5 Interactive Dog Toys – DIY Dog Puzzle Feeder + 4 More
The music from Super Mario Bros. still rings in my head when I think of my teenage years.
I was 16 or so and WAY too into what boy was smiling at me to care about video games, but my sister who is 4 years younger than me was obsessed with her Nintendo.
She’d sit in the downstairs of our bi-level and play the game for hours on end.
Humans love games. Whether it’s Candy Crush or Monopoly we can become obsessed. It’s something we have in common with dogs.
They really like games as well, and many dogs will play with a game for hours.
In this article I’m going to show you how to build 5 different interactive dog toys as easy DIYs (games for dogs). My readers really love the DIY Dog Puzzle Feeder that’s made out of simple PVC.
All of these dog puzzles are fairly simple and only require easy to source materials.
Pick the one you think your dog will like best and enjoy!
What are Interactive Dog Toys?
Interactive dog toys are toys that challenge your dog’s brain and give him something to think about as he’s solving the puzzle.
You can make toys like this yourself or buy them.
They come in electronic varieties as well as manual puzzle types and different dogs prefer different types of interactive toys.
On the commercial end of things one of the more unique types of interactive toys is this SNiFFiz SmellyMatty Snuffle Mat.
This thing is crazy interactive with tons of stuff for a pup to do.
Here’s one review of this mat.
I love everything about this mat. The mat is extremely well made with heavy, high quality materials. Serves a wide variety of skill levels and can be used in many different ways. I love that the mat starts out at a novice level and can gradually grow to an expert level. Wonderful for all pups but extremly helpful for our senior dog! The mat keeps his mind sharp and also is great exercise for a dog that cannot be out in the summer heat. The info that comes with the mat rightly states that it should not be used unattended. I would strongly suggest NOT leaving this mat out when you are not at home like some have suggested as it is not a safe item to leave unattended. Stick with stuffed Kong’s for those times.My experience is, usually you get what you pay for with dog toys. The mat is pricy but the quality and variety of ways it can be used it well worth the cost.D. Ross – Amazon.com
You can use it for playtime or for meal time – and it’s especially helpful if your dog eats too fast. This mat will really slow her down and make her work for her food.
OK. Now let’s get onto the DIY interactive toys for dogs!
5 Interactive Dog Toys – DIY
All of these projects have video demonstrations and easy to follow instructions.
The materials needed are easy to source and clearly listed. I recommend that you pick one project and see if your dog likes it. If they do – then great! If they aren’t thrilled, then try another.
Just like humans different dogs like to play with different kinds of toys.
Have fun making the project and most of all have fun bonding with your dog!
Dog Bottle Puzzle
If you prefer to work with wood and metal rather than PVC, this is a fun version of the bottle puzzle below to make for your pet.
Video Demonstration: Wooden Bottle Puzzle for Dogs
- 3 empty and clean 2 liter soda bottles
- ¾ to 1 inch thick ply wood.
- 1-in diamiter wooden dowel (about 32 inches long)
- Metal rod about 32 inches long
- Wood glue
- To cut the sides, cut a piece of the plywood to 12 inches by 24 inches. On one of the 12 inch ends (this will be the top), measure and mark the board at 4 inches and 8 inches. This should give you 3 – 4 inches sections marked on the top of the board. Now draw a line from the bottom left corner of the board to the 1st 4 inch mark on the top of the board. Repeat this for the right side of the board by marking a line from the bottom right hand corner to the 2nd mark at the top of the board. Cut these 2 lines so that they side looks like a pie wedge with the tip cut off. Repeat this to make the second side for your dog puzzle.
- For the base, you will need a piece of plywood cut to 12 inches by 30 inches.
- Wash 3 empty 2 liter soda bottles making sure they are completely dry. Drill or melt a hole through the bottle just below the taper about ¾ of the way up the side of the bottle. The holes need to be big enough for your metal rod to go through. Repeat this on the other 2 bottles.
- Now you may need an extra pair of hands. Stand one of your sides against the edge of your base as if you are going to assemble it. Hold the end rod with the bottle on it to your side and find your height. Your bottle needs to be able to spin without hitting the base. Once you find your height, mark it on the side panel. Now that you know the height you need the rod to be, you can center your mark and drill the hole and repeat it on the other side panel.
- For the handle at the top of your project, center your wooden dowel within the 4 inches on the top of the board and down about an inch. With that measurement marked, drill a 1 inch hold for your wooden dowel to do through. Repeat this on the other side panel.
- It’s time to assemble the puzzle. Using wood glue and screws, attach each side panel to the ends of the base on the 12 inch sides. Run the metal rod though the hold on one side panels towards the middle of your puzzle. Add your bottles to the rod and push it through the other side panel. To keep the rod from sliding out, you can screw in a block of wood (these can be from scrap lumber) on the outer side of the side panels over the wholes. (If you need to replace a bottle, just unscrew on of the blocks, slide out the rod, replace the bottles, and then put the rod back in place.)
- Now you can put your wooden dowel handle in place by putting it through the holes in the top of the panels. You can use wood glue to secure it in place and feel free to trim off any excess dowel.
- Once your puzzle is assembled, add dog treats to your bottle and give it to your dog.
PVC Dog Puzzle
If you (or someone close to you) are willing to drill holes in some PVC, you can have a new food puzzle for your dog in under an hour!
