HEALTH & CARE

How to Make Dog Tags: When You Want Your Pooch to Be Unique

Make dog tags
Emily Young
Written by Emily Young

Whether you’re getting a new dog or you’re interested in changing your dog’s look, having a dog tag is incredibly important. Sometimes, you want something different from the options that they have available in the local pet store. Instead of shelling out money for a small piece of metal that you get engraved, there are plenty of other options available to you that you can make at home.

DIY dog tags are becoming the next biggest trend, as they can be fun to make and are unique to both you and your dog.

Even with the advent of microchipping, dog tags are incredibly important for the common layperson to find out who your dog belongs to and where he lives. By providing a dog tag, it makes it easier for your lost dog to be returned to you. But instead of using the common tags that you can find in the store, creating your own can make it more special. It doesn’t hurt to pamper and accessorize your pets, and make them more recognizable from the crowd.

QR dog tag

You can even make a gift out of a shiny new tag, one that was made out of love. Be careful, however. Once you make just one, you’ll want to make even more in different styles, just to show off your creativity.

Plastic ID tags

The easiest method of making a dog tag is to use plastic. It’s very durable, extremely light, and highly customizable, so you can make them look however you want. What you’ll need is the polystyrene plastic (the #6 plastic) that many takeout containers are made of. If you can’t find this, then buying a pack of Shrinky Dinks at the craft store can work as well. The other materials that you’ll need are:

  • metal hoop to attach the tag to the collar
  • parchment paper
  • colored markers
  • fine-tipped black marker
  • scissors
  • hole punch
  • ruler
  • sandpaper

A toaster oven or regular baking oven will do when you’re finished designing your tag. Before you start, you should do a test piece to see how much the tag is going to shrink. If it shrinks too much, then it can become too difficult for you to write legibly on a small piece of plastic.

To do a test run, cut a small piece of plastic and measure the length and width. Once that’s done, cut out the desired size of plastic and place it on a piece of parchment paper. Place it in the toaster oven or your regular oven and open the windows to provide some ventilation. Set the oven to about 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

The plastic will start to curl first and then uncurl before shrinking. There is no set time that it takes for the plastic to full shrink (unless you’re using Shrinky Dinks), so it’s important that you keep an eye on it at all time. Once the plastic uncurls and isn’t doing anything else, then it’s not going to get much smaller. Using an oven mitt, take out a piece of parchment paper and place something heavy on top of the plastic to flatten it out. Wait for it to cool and then re-measure the tag.

Plastic ID tags

Cut out the desired shape from the shrunken plastic with a pair of scissors, as long as there is enough space to write your dog’s name and your contact information. You can choose any shape you like, so you’re free to exercise some creativity in the process. Once that’s done, you may have to use some sandpaper to make your plastic opaque. Use a piece of medium grit sandpaper and sand evenly over the entire surface. This will also make it easier for you to write on, and for other people to read as well. If you choose to use Shrinky Dinks, they are available in opaque sheets.

Using a hole puncher to put a hole in the top middle of the tag. Make sure that it’s big enough for the metal hoop to fit through. Once that’s done, then you can color the background. This may or may not be necessary, depending on the color of your dog’s coat. If it’s dark, then it’s likely that it won’t need to be colored. Adding some color does help the tag to stand out more, however, so it can still be beneficial. Lighter colors are recommended to make it easier to read the text you’re going to be writing on the tag. Allow the marker to dry for some time to prevent smudging.

Add your dog’s name and contact information with a fine-tipped black marker. Make sure that you write clearly. Add some more decorations, such as drawing flowers, bones, or anything else that you believe fits the personality of your dog. Once you’ve gotten your tag to look the way you want, then it’s time to place it in the toaster oven for shrinking. Large pieces tend to curl a bit more, so once you remove it from the oven, place something heavy on it very quickly to flatten it out before it cools.

Then add the metal hoop to the tag and it’s ready to be worn.

If you’re not very good at designing your own tags, then you can make the process even easier by using Shrinky Dinks and a computer. There are plenty of online tag templates that you can print off onto a plastic sheet. Downloading these templates makes it easy for you to customize the information on them instead of having to write it by hand. Then once it’s printed, place the tag in the toaster oven to shrink. Because it uses printer ink, it would be a good idea to spray both sides of the tag with a clear coat spray in order to seal it before attaching it to your dog’s collar.

Temporary travel tags

There are some times when you go off on vacation and you take your faithful companion along for the trip. Sometimes you want to have a backup plan in case your dog gets loose and wanders away from you. In the terrible event that you forgot to put his collar on, or that it’s fallen off somehow, making a temporary travel tag is a good idea. Your current tag may have your current address on it, which is not going to help you if you’re vacationing in another state.

Temporary travel tags

You can make a quick and simple temporary tag by getting some card stock or a random piece of cardboard and cutting out a tag. Write your current information on it (such as the hotel or cabin you’re staying in) and then sandwich the tag between two pieces of clear shelf liner. If you don’t have any shelf liner, you can use sturdy packing tape.

