If your pup is anything like mine, he or she prefers an old sock or a discarded plastic bottle to an expensive toy from the pet store. My dog can spend hours chewing a smelly sock on the bed or tossing a smashed water bottle across the patio. Still, even if your pet already has its favorite “trash toy,” you might want to bring some variety into its play routine to keep things exciting and challenging.
As a matter of fact, you can easily create new pet toys by reusing simple household items. Just remember that, as in the case with any toy, safety comes first. Supervise your pet while playing and regularly inspect the toy for damage. Pay special attention to damages like chips, sharp edges or broken-off pieces that could hurt your four-legged friend. Furthermore, if you use old bottles or plastic containers, make sure they didn’t contain harmful chemicals and clean them thoroughly.
- Plastic Bottle Dog Toy: Many dogs love the crinkly noise plastic bottles make when they chew on them. Wrapping bottles in old fabric from a t-shirt or in a sock will protect your pup from sharp plastic particles that he or she could accidentally swallow. If you wear the t-shirt or sock for a while, it will smell like you and your dog will love it even more. Just choose a plastic bottle and an old t-shirt/sock. If you pick a shirt, cut three to four 1” wide strips off of the edges. Then, place the bottom of the bottle about 3” from the edge of the remaining fabric and wrap it around the bottle like you would a hoagie in paper. Use the strips to tightly tie them around the bottle. Make sure to tie one right after the bottle cap as well. Cut the excess fabric at the end into 2” wide strips, then braid and knot them. Alternately, find a sock that’s big enough for the bottle, wrap it over the bottle and tie a knot at the end.
- Jingle Ball for Cats: Cats like to play with small toys with bells in them that they can toss around in open spaces. You can easily make an instant jingle ball with an empty medicine container. Wash or peel the label off, open the container and place the jingle bells inside. If you don’t have jingle bells at hand, you may also use beads, beans or uncooked popcorn, which will rattle instead of jingle. Close the container tightly and make sure you tape it shut, so that your cat won’t be able to open it.
- Tennis Ball Treat Puzzle for Dogs: Of course, dogs love nothing more than treats. They also have a soft spot for tennis balls, so why not combine the two? Tennis balls work great because the felt prevents the rubber from splitting. If you don’t want to buy a new tennis ball, just take a walk around any public tennis court and you will most likely find used balls under trees, in bushes, behind buildings, etc. There are several ways to increase or decrease the difficulty of this toy, depending on your dog’s determination, the stability of the ball and the size of the treats. While making a straight cut can easily lead to crushed treats instead of “released” treats, making a cut along the seam leaves a flap that can release the treats with more difficulty. Cross-cuts require only one or two chews before the treats fall out, but have the advantage that they can release the treat when battled around. Whatever cut you choose, load up the tennis ball with treats and your pup is ready to go!
- Rat Cat Toy: This toy made out of household items requires catnip, which cats go absolutely crazy for, as we all know. For this effective cat toy, you need a sock, some yarn, catnip, scissors, as well as a sewing needle and thread. First, cut the heel off the sock so that the base of the sock resembles a bag (or a rat’s body). Fill the remaining sock piece with catnip and sew the end of the sock closed with the yarn. Then, use the scraps from the heel of the sock to cut out two circles that will make the rat’s ears. Sew the circles on the front part of the toy. Now, cut the leg part of the sock in narrow strips and twist or braid them to form a tail. Sew or tie the tail in place. Done!
- Towel Dog Toy: If your dog loves to play tug (with your clothes, blankets or towels, to your dismay), there’s an easy way to make a DIY toy with old towels. All you need is a towel you don’t use anymore, but that’s still solid enough to be used as a tug toy. Tightly roll up the towel length-wise and then carefully tie one end into a big knot. Make sure to tuck the end tip of the towel inside the loop of the knot. This tug toy is very sturdy, yet soft enough to not hurt your dog’s mouth. Furthermore, you can easily keep it clean by just untying and throwing it into the washing machine. If your dog is little, you may also cut the towel into smaller pieces to make smaller tug toys.
- Scratching Board for Cats: Cats naturally love to scratch. If you want to prevent your cat from scratching furniture, doors or walls inside your house, you can make a DIY scratching board using an old floor rug, heavy-duty sand paper, and an old wooden board. First, cover half the board with the carpet and cut off any excess material. Screw the carpet into the board and make sure the nails’ ends don’t stick out anywhere (don’t use staples as they can hurt your cat). Then, firmly glue the reverse side of the sand paper to the other half of the back. Let the glue dry for a day or two and trim off the edges. Now your cat has a fantastic new scratching board and will (hopefully) keep its paws off your furniture!
This is a guest post from Sandra Mills. She is a freelance health, healthcare, and business writer. Sandra has two pets, a Californian Spangled Cat, and a Miniature Schnauzer, and enjoys helping people save money. You can follow her on Google+.