17 DIY dog toys you can make from things in your house

Oct. 27, 2020

The graveyard of deceased dog toys is vast. If your dog is one of the talented that can rip up a stuffed toy in 20 seconds flat, it may feel like toy funerals are happening far too frequently and your hard earned money is being thrown out the window.

Here’s something to ease the pain: Dozens of potential DIY toys are just waiting to be made from unused things in your house, like old T-shirts or jeans, towels or bed sheets.

Toys are a necessity for keeping your dogs happy, active and out of trouble, but spending tons of money on them doesn't have to be. Check out these genius ideas for homemade dog toys, choose one, and get your craft on!

1. Ball Tug Toy

You’ll need an old T-shirt, a tennis ball and a pair of scissors to whip up this totally tuggable dog toy. Simply lay your shirt flat and cut across in three strategic places, according to She Knows, then wrap the ball inside two of the pieces. Use the smallest piece of shirt to cinch the toy together. Cut the remaining pieces of cloth into strips and braid.

2. Interactive Dog Feeder Toy

A PVC pipe is the main ingredient in this sturdy feeding toy created by Dog Tipper, which aims to keep your pooch busy by making him work for the treats inside. You’ll need to be somewhat handy to drill holes into the pipe, which you can do best when the pipe is secured in a vise. Sand the rough edges of your holes with sandpaper and when all of them are smooth, put the pipe into the dishwasher for cleaning. Put PVC caps on each end of the pipe.

3. Plastic Bottle Tug Toy

Plastic bottles are so last decade, but if you still bring one home occasionally, why not fashion it into a tug toy before tossing it in the recycle bin? Ammo the Dachshund used about a yard of tie-dye bed sheet to make this colorful concoction. Using scissors, cut four 1-inch wide strips to later be used as ties. The remaining fabric is then wrapped around the bottle — like paper around a Subway sub — and the ties are used to secure it. Cut and braid the hanging fabric.

4. T-Shirt Rope Toy

That stack of T-shirts in the closet that nobody is wearing, they can be turned into T-shirt yarn for your next project. T-shirt yarn is just long, thin strips of T-shirt, which looks super colorful when it’s braided — but we’re not talking about just any braid. You’ll need 12 strings of yarn (at about 1-2 yards long) to braid this yarn into a rope toy using the scoubidou technique (a.k.a. the friendship bracelet method). If you’re already anxious, don’t worry. It’s pretty easy, and YouTube has tons of tutorials.

5. DIY Agility Jump

Give your dog extra exercise with this easy-to-make agility jump that can be set up in your backyard, or, if you’re feeling brave, your living room. Gone to the Snow Dogs built their own using furniture grade PVC pipe (both white and blue) and different kinds of furniture grade PVC fitting. The important thing here is having a PVC pipe cutter — and knowing how to use one! — and carefully cutting each piece as instructed (the long white pipes, which will be the ground bar, need to measure 47 inches long). Follow the directions provided and you’ll have leftovers for future projects.

6. Rope Ball Toy

You’re going to need patience (and some pliers!) to tackle the tying involved in this rope toy recipe, courtesy of Instructables. Things you’ll need: rope (3/4-inch diameter), a lacrosse ball, and some electrical tape. First, unwind between 10 to 15 feet of the rope and tape the ends. If you’re fluent in “knot,” the next steps will be a synch for you, if not, there are how-to’s provided for each knot. Pliers can be useful pulling through strands of rope.

7. No-Sew Denim Dog Toy

No sewing machine? No problem! All you need to make this toy is some scissors and an old pair of jeans. First, cut the pant legs into long strips and lay them in a cross shape on a table. Kelley Nagel’s step-by-step video shows you how to flip and fold the legs into knots. The finished product is simple, sturdy, and so much fun to chew, as the dog in the video demonstrates.

8. Towel Tug Toy

Tattered towels are given new life when they’re fashioned into (washable!) toys for your pup — and the operative word here is: easy! Per GoodHousekeeping.com, just cut three strips of towel, about 4 inches wide and at least 12 inches long. Tie them off at one end with a small towel strip (1 inch wide and 6 inches long). Braid and use another strip to tie off the end.

9.  Apple Pie Pupsicles

It’s part toy, part treat, with a full serving of cuteness. These three-ingredient frozen yogurt dog treats from Dalmatian DIY require a cute silicone mold, but in all honesty, any shape will do because eating them will be the only thing on your dog’s mind. Mix a half cup of yogurt and a half cup of unsweetened applesauce or pureed apple in a bowl. A sprinkle of Ceylon cinnamon is optional. Freeze thoroughly and serve with a smile!

10. Sweet Potato Rope Toy

Here’s a good way to add some fiber (and fun!) to your pup’s daily routine. Clean one large sweet potato and cut into 1 inch round pieces. Use a cookie cutter or apple corer to cut a hole in the middle of each piece, as demonstrated in this video from Elmo’s Kitchen. Dehydrate by baking for 5 hours the oven. Tie a knot at the end of your rope (about a foot long) and string the potato rings onto it.  

11. Simple Sock Toy

The mystical force that takes one sock from every load of laundry would want you to do something good with the one remaining, and here it is! Simply cut a hole in the toe-side of a full length sock and stuff a water bottle inside of it. Tie each end with twine. The Barkington Post recommends hemming each side to make it last longer.

12. Pull Apart Dog Toy

Here’s one for the dog who enjoys sending stuffed toys to the graveyard by pulling them apart, piece by piece. Stuff precut pieces of fleece fabric along with yummy treats into a 5-inch Hol-ee Roller Dog Toy. Toss and watch the destruction begin. Leopold’s Crate doesn’t recommend these for dogs who eat fabric.  

13. Homemade Squeaky Toy

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Made Jake a toy 😂😂 #diydogtoy #jakethedog

A post shared by Christy & Jake (@christyhikeswithjakethedog) on

If the squeaker from a stuffed dog toy somehow survived a disemboweling by your dog, it can live again inside this toy by Laura Griffin Designs (obviously not recommended for dogs who have a taste for squeakers, too). You’ll need a sewing machine to stitch two pieces of bone-shaped fabric together, and don’t forget to leave a small opening so you can insert stuffing and the squeaker inside. Top tip: The cuter the fabric, the more adorable the Instagram post!

14. No Sew Heart Toy

What’s not to love? Trace or freehand draw a heart onto two stacked layers of fleece fabric. Cut out the heart, leaving 2 inches of space around the outside so you can double tie the sides together (in lieu of sewing). Double tie all around and stuff with extra fleece. Pretty Fluffy says doesn’t recommend these for dogs who tear cute stuff apart.

15. Super Simple Frozen Sock Toy

There is nothing easier than this idea from Instructables.com. Tie a long sock into a knot, soak it in water, and freeze. Boom! Your dog has a cool new chew toy.

16. Soda Bottle Treat Dispenser

This interactive toy — creatively made out of a chicken nesting box by Daily Dog Tag — is a brain teaser for your pooch. A Chicken Ware nesting box ($18 on Amazon.com), PVC pipe, and two 2-liter soda bottles are some of the important supplies you’ll need to make it. Drill holes in the box and hang the treat-filled bottles from the pipe. Spray paint it to match your home decor.

17. Flirt Stick

This toy tantalizer by Notes From a Dog Walker promises “a rockin’ workout” for any dog who lives for a good game of chase. It works like a cat wand, dangling toys all in the name of fun. It’s made with PVC pipe, rope, and a favorite already-made toy of your choice (many mentioned above would work for this too). Simply thread rope through the pipe and tie your toy to the end. Make it colorful by wrapping the pipe in electrical tape.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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