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Monday, March 16, 2009

Free Tug Toys for Your Dogs

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

Toni is Losing This
Tug Game with Tanner!

People tell me all the time that they want to come back as a dog at my house, when they die. I suppose my dogs are lucky in many ways. My gang has a new batch of tug toys which I made after getting the idea from a friend, Carmen, at Agility class. She was using a cute, yet unusual tug toy with her little Corgi mix, Buddy Lee, when I spotted it and had to ask where she had gotten it. Turns out, she made it out of an old pajama top. Fancy that!

I ran home and dug through my son's closet, knowing that he had just discarded a bag of clothing that was torn, stained, etc. Perfect.

I used a variety of different strengths and thicknesses of fabric to see what kind of results I could get. The green one in the photo above is a polo shirt, with the collar and neckline as the handle. The experiment went well, and I learned a few things. First, I will NEVER buy another tug toy, when I can have free ones each time I have a discarded piece of clothing. Here's how you can make these toys:
  1. Use the strongest external edge for a handle, like the neckline/collar of a top or the waistband of pants.
  2. Remove all buttons, zippers and other attachments that could be choke hazards for a dog.
  3. Lay the garment on a table and cut two slices vertically from bottom all the way up to the handle area. Don't cut THROUGH the handle.
  4. You now have 3 sections for braiding.
  5. I looped the handle over a chair knob to give me something to pull against while braiding.
  6. When you get to the last eight inches or so, use the two longer pieces to tie around the third, and secure with an extra knot.
  7. Trim all the ends to a fairly even length.
  8. You now have a new tug toy. Total time invested=about 10 minutes. Total money invested=$0.
© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
Various Tugs Toys Made by Me
Different Colors and Sizes
A few additional things I've learned in the process are:
  • Thinner fabrics make a smaller braid for small dogs.
  • Larger, tough-tuggers need a sturdier braid. Tanner, my Golden Retriever, likes the one I made out of my son's old blue jeans. It is very sturdy and longer than the others, because he is 6' 3" tall.
  • You can also use strips cut from a variety of colors of damaged items to braid a more colorful toy. Simply tie off both ends to create a clean look.
  • If you're braiding fabric that frays easily, try this technique. Roll or fold the raw edges inward as you braid, making as tight a braid as possilble. So far mine are holding up okay using this method.
  • When braiding items with sleeves, invert the sleeve into one of the braiding strips. Likewise, after cutting two slits in a pair of pants, you'll have 4 sections to braid. Combine two of the thinnest sections into one and roll or twist them together. This makes for a unique look to the braid and seems to hold up well for my higher energy tug games with Tanner.
If anybody out there has any other creative ideas for homemade dog toys, I would love to hear them. With everyone pinching pennies in this tough economy, ideas like this can be very helpful. Go ahead and click that comment button just below this post. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

One of my dog's favorite toys is an empty plastic 20 oz drink bottle. I just drop a handful of kibble in it and she spins it around chasing the food all over the living room. Doubles as a chew toy since she's a small dog.

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

Thanks for the comment--great idea. Please visit again.

For my readers I would simply add one tip. Use this toy only when you can supervise your dog, as the cap and ring are a choke hazard if he manages to get them off the bottle. Enjoy!

Cindy S. said...

Hi Carrie,
Great ideas. I went to a thrift store and got a cheap suede (real leather) purse, cut it up and braided to make a tug, as well as some cloth ones. Thanks for the idea.

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

Thank you, Cindy. The suede idea is probably much more durable. My denim version held up the best, but only worked well for my bigger dogs.

I still find that I have to use more delicate fabrics for Oliver, my Papillon, in order for the thickness to be workable for his small mouth.

Thanks for stopping in!

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