It’s no secret that dogs and cats like to play. Toys are a great way to give your pet both mental and physical stimulation. But you know what's even better than just regular toys? DIY dog and cat enrichment toys!
DIY dog enrichment toys and cat enrichment toys provide your furry friend healthy mental exercise and keep boredom at bay while simultaneously helping out our planet by promoting sustainability and avoiding all the plastic feeders and toys out there. Want to make DIY dog toys and DIY cat toys of your own? Read our blog for some creative ideas.
What are Enrichment Toys?
Physical activity helps keep your pet healthy and fit. But just like humans, your cat or dog needs mental stimulation too. This helps them keep their cognitive skills sharp while relieving boredom. While puppies and kitties can benefit from enrichment toys to help keep them out of mischief, they’re also beneficial for older dogs and cats who are at greater risk of cognitive decline. In short, enrichment toys help satisfy your pet’s natural instincts which promote their physical and emotional well-being and are useful for their entire lifetime.
Health Notice: Whenever you give your pet a toy, please monitor them to be sure they are not shredding and ingesting the fibers which can cause dogs to develop obstructions, thus requiring medical intervention.
How to make Enrichment Toys at Home
Enriching your pet’s life doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. In fact, it’s better for our planet if you take advantage of what you already have around the house rather than constantly buying new toys. Think about it: how many toys do you go through every year because your pet keeps ripping them up? According to statistics, an estimated 634 million dog toys end up in US landfills per year. That's equivalent to 40,500 tons of waste. Yuck.
A much better alternative is to use what you already have in the house. So, get your creative juices flowing and have fun with some dog and cat enrichment DIY! If you’re looking for ideas and don’t know where to begin, here are some of our top suggestions:
Knotted Old Clothes Dog Toy:
A great dog enrichment DIY toy is to take your old clothes that can't be donated (too stained or torn) and repurpose them as a dog toy. T-shirts, ripped up jeans…you name it! The best part is, there’s no sewing knowledge required! You can cut them into strips and add knots or weave them into a braid for tug of war. This is a fun project for the family, so get the kids involved. And the planet will thank you too.
Muffin Tin Puzzle (Cats & Dogs):
To create a muffin tin puzzle for your pets, all you need is a muffin tin (old and out of service as it will get scratched up), some tennis balls, and some treats or pieces of food. Place the treats in the muffin tin and cover them up with the tennis balls. This cat and dog enchantment DIY is a fantastic way to test your pet’s problem solving skills and get them to work on their sense of smell.
This and the next one are great ways to consider feeding your pet every day. Why give them their food for free in a bowl with zero fun or mental stimulation? Where’s the excitement in that? Feeding like this is an EXCELLENT for dogs always getting into stuff. The mental stimulation really helps tire them out and keeps them away from trouble.
Looking for some natural, zero waste treats? Check out our collection of sustainable pet treats.
Slow Feeder (Cats & Dogs):
A slow feeder is the perfect dog or cat enrichment DIY toy. To make one, you’ll need a toilet roll or paper towel roll, scissors, and some food or treats. Start by creating holes on the side of the tube, large enough for the food to barely go through. Add the food, either kibble or homemade food, tape or fold the ends together and voila! Your pet will be entertained and fed! This works best for cats and small dogs. Larger dogs will probably tear through the cardboard rolls too quickly, but perhaps you can think of other more sturdy cylindrical objects to substitute.
Cardboard boxes (Cats):
If you have a growing pile of cardboard boxes at home, put them to good use and construct a cardboard condo for your cat. This is another fun activity - kids will LOVE making and decorating a new home for their cat. And your feline friend will love climbing and exploring their new home!
Sustainable Pet Toys
If DIY projects aren’t for you, don’t worry. We have a range of sustainable pet toys your cat or dog will love:
Cardboard Cat Ball: These compostable, recyclable cat toys are perfect for your feline friend to play with all day or night long. Rub them with your cat’s favorite scent (cat nip, tuna, etc.) for hours of fun.
Organic Cotton Rope Dog Toy: Ready for a game of tug of war? Or maybe fetch? Whatever you decide, you and your pet will have the best time with this organic cotton rope toy.
Natural Rubber Lick Mat: These natural rubber mats are great for smearing peanut butter over and driving your pup wild.
Natural Treat Dispenser: Stuff with your pup's favorite treat, add water and freeze. Works great when filled with their full meal - make them work for it to get that extra energy out!
Reviewed by Dr. Dody Tyneway:
Dr. Tyneway's area of expertise is integrative veterinary medicine. She has completed her studies in natural nutrition with the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies and is the founder of Holistic Vet Blend, LLC a company that educates about nutrition and holistic care for pets. Learn more about our veterinarian expert here.