If you’re trying to save money, a few DIY projects here and there can really add up. And these DIY dog toys not only save some cash, but they can be a bonding experience with your favorite pup (or pups!), too. I’ve got a handful of ideas for DIY dog toys you can craft from items you probably already have lying around the house. Get ready to buy a bag of cheap tennis balls, though, because they’re oh-so-handy for most of these toys!
Be sure to supervise your dog when they’re playing with any dog toys, including these DIY options. You don’t want them to accidentally swallow anything other than treats. Also, be sure to regularly inspect toys for damage. Throw away any that are coming apart. No reason to take any chances here.
1. Fill a tennis ball with peanut butter or small dog treats.
This one is so easy. All you need is a utility knife, a tennis ball, and some small dog treats (find a deal for when you use dog treat coupons). Cut a 1-inch hole in the tennis ball and fill it with your pup’s favorite treats and some peanut butter.
The best part about this DIY dog toy is the felt on the ball keeps the rubber from tearing. Of course, if your dog manages to overcome this and the tennis ball falls apart, take it away immediately.
2. Use an empty water bottle inside a sock.
This DIY dog toy is as unlimited as your imagination. All you need is an empty plastic water bottle and a long tube sock. Thinner socks work better if you want to do a lot of little knots. For the best results, use dress socks instead of athletic socks. Although, depending on your dog, you may want the added challenge of a thicker sock. Your call!
Salvage a plastic water bottle and then walk over to your mismatched sock pile, drawer, or basket — we all have one! Smash the bottle and shove it into the sock. Create knots to keep the plastic bottle inside but also as added bulk for your dog to chew.
3. Create a sweet potato chew rope.
This one retails for over $20 on Amazon, but it’ll only cost you as much as a sweet potato and a little rope.
What you’ll need:
- One sweet potato
- One freeze-dried dog treat
- Thick, sturdy rope
- Set oven to 215 degrees F
- Wash sweet potato and cut into 1- to 1.5-inch rings
- Remove the center with an apple corer. (You need enough space to push the rope through once the potato is dehydrated.)
- Lay sweet potato pieces on a parchment paper-covered pan
- Grate freeze-dried dog treats all over the pieces
- Bake for five hours
- Once dried, string potato pieces onto the rope, tying it at both ends
4. Easy DIY dog toys: Knotted chew toy from a pair of jeans.
This is as easy as it looks. Depending on how large you want this DIY dog toy to end up, you can either cut the leg of smaller jeans and tie it in a knot. Or you can cut a shorter length from adult-sized jeans and then make a vertical cut so that instead of a tube of denim, you have a flat square of denim with a seam up the middle. Then roll the whole thing and tie it into a knot.
Either way works! And hey, since you’re obviously in need of new jeans, check out these current denim deals. Never buy jeans full price again!
5. Put dog treats inside an empty cereal box.
These “box puzzle” DIY dog toys may be better suited for puppies (or small dogs). But it’s a great pit stop for an empty cereal box to make before it hits the recycle bin.
Just put treats inside and use packing tape to seal it up. Pay special attention to the corners and reinforce those as your dog will likely try there first.
6. Fill the fingers of an old glove with treats.
At my house, gloves are missing their mates just as often as socks. So I have a bunch of these cheap knit gloves lying around. Nobody will wear them because they don’t match.
Fill the fingers with small dog treats and use a needle and thread to hand-sew the opening. Be sure to watch your dog with this one so that if the glove begins to unravel in large chunks, you can take it away before they swallow any threads.
7. Place dog treats inside a durable PVC pipe.
This is the kind of toy that challenges your dog and puts their mental and physical abilities to work.
What you’ll need:
- 12 inches in length of 2-inch PVC pipe
- PVC cap (2-inch)
- Threaded cap (2-inch)
- ½-inch drill bit
- Purina Beyond Grain Free dry dog food (or another brand that’s around the same size in diameter)
- Make holes in the PVC pipe in a pattern of your choice with the ½-inch drill bit along.
- Fit the cap onto one end.
- Fill the pipe with pieces of dry dog food that are small enough to fall out with some shaking and effort but not so small that they pour out.
- Screw the other end shut with the threaded cap.
