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Hands up who’s found some high quality, low or zero waste dog toys? Or, more broadly, just ways to entertain your pet?
Sometimes it can be hard to provide for both your dog and the environment at the same time. Often you have to make concessions for one over the other.
It’s a hard one, because you feel guilty if you don’t buy toys to entertain your dog, because you’ll be subjecting him to boredom, but then you feel guilty about the waste once you do buy something.
Not to mention the money you spend replacing them all the time…
It’s okay though, I’ve got you. I’ve compiled a list of my favourite low and zero waste dog toys (and other modes of entertainment). They’ll keep your fur baby interested and occupied, but either won’t need replacing or are consumable, so there’s no waste. You can even make some yourself.
Anyway, here’s the list:
This is my boy’s go-to for when he wants to munch on something. He’ll spend some time most days having a chew. He actually likes to cram it into his mouth with the longest axis between his top and bottom teeth. What a hardcore gym junkie.
There is a regular version for normal, non-destructive chewers, but I always opt for the more durable version. Why not?
It’s important to get the size right, too. The first one I bought was a little too small. Whilst it was still over a year before he got through it, he DID get through it in the end.
His second (and current) one is the next size up. He can still hold it fine, but it’s a lot harder for him to get it to those back teeth to really slice through it.
They have a hollow centre for stuffing with anything imaginable, too.
You can check out the sizes and buy one here.
Aussie Dog Tucker Ball
When I first came across this product, I spent a good week deliberating over the purchase. It was hard to justify $40 for a dog toy.
It was the guarantee that got me – they had a 6-month replacement guarantee. I think it’s 12 months now. But even with 6-months, how could you go wrong?
As it turns out, it was some of the best money I ever spent. It’s designed so that you can put a handful of biscuits or other treats inside, to encourage and entertain your dog.
I gave it to him just to see how he would react, before I put any biscuits in. An hour and a half later, he was still running around with it, trying to get his mouth around it, and even guarding it!
I actually took it from him for a while because I was afraid he’d exhaust himself a bit too much.
In time, he learned to run with it, almost “dribbling” it between his front feet.
He gets so excited every time I bring it out, and gains so much enjoyment from it. It was definitely worth the buy.
You can buy it in different sizes here.
Homemade or otherwise recycled t-shirt toys
You can buy or make toys made out of recycled textiles. I haven’t actually done this myself, but it’s a great way to repurpose old clothing or bedding which is too far gone to sell or donate.
If you do it yourself, there’s absolutely no cost involved! And it’s super easy. I don’t have a tutorial for you, but there are plenty out there on Pinterest and in Facebook groups. The most common type is basically a knotted rope, but made with braided recycled textiles.
If you don’t feel like DIY, you might be able to find someone in your local area who is interested in doing it for you. You provide the clothes and they make the item/s. Or, have a look through Etsy or local Facebook groups for them.
Another thing you can make, outsource, or buy, is a snuffle mat. If you don’t know what it is, it’s basically a floor mat which has long strands, kind of like grass, into which you can scatter a handful of biscuits.
Your dog can snuffle through and find the biscuits. It’s great for occupying them for long enough to get out the door for work, or bringing your food shopping inside.
Again, I don’t have one, but if the opportunity arises at the right price, I might just go for it. If you’re thinking of buying one, try to make sure it’s made of recycled materials. There are plenty out there made from new materials which is completely unnecessary. In my humble opinion!
Plus you’re paying more, because the maker paid for new material rather than sourcing much cheaper second hand resources.
If you want to see what they look like (or buy one), this one on Etsy ticks all the boxes.
I love this one. It costs nothing and takes very little effort. It can be done in your home without changing a single thing.
Plus, they’re kind of fun to set up. I think so, anyway.
Basically, train your dog to sit and wait. I like to get him to stay around the corner of the verandah, so that he can’t see where I go.
Grab a handful of biscuits and hide them individually around the house or yard (wherever your dog is allowed, or where he will be restricted to if/when you leave for the day).