This way, the tag is less likely to fray and the information on the tag won’t wash away. Punch a hole and attach a key ring to place it on a collar. It’s always handy to place another collar on your dog when you’re traveling just in case, so that you have a secondary tag that can be used to identify him.

Using label makers

We all used to have one in the nineties to label moving boxes or craft drawers. They’re not so common anymore, but if you managed to get your hands on one, then they can be quite helpful in creating dog tags for your pet. All you have to do is print off your dog’s information and then encase the label in some kind of plastic laminate.

Using label makers

This protects the letters and ensures that the label doesn’t wear out from exposure to the elements. Simply punch a hole at one end of it and attach it to your dog’s collar with a jump ring. It’s very simple and doesn’t have a lot of color, but it’s very effective in a pinch.

Cloth dog tags

Cloth labels are meant to endure the wear and tear of normal use so that we can still read them years later. They’re made from printable fabric paper, which you can purchase online, in craft stores, or you can try to make your own fabric paper from scraps of fabric lying around your home. No matter which medium you choose, it’s easy to write on. In order to protect the tag, use some kind of laminate to cover both sides to preserve the information that you have on it.

If you’re skilled in crafts, you can even try embossing the information onto the fabric paper, though this does take a lot more time to make, but the quality of your dog tag will certainly be a lot higher.

Penny tags

We all have pennies lying around, either in a jar or between the cushions of our couches. A great way to put them to use is to up cycle them to create a tag for your pet. The process is quite easy and allows you to decorate it as much as you want.

Pennies for dog tags

The first thing you’re going to need is a penny. It’s best if you wash it in order to remove any dirt or debris that is stuck to it. This makes it easier to work with, and your tag can be nice and shiny on the other side. You’ll also need some Modge Podge, some craft paper, and a jump ring.

The next step is to cut a piece of paper that is the same size as the penny’s face. Trace around the shape of the penny to get the right dimensions, and then cut it out using a pair of scissors or an exacto knife.

Next, write down your pet’s information and your contact information on the piece of paper. Be sure to use something that won’t bleed through the paper, so it’s best not to use a marker. Be sure that your handwriting is legible. Apply a light layer of Modge Podge to one side of the penny and then press the piece of paper onto it. Apply another later of Modge Podge over the paper and allow it to dry. This will create a clear barrier over the paper to protect the writing.

Then flip the penny over, place a jump ring on it, and apply a generous amount of Modge Podge. You can also add a small dab of crazy glue to provide some extra security to the jump ring. Cover the entire back of the penny with Modge Podge in order to create a clear and shiny surface, just like the front. Allow it to dry over night, and your pet tag is complete. For larger pets, you can choose to use twenty-five cents as tags, and it gives you a lot more room to write more information and decorate.

Penny dog tag

Although pet tags are designed to last an extremely long time, it’s important that you inspect them on a regular basis to make sure that you can still read the information. The same can be said for pets that you make yourself, as they may not be able to last as long as metal tags.

They tend to fade a bit faster, so you should replace them on a regular basis. It’s also a good idea to have to extra sets of tags made, in case one of them goes missing. It will save you time and money than having to go back to the store to make another one.

After all, it’s in everyone’s interests that your dog be kept safe at all times.

The best thing about creating your own pet tags at home is that you have a lot more options open to you. They can match the personality of your pet, accessorize with your dog’s outfit, or just be something fun you can make in your own time. No matter which of the above methods you use, you’ll have fun doing it, and your dog will appreciate the extra attention you put into saving them from getting lost.

About the author
Emily Young
Emily Young

Emily is originally from China where she graduated from The University of Hong Kong with high distinction learning about fashion and design. During university she opened her own magazine about Dog Fashion as dogs were always in her heart. She was surprised, when she moved to a beautiful British Columbia 10 years ago, to see many great Boutiques with dog's designer clothing and desire of pet owners to make their babies look nice.

  • Jane Lewis

    I’m not a crafty person, I’ve always bought dog tags from the store. Sometimes they don’t match the outfit of my dogs, which a bit sad. This made me reconsider my creativity, though! Crafting and dog tags in the same sentence were a foreign concept to be before, but now not anymore! I especially liked the idea of travel dog tags, but I think laminating them would be better than just tape.

  • Daisy Simmons

    I haven’t touched my crafting tools in a while (so far there’s no need to!) but this pretty much inspired me to try my hand a very unique, themed dog tags for all the dogs in our family! It’s such a great idea, and this article is all to blame for my sudden urge to make something! Now that I have plenty free time in my hands, I’m gonna make a LOT!

  • Florence Riley

    I just love your DIY crafts! Now to find some free time to make all these wonderful projects for my doggies! I hope to make a lot of these and give some to all my friends! I have a laminating machine so this will be quite a project. Thank you!

  • It’s never too late to start something new. You might be able to find a new hobby that you’ll truly enjoy by starting on small projects like this.

  • You’re welcome, Florence!

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