Unique Homemade Dog Gifts

Doesn't the family dog need something under the Christmas tree? You can make your own unique dog gifts. What do they enjoy most? Playing, eating and sleeping. With that in mind, here's some homemade dog gift ideas.

Homemade dog toys
I have bought expensive dog toys that get shredded and de-squeakered within a day. Yet knotted-up t-shirts can provide weeks of tugging fun for my two dogs.

  • Knotted up t-shirts aren't very festive, but you can easily braid or knot heavy felt or faux fur into tug toys.
  • If your dog likes to play fetch, knot up a tennis ball into the fabric.
  • Got a big dog? Instead of buying one of those expensive tire toys, use a real tire! Do not use a steel-belted radial tire; this can be dangerous because of the steel threads. Small tires, like those for wheelbarrows, are excellent. Drill a hole through the tire and thread heavy rope through it for throwing and tugging power.
  • A good long hike or playtime in the park isn't something you can wrap up and put under the tree, but it's something most dogs love and one of the best presents ever.
  • Tennis ball in a sock. How do you throw a tennis ball further? Put it in a stray sock, knot the sock above the ball. Voila, a slingshot tennis ball.
  • Do you have a dog that immediately pulls the stuffing out of pricey soft toys? Faux fur or fleece is very inexpensive, and it's easy to make your own toys without stuffing. From a simple roll of fleece tied securely with string or even duct tape to shapes (bones, initials, hearts) cut out and sewn together.
  • Dogs like sticks, right? You can buy duct tape in many colors now. Here's a good one for the kids to make. Find an irregular-shaped stick. Pliable, green wood is better than dried-out wood. Remove the bark and little twiggy bits. Using imagination and duct tape, wrap every inch of that stick until it has a slightly padded feel.

Dog treats
There are books and Web sites galore for homemade dog treats. I'm not much of a cook, but here's two of my really simple ideas. Dogs love them.

Beef or Pork Liver treats, great for training

  • I use beef or pork liver. Chicken liver is too squishy and tends to disintegrate.
  • Cut the liver into little pieces, while frozen. It's very easy to slice up when frozen.
  • Spread on a cookie pan. Sprinkle liberally with garlic powder. Parmesan cheese is good, too, but the garlic powder masks the smell of cooking liver.
  • Cook at about 200 degrees for 30-45 minutes, depending on size.

Ice Cube Treats

  • Put a piece of your dog's favorite treat, hot dog slices or other meat into each section of an ice cube tray. Dogs have fun with these and it's especially good for teething puppies. You can even use weak beef or chicken broth instead of water.

To make a great gift for dog lovers and their dogs, put the treats in a pretty treat tin or a training bag.

Dog beds
After playing and eating, dogs need naptime. Have you seen the prices for basic dog beds? Yikes.

I actually made a dog bed myself out of a sleeveless, purple-faux-fur jacket that, in a moment of madness, I bought thinking I might actually wear it. I never did, but it made an awesome dog bed. I filled a pillowcase with plastic grocery sacks. If you are like me, you have tons of them. I stuffed the pillowcase into the zippered-up jacket so the closed bottom of the pillowcase was at the open end of the jacket. Fluff it up a little, and there you go.

Not haute decor, but the dogs (and cats) loved it.

More conventional dog beds are easy and cheap to make. Using anything from faux fleece, fur or flannel to clean old quilts, sew the fabric into the size and shape appropriate for your dog. Leave one end open for the stuffing material of your choice. The following all make great stuffing: dry cedar chips, Styrofoam, plastic grocery bags, quilt batting or any of the commercially available stuffing materials. Depending on your level of expertise, the opening can be fasted with a zipper, buttons, bow ties or duct tape. I'm kidding, sort of, about the duct tape. It will work though,

Old couch cushions can be covered with washable fabric for excellent dog beds. I have a friend with a Great Dane who made a really nice dog bed by covering a child's mattress with a heavy fleece slipcover. Perfect size for a large-breed dog, much cheaper than a huge dog bed from the store and machine-washable.

With a little creativity, and possibly some duct tape, you can make truly unique dog gifts for the canines in your life.

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