When my daughter was in Girl Scouts we put together a project for them to do to take to the local dog shelter.
This homemade dog toy for the shelter was a small knotted fleece blanket and it was one of their FAVORITE projects of the entire year that year. It was VERY well received by the shelter and considered one of the best things to make and donate to animal shelters.
The animals LOVED them (there will be instructions for these types of blankets in this article) and the girls loved putting them together. This type of DIY dog toy for a shelter is a perfect family, personal, or group project.
Considering how much fun the girls had and how happy the animals were, I wish we would have also considered homemade dog toys for shelters as well!
These projects are fun and easy to make a great way to upcycle materials into dog toys.
Note: Many of these instructions call for clean, reused materials. Please check with the shelter you want to give these to before you make a bunch of them. Most shelters LOVE homemade dog toys, but some only want new toys.
“Smelly” Sock Dog Toys
These socks aren’t actually smelly, because they’re washed. But it is a fun name and a simple project that makes toys that dogs really love.
These socks are also known as “sock donut toys”, because of their shape.
Best for: light to moderate chewers.
Video demonstration: How to Make a Donut out of a Sock.
- Clean, matched pairs of socks - the bigger the socks, the bigger the donut.
- Lay one sock on top of the other.
- Cut the toe part off of both socks.
- Turn both socks inside out.
- Slide one sock inside the other.
- Roll it all up! The ends will stick out one side
- Fold the ends over the whole donut.
If you use brightly colored socks, you'll get fun, brightly colored toys!
T-Shirt Rope Dog Toy
This sturdy t-shirt dog toy is perfect for any dog – including heavy chewers. By using multiple strands of the “t-shirt yarn” you can easily create a thick braided rope.
You can even go a little bit “crazy” and mix and match colors within your braid to create a color explosion!
I also happen to love Sedona in this demo video. She’s got so much energy!
Best for: light to heavy chewers.
Video Demonstration: How to Make Dog toys Out of Old Clothes
- Old T-Shirts
- Lay shirt on a flat surface
- Cut directly above the bottom seam of the shirts
- Cut across the shirt under the armpits - this should leave you with a tube of fabric that's in the shape of a square
- Fold one closed end to the other closed-end leaving about an inch of fabric unmatched -creating a rectangle. (see video at time 1:20)
- Cut one-inch strips of fabric across the short side of the rectangle - past the folded fabric, but not to the end.
- This next step gives you one long string of fabric - cut out the first bottom slit and then cut from slit to slit.
- Cut the circle and it will give you one long string
- Stretch out the fabric so that it curls under
- Cut your t-shirt yarn to about a yard and tie them all together. You should have at least 12 strands, but can use up to 24 - you just want the number of strands divisible by four.
- Put the knot between your feet or in a vice to hold
- Separate the strands into four equal sections - you can loosely knot each section at the end to keep it more under control.
- Find opposite sections and cross them over.
- Take the other two sides and go over one of the cross sections from step 12 and under the other. When you pull it tight, it should form a square.
- Keep going with the braid.
- Once there are about 6 inches left then untie the loose knots and tie a knot at the end.
The hardest part of this project is the braid. I recommend watching the video a couple of times through if you haven't done a four-part braid like this before.
It took me a couple of tries, but then it was easy!
- Use different colored, bright shirts for brightly colored toys
- Use unprinted tees. The print isn't great for dogs and can be hard to braid.
No Sew Fleece Pet Blanket
This isn’t exactly a toy, but when my Girl Scout troop gave these to the animal shelter they absolutely LOVED them. So because this post is about homemade stuff for shelters, I thought it was the most logical place to include it.
If you have a group of young people that need or want to do a service project this is also a very good choice, because it’s easy for young hands to make.
I also love the Girl Scouts in this video, they remind me of my days as a troop leader!
Video Demonstration: How to Make Animal Fleece Blankets
- 2 pieces of co-coordinating pre-washed fleece fabric (30 by 30 inch, 48 by 48 inch, or 54 by 54 inch)
- 4 large safety pins
- Washable marker
- 4 by 4-inch piece of cardboard for a template
- 1 by 4-inch piece of cardboard for a template
- Sharp scissors
- Take your bottom piece of fleece and place it on the table.
- Make sure the shiny side is down against the table
- Take your top piece of fleece and put it nice side up on the bottom piece
- Match the edges
- Put one safety pin about six inches in from the edges at each corner
- Take your 4 by 4-inch cardboard square and trace it with the washable marker on each corner.
- Cut out all four corners
- Take your 1 by 4 piece of cardboard and trace all around the edge of the blanket to make your cut marks
- Cut the strips on all four sides
- Tie all the strips with the strips directly below using a double knot
- Pull them tight so they don't untie in the wash
- Stretch out the sides and take out the safety pins
- Wash and dry to get the washable marker out
This fleece blanket will work for almost any dog or cat as long as you make each blanket big enough for the intended animal.
Summary: Homemade Dog Toys for Shelters
Each of these three projects is fun and easy to do. They can be great projects to work on on your own or they can be fun projects to do in church groups, service groups, or scouting groups.
When you are making a project for an animal shelter, please check with the animal shelter to make sure the project fits their specific needs.
Have a great time making these!
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