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Woof-Woof Stuff:

Musings of a professional dog walker & pet sitter

Tel: 07736642742



Homemade Dog Tags

Like a lot of dog walkers, the safety of our charges is always at the forefront of our minds, so even though it's a legal requirement for a dog to have its own tag with name, address and owner contact details on, we always like every dog in our care to wear one of our own tags with our company name and number on. It's an extra bit of reassurance for our clients that in the unlikely event that their dog decides to hot-foot it away during the course of a walk, that we're easily contactable when some kind individual further up the river bank manages to collar them.

Last year we spent £75 on stainless steel, custom-engraved tags - that's a total of 30 tags at £2.50 each. No small sum. By the end of the year, we had a scant half dozen tags left, the other 24 having been ripped off during some of the more enthusiastic bouts of play fighting or dislodged from the collars of on-lead dogs when lunging at squirrels. We never recovered any of them, unfortunately.

The main problem we found was that we needed a means of attaching the tag that was quick and easy but also durable. Well, these particular tags we'd ordered came with split rings, which are pretty hardy affairs, but are small and fiddly and extremely difficult to get on to the D-ring of a collar on a dog that's leaping all over the place at the prospect of an imminent excursion. We decided instead to use a simple lobster clip: a study-looking metal affair with a moveable clasp that provides both ease of application and removal. Where durability was concerned, however, they failed miserably and pretty soon those tags started disappearing. A change of strategy was necessary, so we decided to use the lobster clips on the quieter, more sedate canines and the split rings on the more rambunctious characters. I'd like to say the survival rate of tags on the latter was improved by this strategy, but, alas, it wasn't and still they were managing to work themselves loose during the daily rough and tumble of doggy encounters.

Even if at this point we'd opted for an alternative and more secure method of attaching the tags, we still had only 6 out of 30 left and were £60 out of pocket (ouch!), so the conclusion was that a complete rethink of the whole approach was definitely necessary. With a background as a graphic designer, I decided to employ my creative skills and set about having a go at making my own tags. How hard could it be? They didn't, after all, have to made of metal. Any material strong enough to weather both the weather and the tussles and friendly frays typically seen on a group walk would do the trick.

A quick Google of "Homemade pet tags" and within moments that diva of DIY crafts, Martha Stewart, came to the rescue. A short but concise entry on her own website provided all the information I needed to make this project possible. Unfortunately, the powers that be in control of the site have, for licensing reasons perhaps, decided that we in the UK aren't permitted access to this site, so a VPN or an anonymous browser such as Tor is the best way to avoid the restriction and view the relevant tutorial.  Link to Martha Stewart's Homemade Pet Tags

The guide recommended using Shrinky Dinks, which are a proprietary make of printable, shrink plastic. Older readers may remember colour-in Shrinky Dinks being given free with Shreddies during the 80s (Shreddies/Shrinky Dinks).  At the time of sourcing, however, this brand of product wasn't available in the UK and although eBay had a few international sellers offering to ship to England, I opted for an unbranded product from China available from Amazon (Link to Shrink Plastic Sheets). I can't comment on the quality of Shrinky Dinks but I can say that my generic alternative didn't disappoint, with both the printing and the shrinking processes completing without issue.

We found the template offered by Martha Stewart a little on the large side, so any tags created with it we've kept for the larger pack members. For the smaller dogs, we reduced the size of each of the printed designs by 25%. Once shrunk in the oven, I gave each one a coat of clear nail varnish to protect the printed side and then it was simply a matter of attaching new clips. We opted for something different and altogether much sturdier than before (Silver Swivel Trigger Clips) and thus far, they've proven reliable. Impressively, both tags and clips have survived multiple skirmishes and, although some dirt accumulates with regular use, the text remains largely readable, with no signs of fading or running.

I've not spent the time working out the exact cost per unit of this venture - with gas oven usage, it'd probably be difficult to be accurate - but safe to say that it's massively cheaper than the custom-made tags and the best thing is, that if we do lose any, we don't quite have the same sickening feeling of money down the drain. Job well done.

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