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white greyhound with toy

As we discussed last week, a bored dog can too easily find himself in trouble by making his own “fun” – most likely in ways you do not like! Now that many of us are home more than usual, we have time to make some simple dog toys that will keep them busy, and most won’t cost you a penny. It doesn’t necessarily have to be fancy to delight your dog. Your recycling bin can be a treasure trove of toy components, if you just look at it with new eyes. 

Not only will making your own puzzle toys for your dog save you a little cash but you won't feel quite so bad if they are quickly dispatched by your hound.  In addition, learning to play with their own toys is great for your pup’s cognitive development, and can even stave off dementia.  Another reason to make your own interactive dog toys that is that you can tailor it to their unique size and needs.  Here are some suggestions to get you started –


That’s it – just take off the top and watch them enjoy licking the last bits out of the jar. Or you could take any plastic jar, put a thin layer of soft bacon grease (not hot or it can melt the plastic) in the bottom and get similar results. When they’re done, just toss it back in the recycle bin.

empty peanut butter jar


An empty milk bottle will keep lots of pups happy, especially as they can pick it up and run with it. It can be thrown, tossed and gnawed on and the cost to you will be zero cents. Watch out if you have an aggressive chewer – you don’t want them to eat the plastic.

cereal box dog toy


Take any clean dry empty cardboard food box like a cereal box and cut several holes in the front.  Put some kibble or small treats inside the box and tape it up.  Now your dog can have fun getting the treats out of the holes, and maybe chew up the box too.  Again, don’t leave them unattended because they shouldn’t swallow the cardboard.


Take an empty plastic container, cut several holes in the side, sand the edges smooth, and put some small treats or kibble in. Tape the top on, and your dog has another greyt interactive toy. The same cautions apply – watch to make sure they don’t eat the plastic.

container dog toy


If you have a large plush toy where the squeaker is broken or missing, take it apart, remove the broken bits and some stuffing, making enough room to fit an empty plastic water bottle inside. Take the cap off the bottle, and flatten it. Now put it inside and sew it up.  The toy can have new life as a crinkle toy.


  • Cut off one leg of pantyhose, tights, or leggings, tie a knot in one end, insert a tennis ball, and tie another knot below.
  • Cut legs off old jeans, criss cross them, and tie in a knot. Now you have a greyt tug toy, or even a chew toy! The densely woven denim stands up to moderate chewing. For a twist, in the summer, soak the denim in water or low sodium broth and freeze it.  Your pup will have fun (outside) with the frozen treat.
  • Cut arms off old sweatshirts, tie a knot in one end, insert an empty water bottle, and tie a knot below.
  • Cut the body of the sweatshirt into strips and braid them for a tug or chew toy. Old t-shirts work too. If you cut the body of the shirt cross-wise, you have a loop, then cut one end and you have a long strip. Combine several braids for more fun.
  • t shirt dog toy


Here is a DIY twist on that popular throwing toy, the Chuckit. Cut two t-shirts into strips about 1” wide. Take 3 strips and braid them together and make a knot on each end of the braid. Repeat until you have 3 braids. Tie one of the braids around the other two braids and secure it with a knot.  Now, get a tennis ball and cut an opening on either end of it. After that, push one of the braids through the tennis ball to complete the toy.


The one thing that we all have in our homes on a regular basis is toilet paper or paper towel roll tubes. And just as you might use them in a human kid's craft project, they can also be used to make easy, disposable and safely destructible dog toys. Fold and flatten one end of the cardboard roll. Pour some of your dog's favorite treats inside. Fold the other end to seal it up. Your dog will love the rattling sound and try for ages to get the treats out.

paper roll treat dispenser

Need something to amuse your pup fast while you head onto an important Zoom call? Spread peanut butter around the insides of a toilet roll tube. For a harder challenge, freeze it for a couple of hours beforehand. They'll have to figure out how to get as much of the yummy stuff as they can without squishing the tube flat, which should be a challenge that keeps them busy at least for the duration of your meeting.


Take an old tennis ball, and cut a 2”-3” slit in one side.  You want to be able to squeeze the ball to get it to open up. Fill with small treats and see if your dog can figure out how to get the treats out.

tennis ball treat toy


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. Take an old piece of PVC pipe, a piece of rope, and a favorite already-made toy of your choice (some of those mentioned above would work for this too). Simply thread rope through the pipe and tie your toy to the end.

toy tantalizer

Making these interactive dog toys can be as simple as you want to make it. As you find out how easy it is to create unique DIY dog toys you'll find that the Internet - especially video sites like YouTube and Vimeo - are filled with all kinds of ideas, and you can no doubt brainstorm some of your own. We’d love for you to share your ideas in the comments below.

**As is the case with any toy, think of your pup’s safety first. Supervise your dog when they’re playing with all toys and regularly inspect them for damage. Be sure to get rid of any toys that are falling apart– you don’t want your four-legged love to swallow anything harmful!



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