Video Demonstration of the DIY Dog Puzzle Feeder
- a 3-foot length of 1-1/4-inch PVC pipe
- 8 1-1/4-inch PVC caps
- PVC cement (optional)
- a drill
- a 1/2-inch drill bit
- a rat-tail file (or you could wrap sandpaper around a screwdriver)
- a vise (optional)
- MEASURING AND MARKING- Putting the PVC pipe in the vise, first measure and mark the pipe.
- DRILLING- To make the drilling easier, first drill pilot holes in the PVC using a small standard bit then use a 1/2-inch paddle bit to drill holes.
- CUTTING- Cut the PVC into lengths.
- SANDING AND DEBURRING- Remove the jagged bits around each hole. Used a grinding bit on a drill to knock off the larger pieces and then follow with sandpaper; you could also just use sandpaper. To smooth inside the holes, use a rat-tail file; if you don’t have one, just wrap a piece of sandpaper around a screwdriver and sand inside the holes.
- CLEANING- Once all the parts are cut and sanded, put the PVC lengths and caps into the dishwasher for cleaning (or wash in hot, soapy water by hand). Use a baby bottle brush to clean inside the PVC tube. Allow all pieces to dry completely.
- CAPPING- Next, use the PVC caps to seal the ends of each feeder. These caps fit tightly; we didn’t have to use the PVC cement we had purchased. If the caps don’t fit tightly, you’ll need to cement one end of the pipe, leaving the other end unglued for filling and cleaning. An alternative is to drill directly through the cap and PVC and thread sisal twine through the hole, tying it off to keep the cap in place.
- USING THE FEEDER- Next, it is time to put the feeders to the test. Put small kibble in one of the short feeders and in one of the long feeders. You can put small jingle bells in the other short feeder to create a fun cat toy that keeps the bells safely out of reach of the cat. (And it’s great for dog-cat households!)
Thanks to Dog Tipper for these instructions!
What I love most about today’s DIY is that just simply making smaller holes creates can change how you use it!
The toy is a feeder toy, so the holes should fit the food or treats you plan to use to fill it.
But if you want to add bells instead to create a cat toy (some dogs like these, too), just drill smaller holes.
Then add jingle bells that are larger than the holes and cap it off.
Voila – a jingle toy!!
Of course, you could always just stick to the feeder version and have happy Pups, too!!
Easy DIY Dog Treat Dispenser
This one is ridiculously easy to put together and use. If you want a QUICK project to put together give it a try!
Video Demonstration: Plastic Bottle on a String Dog Treat Dispenser
- Plastic bottle
- Cut a hole about 2/3 of the way up the plastic bottle on both sides
- Run string through the holes
- Attach string to drawers on either side of the kitchen
- Add kibble in the top of the bottle
- Show your dog how to use it to get the kibble
Note: Make sure you supervise your dog when they are playing with toys made out of plastic bottles, some dogs will chew them up and make them sharp.
DIY Dog Fetch Machine
This project is a little bit more complicated, but is a super fun enrichment toy if you have a dog that really likes to fetch (as most herding breeds do).
Not only is this the most difficult project on the list, but it also has the most difficult to source parts. BUT… it makes a very cool dog ball launcher.
Video Demonstration: How to Make a Dog Ball Thrower
PVC Pipe Dog Enrichment Toy
This is a more sophisticated and permanent version of the bottle on a string toy above. It’s easy to put together and most dogs love it.
You can adjust the height of the PVC pipes to accommodate bigger or smaller dogs.
Video Demonstration: No Glue PVC Bottle Puzzle
- 1/2 inch PVC pipe
- Two 1/2 inch PVC “T”s
- Six 1/2 inch PVC elbows
- Six 12 inch PVC pieces
- Three 24 inch PVC pieces
- Three large, clean empty plastic bottles of various sizes
- Cut holes in the bottles 2/3 of the way up the bottle. Use a knife slightly wider than your PVC pipe.
- Make sure the bottle moves freely on the pipe
- Assemble the PVC base
- Attach 1 12 inch section to each end of each T joint
- Attach elbows to each exposed 12 inch end
- Attach the elbows using 2 24 inch PVC pieces
- Assemble the PVC uprights
- Attach 12 inch pieces to the upright part of the PVC joint.
- Assemble the spinner
- Slide the pre-drilled bottles onto the last 24 inch piece
- Attach elbows to each end
- Attach the 24 inch piece to the uprights
- Add treats or kibble to each bottle and show your dog how to use the toy!
For more DIY Puppy Love, check out Building a Permanent Dog Pond or In-Ground Dog Pool and Simple DIY No-Sew Denim Dog Toy.
Where to Buy Interactive Dog Toys
I get it. Making big DIY projects isn’t for everyone, so sometimes it’s really nice just to know where to buy something.
You can get interactive dog toys in most major dog stores as well as a few at Walmart.
Amazon.com also has a huge selection – which you can find here.
The Bottom Line on Interactive Dog Toys – DIY and Ones You Buy
Whether you are building or buying and interactive dog toy, be sure to keep your dog’s personality in mind when you are looking at what to get them.
Different dogs like different kinds of toys. So, if you don’t find the right toy right way trying again is a good option.
But most of all, have fun with your dog! That’s the most important part.
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