Upcycled and DIY Toys

Grant Emerson

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Homemade Pet Bumper Toys

Why Make Homemade Pet Bumper Toys?

Pet bumper toys are a hit with our furry friends. They are versatile, durable, and offer endless playtime. But why go for homemade? Here are some benefits:

1. **Customization**: You can design toys that cater to your pet’s preferences.
2. **Cost-Effective**: Homemade toys are often cheaper than store-bought ones.
3. **Safety**: You have control over the materials used, ensuring they are safe for your pet.
4. **Bonding**: DIY projects can be a fun activity to share with family or friends.

The Basics: What Are Pet Bumper Toys?

Pet bumper toys are cylindrical toys, often used for fetch or tug-of-war. Their unique shape makes them easy for pets to grip, toss, and carry. They can be made from various materials like cloth, rope, or rubber.

Materials You’ll Need

Before starting your DIY project, gather the following essential materials.

For Cloth Bumper Toys

  • Sturdy fabric (denim, canvas, or fleece)
  • Stuffing material (polyester fiberfill or repurposed fabric scraps)
  • Thread and needle or a sewing machine
  • A pair of scissors
  • Non-toxic fabric paint (optional for adding designs)

For Rope Bumper Toys

  • Durable rope (cotton or hemp)
  • Duct tape (to help with measurements and binding)
  • Scissors

For Mixed Material Bumper Toys

  • A combination of sturdy fabric and rope
  • Stuffing material
  • Thread and needle or a sewing machine
  • Scissors

Step-by-Step Guide: Making Your Own Pet Bumper Toy

Cloth Bumper Toy

1. **Cut the Fabric**: Start by cutting the fabric into a rectangular shape. The size depends on your pet. For example, a piece that measures 12 inches by 8 inches works well for most medium-sized dogs.

2. **Sew the Sides**: Fold the fabric lengthwise and sew along the long edge and one of the short edges, leaving the other short edge open for stuffing.

3. **Stuff the Bumper**: Fill the sewn cloth with stuffing material. Ensure it is evenly distributed for a balanced bumper.

4. **Close the Open Edge**: Once stuffed, sew the open edge to seal the bumper shut.

5. **Add Final Touches**: If desired, decorate the bumper with non-toxic fabric paint.

Rope Bumper Toy

1. **Measure and Cut Rope**: Cut the rope to the desired length. A good starting point is around 18 inches.

2. **Create Knots**: Tie basic knots at both ends of the rope to prevent fraying.

3. **Weave the Rope**: If you want a more intricate design, you can braid or weave several pieces of rope together. This adds durability and a unique texture.

4. **Secure Ends**: After weaving, ensure the ends are tightly knotted.

Mixed Material Bumper Toy

1. **Prepare the Fabric and Rope**: Cut the fabric into a rectangular shape (similar to the cloth bumper toy instruction). Cut the rope into lengths that can be incorporated into the fabric toy.

2. **Sew the Fabric**: Sew the fabric pieces together, leaving space for stuffing.

3. **Insert Rope Pieces**: Before fully sewing the fabric shut, insert the rope pieces in various places. These will act as additional gripping points for your pet.

4. **Stuff the Bumper**: Fill with stuffing material and close the remaining open edges.

5. **Reinforce Ropes**: Ensure the rope sections are tightly sewn to the fabric for added durability.

Safety Tips to Consider

Non-Toxic Materials

Always choose non-toxic and pet-safe materials. Some fabrics and ropes may contain harmful chemicals. Read labels and, if unsure, consult a vet.

Supervise Playtime

Even the most durable homemade toys can break. Always supervise your pet during play to prevent accidental ingestion of parts.

Inspect Regularly

Check the bumper toy regularly for signs of wear and tear. Replace or repair as necessary to maintain safety.

Benefits of Homemade Bumper Toys

Encourages Physical Activity

Active play is vital for a pet’s health. A well-designed bumper toy can provide exercise through fetching and tugging activities.

Mental Stimulation

Toys that incorporate challenges (like tug-of-war ropes) stimulate your pet’s mind. These activities can reduce boredom and associated behavioral issues.

Bonding Time

Playing with your pet strengthens your bond. Engaging in fetch or tug-of-war games provides quality time together and reinforces training commands like “fetch,” “drop it,” and “leave it.”

Alternatives to Traditional Bumper Toys

There are various alternatives to the usual bumper toys you can make at home.

Upcycled T-Shirt Bumper

1. **Cut the T-Shirt**: Repurpose old t-shirts by cutting them into strips.
2. **Braid the Strips**: Braid several strips together to form a rope.
3. **Create a Toy**: Use this braided rope to make a bumper by following the steps for a rope bumper toy.

Sock and Bottle Toy

1. **Choose a Sock**: Pick an old sock that you no longer need.
2. **Insert a Bottle**: Place an empty plastic bottle inside the sock.
3. **Tie the End**: Secure the open end by tying a knot, ensuring the bottle stays in place.

DIY Fabric Disc

1. **Cut Fabric Circles**: Cut two identical circles from sturdy fabric.
2. **Sew the Circles Together**: Stitch the circles together, leaving a small opening for filling.
3. **Stuff and Seal**: Stuff the disc lightly with filling material, then sew the opening shut. The disc shape can make an excellent fetch toy.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Regular Inspections

Always inspect your pet’s toys for damage. Look for loose threads, tears, or frayed edges and fix them.

Cleaning Cloth Toys

Cloth bumper toys can be washed with mild detergent in a washing machine. Regular cleaning prevents bacterial buildup.

Cleaning Rope Toys

Soak rope toys in warm water mixed with mild soap. Scrub them gently to remove dirt and rinse thoroughly.


Ensure toys are completely dry before giving them back to your pet to prevent mold growth. You can air-dry or use a dryer on a low setting for cloth toys.

Making Toys for Different Types of Pets

For Dogs

Most homemade bumper toys are designed with dogs in mind. Ensure the size and materials are suitable for your dog’s breed and chewing habits.

For Cats

Though bumper toys are more common for dogs, you can make smaller versions for cats using softer materials. Add catnip to make the toy more appealing.

For Smaller Pets

If you have small pets like rabbits or guinea pigs, use softer materials and ensure the toy size matches your pet’s stature.

Finishing Thoughts

Homemade pet bumper toys can provide hours of fun for your furry friends. They are a budget-friendly and customizable alternative to store-bought toys. By opting for these DIY solutions, you ensure your pet’s safety and enjoyment. So, grab your materials, get creative, and make a unique toy that your pet will love!

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