5 Simple and Inexpensive Toys for Dogs

December 15, 2015

dog toy johnBy Laurie Darroch

As much as we love our dogs, the toys they play with can be expensive. We enjoy spoiling them, but sometimes we just have to resist the urge to buy them new toys.  The good news is, you do not have to spend a fortune on dog toys to keep your canine companions entertained. Simple toys can be just as much fun! Here are 5 alternatives to expensive dog toys.


Make or buy some non-toxic bubble solution and use either a battery powered bubble blower that makes a lot of bubbles one right after the other, or a simple inexpensive dollar store bubble wand to make the bubbles one at a time. This is great exercise for your dog as well as being a fun game for them. Watching your dog chase the bubbles is entertaining for you, too! Running, jumping and chasing the bubbles outside gives your dog some good leg stretching and cardio activity. A long session of chasing bubbles will burn off an active dog’s excess energy for a while.


Cats are not the only pet fascinated with boxes and bags and their contents. Dogs can be little nosey Parkers as well, and have to find out what is in those interesting containers.  Take advantage of a dog’s natural curiosity and create a simple toy using an empty cereal box or other small food box. Put some tasty CANIDAE treats in the box, set it on the floor and see how long it takes your dog to find a way to extract the treats from the box. Then repeat to keep your dog entertained. The cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels works, too – simply flatten one end and seal it up with duct tape.

Rag Toys

Not only are these toys simple to make, they recycle old clothes into inexpensive toys for your dog. Cut off the zipper from a worn out pair of jeans. Cut the jeans into strips and tie the strips together in knots with different sized knots. The thick jean material will hold up to dog gnawing.

dog toy LynYou can make something similar with old t-shirts – cut them into thin strips and tie together to make an octopus shaped toy with a knot. This works as a tugging toy and as a throw and fetch toy. The knot gives the toy weight and helps the fabric fly when you toss it.

Put a ball inside a sock and knot the end to keep the ball in the “sock sack.” This can be used as both a tug toy and a throw toy.  If you put a really bouncy ball such as a tennis ball inside the sock, the toy will also bounce on a hard surface when you throw it for your dog to fetch.


The old classic stick is still a favorite fetch “toy” with dogs. Pick a stick that is not too big or thick, but big enough for your dog to grab onto.

Do be aware of what type of plant or tree the stick comes from. Some types are extremely poisonous for your dog and should not be put in their mouth or used as a fetch toy. To keep your dog from swallowing splinters of wood, don’t let them chew on the stick no matter what type of tree it is from.

Plastic Jugs

This may not be a good toy for extreme chewers, although they can play with these with full supervision. Empty and wash out a plastic milk jug or use an empty large plastic water jug. Put some CANIDAE kibble in the jug and leave the cap off. Throw the container across the room. If your dog is a chaser, they will have fun charging after the noisy bottle and running around with the captured prize held by the handle.

Your dog may even play fetch with the bottle the same way they do with a stick or ball. It is humorous to see a dog run around holding the big jug between their teeth. It makes for some funny photo opportunities as well. This toy catches their attention even more when thrown on a tile or wood floor or on a patio where it makes plenty of noise.

As with any toy, store purchased or homemade, keep an eye on your dog when they are playing. Watch out for wear, inappropriate chewing, and broken parts they might ingest. As inexpensive as these homemade toys are, just throw them away or put into the recycling bin if they get too ripped or worn out to play with safely.

Top photo by John Collins/Flickr
Bottom photo by Lyn Lomasi/Flickr

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

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  1. Why We Wag says:

    I agree that simple toys can be a great fun for our dogs and these are great suggestions. My dog adore plastic jugs.