HEALTH & CARE

DIY Dog Toys: Handmade Toys for Your Four-Legged Friend

Make dog toy
Emily Young
Written by Emily Young

Toys help a dog avoid boredom while exercising its mind. However, it is not necessary for you to spend a lot of money on toys for your dog because you can make several ones in very simple ways and with minimum expenses. Most of the DIY dog toys are easy to create, cheap and do not require too much time either.

Luckily, by using a little imagination and a few objects that you have lying around the house you will keep your dog entertained. Your dog does not care if you buy a designer toy or if you make one yourself. In addition, you could create such toys for your friends’ dogs, not just for yours.

Homemade dog ball

The most important thing for a dog is to play and interact, not the price of its toys or their colors. The main criterion you should have in mind when creating toys is to be safe for your four-legged friend. Depending on how destructive your dog is, you should avoid stuffing the toys with materials that it could swallow. You could save around $9 just by investing 5 minutes of your time in order to make a toy based on a tied rope.

As for materials, try to select the softest things, made from a mixture of cotton and hemp, as they are less likely to contain indigestible fibers. For example, strips of fleece are ideal in order to manufacture certain dog toys.

14 ideas for dog toys you can make at home

Dog toy with a tennis ball and a sock #1

A sock and a tennis ball are enough in order to create a toy for your dog, which it can bite and chase around the house. An old tennis ball and an old sock that you have around the house are the main materials that you need. You must insert the ball inside the sock and then make a knot to prevent the ball from sliding out. It is really important for both the ball and the sock to be clean because your dog might associate them with other people if that’s the smell they’re carrying.

Dog toy with a tennis ball and a sock

You can use this toy to play fetch, or you can pick a long sock for it and tease your dog while you hold one end and it is chasing the other.

Dog toy with a tennis ball and rope #2

An alternative to the previous toy is one with a tennis ball and rope, which requires a process that is a little more elaborate, but not hard to achieve. The idea is to incorporate a thick rope that cannot be destroyed easily by your dog inside the tennis ball. The procedure is as follows: you should cut the tennis ball at 2 opposite ends using a cutter. The incision should be as wide as the rope is.

Dog toy with a tennis ball and rope

Then, you should insert the rope through one hole and push it out through the other hole. So, the rope should go through the 2 openings. Next, you should tie knots on both sides of the ball, leaving the string of rope longer at one of the ends. This is because you can grab that end and play with your dog, moving the ball wherever you want without being too close to your dog.

Dog toy with a tennis ball and treats #3

Another use of a tennis ball to make a dog toy is simpler than the one mentioned previously. You still need a cutter to make an incision into the ball, horizontally, in the middle. This incision should be approximately 2 inches long. It should provide enough room for you to put dog treats inside it. Your dog will struggle to get the treats out and eat them, so this toy will keep any dog occupied for as long as there is food inside it.

Dog toy with a tennis ball and treats

When it is finished, you can always add more. If the tennis ball deteriorates in time, then you can repeat the steps. It is unlikely for a dog to get bored trying to obtain food from it. This is also an inexpensive toy.

Dog toy with a plastic bottle #4

This is a dog toy designed to keep it occupied. The main quest for your dog would be to get treats out of the bottle. Therefore, you can take a regular water bottle and start cutting holes inside it, which are big enough for the treats to come out, but tight enough for the dog to put in a little effort in order to take them out. You can simply take the cap off and introduce the treats, but then you must put it back on and let your dog to everything else.

Remember to take off the label from the bottle. Your dog might choke on it. This toy is also great for mind training. Your dog will try to get the food out using multiple methods. It might end up even crushing the food in smaller pieces in order to get it out easily. It really depends on its skills.

Dog toy with a plastic bottle and rope #5

This toy is just a variation of the one above. Since the example above is not an interactive dog toy, you can make it interactive by adding rope to it, which allows you to take control of the bottle and make your dog’s quest even harder to complete. Your dog’s mission would still be to take the food out of the bottle and eat it, but not before being able to grab it and hold it long enough in order to achieve its purpose. You should tease your dog for a while, but occasionally you should let it take a treat to keep it interested.

Dog toy with a plastic bottle and a sock #6

This dog toy has no connection with the other 2 bottle examples. Besides the fact that you can hide treats inside a bottle and that is appealing to your dog, you should also know that the sound a plastic bottle makes is also appealing to it.

Dog toy with a plastic bottle and a sock

Therefore, you need a plastic bottle and a longer sock, preferably a knee high sock. Take of the air out of the bottle, flatten it, put the cap back and then insert it inside the sock. Tie a knot at the end of the bottle and voila! This dog toy is ready in a couple of minutes, entertaining and completely free of charge if you think about it.

Dog toy with kitchen glove and socks #7

Dogs love to chew things, especially if they are teething. Plush toys for dogs may be cute, but their filling can get out and your dog might choke on it or swallow it. So, these toys are not safe enough. A much better option is to make an organic toy that your dog can chew without having to worry about chemical ingredients or choking hazards.

