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10 DIY Dog Toys to Keep Your Pup Busy You Can Try Today (Vet-Approved Ideas)

Written by: Jessica Rossetti

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

black dog with tissue cardboard in its mouth

10 DIY Dog Toys to Keep Your Pup Busy You Can Try Today (Vet-Approved Ideas)


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Dr. Lorna Whittemore

BVMS, MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Every dog owner knows that toys are essential to keeping dogs happy and busy, but depending on your pup’s chewing ability and strength, they may not last long. If you find yourself replacing toys regularly, consider making a few yourself!

You can choose the types of toys to make and save money at the same time. These durable and unique toys are sure to be a hit with any dog. Best of all, you can make several at a time so you always have spares. Check the toys regularly and remove them if they become damaged to help keep your pet safe.

Read on to learn how to make dog toys including toy ideas and plans so you can start making them today. With the right materials, you can have a basket full of homemade toys that your pup is sure to love!

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Top 10 DIY Dog Toys

1. Sweet Potato Dog Toy

DIY Sweet Potato Dog Toy
Image Credit: instructables
Materials: Hemp or jute rope, two to four sweet potatoes, sheet pan, foil, or parchment paper
Tools: Knife, round cookie cutter, vegetable peeler, oven
Difficulty Level: Medium

Made with strong rope and tasty dried sweet potatoes, this toy is great for dogs that love to chew. The knotted rope makes it difficult for even strong chewers to completely obliterate it instantly. The sweet potatoes are hard, but even if they’re ingested, you won’t have to worry because they’re completely edible. This is also a great option for puppies that are teething. Just dry out your sweet potatoes in the oven, and add them to the rope. You can customize this rope to your desired size.

2. Upcycled Dog Tug Toy

DIY Upcycled Dog Tug Toy
Image Credit: yesmissy
Materials: Old t-shirt, tennis ball
Tools: Scissors
Difficulty Level: Easy

Don’t throw that old t-shirt away just yet! Here you can learn how to make dogs out of it – fun tug toys to be exact. All you need is a shirt that you don’t mind cutting up, a tennis ball, and scissors. The hanging strips of fabric can be braided for durability while your dog chews and pulls at this toy. When the toy does fall apart after heavy use, you can simply pull out another old t-shirt and remake it. Shirts with patterns are fun for different looks.

3. Water Bottle Dog Toy

DIY Water Bottle Dog Toy
Image Credit: twolittlecavaliers
Materials: Empty water bottle, ribbon, felt squares
Tools: Needle and thread, glue gun
Difficulty Level: Medium

This water bottle dog toy requires advanced work. You need to know your way around a needle and thread because stitches need to be added by hand. If you can do this, the rest of the instructions are easy. The total time to make this toy should be around 15 minutes. The crinkle sound from the water bottle entices dogs to play. This toy is easily fixed once it’s damaged and starts to fall apart. If you keep felt squares on hand, you can replace them as necessary. When the water bottle is chewed completely, it can be replaced with a new empty one. Always supervise your pet using this toy as it is not durable or edible.

4.  Rope Ball Surprise Dog Toy

DIY Rope Ball Surprise Dog Toy
Image Credit: handsoccupied
Materials: 105 inches of thick cotton rope, dog treats of your choice, twist ties
Tools: Scissors or knife
Difficulty Level: Easy

This rope ball dog toy is wrapped and knotted to give your dog a unique challenge. Hide a dog treat inside the ball so your pup must work to get it out! This is sure to last longer than other toys that have irresistible squeakers in soft padding. Dogs can also learn to master treat puzzles quickly, and then they won’t hold their attention anymore. This rope ball is one solution to that issue. You can make the treat easy to retrieve or hide it more securely to keep your dog busy longer. Ensure your dog does not eat the rope as this can cause intestinal obstruction.

5. Homemade Foxtail Dog Toy

DIY Homemade Foxtail Dog Toy
Image Credit: instructables
Materials: Scrap fabric, tennis ball, dental floss
Tools: Sewing machine, sewing needle, needle-nose pliers
Difficulty Level: Medium

If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can make this foxtail dog toy. Dental floss may be an unusual option to use for stitching, but for this project, it works well. The waxiness of the floss gives it the strength that it needs to not unravel, so it holds up better than regular thread. Dogs can chase, toss, and pull these toys, keeping them busy for hours. The tail design adds a little more fun to an otherwise ordinary tennis ball. Remove the toy from your dog once it starts to fray and replace it with a new one.

6. Jean Ball Dog Toy

DIY Jean Ball Dog Toy
Image Credit: happiestcamper
Materials: Denim fabric (old jeans), cotton filling, pattern
Tools: Scissors, sewing machine, needle & thread, chalk or marker, pins
Difficulty Level: Medium

Learn how to make dog toys with this stuffed denim ball dog toy plan using an old pair of jeans! This toy is fun and long-lasting. Just use the pattern to help you trace and cut out the denim pieces that you’ll need. Once you have your denim pieces, you can work on constructing the ball. A sewing machine helps give the toy the durability that it needs. Hand-stitching the toy is possible, but it may not last long before it starts to unravel. Denim is also good for this toy because it stands up better to chewing. However, if your dog isn’t a strong chewer, a t-shirt may be used instead. The best part is that these toys are made of fabric that can be washed, so just toss them in the washer and dryer whenever they need a good cleaning. They should hold their shape well. One pair of jeans may be enough to make several balls, so you can have backups whenever you need to replace them.

