
Don't forget the lid!

Play-doh also captures incredible detail.
Press your finger into some Play-doh and look at your resulting finger print!

Yes, I can make you a finger print pendant! See my "Foundry" page.

Other impression materials:
Although Play-doh is my favorite, I can make a Pet-Paw from ANY impression material. If you have an old plaster or clay impression that you would like to have a Pet-Paw made from, I can do it. But, there are a few things to consider:
1. The impression could get lost in the mail. If your impression is a sacred item, then it may be risky to send it in the mail.
2. I will pour hot wax into the impression. To keep the wax from sticking to the impression, I will have to coat the impression with a release agent (shellac, saddle soap, vaseline, or vegetable oil) which may stain the impression. The wax can stain the impression also.
3. There is a chance the impression could get damaged when the wax pattern is removed. Wax really sticks to some materials such as Crayola Model Magic, plaster, and clay because they are fairly porous. My success rate with using these kinds of impressions is pretty high. I have had minimal damage.

An impression made of Crayola Model Magic material.


An impression made of plaster taken from a print
in the back yard.


Key Points for a successful impression resulting in an awesome Pet-Paw:

1. Play-doh must be smooth, flat, and level. Play-doh should be packed into the container so if you flip it upside down, the play-doh will stay stuck to the bottom of the container.
2. Paw impression depth should be 1/8" to 1/4" for cats and small dogs and 1/4" to 3/8" for large dogs. Dog print impressions should always show the claws. Claws in cat impressions may or may not be seen.
3. Leave a minimum of 1/2" margin between the paw impression and the sides of the container.
4. Label your impression container and lid with your name and your pet's name.

Remember, what you see in your impression is what you get in your Pet-Paw.

If you are unsure if your impression is a good one, email a photo of your impression to: and I will take a look and let you know if it will work.

Continue reading below for more details on making a good impression.

Common mistake: customers are making their impressions too deep!

Please make the impressions no deeper than listed below:

Cats: 1/8" to 1/4" deep

Small dogs: 1/4" deep

Large dogs: 1/4" to 3/8" deep

Deep impressions, especially from small animals, results in distorted paw pads.

An example of what an impression looks like that is too deep.

Here are two wax patterns made from the same paw with two different impressions.
The impression for the paw on the right is too deep. The paw is distorted.
The impression on the left is just right. There is no paw distortion.
This is the SAME PAW.

The Pet Paw Print Impression Process
What you need to get started:

You will need an impression kit. You can make your own, or buy one from us (with purchase of Pet-Paw - see "Order" page). An impression kit includes a container with a lid, some Play-doh, a mini rolling pin, and instructions. I highly encourage you to make your own, especially if you need it in a hurry, or if you live outside of the U.S.
Make sure your container is big enough so that the paw does not come in contact with the edges. Make sure it has a lid so that you can seal it. Sandwich containers work really well because they are big enough for big dogs and they fit very well into a small flat-rate Priority mail box. Small catfood/dogfood containers with lids work well for the small paws too.
Homemade Play-doh works very well. See recipe below if you decide to make your own Play-doh. Store bought Play-doh works very well also. Any color of store-bought Play-doh will work. If you have old Play-doh and it's a bit stiff, just microwave it for about 25 seconds and then knead it really well before using.
Rolling pin:
You can use a rolling pin to smooth and flatten your Play-doh after you press it into the container. A piece of PVC pipe works well. Your fingers will do the trick also.

The Pet-Paw impression kit.

Step 1 - prepare the Play-doh

If your Play-doh seems a bit hard, put it into the microwave for about 25 seconds to soften it. Knead the Play-doh and then pack it down into the container so that it will stick to the bottom. Push down along the edges too. When you turn the container upside-down the Play-doh should not move or fall out. This must be done so that the Play-doh will not dislodge during shipping. Make sure the Play-doh is 1/2" to 1" thick - enough so that the paw will not push through the play-doh and touch the bottom of the container when taking the impression.
Very important: for great Pet-Paw results, make the surface of the Play-doh as flat and smooth as possible. Use a mini rolling pin, or your fingers. Also keep the Play-doh level in the container as shown in the photo.
Common questions:
Should I use store-bought Play-doh or homemade Play-doh? If you are sending your impression from England or some place far away, and the impression will take a couple of weeks to arrive, then use store bought Play-doh. Home made Play-doh can mold over time or if it gets real warm. Also use store-bought Play-doh if you plan to store your impression for any time before sending it to us. Use home-made or store bought Play-doh if you are going to send the impression right away and you live within the United States.

A perfect imression container with homemade Play-doh flattened and smoothed using my thumbs. Notice the Play-doh surface is level all the way around the container. If I turn this container upside down the play-doh will not fall out.