Take a kitchen glove that is made of environmentally friendly materials, such as organic cotton, and fill it with old socks. Another idea for the fill could be pieces of an old cotton or hemp shirt. Next, you can sew the open end and introduce your dog its new enjoyable toy.

Dog toy with a stick and treats #8

What dog does not like to play fetch and receive treats? Based on that, a few people came up with a toy for dogs that allows them to eat as many treats as they want if they work for them. If your dog is used with you throwing a stick and it getting it back for you, but you want it to be more enthusiastic and run more, then you can tie a few treats on that stick in order to motivate it. This is a great toy to capture the attention of your dog in a productive way.

For example, when a dog is doing something naughty and it does not come to you when you ask it to, then you can lure it with the stick that has treats hanging from it. Your dog will definitely run towards you in this case.

Dog toy with a cardboard box and treats #9

Your surely have a cardboard box at home that you do not use. What you need to do, is to put some treats on the floor and cover them with a cardboard box. It should draw the attention of your dog and it should stimulate its mind, its smell, its creativity and its instincts before it figures out what needs to be done.

Dog toy with a cardboard box and treats

If you have more than one box, the game becomes more fun. You can let your dog shred the cardboard box, but if you see it chewing on the box, then you should take it away. If your dog does not seem interested at first, then you should show it and move it in order to draw its attention.

Dog toy with a scarf and 3 tennis balls #10

Go through your old wardrobe and find a scarf that you no longer use, but which is made out of a resistant material, such as cotton. If you have more options, choose the longer one. Make a knot at one end and then place one of the tennis balls inside the material. Wrap the tennis ball nicely and then tie another knot. Repeat these steps with all 3 tennis balls. It is this simple to make an entertaining toy for your dog. You do not even have to sew anything if the scarf you chose is large enough to comprise all 3 tennis balls.

Dog toy with fleece material #11

This dog toy is ideally made out of fleece material. You might have some old sweatpants or pajamas made out of this type of material. The variations of braiding and making toys with fleece are numerous.

For example, you can cut 3 even pieces of fleece, tie a knot at one end and then braid them until you reach the other end, where you should tie another knot. This is the simple version of the rope toy made out of fleece. The size of this toy should be according to the size of your dog. In addition, you can combine multiple such fleece ropes into different shapes and offer variety to your pooch.

Dog toy with textiles shaped like a bone #12

In order to make this toy, you need the following materials: denim pieces or other resistant fabric, rice or pieces of cloth for the filling, scissors, needle and thread. First, you should draw and cut a pattern shaped like a bone on a sheet of paper.

Dog toy with textiles shaped like a bone

Next, you should use that piece of paper directly on the fabric and cut around it. You should cut 2 pieces for one bone or many more if you plan on making more. Sew the 2 pieces together and leave an opening for the stuffing. Once you stuff it good, you can sew that end as well. For this toy you should either sew it very well, or use big pieces of material for the stuffing.

Dog toy with cardboard tube, yarn and metal bell #13

This dog toy is suited for the crafty ones. What you need for it are 1 cardboard tube (you can use the one from toilet paper), yarn, knitting hook, 1 metal bell. For this design, you should know how to knit. Basically, you should knit a piece of material that can fit a cardboard tube and also add a loose end. The metal bell should be attached to the loose end. Also, it must be big enough for the dog not to swallow it. This toy is entertaining because of its tubular shape, textured material and the bell, which makes noise that dogs like.

Dog toy with water bottles, treats and wooden frame #14

This toy for your dog is so great that you should start building one right now. This accessory is fitted for every dog, regardless of its size. It consists of 3 plastic water bottles with a metal rod going through them. These implements are placed on a wooden frame, before being filled with dog food or dog biscuits. Dogs seem to have a lot of fun with this toy, especially because they get rewards. This is like a game for them and they might keep playing for hours.

Dog toy with water bottles, treats and wooden frame

Anyone can craft such a toy, with a little skill and determination. All you need are some plastic water bottles and a few wooden panels in order to build it. Your dog will have an awesome time putting its mind at work.

General considerations about making dog toys

A great way to get rid of rags or old jeans is the production of homemade toys for dogs. Before you use any material, be sure to wash it well with another type of detergent besides the one you normally use. Because the dog can associate smells, it might want to chew on something else smelling the same, which can be, for example, your clothes. This aspect cannot be emphasized enough when it comes to handmade dog toys. The 14 examples above are just guidelines for any dog owner. However, you can set your imagination free and create your own designs.

The simplest toys for dogs to play with are made of fleece or used shirts. These toys do not even need sewing. You can simply tie as many knots as necessary to keep them together. This does not mean that you cannot use the sewing machine to create complex designs. As long as you follow some simple safety rules, you can manufacture numerous types of toys. In addition, you could combine different fabrics with toys that make a sound when they are bitten by a dog. Those are not as cheap as tennis balls are, but if you really want to spoil your dog, then you can try them.

