As you are no doubt well aware, purchasing dog toys can be expensive, and many of them don't last very long. You can create homemade versions that cost you little or no money, often using recycled items you already have around the house. Here are ten of my favorite ideas to keep your pooch busy and happy...
1. Recycle an old rope . If you have a large rope, you can simply cut a length of it and tie a few knots in either end. This is one of the simplest and most inexpensive dog toys for chewing and fetching. There can be endless variations to this, you can create loops in the end to create a great tug toy if you have two dogs. You can combine the rope with a sewn dog toy by sewing the stuffed piece onto the rope.
Be careful of what type of rope you use for this, if your dog happens to swallow long, stringy strands of the rope you could have a medical emergency on your hands. So just be aware.
2. Use your sewing machine to make dog toys . If you have a sewing machine it is a snap to make a simple dog toy. Use scraps of heavy duty fabric, canvas, old clothes, jeans or fleece, and cut squares or other shapes. With the wrong sides of the fabric facing outwards, stitch around the edge of three sides. Turn the fabric inside out so the right side of the fabric is facing outward. Stuff the opening with soft stuffing material and sew the open edge shut. You can get creative with shapes and stuffing material... try stuffing with crinkled newspaper or bubble wrap for a "crunchy", noisy toy. These toys can be made very quickly by drawing a pattern on the fabric and cutting through several layers of fabric at once.
3. Tennis Ball Toys . You can cut two holes in a tennis ball, thread a rope through and knot the ends of the rope. Now you have a fun rope/tennis ball toy to throw or tug. Or, after threading the rope through, tie both ends of the rope together up close to the ball and you have made a great toss toy. Soak any tennis ball in chicken or beef broth and let it dry, your dog will love chewing on it.
This is a great way to use up a leaky garden hose simply by cutting it into lengths for your dog to chew on. You can use a small stick that fits tightly into the hose end and join the two hose ends together into a loop. Or just tie a single knot in the center of a long piece of hose.**
**A word of caution on hose toys... On 3/28/12 a reader contacted us saying that her pediatrician informed her that hoses, even those made in USA, have a moderate amount of lead in them. This has not been confirmed, but you might want to check it out in concern for your dog's health and safety.
5. Sock Toys . You can put a tennis ball inside a sock and tie a knot to secure it, this makes a great toss and fetch toy. Or take a plastic water bottle or pop bottle and place it inside the sock, tie a knot, and you have a fun crunchy toy. Or snap a carrot in half and place inside the sock. A sock ball can be made out of 2-4 long socks. Use one sock as the base and stuff other socks into it. Tie a firm knot in the base sock above the stuffed area, double the end of the base sock back over the entire ball, tie a knot above the stuffed area again. Continue repeating these steps until you can't anymore, then cut the end of the sock just above the last knot.
When using socks, be sure to use new or very clean socks to avoid your dog associating your smell and assuming any socks are fair game. This is where good training comes in too, so your dog understands the difference between your socks and his toys! Yes, it can be done!
5. Tug Toys . You can make a fast and fun tug toy out of any old fabric such as leftover fleece, old blankets, old towels or clothing, etc. Simply cut three long strips from the fabric, tie the ends into one big knot, then braid the three strips together, tie a final knot in the other end and you're done! You can even soak these in water or chicken broth and freeze for a great teething toy. I used an old dingy pillowcase and made a tug toy and my dog loves it! You can take this to another level and create several braids all tied together, connect the ends to form loops, or just simply tie the strips of fleece together without braiding.
6. Plastic Bottle Toys . Plastic water bottles, milk or juice bottles, or two liter pop bottles make fun and noisy toys. Remove the lid, plastic ring and label for safety and you can place these inside socks, or just give to them as is. You can place several small treats inside the bottle to make it more challenging and give it a rattle. If your dog is very destructive, be aware that small pieces of the plastic could pose a choking danger, use supervision and discard when it starts getting torn up.
7. Treat Dispensing Toys . You can take a plastic jar or bowl with a lid, or even a small cardboard box, cut one or two small holes in the sides and add some treats or kibble, taping the lid shut if necessary. Your dog will have a fun time trying to get the treats to come out the holes. Use supervision with this if they attempt to eat or destroy the plastic as that could be dangerous.
8. The Whipwhir (stick and rope exercise toy) . This is a great idea to provide both fun and exercise for your high-energy dog. It requires your interaction though. Find a long stick such as an old broom or mop stick, or a dowel rod and drill a hole through one end. Get a 5-6 foot long cord or rope, form a large loop at one end, slip the looped end through the hole in the stick and pull the rest of the rope through the loop. You will end up with something that looks like a fishing pole. At the other end of the rope make a small knotted loop that will hold any of a variety of items. You can attach (tie or tape) a sock ball toy, a squeeky toy, strips of fabric, a stuffed animal toy, use your imagination here. Indoors or out, simply swing the Whipwhir stick around and watch your dog go crazy chasing it. Work up to it slowly so as not to injure your dog. More detailed instructions are on the Make & Build Dog Stuff website.
9. Cardboard Tube Toys . Use your old and empty toilet paper or paper towel tubes, poke a few small holes, put treats inside and twist the ends shut. Your dog will be entertained by trying to get at the treats.
10. Noisy Blanket. I love this one! If you have a sewing machine and are crafty, buy a bag of the squeekers that are in dog toys, you can get them on the internet, get a couple large pieces of durable fabric like denim or remnant upholstery fabric, sew the fabric together, sewing squares into it, inserting a squeeky into each square as you go. When the dogs walk, sit or roll on the blanket it will squeek and they will stay busy looking for where the sound is coming from. I've seen fairly inexpensive remnant fabric often at craft or fabric stores.
You'll find lots more ideas, photos, and some videos at the Squidoo website and the Make & Build Dog Stuff website. And if you have any other great ideas, you can join us on Facebook and let us know about them!
While you are making toys for your dog, don't forget your local rescue group or animal shelter, they would always appreciate a few extra toys for the strays.
A word of caution!... Choose materials carefully and be aware of safety. Strings can come off and get swallowed, buttons or other small items can easily be choked on. Always use common sense, and always supervise your dog with their toys.
Sources: ehow.com; squuidoo.com; prodoggroomingsupplies.com; buzzle.com; make-and-build-dog-stuff.com; thriftyfun.com; dogtopics.com; mevsthehouse.com; ezinearticles.com
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