Introduction: Soft Alternative to Elizabethian Collar for Dog

My dog is going in for an operation at the end of the week, and she doesn't do well with the "cone of shame" for 2 reasons:
1. she doesn't see well - the cone flapping around her face frightens her
2. she's short - the standard e-collar is made for dogs with longer legs. The cone style gets her tangled up.
if your dog has either of these issues, you might want to consider a different style of collar for a recuperating dog.

FIrst, I looked all over the internet for ideas. I found a really good video on YouTube on how to make an "instant" soft collar made out of a towel that, rather than shielding the dog's face from the wound, stabilizes the dog's neck so it can't turn around. The collar seems like it would work great, but I wanted something more permanent.

So I went to the pet store, and purchased something for $30, which is money I really don't have to spend right now. Then I kept looking on the internet... and found even more expensive gear. FoRgEt It! I decided I'd see what I could do with what I have laying around.

Step 1:

FIrst, I READ everything I could find on the internet. Know that there are many devices out there (all fairly pricey) but they are basically one of two styles: a cone, or a neck restrictor. This idea isn't different from them, but I think it's the most comfortable.

You need to MEASURE your dog's neck, both around the neck (my corgi's neck is 16" around, comfortably) and from the back of the ear to the shoulder (which was approx. 5") These measurements will be different in your dog, and you should measure several times just to be sure you get the numbers right. (Because, if your dog is like mine, she's not standing still for some stupid tape measure!)

Because I used a very thick foam (which is key to keeping the dog's head stabilized) I CUT an extra long and wide piece of egg crate style foam because it's what I had laying around. I went longer, rather than shorter in case I needed extra - I did as it turned out. Even though I measured her neck at 16", the piece of foam ended up being 22"! That's because I wanted a little extra for comfort, and the foam is so thick it added extra. I can't tell you a specific formula for your dog, since I don't know what thickness of foam you're going to use. This is one of those projects that you just have to figure out as you go..

(you'll notice that the piece of foam is kind of fuzzy looking - i took it out of the fur sleeve for this Instructable, so sorry it's not pristine!)

Step 2:

The sleeve is key, because, as it turns out, it is what makes this really cozy. Is it possible that my dog enjoys wearing this thing??!

I measured the foam length then added extra so that there was a flap of extra fabric to put the velcro. So, with a 22" piece of foam, I added 4"-5" for the flap. I laid the foam on top of the fake fur and measured it with extra for seams. Don't forget to take into account the thickness of the foam when measuring the depth of the fabric sleeve.

Here are a couple of tricks:
1. the foam is stuffed all the way into one end, with one side of the velcro on top. This means you need to sew the velcro on only one side of the fabric. The other strip of velcro is actually on fabric that is "overage" - it creates a flap. Another way to put this is that the foam insert is 23" but the fur sleeve is 26". This way, the collar goes completely around. Consider that you're making an envelope of sorts, and the velcro is closure...
2. I left a large opening on the seam for stuffng the foam into the fur sleeve. Foam doesn't move very easily on this fabric, so it's easier to hand sew a large opening, rather than fight with shoving it into the sleeve.
3. I happened to have super wide velcro. If you don't have extra wide velcro, you might want to consider using a couple of strips for sturdiness.

Step 3:

We've put this on her for extended periods of time to get her used to the idea of wearing the collar. At first, I was pretty concerned she was going to panic. However... she seems pretty comfortable to me!

you should also know that this type of collar will probably not work if you are trying to stop the dog from licking it's front legs: this restrictive type of collar is meant to stop the dog from turning it's head to the side to get at their back/belly. They can still easily get to their front legs! So, please be aware of that when considering this design...

PS - we took her in for her operation and the staff at the vet's was really appreciative of the collar. Even the vet thought it was an improvement over the clear plastic collar!