A house full of toys should keep your pet occupied during your entire workday, right? You would think so, but your furry pal likely loses interest in their overwhelming toy selection pretty quickly. Or, perhaps your pooch is a power chewer and shreds toys within minutes of receiving them. 

A great way to change up your pet’s toy rotation and to save money while doing so is to make their enrichment toys yourself. Follow our Companion Care Animal Clinic team’s instructions to create engaging homemade toys for your four-legged friend.

Foxtail toy for pets

Toy description: A foxtail toy is made with a ball and fabric strips to resemble a wavy foxtail that encourages your four-legged friend to pounce.

Supplies: A ball that is an appropriate size for your pet, a pair of scissors, and a sock or T-shirt

Instructions for small pets: For smaller pets, use a toy ball designed for cats and a sock. Cut each of the sock’s sides down to the toe line. Leaving about two inches of intact fabric, cut several strips that will make up the tail. Place the ball inside the sock, next to the toe seam. Completely cut out a strip from the sock, and tie that strip around the bottom of the ball to hold it in place. By tying the fabric strip around the ball and sock, you leave several wavy strips, while keeping the ball secure. 

Instructions for large pets: Using a tennis ball and T-shirt allows you to create a toy that is appropriately sized for larger pets. Cut across the shirt at the armpits, and cut the torso into two long rectangles. Cut one end of each rectangle. Cut the T-shirt’s top part into long, thin strips. Wrap the ball in one of the rectangles, and alternate the other rectangle on top. Pinch the fabric at the base of the ball and tie a long, thin strip around it to hold it in place. Braid the loose fabric strips, and tie a strip at the bottom of the braid to keep it intact.

Muffin tin treats toy for pets

Toy description: This treat puzzle is a cinch to make and is appropriate for small or large pets.

Supplies: A muffin tin, several balls too large for your pet to swallow, and small treats or kibble pieces

Instructions: Toss a few treats in random muffin tin wells. Do not place treats in every muffin tin well. By leaving some muffin tin wells empty, your pet will find this toy more intriguing. Place a ball atop each well, concealing whether a treat awaits beneath. Enjoy watching your furry pal sniff, nose, and paw their way to the jackpot.

Cardboard treat puzzle for pets

Toy description: This treat puzzle is an excellent way to recycle cardboard, while encouraging your pet to figure out how to reach hidden tasty morsels.

Supplies: A cardboard box, cardboard tubes, newspaper, and small treats

Instructions: Choose a cardboard box that your pet can easily reach inside, and line the box with toilet paper and paper towel cardboard tubes. You can also scrunch up newspaper or thick packing paper to form balls at which your pet can nose or paw. Once the box is full, drop treats into various tubes, and wad up a few within crumpled paper balls. Allow your pet to sniff out their snacks. Remember to keep an eye on your four-legged friend to ensure they refrain from eating the paper or cardboard while trying to find the treats.

Snuffle ball surprise toy for pets

Toy description: A different take on the popular snuffle mat, your pet can roll, toss, or paw at a snuffle ball as they search for the treats hidden inside.

Supplies: A felt-tipped marker, 1.5 yards’ fleece fabric, a ruler, a pair of scissors, a piece of cardboard, four eight-inch-long strong string pieces, and treats

Instructions: Draw an eight-inch diameter circle template on the cardboard and cut it out. Use this cardboard circle to draw 32 circles on the fabric and cut them out. Fold the circles in half and half again, forming a cone. Use the scissors to cut a small hole about three-quarters of an inch from the bottom of each fabric cone, ensuring you cut through all four fabric layers. Loosely string eight folded circles together, and tie a loose knot that you can retie later. Repeat the stringing process, slipping the string through the first set to link them together. Once you have four interlocking rings, retie the knots tightly together to form a fabric ball. Place treats within the fabric folds and let your pet snuffle their way to their snacks.

Homemade enrichment toys are a great way to occupy your pet’s mind and encourage physical activity when they are alone. If your four-legged friend needs more interaction while you’re at work, consider hiring a pet sitter or enrolling your pooch in doggy daycare. Before your furry pal interacts with others, ensure they’re healthy and up-to-date on their vaccinations by scheduling an appointment with our Companion Care Animal Clinic team.