Be creative. Put them behind chair legs, balance them on top of rocks, hide a bigger stash somewhere hard to find. You could even scatter some through the grass.
It’s great mental stimulation for them, which helps to reduce boredom and destructive behaviour whilst you’re out.
And it can take quite a while for them to find them all, too.
I’ll just let you know, I haven’t tried these, but I think they’re a super idea. They solve that problem of wanting to let your dog tear something apart, but not wanting to buy something new or constantly sew the same one up, just for that purpose.
Essentially, they’re a soft toy with the head, arms, and legs all attached with velcro. They are designed to satisfy your dog’s need to ruin something, but are completely reassemble-able (I don’t think that’s a word).
All you have to do is collect the limbs and re-attach them to the velcro cavities in the body.
If you’re interested, they can be bought here.
Packaging free dried natural dog treats
I know, these aren’t toys, they’re treats. But I think they qualify because they occupy your dog’s time and satisfy their need to chew.
I love that my local pet shop stocks a number of options for packaging-free natural treats. If you don’t have this option, or would like to reduce your cost per item, consider buying in bulk online.
Your product will still arrive packaged in plastic, but will generally only be in the one bag, rather than lots of little bags. The cost per item can be quite a bit lower too, and you won’t have to buy again for some time.
Some options are very durable, often lasting for days or even weeks (like deer horns). Others will last ten minutes or so, maybe longer, depending on your pet.
But what are the options? Your dog may have its own personal preferences, which unfortunately I can’t help you with. But the range is large enough that you should be able to find something they love.
Natural, dried treats for dogs include:
– pig ears
– beef ears
– pig trotters
– deer horns
– goat horns
– beef bully
– pig snouts
– Kangaroo kneecaps
– dried chicken necks
– beef tendons
A potentially free option in this category would be hoof trimmings from horses.
If you own a horse, or know someone who does, collect (or ask for) the portion of the hoof that has been removed by the farrier, and use them as treats for your dog. My boy loves them!
You can buy many of the above products in bulk here.
This is another option I haven’t tried, but I thought I would include it because they have a lifetime warranty on some of their dog toys.
Their products are made from recycled plastic, hemp, and/or natural rubber. Corporate responsibility is clearly important to them and they take their commitment to the environment and animals seriously.
The lifetime warranty applies to all of their natural rubber products. In the event that your dog destroys the toy, they will replace it for free.
Exercise with you
Another free and easy option that can be done from home is to bring your dog along when you do cardio! It’s less of a zero waste dog toy and more an activity, but still. If you enjoy walking, running, or even swimming at the beach or another natural area – bring your dog!
They’ll love spending time with you, exploring a new place, and maybe even socialising.
It’s a great mental workout too, and I guarantee they’ll have a solid nap once you get home.
At the end of the day, your dog is a pack animal and wants to spend time with you. If you don’t exercise for yourself, do it for your dog, even if it’s just a short, slow stroll through the park or around the block.
The final item on my list that I’m keen to try is the Eco-Fetcher. It’s made from hemp by people with disabilities in the USA.
It claims to be twice as durable as similar products made from cotton, although there is no replacement guarantee that I could see.
My boy loves to chase airborne things, but I haven’t bought many because he always end up ruining them. Then, of course, I’m faced with the duty of disposing of it responsibly.
At least if I give this one a try and it comes to the same end as the others, I can happily compost it without a worry.
I’ll update this post if I buy one, and let you know my thoughts on it.
If you’re interested, you can buy one here.
So, there you have it. A list of low to zero waste dog toys and other entertainment.
Remember that they need attention as well as toys, and try to mix up the entertainment that you provide for them. They will be happiest when you make time for them.
If you have a dog and don’t spend any time with him… What’s in it for him? Or you? Make sure you both add value and meaning to each others’ lives through a combination of attention, exercise, and mental stimulation.
If you’re interested in lowering your pet’s carbon pawprint in other ways, read my post about sustainability for dogs.