7. DIY Snuffle Ball Dog Toy

DIY Snuffle Ball Dog Toy
Image Credit: populardoodle
Materials: Fabric, cardboard
Tools: Scissors, ruler, zip ties, sandpaper, hot glue gun, Xacto knife
Difficulty Level: Easy

This homemade snuffle ball is guaranteed to keep your pup occupied. A snuffle ball is made of folds of fabric that can hold treats that need to be sniffed out and retrieved. It keeps dogs mentally engaged and is an ideal enrichment tool. This snuffle ball requires a bit of effort to make, but with this step-by-step plan, you’ll learn how to make dog toys sure to be hit with your pup. All you have to do is cut out fabric pieces, fold them, and attach them together. When the ball needs to be cleaned, it can easily be thrown into the washing machine.

8. DIY Snuffle Mat Dog Toy

DIY Snuffle Mat Dog Toy
Image Credit: prouddogmom
Materials: Rubber sink mat or cardboard box, fleece fabric
Tools: Scissors, screwdriver; a Sharpie marker and box cutter if using cardboard
Difficulty Level: Easy

The snuffle mat is an interactive toy that can be used to hide treats that your pup has to sniff out and find. You can bury them deeper for a more challenging task. This mat is ideal for keeping boredom away. This mat is made by weaving strips of fleece material through a rubber sink mat. You can use a piece of cardboard instead, but it’ll take more work to get the fleece through it.

9. No-Sew Tug Dog Toy

DIY No-Sew Tug Dog Toy
Image Credit: createlaughgrow
Materials: Fleece or t-shirt fabric
Tools: Scissors, fabric ruler, or another measuring device
Difficulty Level: Easy

This no-sew tug toy is easily made with a series of knots. Your most important tools for this project will be your own two hands. The knots keep the toy from falling apart completely, working much better than most braided tug toys. You can make this toy in any color and size that you’d like. When it gets gross and slobbery, it can easily be washed in the machine. If you’re making this toy for a big, strong dog, be sure to make the knots as tight as you can.

10. Woven Rope Bone Dog Toy

DIY Woven Rope Bone Dog Toy
Image Credit: instructables
Materials: Cotton rope, two lacrosse balls, cardboard, duct tape, pins
Tools: Printer, scissors
Difficulty Level: Hard

If you’re up for a challenge and are good at tying knots, this woven rope bone toy is a strong and durable option. You can choose the size of rope to use that will correspond with your dog’s size, so this toy can be made for large or small breeds. You’ll need access to a printer so you can print out the knot grid image as your guide. Using pins to help you weave the rope, you’ll start to form a bone pattern with a lacrosse ball on each end to finish out the shape. This is a toy that requires plenty of concentration to make, but the result is well worth the effort!

How to Keep Dogs From Being Bored

Dogs can and do get bored. If they don’t have enough to do to keep them busy and entertained, they can find their own ways. These can include chewing your chews, digging through the trash, and shredding throw pillows. More importantly, you’ll know that your dog isn’t happy.

You can’t stay home and entertain your dog forever, so toys that keep them occupied are good solutions. Interactive toys, like puzzles and treat dispensers, will work your dog’s mind while they try to figure out how to get their reward.

Snuffle balls and mats work by using fabric flaps to hide treats. If you have a dog that eats too quickly, snuffle mats, balls, and treat dispensers can be used with dry kibble to force them to eat their meals slowly.

Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise each day. Depending on your dog’s breed, some will need more physical activity than others. At least one walk a day is necessary to keep your dog from getting bored. They’ll be able to sniff, investigate, and explore while getting exercise. This walk shouldn’t just be a potty break. Give your dog time to enjoy being outside too.

sheltie or shetland sheepdog running outdoors with a ball toy in its mouth
Image by: Barcs Tamás, Unsplash

Change It Up

If you’re using toys to keep your dog busy while you’re not home, don’t forget to change things up sometimes. Swapping the toys on certain days will keep your dog from getting bored with the same things. If the toys include puzzles, your dog may figure out the solution quickly and no longer be challenged. Keep changing what your dog gets each day to keep them interested and engaged.


If your dog is friendly and likes to play with other dogs, consider visiting a dog park or meeting up with friends who have dogs and letting the pups play together. This is a fun way to let the dogs enjoy the company of others and get exercise at the same time. The more your dog does when you’re home, the more satisfied they will be during their downtime.

two brown and white dog running
Image by: Alvan Nee, Unsplash

Other Help

If you are going to be gone for long periods each day, toys to fend off boredom can only go so far. Consider asking a trusted friend or relative to stop by to give your pup some company and a potty break. Even a 20-minute visit can make a difference in their day.

You can also hire a dog walker to take your dog on a full walk in the middle of the day. This person can also give your dog a meal or any medications that they may need. Doggie daycare is also an option. There, your dog will be able to play all day long with other dogs under supervision and come home thoroughly exhausted and ready to relax.

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Final Thoughts On How to Make Dog Toys

There are plenty of plans that teach you how to make dog toys for your pup at home without needing to spend much money. You may even have a few of the supplies around the house. Dogs need toys to help them stay entertained and not get bored. A bored dog can quickly become a destructive dog.

We hope that you enjoyed these DIY plans for dog toys and have found one or more that you can start making today.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: taylordeasmelesh, Unsplash

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