As pet parents, we want to offer our beloved canine companions as much joy in life as we can possibly muster. Most of us celebrate some sort of significant holiday in the month of December, and many of these celebrations feature both food and fun, and doggos love food and fun! A good portion of these holidays also include the exchange of gifts, and humans are not the only beings who enjoy getting gifts. This article provides ideas for seven great gifts you can make right at home.
Holiday sock rings – less than $5
Entertain your pup with these easy to make cloth donuts made out of colorful holiday socks! This is a fun toy that can entertain your dog for hours, usually for under $5 for a pair. Either pick up two pairs of colorful holiday socks at your local dollar or thrift store or use some of your cast-off old colorful socks. Cut the toes off of all of the socks, so that they have an opening on each side. Roll one sock inward, making a fairly thin sock ring. Place the opening of a second colorful sock around the ring and roll it inward as well, in order to add a little bulk to the doughnut. To keep the sock from unrolling, do a quick stitch around the hem of the sock. Your pup will love chasing and carrying around these soft, safe, and inexpensive toys.
No-sew fleece dog rug – between $5-$15
For the cost of a yard of fleece, usually between $5 and $15, you can make your pooch a comfy dog rug to rest on, with no sewing involved! A yard will make either two small dog rugs or one larger one. Cut two-inch-wide strips around all the edges, creating a sort of fringe around the outside. Cut off the strips at each of the corners, then cut each of the remaining two-inch-wide strips in half, so that each piece is now an inch wide. You will then tie each pair of strips into double knots. While you are working, it is normal for the project to appear bunched up and lumpy, but when you are done tying the knots, a gentle tug on the corners of the rug will straighten it out.
Tug toy made from your old t-shirt (or socks) – Free!
Although your dog may jump through hoops for treats or run in circles in anticipation of their favorite toy, what they really love best is you. Give them a little bit of yourself, and your scent, by using your old clothing to create a tug toy for them. Cut your (preferably unwashed) shirt or socks into 2-3″ wide strips of fabric. Gather the strips of fabric up and tie off one end of them, then divide the strips into thirds and braid them tightly together. Once you have braided them nearly to the other end, tie off the bottom and even out any straggling t-shirt or sock fabric strips.
Suitcase dog bed – $5-$50
Does your doggo moan every time they get up from a nap on the floor? Are they constantly trying to steal your spot on the couch? Do your pillows mysteriously end up on the floor covered in dog hair? Perhaps your precious pooch is hinting that they want a new comfy spot of their own. Make them a stylish bed out of an old repurposed suitcase. Unless you want to eat the cost of buying a brand new hard-sided suitcase – just to take it apart – or you have an unused vintage or other hard-sided suitcase just lying around the house, this gift might take a little legwork.
You might get lucky at a garage sale, but your best chance of finding an item like this is by searching through thrift stores and flea markets. Once you have found the perfect suitcase, you will remove the top half of the hard shell, then place a few old shirts or socks at the bottom to make it smell comforting. Put a large pillow over the top of the clothing, then cover it with an old sheet, a large towel, or a yard or so of your favorite washable fabric. The price on this gift can vary quite a bit depending on the suitcase that you choose and on the type of fabric you decide to use.
Homemade dog treats – $5-$10
Most of the celebrations that are centered around the winter holidays feature food. Along with giant feasts that are meant to bring friends and family together, there is often an overabundance of sweet treats such as cookies, candies, and cakes. While the amount of fat and sugar in our treats is far too rich for our pets, we can make healthy cookies and biscuits designed just for them.
Healthy ingredients like sweet potatoes, apples, and bananas provide all the sweetness your dog needs, as well as giving them a boost of vitamins and minerals. You can find healthy recipes both online (psst… over here) and at your local library or bookstore. The cost for this gift can vary somewhat, depending on which recipes you decide to make, but most recipes come in at around $5-$10 per batch.
Paw Balm made with natural ingredients – approx. $30
Lotions and salves are another holiday gift that is generally appreciated, especially with the dry and windy months coming up from January to March. Your dog will also appreciate a gift that is kind to their skin as well, particularly the skin covering the paw pads on the bottom of their paws.
Many human formulas have ingredients that are toxic to our canine companions, however, and dogs have a tendency to lick their feet. This balm, made from dog-safe ingredients, will not only moisturize your pet’s paws, but it will also provide an extra layer of protection from the elements if you put it on your dog before walking them.
To make your paw balm, you will use a small pot or double boiler to melt and mix four teaspoons of beeswax, two ounces each of olive and coconut oil, one ounce of shea butter. You will then pour the mixture into one or more heat-safe containers. Let them cool on the counter until they harden. Keep in mind that shallow containers will harden faster than deep ones and that waxes and oils tend to harden from the top down
Interactive feeding toy with PVC pipe – $10-$30
Pet parents who are handy with the tools can make this interactive treat puzzle out of a sturdy 1-1/4 inch PVC pipe and two 1-1/4 inch PVC caps that fit tightly on the pipe. First cut the PVC pipe down to the size that you want, either one, two, or three feet long, and file or sand the edges smooth with a rattail file or medium grit sandpaper.
The biggest factor in the cost of this project, unless you have spare PVC pipe in your workspace or garage, is the length of the toy itself.
After cutting the pipe down, drill four to eight either ½ inch or ¾ inch holes in the PVC pipe, being careful to avoid the areas that will be covered by the caps. It is a good idea to mark where you want the holes in sharpie before cutting them out. Sand the inside of the holes smooth as well. If you are using sandpaper, it may help to wrap the sandpaper around something like a screwdriver that can fit into the holes.
Run the components through the dishwasher. Put one PVC cap on the pipe with the holes in it, drop a handful of kibble or treats into the center of the pipe then cap off the other end. Your dog will have great fun rolling it around with their nose and paws to make the food or treats fall out of the toy. This toy should be checked periodically and replaced if it develops cracks or other signs of hard use. Keep an eye on your dog when they play with this toy, especially if they are hard chewers.
These are just a few fantastic gift options for your canine companion. With a little creativity, you can probably get a few ideas of your own. Just remember to use dog-safe ingredients and components when designing toys for your furry family member, and avoid elements like stuffing or buttons, which can cause gastrointestinal distress for your pet. Whether given in the spirit of Christmas, Hannukah, Yule, or Kwanzaa, light up your pup’s holiday celebration with a gift of their own, made by their favorite person— you!
In case you missed it, check out these easy and awesome DIY cat toys you can make at home in minutes.
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born in 2016! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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