DIY Dog Puzzle Toys: Challenging Toys You Can Make at Home!



Kayla Fratt


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best diy dog puzzle toys

Have you ever thought of making your dog’s own toys at home? If not, you should!

Wanting to make your pooch’s own toys goes way beyond a simple urge to save money – it’s fun too!

Here’s our look at some of the coolest toys out there you can make for your dog at home and why keeping your dog’s body and brain active is the best thing you can do for your best friend…

The Doggy Benefits of Play & Why Puzzle Toys Rock

The overall benefits of play for your dog can never be underestimated.

Active dogs are both happier and healthier than dogs who do not get the same amount of exercise – that’s why it’s always recommended to take your dogs on regular walks.

But activity is not just for your dog’s physical health: the benefit is mental too.

Without sufficient stimulation, dogs are bound to get bored, and your favorite pillows or shoes may suffer as a result (bored dogs tend to be prone to nervous behavior which can be perceived as being – for lack of a better term – naughty).

There are tons of great puzzle toys and treat dispensing toys available that are designed to keep your dog mentally engaged and happy. However, not all these toys are cheap. The impressive CleverPet – while a technical marvel – is hundreds of dollars.

So what’s dog owner on a budget to do? Make your own! Let’s look at some of the best dog DIY puzzle toys you can make on the cheap.

1. Your Dog’s Stuffed Puzzle Pal

Does your dog have a favorite stuffed animal to carry around or sleep with? (If the answer here is yes, you might also have gone through the saddening experience of when this particular toy goes missing or falls apart. The dejected look your pup might give you when presented with a new, different toy is heartbreaking!)

Consider making your dog his or her own stuffed animal – by hand, yourself. All that’s required is a little bit of cutting out and sewing – you can even ask someone else to do the sewing bit for you if you fear you might sew your own fingers together.

You can find plenty of free patterns for stuffed animals from sites like

Now, once you’ve got the basic patterns down, you can turn it into a puzzle: All you have to do is sew a small “kangaroo pocket” somewhere into the toy – make sure your dog can practically fit their nose and/or paw in there – and hide your treats in there.

Bonus Tip: Many guides recommend anise as an equivalent to catnip for dogs and it will have much of the same effect.

2. Potato Rope Chew Toy

Is your dog one of the thousands who tragically tear apart even the toys advertised as “indestructible” if they’re given enough time alone with it?

For that, consider making your dog a nearly indestructible chew toy made from dried sweet potato and rope – from Instructables.

The process is pretty self-explanatory: Dry the sweet potato and attach them to the rope, knotted in-between for each piece. This is great especially great for dogs who are teething.

Learn how it’s done with this demonstration from Elmo’s Kitchen!

3. The Tennis Ball Of Treats

This one is thanks to website SkinnyMs and is an interesting spin on the find-the-treat game many dogs can get hours of fun out of.

In this case, cut a small hole in a tennis ball – and by small, we mean big enough for them to be able to get treats out, but not big enough for them to just fall out. You might be surprised to find that your pooch appreciates the challenge.

This one is a quick build, as shown below in the video from Erin’s Animals!

4. The Bottle Spinning Toy

Here’s another spin on the popular treat-dispensing games – something which has been proven to be able to keep dogs occupied (and actively thinking about how to get that darn treat out) for several hours at a time – except this one takes things a little bit further.

These instructions from Hallmark guide you through how to build a basic frame (which can be constructed from wood or PVC-piping with a little bit of imagination and DIY-prowess), and the dispenser itself: Three bottles with holes drilled through them, tops off, able to be tipped forward or back by your pet.

The guide recommends that you always supervise your pet while they’re making use of the dispenser or you might come home to a floor full of debris – or treats absolutely everywhere.

Check out the video below from CrazyRussianHacker for a visual demonstration of how to make one of these!

