Honey’s 11 Favorite Dog Toys (That Aren’t Dog Toys)

Golden Retriever chewing on Ithaca Ginger Beer Bottle

It's a good thing I don't watch television. I'd hate to find out other puppies get real toys to play with.


I’m cheap.

Yeah, I know that “frugal” or “thrifty” are trendier words. But I’m cheap.

So you can imagine how much it pains me to buy expensive dog toys just to have them all chewed up in a matter of minutes. And the crazy thing is that the cheaply made toys cost as much as the good ones.

So I compromise.

Honey has some expensive toys, made by Kong or Premier or Nylabone. But she also has lots of toys that aren’t toys at all. Here’s her favorites (in no particular order):

  • Cardboard box – She’ll chew them up plain but sometimes I’ll toss a treat inside and seal it up with tape. Honey loves to shred the box to free the treat. I hear that tenacious chewers do better with a box within a box within a box…. You get the idea.
  • Wadded up paper – Honey will fetch once or twice before shredding it to smithereens.
  • Grapefruit rind – I wouldn’t expect a dog to like the tart grapefruit flavor but Honey takes my leftover rinds out to the yard where she’ll toss them to herself in between zoomies. Is grapefruit intoxicating? It is to Honey.
  • Plastic bottles – Dog toy manufacturers are onto this one and they now sell plush toys filled with empty water bottles instead of squeakers. I’m not kidding.
  • Cereal bowls – Put one on the ground upside down with a little peanut butter smeared on the inside and see how long it takes your dog to figure out how to turn it right side up. It’s pretty tough without opposable thumbs. Honey’s best technique is to back it into a corner and slip her nails underneath the edge of the bowl.
  • Yogurt cups – Honey gets to lick the last bit of my yogurt; I save water by not having to rinse my container before recycling. Honey–the environmental dog.
  • Socks – Not my favorite choice of toy but Honey loves them.
  • Azalea bush – Honey has taken to pruning my azalea and running off with a little branch. Not my favorite choice of toy either.
  • Sanding block – As long as I’ve gotten to the toys I’d rather Honey not enjoy, I’ll mention a foam sanding block. She loves the rough texture and the soft center.
  • Cardboard toilet paper rolls – Kristine at Rescued Insanity suggested this. She puts treats in the middle and folds down the ends before hiding one for Shiva to find. Honey likes it too.
  • Carrot – Honey will lie down as happily with a carrot as with a bone.

I found some other cool ideas for homemade dog toys over at Wise Bread where other cheap thrifty people hang out. Oh, and you can enter their $20 Amazon gift card giveaway here by telling them about your pet.

One last note–know your dog if you’re thinking of trying any of these things. Cardboard works great with Honey because I know she’ll just shred it and won’t eat it. But plastic items, like bottles and yogurt cups, are strictly supervised. She’ll swallow the whole thing if I don’t take it away before it’s too damaged.

Oh, and if you like having a clean house and don’t want to find little shreds of cardboard under every seat cushion? Forget I said anything. This post is not for you.

What are your dog’s favorite toys that aren’t really toys? And how many of the dog toys in your house come from a factory and how many come from your  imagination?

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  1. I like it! My dogs (pets) play with plastic bottles and cardboard. Makes it much easier to either recycle or throw away. :)
    Unfortunately our service dog pups can’t do that…(which i just found out about lol)

  2. Plastic water bottles are the greatest. Our guy and gal love them. The only thing not on your list they like is the full toilet roll to unroll across the hall into the next room. :)

  3. Other than the fact they are so loud, I love giving Shiva a plastic pop bottle to play with. She goes absolutely nuts and has more fun with that than she often does with her more expensive toys.
    Heh, and if my husband leaves his socks on the floor, I consider them free for Shiva to play with as much as she wants. Keeps her busy and trains him to pick up after himself, it’s a win-win!

    Thanks for the cereal bowl idea, I am going to have to try that.

  4. Heehee. Charlie will play with a plastic bottle for only as long as it takes to take the top off (which by now isn’t long at all) and then he leaves it alone. And he LOVES shredding those plastic air bubble things that come with packages (and bubble wrap too). He seems to love popping them. And rocks. But he can’t have those anymore because they destroyed his teeth.