8. Trap a tennis ball inside a sock.
You could almost make this DIY dog toy while wearing a blindfold. It’s an easy go-to when you don’t have a lot of time to spend crafting. Take an old sock, knot it below the heel, put a tennis ball inside, and knot it again above the ball.
Be sure your knots are tight. This is a great chew toy but also great for fetch.
9. Put treats in a paper towel tube.
Does your smart dog need more than something to chew? How about another puzzle? Depending on the size of your pup, you can use empty toilet paper rolls or empty paper towel rolls. Fold the ends of the tub inside by pushing them inward. Fill the open side with small dog treats, peanut butter, and/or pureed pumpkin. Then fold that end in too.
Freeze the tube or otherwise let it soak in the flavor of peanut butter or pumpkin and then give it to your dog. Expect to clean up afterward because this one can get messy!
10. Hide treats in a muffin pan.
Yep, this is as easy as it sounds. You’ll need a muffin tin, tennis balls, and small dog treats to make this DIY dog toy game.
To start, hide a treat under every tennis ball. You may need to lift one of the balls to show them what’s going on. As your dog improves and learns the game, only hide a few treats under tennis balls so they have to hunt for the treats.
11. Make a rope toy out of old T-shirts.
If you can braid, you can make this DIY dog toy!
What you’ll need:
- An old T-shirt, any size
- Cut the shirt just under the armpits so that you have a square or rectangle of fabric. Discard the arms and collar of the shirt.
- Next, cut the bottom seam off. Cut so the material isn’t doubled up. It will be one single piece.
- Make 2-inch vertical cuts along the bottom.
- Cut into strips based on that spacing.
- Pull the strips tight.
- Tie three strips in a knot to start the braid. Braid, but leave space for another knot.
This is another one that requires some supervision. Once your dog starts to get any large chunks of fabric free, it’s time to toss this toy in the trash!
12. Create a frozen broth toy.
Help your pooch keep cool in the hot summer and spend hours tasting their way to their toys. This is great for dogs that get bored easily or need constant stimulation. You’ll need chicken broth, dog toys, and a bucket. You can also use beef broth for this if you’ve got that on hand!
Just place the dog toys in a shallow bucket, fill it with enough water and broth to nearly cover the toys, and freeze them.
I also do a variation of this for kids, but not for licking. For a kids’ summer activity, it’s like an ice-block treasure hunt.
13. Add treats to an old container.
You could use old yogurt or sour cream containers for this, or those containers you get when you order soup to go from a restaurant.
Fill it with small treats or dog food if you want to make your hard-to-wear-out dog work for her dinner. Your dog will have fun rolling the container around to force the treats out. For extra security, duct-tape the lid down. Remember to never leave your dog alone with a toy like this.
14. Create a puzzle using your dog’s Hol-ee ball.
More DIY dog toys that work as puzzles. It seems like I spend a lot of time just trying to help my dog expend her mental energy. These types of toys are great for that.
Cut up an old dish towel (or use the extra scraps from the jersey chew toy you braided!). Shove the material inside your dog’s Hol-ee Roller ball. Add some treats too, so he’s surprised when he’s rewarded with something yummy.
15. Roll a towel lengthwise and tie a knot at the end for a DIY chew toy.
Consider stuffing a few treats inside the towel before you make the knot because what dog doesn’t love a little incentive?
Then roll the towel lengthwise and work a knot into the end. The tighter your knot, the more challenging it will be for your dog to figure out how to get the treats. This makes for a sturdy toy to chew on that’s still soft in your dog’s mouth.
16. Make a DIY tennis ball rope toy.
You can make this as a chew toy or as a tug-of-war toy. You’ll just need a tennis ball and some rope. You could even braid T-shirt material as you did for the T-shirt chew toy and use that instead of rope. It would create a bit of flexibility or bounce when your dog pulls, which could be fun.
Then tie a knot on both ends of the rope and instigate tug of war.
17. Stump your dog with a frozen sock chew toy.
For this DIY dog toy, you’ll just need two long athletic socks.
- Tie the first sock into a knot, so it’s shaped like a ball.
- Place that sock inside the second sock, pushing it all the way into the toe.
- Tie a knot so the first sock is locked in tight, then peel the second sock over the knots. You’re folding it over itself. Repeat with a knot and a fold until you don’t have any more of the sock to knot.
- Tuck the ends in.
- Get it soaking wet and freeze it overnight.