The festive season is almost here, and it’s a great excuse for pet owners to bestow gifts upon their pets. Have you decided what you will be getting your furkids for Christmas this year? If you haven’t, then we’ve put together this great list of gift ideas for the best toys you can get your pets this year, including some really cool dog toys you can make at home yourself.
Toys are Essential
Toys and playing time are essential for your dog’s health, and they need adequate mental stimulation if they’re going to be happy dogs. If your dog is scratching an itch they don’t have, or chewing up furniture and everything else, it’s almost always a sign that they aren’t getting the necessary levels of mental stimulation and in short, they’re bored.
If you spot your dog starting to chew on things they shouldn’t, then a toy makes for a great distraction – and they can get a feel for what’s a toy and what isn’t. Praise them for playing with their toy, and make it an exciting adventure to go get the toys – that’s what it’s all about.
The Best Homemade Dog Toys
You can make a DIY equivalent of most dog toys available on the market at home, and most at-home dog toy projects are both inexpensive and easy to make. If you’re adept at something like sewing, you can make your dog toys a little more elaborate and add all the bells and whistles you want. Here’s our rundown of the best toys you can make for your dogs at home:
Even if you don’t know the basics of plaiting, you can learn to do a rope braid in no time from online tutorials – and you can do this with two or three pieces of rope. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a simple koeksister knot for this toy, either! Simple knot toys are great for keeping your dogs busy – and if they happen to chew through it, you can just knot them another one. If you have an anxious dog, using old t-shirts also help calm them, as the toy then bares your scent and helps comfort them.
The Rolling Treat Dispencer:
You can make an easy “rolling treat” with some PVC piping, available from your nearest hardware store. Ask them if they can drill some sizeable holes, big enough for pellets or treats to fit through, and cap both ends. This way you can screw open either end of the rolling toy and insert their chosen treats – anything that’ll fit through the holes, basically. Dogs can have hours of fun rolling these toys around to get to what’s on the inside – although there are some dog breeds who will have more fun chewing right through.
Simple Stuffed Toys:
If you have a keen eye for sewing, it’s great to get really involved in creating your dog’s next toy – and if you aren’t, you can pick up the basics of sewing from YouTube with a little bit of time. Free animal patterns are available at websites like AllCrafts.net and The Sewing Loft, and fabric can be purchased by the metre.
For some dogs, eyes that stand out (such as sewn-on googly eyes) are a temptation to chew – in that case, drawn in eyes (or a slightly stranger shape of stuffed animal) is usually enough to discourage it.
And, making your own doggy stuffed toys are fun!
Ice, Ice, Baby:
For hot summers, ice makes a great base for a toy – and it’s literally limited to your imagination. What can you freeze for your dogs? Pretty much anything, as long as it doesn’t contain bones – and you can even make frozen dog treats from stock instead. (Fruits are great for this, but fruit juice often isn’t – pay attention to the sugar content if you’re going to make your dog a fruity treat!)
It also doesn’t only have to be treats. Some of their toys hidden in the frozen toy, also works out great!
The Muffin Tin Game:
The muffin tin game is all over the internet, and it’s pretty simple to make: All you have to do is find a good quality muffin tin, fill it with treats and add some tennis balls to the top – the challenge, of course, is to get the treats from under the tennis ball.
The Tennis Tug Toy:
The tugging game is great fun for dogs, and even if they’re not into tug-o’-war, they might enjoy the good old game of fetch just as much! A simple tennis tugging toy can be made from a knotted rope and a tennis ball with a hole in it – but make sure that you don’t injure yourself when working with sharp tools
Think outside the box when making toys for your dog: It can be just as much fun for you! Almost anything can be turned into a dog toy with just a little bit of creativity and a handful of dog treats.
If you buy some hooves (any hooves) to keep our pups busy, I fill with a combination of dog food & peanut butter. Their normal kibble will do. I take a handful of kibble, pour over a little hot to boiling water just enough to mash-up the kibble. Add a table spoon or so of peanut butter and mix well. Then simply scoop into the hooves, cover with cling wrap and place in freezer to harden. The dogs love these!
If you’re more into buying than making, I can spend hours by the doggie toy isle! Shiva adores toys in all shapes and sizes, but Shakti is more of a food girl. She likes her hooves and treats. We try to give them equally, and a combination of both, but typically all the toys in the house end up with Shiva, and Shakti somehow always gets all the treats.
These are some of my top picks this year:
Toys – What’s on Shiva’s Xmas list:
- Squeaky Plush Toys – always on Shiva’s list. Various stuffed toys – most with squeekers. The ones that he can shake viciously he loves best!
- Tennis balls – always on Shiva’s list. The Dunlop balls are the best for bounce, but he also loves his squeaky tennis balls!
- Ball pit – yip, I recently bought a medium sized blow up pool and a bag full of plastic balls from Craze Store. Xmas came early for Shiva! He was jumping and bouncing and taking all the colour balls to play with.
- Rogz Educational – Treat tumbler toys. Shiva loves this too. Stuff them with small treats, and watch the dogs play for a while. I’d like to say hours, but the reality is with two Cross Border Collies’ you need far more entertainment as they get bored quickly :p
- Kong Cozie Range – we have a few, but the blue Teddie is their favourite! They’re soft and plush and so cute!
Treats – What’s on Shakti’s Xmas list:
- Orijen Cookies – We’re big fans of the Orijen range, and due to Shiva’s gluten intolerance, he eats Orijen or the Acana Singles dog food range. So Orijen dog biscuits are naturally the best choice for us! They come in a few flavours, and the dogs absolutely love them. They are not cheap though, but due to their small size (biscuits), a packet usually lasts us about a month.
- Iced “Zoo” biscuits for dogs – Cuthberts has a range that are iced peanut butter biscuits, and the Probono range (which smells delish!) are more reminisce of the Zoo biscuits we used to eat as kids. Probono even have a Holiday range of various shapes and colours too.
- Hooves are always a winner – the stinkier the better! I usually buy a big pack from Builder’s Warehouse of all places – good price, for a nice big bag! And they are definitely a little more grainy than the packs you’d find in PnP.
- Doggie Biltong/Droewors – We have a butchery by us that actually sells off-cuts of “human grade” biltong/droewors for dogs! It looks and smells good enough for us, and the dogs obviously love it. There are some alternatives in the pet-food isles of most grocery stores, but I often find those very dry and unappetising.
What are you getting your pups for the holidays?