Step 2 - take the impression

Wipe off the bottom of your dog's paw so it is clean. Try to get loose fur and any debris away. If the paw is really furry, you may need to do a little trimming. Make sure the claws are trimmed if they are long. If you are unable to trim the claws, that is ok, I can "trim" them later when they are in the wax pattern. Coat the surface of the dog's paw pads with a little vegetable oil so they will not stick to the Play-doh.

Small dogs:
It is much easier to get the paw impression with two people. One person can hold the dog in their arms while the second person simply pushes the Play-doh container into the dog's paw. It is best to gently push each toe pad and the large middle pad slightly down into the Play-doh to be sure all pads and claws make an impression into the Play-doh. Gently pull the paw out of the Play-doh. The vegetable oil will keep the pads and fur from sticking. The impression should be between than 1/8" to 1/4" deep.

Large dogs:
Again, it is always easier to get the paw impression with two people. A great way to get a big dog's paw impression is to have him lay down on the floor. One person can distract the dog (treats are a big hit!) while the other person pushes the Play-doh container into the paw. This method works better than having your dog "stand" on the Play-doh with all their weight. Please make sure that the impression is 1/4" to 3/8" deep.

No need to use vegetable oil on the bottom of the paw. Cat's paws don't stick to the Play-doh. Cats prefer two people when having their paw impression taken. One person can hold the cat while the other person pushes the Play-doh container into the cat's paw. If you are brave enough to try and get your cat's paw impression by yourself, follow this procedure: very carefully, reach around your cat from behind and hold both shoulders and front legs in each hand. Hold your cat's front end up over the Play-doh container and gently lower your cat towards the container keeping the leg straight so that one of the paws pushes into the Play-doh. You can gently press the toes to make sure that all the pads make an impression. The impression should only be 1/8" to 1/4" deep.

Minx takes his paw impression.

Step 3 - make sure you got a good impression

Evaluate your impression. The photos show what your pet's paw impression should look like. The impression should be as close to the center of the container as possible. There should be at least a 1/2" margin between the paw impression and the sides of the container. You should be able to see the main pad and all 4 toe pads. Dog impressions should include the claw marks for a natural paw print look. You may or may not see the claw marks with cat paw impressions. The overall impression depth should be approximately 1/8" to 1/4" for small animals and 1/4" to 3/8" for medium and large animals. There should still be Play-doh material underneath the impression. If any part of your pet's paw touched the bottom or the sides of the container, the impression should be taken over again. Some toes may press into the Play-doh deeper than others, or one may be positioned away from the other toes. This makes for a unique and interesting Pet-Paw. Don't worry if the first one doesn't come out looking just right, you can always retake the impression again.

Molly's perfect paw impression in home made Play-doh. It is centered well and not too deep with nice wide margins between the paw impression and the container edges.

Impression retake: If you think that you need to retake the paw impression, simply remove all the Play-doh from the container. Knead it or heat it in the microwave if it is not soft enough. Pack it firmly back into the container and smooth out the surface with your fingers or with a mini rolling pin. Remember that taking an impression should be a fun experience for you and your pet. Have patience. If your pet is unsure about the whole ordeal, try using food as a distraction. The more treats the better! Impression taking is easier with two people.

A word to the wise: 2 impressions are better than one. Take a second impression to keep as a back-up just in case the impression you send to us gets lost or damaged in the mail.
If you are not sure if your impression is a good one, just email it to me and I can take a look at it and let you know if it will work.
If you have questions or need some technical support, don't hesitate to call us or send an email, we're here to help.

Another great impression in red Play-doh. All 4 pads and claws are there and all are at the right depth, including the main pad. Impressions don't get any better than this!

Step 4 - send your impression to us

After you have your pet's paw print impression, seal the container with the lid. This will keep the Play-doh from drying out. Label both lid and container with your name and your pet's name. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to ship. Play-doh impressions may also be stored in the freezer for long-term storage. When ready to ship, pack the container in a box with packing material around it so that it will not shift or get crushed when en route in the postal system. Do not pack any material between the impression surface and the lid of the container. Send it to:

20421 SR 194
Pullman, WA 99163

Label your impression container and send it to us.

Play-doh Recipe

* 1 cup flour
* 1 cup warm water
* 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
* 1 teaspoon oil
* 1/4 cup salt

Mix all ingredients and COOK in a pot on the stove. Stir over medium heat until smooth. The dough will get very lumpy as it "cooks" just keep stirring and it will eventually turn into one big ball of Play-doh. Remove from pan and knead until blended smooth - make sure there are no lumps. Be careful, it's hot! Place in plastic bag or airtight container when cooled. Keep in refrigerator. Will last for a long time.
Don't forget the cream of tartar - this ingredient keeps the salt from crystalizing in the Play-doh.

Everything you need to make your own Play-doh.

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Pet-Paws | 20421 SR 194 Pullman, WA 99163 | 509-553-3842 |


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