Cloth, canvas or other durable fabrics can be used to create simple toys in different shapes and sizes. Using 2 layers of any material will make any toy more durable.  As for the fillers, they should not harm the dog in any way. Do not use foam, polyester or small pieces of cotton. Instead, go for linen, denim, wool and fleece.

Homemade dog toys

Old socks and sleeves can be used to cover plastic bottles and then given to the dog. The reason why a plastic bottle should be covered with a type of material is that the dog might swallow pieces of plastic after chewing on the bottle for too long. That would definitely not be a good thing to happen because those plastic pieces have sharp edges, which can damage a dog’s esophagus and other organs part of its digestive system. In addition, you could fill that bottle with objects that make noises when the dog plays with the toy.

However, the objects should not be small because the dog might swallow them when it damages the bottle, fact which will eventually happen if it keeps playing with it for a long time.

Ideally, a dog should have 3 or 4 toys to play with. In addition to entertaining them and amuse them, these toys should also be fitted to their skills. For example, terrier dogs have more fun by playing with a certain type of toys that are not so appreciated by shepherd dogs. This happens because terrier dogs like to run and hunt things, while shepherd dogs do not have those instincts.

Every dog breed belongs to a certain group, according to their natural instincts and training. There are hunting dogs, guard dogs, surveillance dogs and so on. You should know what type of dog you have and create a toy for it. This way you save money even if you fail and your dog is not very attracted by a particular toy.

Tips for making dog toys

  • Caution comes first! The toy that you manufacture at home must be, above all, safe for your canine friend. Avoid synthetic fibers, small objects or stuffing that might choke the dog.
  • Always supervise your dog when it plays with cloth, plastic or other objects that may become dangerous. Do not leave it unattended if you know what it does involves certain risks. This applies for the cardboard box toy too.
  • Always wash the materials you use for making dog toys. It is very important for the materials not the carry the smell of another person.
  • Adding treats to a toy makes it multiple times more interesting than not having anything inside them. Food motivates dogs to play longer until they achieve their purpose.
  • Quality dog toys are important, so manufacture them as good as you can, without skipping steps that might improve their quality.
  • Here are some useful videos that show you how to manufacture a few dog toys at home.

In this videos you can see more details how to make dog toys:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEEJpZNISHw

And a really cool food dispenser made for a larger dog. Check it now!

Conclusions for your crafty side

As seen, you do not need too many skills or to be creative in order to make toys for your dog. In order to save money and invest energy and time in your dog, you can manufacture a few toys that are very entertaining for them and that do not cost anything. Instead of throwing away old shirts, clothes made of fleece or something as common as water bottles, you could use them to make your dog happy and surprise it as soon as possible.

Considering that dogs destroy their toys, you might get used with making more and more toys. There are countless sources of inspiration and step by step instructions when it comes to crafting. In addition, remember that handmade toys are more valuable than the ones purchased from stores. They are also perfect as a gift, so do not hesitate to make some for others and surprise both the dog and its owner in a pleasant way.

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.

  • Ruby Anderson

    It’s really funny how our dog is so picky with his toys. Honestly, sometimes he’d rather play with a discarded 2 liter bottle than his expensive toys from the pet shop. We’ve grown accustomed to his behavior and now barely buy him more toys. We’d just add variety to the 2 liter bottles he seem to love. (we freeze it halfway horizontally, we add kibble inside so he can manipulate it to ‘get the treat’, etc).

    • Emily Young

      Our fur babies really need some variety when it comes to toys. This will keep them entertained, interested, and excited at the same time. When a handmade toy offers something interactive other than tossing or turning, it makes the handmade toy more usable for a longer period of time.

  • Grace Hill

    I’ve found this very creative diy dog toy that’s the most ingenious one I’ve come across so far. It’s basically a bottle that pivots through a stick. The dog has to manipulate it like a pendulum to have the kibble that’s stored in the bottle. It can be made with a sturdy frame and more bottles for hours of entertainment. It’s something to try if you’re into saving money, recycling and spoiling your dogs!

    • Emily Young

      Sounds fun to do and to use, Grace! I really like this idea and I appreciate you sharing this idea here at Dogsaholic!

  • Anne Hunter

    When we were really broke and we couldn’t buy our dogs the usual toys (they use up toys FAST and we have to buy more every other month or so) we just made do with bottles dispensing kibble. Pretty diy as diy could get, and it’s mostly free and entertaining for the dog as well. I also took to playing ‘hidden kibble’ with our dog, wherein I’d have a couple of bowls and I switch them up and our pooch would have to guess where the kibble is. It’s tradition at this point!

    • Emily Young

      Creativity and resourcefulness often blossoms from lack of resources, wether through materials or finances. It squeezes your creative juices and you’ll be surprised how far creativity can take you for the sake of your fur babies!

  • nice list!

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