When you're at the pet store, what do you see? A garden of can't-miss delights for your pooch? Or an array of overpriced plastic gadgets just like the ones already sitting abandoned under your sofa?
If you know how to make dog toys, you can avoid the expensive, hit-or-miss game of dog toy roulette. You can create toys for your dog's unique likes and needs. Best of all, you can save money!
What Are Dog Toys For?
Silly question, right? Everyone knows dogs like to play. But it's not just fun and games. Playtime has a number of purposes, and dog toys can do a lot more for your pooch than giving them a momentary thrill.
Playtime can help to keep your dog healthy and happy. And if you play with your dog, it can be a time for you to bond.
That's a lot of work for a toy, so it's important that your dog has the right ones.
Playtime helps dogs to do what comes naturally
Anyone who loves a dog has noticed that they have some very specific behaviors, such as:
These are all things that dogs do naturally. On top of that, humans have selectively bred certain breeds to favor different behaviors. Breeders bred Jack Russell Terriers, for example, to chase small prey into their burrows and to dig in after them. As a result, Jack Russells are enthusiastic and powerful diggers.
Unfortunately, some behaviors can turn destructive or even dangerous, if not properly channeled. A dog who likes to dig may dig up the flowerbeds, for example. Or even dig out of their yard. A teething dog, or a dog who likes to chew may turn their attentions to the furniture.
Instead of punishing your dog, giving them the right toy can let them express those natural behaviors safely and non-destructively.
And if you know how to make dog toys, you can make sure your dog has the right toy for the job.
Everyone needs exercise
How much exercise does a dog need? That can vary, depending on your dog's breed or breed combination, age, and physical condition.
However, experts recommend a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day for most dogs. High-energy breeds like retrievers, shepherds, and many terriers may need as much as 90 minutes per day.
It goes without saying that a lot of dogs don't even get this much. And this can result in frustration and destructiveness.
Set aside time every day to exercise and play with your dog. It will keep them healthier and keep you happier.
Playtime helps to relieve boredom and anxiety
Let's face it: many dogs don't lead very exciting lives. This is especially true if their humans are away for long stretches of time at work or school.
Do you live in fear of coming home to find your dog has been at the trash? Do you ever wonder, as you're slipping the key into the front door lock, what that beast has ripped up while you're gone?
Most of the time it's not your dog's fault. They may be telling you they're bored or anxious. Unfortunately, few of us speak fluent dog.
If you know how to make dog toys that specifically address boredom or anxiety, you can help your pup to be happier overall...and maybe even to leave your favorite pillows alone.
Your dog wants to engage with you
Dogs are pack animals, and you are your dog's pack. They want to be with you. They want to engage with you. Playtime is one of the most fun, and most effective ways to do this.
If you know how to make dog toys, you can create unique things that no other dog has. You can use your creativity to show your dog that you want to engage with them, as well. And your creations can help you to bond with your dog better than any silly, store-bought plastic thing.
So, what are some of the kinds of toys you can make?
How to Make Dog Toys For Different Purposes
If you want your dog to have the right toy, it's important to consider the need that toy addresses. Does your dog need a boredom buster? A teething aid? Something to help with training and socialization? Whatever your dog's need, there's a toy for that.
Why do dogs chew?
Well, young dogs, like young humans, chew to ease teething pain. Chewing also helps dogs to maintain the health of their teeth and gums. Boredom, frustration and anxiety may cause a dog to chew. And some dogs just like it.
Chewing toys can help your dog to satisfy that chewing urge safely and non-destructively.
The great news is, you can make some excellent chewing toys out of things you may already have at home.
Chew and Tug Octupus
What can you do with an old t-shirt and a tennis ball? You can make something totally awesome for your best canine bud, that's what!
Why a t-shirt? Well, you can actually use any safe and durable fabric, such as fleece, old towels, sheets, or blue jean fabric. But a t-shirt has your scent on it. And that will make it extra-special for your dog.
How do you make it?
First, lay your t-shirt out flat. Next, cut three strips. Two of the strips should be five to six inches wide. The last one should be about two inches wide.
Now, take the two thick strips and lay them out like an "X." Place the tennis ball in the center of the X.
Keeping the tennis ball inside both layers of fabric, bring the "arms" of the X together and tie off the ball with the thin strip. You should now have what looks like an octopus.
Finally, cut the four thick "arms" of the octopus into three thin strips each, and braid.
Give this to your dog to chew on. You could also throw it for them. And if your dog wants a game of tug-o-war, your handy octopus is ready for that, too.
Sweet Potato Chew Toy
Sweet potatoes are good for us, and guess what? They're good for your dog, too. Not only that, but they make a fun and healthy chew toy, as well.
So how do you do it?
First, clean one large sweet potato. Next, cut it into one-half-inch (around one centimeter) thick round slices, then punch or cut a hole in the middle of each slice.
Now, lay your slices out onto a baking pan. Dehydrate them in the oven -- five hours at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius) should do it. Now string them on a rope for your dog!
Your pup will love the sweet taste. It will also give them hours of chewing pleasure.
Everyone hates to be bored -- and that includes your pooch. A food puzzle can be an excellent way to keep your pup entertained while you're away.
DIY Food Puzzle
Are you handy with a drill? It's OK if you're not. This interactive food puzzle is still pretty easy to make. Here's what you'll need:
Recycled Squeaker Squeak Toy
Could your dog qualify for the National Squeaker Removal Squad? Are you tired of buying one expensive squeak toy after another, only to have your dog destroy them in a day, or even an hour?
Well, save those squeakers, because it's time to learn how to make a dog toy that won't fall apart.
This homemade squeaker toy is an excellent way to reuse the squeakers from old toys, as well as to use up extra fabric.
First, see that absolutely obliterated squeaker toy at the bottom of the toy basket? Grab it, and do a quick squeaker-ectomy.
Next, using thick fabric like denim, fleece or terrycloth, cut two identical flat shapes. You could make it simple, like a rectangle, or more complicated, like a bone.
Now, lay one of the shapes down. On top of that, put your stuffing. This could be pillow stuffing, or you could use extra fabric. Put the squeaker inside, and lay the other shape on top.
For a rough, rustic toy, sew the shapes together with the squeaker and fabric inside. This will leave rough edges, but your dog won't care.
If you want clean seams, sew the pieces together inside out before stuffing, leaving one end open. Then turn right side around, stuff, and sew up the final edge.
Now throw it and watch your dog go!
Are You Ready to do some DIY?
Your dog needs playtime to be healthy and happy, and dog toys are a big part of that. If you know how to make dog toys of your own, you can save yourself a lot of money. Even better, you can make unique toys that fit your dog's needs and play style to a T.
What's your dog's favorite kind of toy? We'd love to hear about it.