How to Make Service Dog Vests

By Louise Lawson

Service dogs have become a mainstay in society. They are used by impaired individuals to help with a variety of conditions, ranging from blindness to seizures. Most service dogs wear special vests to designate them as working companions as opposed to mere pets, although some service vests can be too expensive for someone already on a tight budget. However, it is relatively inexpensive and simple to make your own service dog vest.

Measure your dog for the proper fit. Hold the measuring tape and run it around your dog from the withers under the barrel and back to the withers to get an accurate measurement of the dog's girth. Measure along the back as labeled in section B in the diagram. Measure section A by holding the tape level and measuring the width of the dog's chest. Add 2 inches to each measurement to allow you to adjust the vest upon completion.

Cut the fabric for your vest. Use the measurement from section D as the length and the measurement from section B as your width. This will indicate the size of your vest once it is draped over your dog's shoulders.

Trim the fabric carefully with your scissors. Make sure they are sharp, or you run the risk of pulling threads loose from your fabric.

Lay your vest piece on a flat surface, and cut a length of webbing to fit all the way around the outside of your material. This webbing will help protect and fortify the raw edges of your vest and protect against unraveling.

Spread a thin layer of glue on the webbing and press the webbing onto the edge of the fabric, folding it in half to enclose the raw edges. Hold the webbing tightly against your fabric until the glue begins to dry to achieve proper sealing.

Sew around the edge of your fabric to further secure the webbing. Use a sewing machine if you have one, or just sew the webbing by hand, using a heavy duty needle and thread. Choose a thread color that matches your webbing for a seamless, professional look.

Cut a length of webbing using your dog's chest measurements from section A to make a chest strap. Sew it to the middle of the front of the vest fabric so that it sits level against your dog's chest. This strap will help keep the vest from moving once it's on the dog, so be sure to sew it securely.

Cut two short pieces of webbing to attach to the bottom of your vest to buckle it around the girth of your dog. Slide the buckle ends onto the free ends of each of the straps, and sew the ends down to secure the buckles. Attach these webbing pieces to the bottom of your vest to complete your girth strap, adjusting the buckle to fit your dog.

Place the vest on your dog for proper fit. You should be able to easily fit two fingers under the vest, but it should not gap so much as to risk getting caught on something.