Zero Waste Dog Toys

Zero Waste Dog Toys

Enrichment for your companion is so important to their daily lives. One of the easiest ways we can provide that for them is with toys. Dog toys are expensive, rarely eco-friendly, and hardly ever zero waste. So what are our options when it comes to sustainable dog toys?

The best way to make more eco-friendly purchases for your companion is to buy secondhand or sustainably-made products, as well as making a few toys from the contents of your recycling bin. Although you'll need to buy some longer lasting ones too unless you want to spend all day every day crafting new toys!

One of the best tips I've learned is to rotate your dog's toys regularly. Let your dog pick new ones every few days and put the rest away. It keeps things interesting for them, and you won't need to buy so many.

Zero Waste Dog Toys

Homemade Dog Toys

As most pet guardians will tell you, animals often prefer the cardboard box to the toy that came in it. To avoid spending money on expensive toys that your dog might never play with, it's better to pay attention to your companions' preferences, buy fewer toys, and make some by hand from recycled materials.

If you're not keen DIY-er, there are still a few ways of making your own with minimal skill or time. Enrichment for dogs can be as simple as stuffing an old sock with treats and knotting up the fabric. Braiding old fabric, rolling treats up in an old towel, or simply giving them a plastic bottle to chew. I save a bunch of recyclables (and non-recyclables) from the bin to repurpose as homemade dog toys. Here are some zero waste dog toy ideas you can make at home.

Simple DIY Dog Toys

  • Braid scrap fabric into a rope toy
  • Stuff a sock with scrunched up paper
  • Fill a cardboard box with recyclables and toys
  • Roll up a sock to make a ball
  • Knot up a glove or sock to make a chew toy
  • Rub scents on toys to give your dog something to sniff
  • Make a flirt pole

Foraging Dog Toys

Foraging toys are the best kind of enrichment you can provide for your dog indoors. Making these toys is a better option than buying them. At least until you figure out your dog's skill level, play style, and texture preferences. Homemade dog toys are super fun so you may never need to buy a foraging or nose work toy for your dog. Depending on your dog's skill level, you may need to adjust the difficulty of the nose-work toy. Add more holes or none at all, knot it up really tight or super loose. Some dogs love working for their food, others are too lazy to try. You just need to find the right combination of toy, food, and difficulty level for your companion.

Homemade Interactive Dog Toys

  • Roll food up in an old towel
  • Put food in a sock and knot it up
  • Scatter food in between newspaper pages
  • Hide food around your home
  • Add food to a sealed box with holes bunch in it
  • Scatter food into a cupcake pan
  • Put food in a plastic bottle with holes in
  • Smear food on a mat and freeze
  • Add food to a jar with holes
  • Put food in a cardboard tube with the ends squeeze closed
  • Place food in the fingers of a glove and knot it up
  • Scatter food in a tub with holes punched in the lid

Zero Waste Dog Toys

Secondhand Dog Toys

For dogs who love plush toys, secondhand is the way to go. Baby toys have stricter safety standards and if you pick the right ones they're perfectly safe to give to your dog. Secondhand plush toys are an excellent choice as they're much cheaper than buying new. Charity shops are the best place to shop rather than online as I've found secondhand pet items end up being surprisingly more expensive on marketplaces like eBay. Having said that, I have won a couple of cheap auctions so it's worth a cursory glance when shopping for something specific.

If your dog loves plush toys but destroys them in minutes, consider removing the stuffing and replacing it with something else. Scrunched up paper, cardboard tubes, scrap fabric, or even other toys are all good options. Save the stuffing for sending zero waste parcels (it makes excellent insulation for plants!) Dogs often love chewing up plastic bottles, and putting one inside a plush toy is a safer way for dogs to play with them. These toys are expensive to buy new but can be made in seconds with minimal sewing skills.

Sustainably-Made Dog Toys

The pet industry is huge. There are so many products out there it's hard to know what to buy. It's a good idea to purchase durable toys new, and shop for the less durable ones secondhand. Otherwise you'll be wasting money on toys that get destroyed in minutes. Pay attention to your dog's preferences to avoid money being wasted and toys being ignored.

Most durable dog toys are made from less than ideal materials, however, sometimes that's the better choice. It's no good buying eco-friendly toys made from sustainable materials if they don't last longer than a few months. Having a few durable toys you can buy once and keep forever is a fair compromise.

If your companion loves plush toys but is a super chewer, I've found Patchwork Pet makes the most durable ones. ZippyPaws make interactive nose work or burrow toys that are great for enrichment and look cute too. This Outward House Hide-A-Squirrel Puzzle is another great option. If you're looking for something to play tug with or dispense treats, the KONG Safestix and Beco Natural Rubber Bone are durable options.

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