Paws and Play: Creative DIY Dog Toys to Keep Your Pup Happy and Healthy

Posted by Jackie Ly on

DIY dog toys

Table of Contents

Toys help in keeping your dog happy, active and out of trouble. As a fur parent, you want to spoil them and give them the best toys, like the ones you see in stores or online shops that dog owners are raving about.

However, if your dog is one of the talented that can rip up a toy fast, it might seem that money is being thrown out the window. And if there’s been an incident where your dog encountered problems due to a toy’s substance, you become more hesitant to buy again.

That’s why alternative and safer toys are made–by you! 

DIY dog toys are made from items that have been lying around for a long time, such as old T-shirts or trousers, towels, or bed linens. With these toys, you don’t have to worry about the quality, or your money being wasted, because you made them yourself!

Benefits of dog toys

Source of exercise 

Dogs require training for good health. Exercise has been proven to be enjoyable and fulfilling, flooding their brain with serotonin (the feel-good hormone) to help them maintain a healthy weight and to delay the onset of several diseases. However, not every dog owner has the time for constant exercise, and that's where dog toys are helpful!

Dog toys can help your dog get enough exercise. Even if they are not particularly intense, such toys do a wonderful job of keeping them active and entertained.

Mental stimulation 

Dogs playing with toys is similar to people tackling a crossword or Sudoku puzzle. Toys can give mental stimulation that will tire your dog out faster than a 30-minute walk, leaving them with less energy to cause mischief!

Additionally, intelligent dog breeds thrive on both mental and physical stimuli. You have to keep their minds occupied with sophisticated activities.

Builds independence 

Dogs, as pack animals, are not meant to be alone for long periods of time. However, due to work and other commitments, it is not always possible to be with them at all times. 

Toys keep your dog entertained while you are away, allowing them to learn that they can have fun without you. They will also be more willing to give you your space when you are trying to get things done at home.

Helps your dog relax 

Toys can help your dogs relax, making them happier. Playing is a rewarding experience for them, which helps reduce the effects of stress. They also allow your dog more control over their surroundings, which helps to keep stress at bay. And the more toys they have to choose from, the more calm they will get.

Correct behavioural issues 

Most dogs have a lot of energy and become bored easily. Without enough stimulation, this can lead to disruptive behaviour since they need to burn so much energy. Toys offer a way to avoid these behavioural issues.

Dog toys are a great way to teach your dog to behave. This is better than letting them have fun on their own, which may not sit well with you.

A bored dog will become overly active and distracted. This manifests itself in a variety of behaviours, including disobedience, chewing, running around, chasing things, backing and digging, and so on. Dog toys, on the other hand, enable you to introduce them to a variety of activities.  

Keep their teeth clean

Good oral hygiene is important for canines. However, even regular tooth brushing cannot clean difficult-to-reach areas within your dog's mouth. Rubber and rope toys can be handy in such instances.

As your dog nibbles on the toy, the thread acts as tooth floss, cleaning their teeth. These types of toys are good for massaging their gums and removing food particles inside. This ultimately prevents harmful bacteria from growing on their teeth.

It’s fun!

Simply put, dogs just love toys. They're entertaining, and a new toy can make their lives more interesting! 

Dog toys provide endless possibilities for play and excitement, stimulating their natural instincts and adding joy to their everyday routine. Whether it's a game of fetch or a puzzle toy challenge, the simple act of engaging with toys makes your canine companions extremely happy.

Creative DIY dog toys

DIY flirt pole

Most dogs love chasing, which is why flirt poles are an excellent choice, particularly for high-drive dogs. A short 5-minute game with a flirt pole will give your dog plenty of physical activity. But caution: don’t play this game with growing puppies, it’s very tough on the joints.

To make a DIY flirt pole, take a sturdy pole or stick about 3-5 feet long and tie a 5-10 foot durable rope to one end, securing it with a knot. At the opposite end of the rope, securely attach a toy or lure. Before engaging your dog in a brief game of chase and play, make sure the pole is stable and the toy attachment works. 

Supervise your dog during playtime and avoid using the flirt pole with growing puppies to prevent joint strain. After use, store the flirt pole properly to prevent damage or unintentional gnawing.

DIY plastic bottle dog toy

Dogs enjoy crunchy stuff, and plastic bottles provide some pretty satisfying crunches. To make your own DIY plastic bottle toy wrapped in fabric, first take an empty plastic bottle and remove the cap and any labels. 

Next, select a durable fabric that your dog will not easily shred and wrap it around the bottle, attaching it tightly with knots or adhesive. Make sure there are no loose ends or bits that your dog could ingest. 

Once wrapped, let your dog enjoy the wonderful crunch of their new toy! Supervise your dog throughout playtime to prevent fabric damage or plastic ingestion, and replace the toy if it becomes worn or broken.

Rope and tennis ball toy

Playing tug may be one of the most physically and mentally exhausting games your dog can play. The good news is that if you don't have a tug toy at home, you can easily make one with a piece of rope and a tennis ball!

A tennis ball and a piece of rope are all you need to create this simple DIY dog toy. Cut or drill a hole on either side of the ball, large enough to thread the rope through. Place the ball in the centre of the rope and tie a few knots to hold it in place.

If you want to make it an excellent tug toy, add some knots at the end. If your dog is a hard chewer, you can use old braided cloth to toughen up the rope.

DIY braided t-shirt dog toy

This easy-to-make DIY dog toy is perfect for playing fetch or tug. 

