No-Cost DIY Dog Toys

When my significant other and I first adopted our dog, my growing pup would (literally) tear through every new stuffed or squeaky toy in a matter of minutes. So I decided to supplement her toy box with an array of homemade toys that could withstand her tugging and that I wouldn’t feel bad about throwing out on a frequent basis. Plus, it was a great way to repurpose a supply of items I wasn’t really using in my home — old t-shirts — meaning it cost nothing to make.

You can easily make these braided tug toys too!

Supplies

  • At least two old t-shirts
  • A pair of scissors

Everyone has that old t-shirt that maybe they received free as a promotional item or maybe they wore to the max and really should get rid of it, but haven’t “gotten around to it” yet. I’m a size medium and like longer t-shirts which worked great when my dog was a pup. Length is definitely important for this project. As my dog has gotten older (and a lot bigger), I have needed longer shirts, so I have “taken off my dad’s hands” a few of the 4x tees he doesn’t wear. As a personal preference, I like to use two different color tees for each project for aesthetic reasons and stay away from anything with a graphic printed on it or I cut out and discard the graphic before proceeding with the project.

To make this particular toy, I chose to use a tie-dye shirt and a baby blue shirt.

Step 1

Lay out your t-shirt on a flat surface. Starting at the bottom of the shirt, cut a straight vertical line until you get to the top seam.

Step 2

Move a couple inches over and cut again. You can also make a small cut and then “tear” the t-shirt the rest of the way to the top seam. It is quicker and more fun!

Step 3

When you get to the top seam, cut the strip horizontally below the seam so it is not part of your strip. Also, cut off the bottom seam of the strip.

Step 4

Repeat Steps 2 and 3 for the entire shirt. When you get to a graphic or an arm hole, you can cut around it and then keep going.

Step 5

Repeat Steps 1 through 4 for the second t-shirt.

Step 6

Lay out all of your strips flat on the table (it’s ok if individual strips curl). Trim strips where necessary so that they are all about the same length.

Step 7

Take your strips (I used about 13 to make each toy and was able to make two toys from this set of strips – but this can vary depending on the weight of the t-shirts you’re using and the size of your pup) and tie a knot at the one end. Pull hard to make sure the knot is as tight as possible.

Step 8

Separate your strips into 3 equal sections and start to braid.

Step 9

When you have about 5 inches of strips remaining, tie a second tight knot.

Step 10

Trim the ends of the toy so that all strips are again the same length.

Step 11

Start playing!

This Week’s Pet Project: Personalized Dog Toy Box

Even though my home needs a lot more work (for example, I have plywood instead of a counter on one side of my kitchen), I am trying not to focus on just the big projects. Therefore, this weekend, I took a trip to Michaels Craft Store to load up on picture frames (on sale, of course) and supplies for “little touches” around the home. My first project: personalizing my dog’s toy box.

I found this great wooden box during Fall Clearance at Michaels Craft Store and instantly knew it would make a great toy box to keep in my living room for my lab, Sandy. She’s fallen in love with it too — constantly emptying out her toy box all over the room!

I decided to liven it up a bit by adding Sandy’s name and a design underneath. As it was my first time using decor stencils and chalk paint, I definitely learned a few good tricks and a few things not to do along the way.

Supplies

  • Letter stencils
  • Design stencil (I chose one with an arrow to include under Sandy’s name)
  • Chalk Paint
  • Paint Sponge
  • Wooden Box
  • Masking Tape
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors

The box, masking tape, tweezers, and scissors I had at home. All other supplies I purchased from Michaels Craft Store.

Step 1

First, choose a letter and accent design that you like. For this project, I used two different types of stencils. The first one required the letters be peel off and the second just required the design be placed over the the destination.

Step 2

As mentioned, my letters were of the “peel and stick” variety. Since I wanted to minimize the space between the letters, I trimmed the sides, as shown below.

Step 3

Arrange letters how you would like them to appear. I used masking tape as a guide of how to center the letters as well as to hold them down once I peeled the backs off, as the adhesive on the letters was weak. The advantage of this though is that I was able to lift and arrange the letters several times before committing to a spacing.

Step 4

Use the sponge to gently dab paint over each letter. Once done, let dry.

Step 5

Peel off the masking tape and stencils. Here is where I made a beginners mistake — I let the paint dry too long or pressed down too hard and some of the blue stencil stuck to the white paint when I lifted the stencils. But picking off the sticky blue lines with tweezers was a quick fix!

Step 6

I repeated the same steps for the second stencil — an arrow which I placed under Sandy’s name. Since this stencil did not have an adhesive, I used masking tape to keep it in place while I painted.

Step 7

After removing the tape and the stencil, I cleaned up the edges a bit with a fresh, damp sponge brush and voila!