FROM THROW-AWAYS TO TOYS
It's natural to want to spoil an unconditionally loyal and loving dog with a special treat or toy, but it doesn't have to come from the pet store. Many household items can be upcycled into dog toys to save money. By reusing old fabric, empty bottles, and a few other would-be trash items, dog owners can create an endless lineup of free playthings to keep pets active and amused. Just remember to never leave a pet unattended with a homemade toy.
Dogs find pleasure in the simplest things, especially if they can be chewed. Start by cutting strips out of old T-shirts, dish towels, or other sturdy fabrics. Then braid them together to form a rope, secured with a knot at each end. The rope can be braided fully or have strips hanging at either end.
TENNIS BALL TREAT
This puzzle is ideal for larger dogs that chew through all their toys. Use a sharp knife to slit open a tennis ball, squeeze to keep it open, and insert a few dog treats. The tennis ball will give the dog's teeth something to sink into, while the whiff of an impending treat will prompt hours of playtime.
PEANUT BUTTER JAR
It's impossible to scrape every last bit of peanut butter from the jar. What's left sticking to the sides will attract a slobbery dog tongue for at least an hour. For an extra challenge, put the peanut butter jar in the freezer overnight. Once the plastic is licked clean, it can go straight into the recycling bin. Or, keep the fun going longer by reusing the jar: Pour in a little bacon grease or chicken fat and let it solidify in the fridge.
SOCK-COVERED WATER BOTTLE
One man's trash can be transformed into a dog's favorite toy. Place an empty plastic water bottle inside an old sock and secure with a knot. The combination of plastic crunching sounds and just the right amount of resistance is a world of canine fun.
Soft and fluffy fleece or felt scraps can be tied together to create a ball. The cuddly scrap puffs can become a huggable companion or one-time chew toy, depending on the pup. Follow the instructions on the blog Crafted Niche to quickly and easily assemble the puff.
PAPER ROLL CHEW TOY
Turn trash into a potential chew toy. Start with a cardboard toilet paper or paper towel roll. Crimp one side to seal it off and secure with packing tape. Place a few treats inside and seal the other side to make the toy complete. Watch as the dog goes wild chewing through the cardboard to devour the tasty nuggets inside. A cereal box can substitute for a cardboard roll.
JUG OF TREATS
A good way to keep a dog entertained and out of trouble for hours is by putting a few treats in an empty plastic milk or juice jug. The pet won't rest until the last treat has been retrieved. A few holes poked in the jug make the smell extra-enticing (just be sure the holes aren't large enough for the treats to slip out).
Rather than tossing out old jeans, turn them into a beloved dog toy. Tear or cut the denim into strips and knot each into a heavy-duty bow. Make this a deluxe toy by dabbing with a little bacon grease or chicken broth.
FROZEN BROTH SOCKS
This works especially well with thick gym socks -- dirty or clean. Soak each sock in broth, ball up the socks, and freeze. The result: a drool-worthy chilled toy for dogs in summertime.
The natural inclination of a dog is to tear up a stuffed toy and remove the stuffing. Don't throw away that toy just yet. With the stuffing removed, the toy becomes a soft, unstuffed animal friend. Remove all the fluff and sew the toy back up. Or, buy a replacement squeaker at a craft store and place it inside the toy before sewing.
BONUS: DOG BED
While this is not a dog toy, it is an excellent way to repurpose old pillows. Use a pet-friendly fabric such as heavy-duty cotton to cover an old pillow or two, depending on the size of the dog, and place in a box or old suitcase. Drawers and crates can also be used to create cozy nooks for snoozing dogs. Use duct tape or fabric tape to fasten the pillows to the bottom of the container to keep them in place.