TRAASH: Recycled Dog Toys

Finished purple sock toy with water bottle inside

I am motivated to create DIY projects because of my need and love for creating, and also for my love of recycling. I can sit for hours and make a recycled cardboard castle with my niece or spend the day creating bird feeders out of lampshades and coffee cans. So it happens that a few months ago, while shopping in a pet store, I noticed dog toys made of plastic bottles.  “I can make that,” I thought. Needless to say I didn’t try my hand at making toys with plastic bottles until recently. I was reminded of the idea after my two-year old dachshund Gabi (pictured below) smuggled another one of my socks into her cage. She loves stealing socks and stockings from the bedroom and bringing them into her caged home. I believe it gives her something to chew on while I’m at work all day. If I try to take one away from her I get a mean growl that tells me it belongs to her and no one else can have it.

While I watched her run away with another sock between her teeth, I was inspired to use all the unpaired socks I owned to make her some new (recycled) toys. I started with a simple purple sock. I then removed the label, cap, and ring from a water bottle (out of fear that she might choke.) I slid the bottle into the sock, tied a knot on the end, and used a scissor to cut slits in the leftover fabric at the top. For fun I drew on a face with a black sharpie marker. As soon as I finished, I threw it on the floor and Gabi went crazy running around the house with her new toy. When I tried to take it from her I got the mean growl, letting me know this toy was a success!

To make a different dog toy I used an old jean dress I was getting rid of. I cut the dress in half and kept it long. I rolled a water bottle a few times in the fabric and tied a knot on both ends. I tore the ends into lots of strips and tied knots on some of them. When I finished, I realized that it was a little too big for Gabi, so I gave it to my friend Jenna for her German Shepherd, Bella. This was the first water bottle toy Bella has played with and she loved it. Jenna sent me some great photos of Bella playing with it (see photo below) and of her protecting it on the couch. The second toy was also a success!

The last toy I made involved a few more supplies and some sewing. In addition to stealing socks and stockings, Gabi loves her stuffed Snoopy doll. It’s one of the only stuffed toys that she hasn’t ripped apart and pulled all of the stuffing out of. So, for this toy, I combined the water bottle with a stuffed animal. I created the body of the doll from a blue sleeve from an old sweater. I sewed one end of it, slipped the water bottle inside, and tied a knot at the other end.  For the legs and lips I used a purple pair-less glove. The legs are the glove fingers that I stuffed and sewed onto the body.  The strands of curly hair are the straps left over from the jean dress I used earlier. I just tied these straps to the top of the water bottle. They were originally braided so when I unbraided them, they looked like cute curls. Gabi is happily enjoying both of her new toys. What makes me happy about making my own dog toys, in addition to using recycled materials, is the cost factor. Gabi can go through toys quickly which makes me upset if I’ve spent a lot of money on them.

I found some additional fun DIY dog toys online that I’d like to try in the future. DIY Del Ray (diydelray.com) has a great idea for making a braided dog toy using old jeans and a tennis ball. Another good site  Woolfilicious.com features lots of additional ideas for making your own dog toys as well. If you’re in the mood for baking, visit Dog Treat Kitchen (dogtreatkitchen.com) which has lots of dog treat recipes along with how-to videos, tips for baking, and where to purchase dog treat ingredients.

I hope you enjoyed these ideas and are inspired to create your own dog toys. If you don’t have a dog you can always make one as a gift. I know I’m looking forward trying the dog treat recipes for my Gabi and Bella. Most of all have fun creating!

Please share your ideas and comments below. You can also send me  ideas and photos via email at traashart(at)gmail.com or feel free to post photos to  the TRAASH Facebook page.

Photos of Bella by Jenna Cipolla, all other photos by Stephanie Romano.

Stephanie Romano

is an artist, mother, teacher, and writer who has made Jersey City her home for the last 15 years. She creates items from recycled vinyl signs and upcycled materials under the name TRAASH.