Zoey was my first furbaby, and I was so excited to welcome her into our family three years ago. I ran out to the store to purchase a ton of new and adorable toys for her. My favorite was the little skunk that resembled Zoey’s black and white fluffy fur. Zoey loved to play with her toys, and they lasted her entire puppyhood into adulthood. I’ll admit I grew sentimental of the toys when I would think about how little she was when she started playing with them and the story behind each toy. I would even get her a stuffed animal souvenir from any vacation I took that she couldn’t accompany me on.
A year later, we welcomed a floppy-eared, clumsy, howling hound dog sister for Zoey – our Beagle Jem. She quickly established her authority over toys within the first few days. She reasoned that toys were meant to be destroyed upon contact with the quickest speed possible. It wasn’t long before all of Zoey’s sentimental toys were a pile of fluff and fur scraps all across the floor. I doubt Zoey was as sad to see them go as I was, but I soon realized that it was going to be a challenge to find a toy that Jem couldn’t destroy in under one minute.
Jem is over two years old now, and we still struggle to find her a toy that will last long enough to warrant buying it for her. There just doesn’t seem to be any “durable, indestructible, or long-lasting” toy on the market that she can’t beat. The other dogs learned from example within weeks of Jem joining our family, and they took after her soon enough.
Now they all destroy toys proudly, but Jem is still the undefeated champ of demolishing them with record speed. Six minutes. That’s all it took for Jem to investigate the new stuffed animal I bought her today and accomplish her goal of de-stuffing it.
Our living room looks like a teddy bear graveyard on a nightly basis, and we’ve finally resorted to having the dogs play with the miscellaneous legs, arms, and other body parts of their toys that they’ve ruined rather than continuing to buy them hundreds of dollars worth of pretty animals with their heads firmly attached.
Whenever I watch them destroy their stuffed animals, it seems like the act of pulling the stuffing out of the toy is what has them so hooked. Once the toy is thoroughly plucked, shredded, and flattened, they grow bored and move on to something else.
Step 1: Purchase Felt and a “Tug & Treat Ball”
I bought the large pack of felt at Jo Ann Fabric for $5.00 rather than buying each piece separate for $0.50, but I found that it only took 1-3 sheets of felt for the smaller sized ball, so if you’re only making one small toy you don’t need as much felt as I thought.
Step 2: Cut Strips of Felt
I wanted the strips to be fairly easy for the dogs to pull out of the holes, but you can judge what size strips you want depending on how big the holes are, how easily you want them to be pulled out, etc.
Step 3: Stuff Strips Into The Ball
I made sure I left strips hanging out of the holes so the dogs understood what the toy was made to do. That way they easily pulled one or more strips as soon as they interacted with it which taught them the toy’s purpose. If your dog doesn’t seem to understand the point of the new toy right away like mine did, it works great to stuff small pieces of treats into the toy to entice her to play.
Step 4: Enjoy!
After the quick 5-10 minute creation of this toy, your dogs are ready to play! Laci went absolutely nuts over the ball as soon as I finished making it, and she had the felt furiously pulled out in under a minute! I loved how quick and easy it was to put the felt strips back into the toy for round two of fun.
Laci felt confident in her choice of the red ball, but you know how dogs are… the grass is always greener when it comes to toys and food. Naturally, Jem thought Laci’s ball was better and wanted to steal it.
Within minutes of making this simple and easy toy, I could already tell it was the new favorite with all three dogs. Success! I was confident that at least one of them would love it, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that all of them were thrilled by it. This toy was so easy to make, so simple to re-stuff, and so much cheaper than any stuffed animal I could buy for them. Best of all, it’s a sustainable toy that can be used over and over again while still satisfying their love for plucking “stuffing” out of toys.
Your dogs will love you more than they already do when you make this felt ball for them, and I would love to see pictures and hear about your experience with it! Email me your story and/or pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org