Does Fido Destroy Pricy Toys? Try These Cheap, Easy DIY Dog Toys Instead

11,898 Views
DIY dog toys
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

This scene repeats itself: I return from the pet store bearing a squeaky plush toy that cost as much as a rump roast. I toss it to my golden retriever Ike, who de-stuffs, decapitates and de-squeaks it in a matter of minutes. Then he looks up at me, tongue hanging out, as if to say “What next?”

Pet toys can be expensive: Ike can tear through a $12 toy in 10 minutes. But no worries — you can make your own dog toys for a fraction of the cost and sometimes free.

12 Cheap, Easy DIY Dog Toys Your Pooch Will Love

Not only can DIY dog toys save you money, but you can often repurpose things that you may otherwise throw away. Plus, they’re fun to make!

Just remember to always use materials that are safe for your pet, monitor playtime and inspect toys for damage.

Here are some easy homemade dog toys Ike recommends:

1. Fleece Stuffies

DIY dog toys

Two identical circles are sewn together after stuffing it while making a fleece stuffie, a DIY dog toy, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

Ike loves to chew stuffed toys, but he doesn’t need anything fancy to have fun.

Cost to buy new: $5-$19

Cost to make: about $1.50

What you need:

  • ¼ yard fleece fabric: about $1 (varies)
  • A few handfuls of stuffing: 50 cents
  • Needle and thread: Free, if you have it lying around

Instructions:

Cut two identical shapes out of fleece. Decide which sides of the fabric you want to show on the outside of the toy, and place those together. Sew around the edges, leaving a small opening for the stuffing. Turn the toy inside out and stuff. Sew up the opening.

Experiment with different fabrics to find out what your dog prefers. Try using an old T-shirt: it will save you money, and your dog will enjoy your scent.

2. Restuffable Stuffie

DIY dog toys

Felt squares are added into an old rabbit while making a restuffable stuffie, a DIY dog toy, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

Some dogs, like Ike, can unstuff a toy in seconds. To prevent your dog from swallowing fluff from toys, try making this Kol’s Notes Restuffable Dog Toy.  

Cost to buy new: $5-$19

Cost to make: about $1.20 (varies with size of toy)

What you need:

  • Felt squares: 30 cents each
  • New or old dog plush stuffie: Free if you have one lying around
  • Scissors: Free if you already have a pair

Instructions:

Cut the felt squares into long strips. Cut a slit in the toy and unstuff it. Restuff the toy with the long strips of felt and sew it shut.

3. Socktopus

If you’re not especially handy with a needle and thread, no worries. This DIY dog toy involves no sewing.  

Cost to buy new: $7.50

Cost to make: Free!

What you need:

  • Mismatched socks: Free

Instructions:

Lay two socks in an “X.” Tie the bottom sock up around the top sock at the middle. If you can find more socks, repeat the tying until you reach eight “legs.”

If you don’t have enough socks, don’t worry, your dog won’t care if your socktopus doesn’t have eight legs.

Note: If your dog cannot differentiate its socktopus from the laundry, this may not be the toy for you!

4. Bouncy Sock

Here’s another simple, no-sew toy involving a sock.

Cost to buy new: $6.99

Cost to make: 65 cents (or free if you have an old tennis ball lying around)

What you need:

  • Tennis ball: 65 cents 
  • Old sock: Free

Instructions:

Stuff the tennis ball into an old sock. Knot the top of the sock. Voila!

5. Treat Ball

Any toy with food inside grabs Ike’s attention, and this Tennis Ball Treat Dispenser from Instructables is so easy to make.

Cost to buy new: $9.95

Cost to make: 65 cents, plus a few treats

What you need:

  • Tennis ball: 65 cents
  • Treats: Free if you use whatever you have for your dog
  • Knife: Free

Instruction:

Cut a slit along seam to make a flap. Insert dog treats of your choice through the flap. Watch your dog try to get them out.

6. Rope Tug

DIY dog toys

A DIY rope tug dog toy made from a pair of jeans in St. Petersburg, Fla. Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

For some dogs, there’s nothing more fun than gnawing a rope.

Cost to buy new: $5.99-$12.99

Cost to make: about $2.00

What you need:

  • Cotton rope: $2.00

Instructions:

Cut rope to your desired length and tie a knot on both ends. If you’re handy with knots, try a square knot, monkey’s fist, or even cat’s paw (meow!).

7. Braided Tug

Here’s another durable DIY dog toy for chewers.

Cost to buy new: $9.99

Cost to make: Free

What you need:

  • Ripped, faded or outgrown jeans: Free

Instructions:

Cut the jeans into three strips of your desired length. Tie strips at the top. Braid the strips together, then tie them at the bottom.

8. Crinkle Toy

Store-bought dog toys often feature a plastic water bottle inside. Use your own for savings.

Cost to buy new: $6.99-$15.99

Cost to make: Free

What you need:

  • Empty plastic water bottle: Free
  • Old sock: Free

Instructions:

Simply pull the sock over the empty water bottle and tie the sock at the top. That’s it!

9. Seat Belt Buddy

Cost to buy new: $7.99

Cost to make: Cost varies

What you need:

  • Old car seat belt: Cost varies

Instructions:

If you happen to have access to a junk car, cut off a length of seat belt, removing the buckle. Knot the ends.

If you don’t have access to a junk seat belt, you can pick one up at a scrap yard.

10. Hose Tossing Ring

Don’t throw away that leaky garden hose. Follow these instructions to make Wisebread’s Tossing Ring for your dog.

Cost to buy new: $6.99

Cost to make: Free

What you need:

  • Old garden hose: Free
  • 3-inch-long stick: Free

Instructions:

Cut the hose to your desired length. Slide the stick into one end of the hose, then bring the other end of the hose around and slide it over the protruding end of the stick. This will form a ring to toss to your dog.

11. Treat Yourself Bottle

This Kol’s Notes Treat Dispensing toy is a fun, interactive DIY dog toy.

Cost to buy new: $11.99

Cost to make: 99 cents to $2, plus a few treats

What you need:

  • Soft foam ball: 99 cents
  • Empty wide-mouth plastic bottle: Free if you have one; otherwise, try the dollar store
  • Treats: Free, if you use what you normally have in the house for your dog

Instructions:

Remove the lid and ring from the bottle’s neck. Compress the ball and squeeze it inside the bottle. Add the dog treats.

For more of a challenge, use two or three balls.

12.  Flirt Pole

This toy is great for an active dog. New ones run as much as $49, but you can make this Puppy Leaks Flirt Pole for much less.   

Cost to buy new: $22

Cost to make: $5.30, if you use an old dog toy you already have

What you need:

  • PVC pipe: $2.50
  • Bungee cord: $2.80
  • Dog toy: Varies

Instructions:

DIY dog toys

Oscar, the dog, plays with a DIY restuffable stuffie in St. Petersburg, Fla. Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

Cut a length of pipe; you will hold this like a fishing pole to lure your dog.

Cut the bungee cord so it’s longer than the pipe. Push the bungee cord through the pipe opening and out the other side. Tie a knot at both ends of the cord so it won’t pull through. Leave a few feet of cord hanging out the top of the pipe.

Tie your dog’s favorite toy to the loose end of the cord. Tempt your dog with the toy — if your dog is quick, you’ll have to be quicker!

Your Turn: Which of these DIY dog toys is your dog’s favorite?

Peggy Frezon is contributing editor of All Creatures magazine, and author of Faithfully Yours, the amazing bond between us and the animals we love, and other books about pets. Peggy and her husband currently share their home with two senior dogs, and do therapy dog work with their golden retriever, Ike.

Did this article help put money in your pocket?