Gather a few old t-shirts and scissors to make your own braided t-shirt dog toy. Start by cutting the t-shirts into long strips of around the same width. Next, put together three pieces and braid them at one end. Braid the strips tightly together and secure the ends with another knot. Repeat the process with the remaining strips to create several braids. 

Finally, tie the braids together at one end to form a knot and finish the toy. Your dog will enjoy playing fetch or tug with this easy yet entertaining homemade toy.

DIY interactive feeder toy

This interactive feeder toy idea from Dog Tipper will keep your canine busy working for treats! What you’ll need is a PVC pipe, and treats. 

You need drill holes in the pipe, which is easier to do while it's clamped in a vice. Sand the rough edges of your holes with sandpaper, and once they are all smooth, place the pipe in the dishwasher for cleaning. Put PVC caps on both ends of the pipe.

Once you've prepared your PVC pipe, fill it with your dog's favourite treats. Then, watch as your pet enjoys the challenge of retrieving the treats through the holes in the pipe!

No-sew denim dog toy

All you need is an old pair of denim jeans and a pair of scissors to create a no-sew denim dog toy. Simply cut the denim into strips or squares that are suitable for your dog. Then, take the denim pieces and tie them together tightly in knots to create a sturdy and fun toy for your pet. 

This DIY toy is not only easy to make, but it also gives hours of entertainment for your dog without the use of any sewing supplies.

Sweet potato rope toy

Here's a fun and healthy way to incorporate more fibre into your dog's everyday activities! Clean one large sweet potato and chop it into 1 inch round pieces. Cut a hole in the centre of each piece with a cookie cutter or apple corer, as shown in Elmo's Kitchen tutorial video

Dehydrate the potato pieces by baking for 5 hours in the oven. Tie a knot at the end of your rope (approximately a foot long), then string the potato rings onto it! 

Homemade squeaky toy

Do you have a dog that enjoys squeakers? Try making a simple DIY squeaky toy. All you need are a few socks and some squeakers from old toys! 

To do this, gather some old socks and squeakers from old toys. Start by inserting a squeaker into each sock and ensure it is securely tucked in. Then, make a knot at the open end of each sock to secure the squeaker. 

Soda bottle treat dispenser

This interactive toy, made out of a chicken nesting box, is a brain teaser for your dog. You'll need a chicken nesting box, PVC pipe, and two 2-litre soda bottles. Drill holes in the box 

Drill holes in the box to hold the PVC pipe, and make sure the holes are evenly spaced. Then, cut the PVC pipe so it fits within the box and can rotate freely. Next, drill holes in the soda bottles and attach them to the PVC pipe. Fill the bottles with treats or kibble to entice your dog to solve the puzzle and retrieve the treats! 

For a more detailed instruction, check out the article from Daily Dog Tag.

Safety measures for DIY dog toys

Check rope toys regularly for wear

Rope toys are good materials, but they tend to fray over time. Individual strands that unravel might cause choking or GI obstructions.

To prevent these concerns, choose a heavy-duty rope composed of long-lasting materials. Also, make it a habit to wash and regularly inspect your rope toys for wear, getting rid of them after they've frayed.

Avoid squeaky toys for high prey drive dogs

Squeaky toys appeal to a dog's inner hunter, providing a species-appropriate activity that they like. While squeaky toys are appropriate for most dogs, some dogs that have overactive prey drives may get into trouble.

These hunting canines won't stop until they've removed the squeaker and “killed” their target. Not only does this make a mess (especially if there is stuffing involved), but it can also be dangerous if a dog ingests the squeaker.

For these dogs, create toys made of alternative materials, such as rubber or nylon, that do not make the same high-pitched squeaking sounds as traditional squeaky toys. Alternatively, use toys that make a completely other form of noise, such as crackling or rattling.

Ensure chew toys are in the right size and firmness

Chew toys are a safe and healthy outlet for dogs, if the toy is the right size and firmness for your dog's teeth. A chew toy that is too hard may cause your dog's teeth to crack. Alternatively, if your dog tears off bits of the toy, they risk choking or injury to their jaws (and their stomachs!) from the sharp edges.

For tough chewers, consider a thicker, more durable toy. Smaller jaws call for a more delicate chew. The fingernail test is a good metric: press your nail into the chew toy's material; if your nail doesn't leave a mark, it's definitely too hard for your dog to chew on.

Avoid PVC toys for growing puppies

PVC (aka vinyl) is a type of plastic commonly used to make toys and other pet products. On the surface, PVC does not appear to be harmful. However, it is a very hard substance, which is why phthalates are frequently added to PVC dog toys and chews.

The longer your dog plays and chews on vinyl, the more phthalates are released. These toxins flow quickly and might be absorbed by your dog's gums and skin.Unfortunately, phthalates have been linked to reproductive and developmental issues, making it especially crucial to avoid providing PVC or vinyl toys to growing puppies. 

Apparently, PVC are mostly used as treat dispensers or handles in DIY dog toys, not meant to be chewed. Thus, no phthalates are present. This just adds to the advantages of DIY-ing your dog’s toys: knowing that no harmful chemicals are present in their toys.

Bottom Line

DIY dog toys give endless possibilities for creativity, entertainment, and connecting with your canine companion. Whether it's repurposing household materials, making interactive feeders, or simply braiding old t-shirts, these DIY projects provide intellectual and physical stimulation while saving money and reducing trash. 

You can even create one-of-a-kind toys for your dog based on their likes and personality. With a little imagination and effort, you can keep your dog entertained, happy, and healthy.

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