How to Make Homemade Toys for Shelter Dogs

dog image by Ramona smiers from

Simple homemade toys can provide both comfort and healthy stimulation for dogs spending time in a shelter. Puppies, especially, benefit from toys that meet their chewing needs and occupy their time. Dog toys for use in a shelter environment should be durable and allow for disinfecting, due to the amount of wearing and sharing they receive. Toys for shelters also need to stand up to a fair amount of doggy abuse, either in kennels or out in the exercise yard.

Fleece Rope

Step 1

Cut the fleece fabric into six strips measuring approximately 3 inches by 24 inches---a creative way to reuse old blankets or unwearable fleece clothing.

Step 2

Knot all six strips together at one end and braid them together, using two strips per section. Once the braid has almost reached the ends of the fabric, knot the strips together again.

Step 3

Soak the rope in beef or chicken broth, then let it dry completely. This optional extra step will make the rope a canine favorite.

Tail Ball

Step 1

Hem any cut edges on the fabric triangle.

Step 2

Place a rubber ball on a corner of the fabric, then fold the fabric around it.

Step 3

Sew the fabric securely around the ball, either with a machine or by hand.

Rattle Toy

Step 1

Pour some dry beans into a clean, empty prescription bottle with a child-proof cap. This noisemaker will delight dogs, who enjoy it when their "prey" makes sounds, while providing a safer option than the squeakers found in commercial dog toys.

Step 2

Stuff some small fabric scraps into the toe of the sock, then place the prescription bottle in the sock.

Step 3

Pack additional fabric scraps into the sock until it is tightly stuffed. Knot or sew the cuff of the sock to secure.

Treats on ice

Step 1

Fill the plastic container with a shallow layer of water or beef or chicken broth, then freeze it.

Step 2

Scatter a few dog treats on the frozen surface, then add more water or broth and freeze again.

Step 3

Repeat until you have several layers of treats frozen in a block of ice. This time-consuming snack will keep any dog interested and occupied for a long time.


  • Supervise dogs with toys at all times. Many dogs end up at the emergency vet each year after swallowing a piece of a toy. The Humane Society also notes that toys should be appropriate to the size of the dog. Use common sense and get to know the dogs you are working with.


  • To clean soft toys, wet the toy and microwave it for a full minute. For heavy soil, run soft toys through the dishwasher or washing machine on the hot cycle with no detergent.

Items You Will Need

  • Fleece fabric---18 by 24 inches
  • Beef or chicken broth (optional)
  • Plastic or rubber ball---2- to-4 inch diameter
  • Sturdy fabric cut in a triangle with 24-inch sides
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Large, clean sock
  • Dry beans---1/4 cup
  • Empty prescription bottle
  • Scrap fabric
  • Medium plastic container, such as an empty margarine tub
  • Dog treats
  • Freezer


About the Author

Grace Grimm has been a professional writer since 2008. Her work on birding and the environment has appeared in "The Jack Pine Warbler: The Magazine of Michigan Audubon," "The Pine Press" and on numerous websites. She is an ecologist with a bachelor's degree in zoology and a master's degree in conservation biology.

Photo Credits