5. Find-The-Treat

Speaking of PVC-piping, here’s another cool puzzle toy from The Animal Rescue Site’s blog that your dog will love if you want them to put in that little bit of mental effort to get to their treats.

For this game, all you have to do is get some PVC piping (from your nearest hardware store), drill some holes in the side, put on the end-caps and, well, throw treats into the one end.

PVC piping has the benefit of being both cheap and way more durable than cardboard.

And guess what? Research has shown that dogs who are kept mentally active are much healthier in old-age and less likely to develop dementia later on. Hurrah!

The video below offers a visual look at how to bust out the PVC pipe and make on of these great toys.

6. The Mysterious Muffin Tin

This genius idea is courtesy of website Babble: Do you know the muffin man?

Grab an unused cupcake tin you have lying around the house and a couple of tennis balls. And, of course, you can’t forget the treats for this – reward is an essential part of dog training and learning; plus, it’s half the fun.

Place the treats inside the muffin tins and simply stick the tennis balls over the treats. It’s up to your dog to figure out how to get to the treats, and for variety you can change-up the configuration (or change it up completely by not using tennis balls next time).

Make sure that it’s not a shape your dog can simply tip over with their paw – once they figure that out, well, they might just take over the world next…

Take a look at the pooch below working to figure out this fun toy out:

Have you made any of your dog’s toys at home to keep their minds and bodies active? Have they ever destroyed a seemingly ‘indestructible’ toy you had just gotten from the store? Share your stories or tips for more DIY dog toys in the comments!

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Written by

Kayla Fratt

Kayla Fratt is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant through IAABC and works as a conservation detection dog trainer.

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  1. Jacki Avatar

    The. Best. Toy. Ever was a homemade flirt pole. It was just a piece of ‘pleather’ which is like Naugahyde, cut into strips (don’t cut it all the way through) and then a piece of parachute cord tied around it and the other end tied to a stick. Great fun! Just don’t let pups play with it unattended, due to the risk of strangling on the cord.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      We love flirt poles, Jacki!
      They’re certainly great toys and training tools.

  2. Lissie wright Avatar
    Lissie wright

    Old baseball mitts. Dogs love chewing on them. Also, you can stuff the finger holes with treats for added fun. They will work HARD for the treats!

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Creative idea, Lissie. But we’d urge caution with this approach. There are umpteen little pieces of leather on a baseball glove that your dog could chew off and swallow.
      There’s also the issue of any products used on the glove (oil, etc.).
      Just be careful!

  3. Lola Avatar

    Make sure to not make the hole too big when making the ball-treat toy! I made mine a little to large and Scout thought that she was supposed to rip open the ball to get the treats! I eventually taught her how to do it but it took a few tries

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Great point, Lola! You can always make the hole bigger if need be, but it’s tricky to fix a hole that’s already too large.

  4. Diane Avatar

    The muffin tin can also be used upside down with treats/kibble between the ‘mountains’, maybe balls or toys over the food that pup needs to get out of the way to get to treats. I put a baseball (tennis ball, lighted ball… ; ) in an old sock and knot at the ball and every inch or so. Get out the old ice cube trays and freeze dog appropriate fruit or vegetables or kibble in water or broth for indoor water bowl or outside bowl – 1/2 cube maybe – I time it for after exercise when she wants a drink.

  5. Carolyn Avatar

    Wow, that’s what I was seeking for, what a information! present here at
    this webpage, thanks admin of this website.

  6. Jacquie Avatar

    Thank you for your helpful information about making dog toys. I can’t wait to make some for Zander.

    1. Kayla Fratt Avatar

      Glad we could help! I’m sure Zander is excited, too.

  7. maxine Avatar

    My dog has learned that pulling my socks off my feet is great fun!. I had a ball that lights up when it hits the floor, so I tucked the ball inside one of my old socks. Now the fun is throwing the sock, which lights up as it rolls around with the ball inside. It is also challenging when the dog tries to get the ball out of the sock, which is stretchy and provides work for the dog to do.

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