Want to save some money, recycle seemingly useless stuff, and try out your crafty side on your pooch? Here are a few ideas for do-it-yourself dog toys that help the environment and provide easy enrichment and mental stimulation for your furry friend.
As is the case with any pet toy, think of your dog’s safety first. Supervise your dog when he’s playing with toys and regularly inspect them for damage. Discard or recycle toys that are deteriorating so your dog doesn’t accidentally swallow a piece.
Plastic Bottle Treat Toy: Oh the ubiquitous empty plastic water bottle. I know you’ve got some lying around waiting to be recycled. Before you dump them in the recycling bin, let your dog have a go at them. Put a few treats in a 16-ounce or larger size bottle, cap it, then toss it for your dog. He’ll chomp on it, bat it around, and do anything he can to get those treats out. Supervise your dog when he plays with this to prevent choking. Discard the bottle cap as soon as he gets it out.Take the bottle from him when he gets the treats out to prevent any injuries from splinters.
Sock It To Me: Put some dog treats in the toe of a sock and knot the sock on itself close to the toe end. Put that sock inside the toe of another sock and knot the second sock on itself. There you have it – a homemade treat puzzle toy!
Braided Tug Toy: Got old socks, old towels or old fleece blankets? Any of those can be used to make a strong tug toy. Fleece makes a particularly strong tug toy. Cut three strips of fleece. Each should be 2-3 inches wide and 15-24 inches long depending on the size of your dog. Braid the strips together as tightly as you can and knot the ends securely. You’re ready for endless tug matches with your dog! You can also braid three old sport socks together or lengths of old towels together to make this toy. Soaking the toy in beef or chicken broth (then letting it drying completely) will make the toy even more enticing.
Tennis Ball Fun: Drill a hole in a tennis ball and another on the opposite side. Thread a long piece of thick cotton rope through the holes so the rope goes through the ball. Knot the rope securely close to the ball and knot the other ends of the rope. Fetch or tug anyone?
Stuffed Stuff: If your dog’s like mine, it doesn’t take him long to practice his dissecting skills on new stuffed animals. One minute he’s racing around with the stuffed animal in his mouth, and the next, our living room’s a mess of stuffing and the poor teddy bear is decapitated. Save the stuffing and the squeaker, if it still works. Stuff an old sock with stuffing and squeaker, sew up the end, and your dog’s got a brand new stuffed toy. Instead of using actual stuffing, you can stuff the sock with the other old socks or leftover fabric. If you’re feeling extra creative, stuff scraps of fabric with the stuffing and squeaker and sew it up in interesting shapes. You can also restuff kids’ old stuffed animals. Remove plastic eyes, noses and other pieces that could be a choking hazard. Keep an eye on your dog whenever he plays with any squeaky toy and take the squeaker away from him as soon as he’s removed it from the toy.
Rover Recycles: take an empty cardboard box. Cereal boxes and egg cartons work well for this. Put a few treats inside, then tape the box closed with masking tape. You can also put food-stuffed Kongs in the box before you tape it up. Give the sealed box to your dog and watch him tear it open with gusto to get at the treats. When he’s finished, your box is already shredded/broken down and will take up a lot less room in your recycling container.
Got other ideas for homemade dog toys? Please share them in a comment.