    Emma loves sticks. And she’ll generally try to mouth/chew anything I offer her.

    I feed my pups ground meat out of Kongs, so we have more Kongs than I think most rescue organizations have. And leave it to Emma to destroy the red ones, making me shell out the big bucks for the huge black ones.

  5. Our Best Friend will chase a ball until he drops dead, but he likes it more as a game than a toy. He’s not so into toys at all– he likes attention, and will grab my daughter’s slippers just so she’ll yell, “Hey!” and run after him. He always gives it back. :)

  6. There are a few of George’s favourites on that list: cardboard, toilet roll, socks, plastic bottles. I find that dogs are like kids, they prefer to improvise and use whatever they find left lying around, rather than play with expensive toys.

  7. I might try the treat in the toilet paper roll thing! Right now Daisy mostly plays with tennis balls and Kong toys.

    One word of caution-many azalea plants are poisonous to dogs. http://www.vetinfo.com/plants-poisonous-dogs.html

    I received the treats that we won today! The girls both loved them.

  8. Morgan’s favorite thing in the world is a plastic bottle, but we try to use those bottle covers with them. Hubby had to go to the doctor to get a plastic shard removed from his foot that she left on the floor and she can chew a bottle really fast. She’s nuts about yogurt cups, too, but those get taken away as soon as she pops the bottom out.

    Apparently, shaking the daylights out of the dog beds is good fun, too!

  9. oooo! Kuna loves old t-shirts tied in to knots with kibble hiding inside! and shoes (uh-oh!), plastic, kleenex, mail, pillows – the list goes on and on! Nice post!

  10. Ty loves the yogurt cups too! I bought the large container a while back and when it was empty I let him lick that out. He got it stuck on his head. It was hilarious! 😀

  11. We too are rather cheap. I can’t remember the last time I actually bought a toy for the dogs, except maybe a few things at the dollar store or garage sales. So we recycle what toys we have and the rest is up to the dogs and our imagination, plastic, cardboard, ropes, pop bottles, stuffed animals etc…You’d be amazed at what you can find at garage sales that make great toys!!

  12. I give Oscar the last of my yogurt too, though I don’t leave the cup with him for long because he can destroy almost anything. We tend to stick with purchased dog toys for that reason – and even some of those can’t stand up to his chewing! But he loves ice cubes. It’s entertaining to watch him chase them around the kitchen!

  13. Georgia is A Lady now and doesn’t play with toys anymore. Her toy box hasn’t been touched in months. She still occasionally plays with her stuffed dog Mama Dew (more like throws a tantrum with it) but other than that…she now prefers to sunbathe and sleep.

    When she was younger, she liked collecting toys and balls left behind at parks. We didn’t have to buy her too many. She also loved bringing home sticks and bamboo from the park to chew. She was very self-sufficient.

  14. Oh my. Some of those “toys” sound a whole lot like expensive people stuff that will need to be replaced. I have to say I have had many a dog, including Jasper, prune my shrub roses in the winter. I used to get upset until I realized they came back better than ever! Go figure!

    Jasper used to steal my socks from my clothes basket and drag them through the house, but he’s pretty much stopped that now. However, I have had one “dog toy” that I prefer my dogs (and client’s dogs) do not play with – empty cat food cans. I wash them out and put them in a recycle bag. Most of the time my dogs leave them alone, but when a client comes and starts raiding the bag, my dogs will join in. It often ends up on the kithen table for safety’s sake. Scares me to death when they play with those.

    Honey is quite the innovative pup isn’t she? :)

  15. Great ideas! I’m going to have to try a few out. Kelly is a shredder–anything that can be shredded into bits only lasts a few seconds. But at least she’s having fun those few seconds!!

  16. Too funny! Bella likes socks too.

  17. My dogs LOVE dish towels! They shake them, play tug with them, suck on them.. We also put treats under condiment cups and let them push them all over the kitchen. It’s like watching doggy hockey! 😀