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Things to make and do

When it comes to enriching toys for your pets to brighten up the dreary days of winter, why not get crafty and do it yourself?

As the nights draw in and temperatures drop, life can feel a little less fun for our furry friends – and lots of us humans too. However, rather than giving in to the temptation of lounging on the sofa and re-watching the director’s cut of all your favourite movies, why not get creative and cheer up your pets instead?

Here are a few home-made toy ideas you’ll enjoy making, which will give your animal chums something fun to do...


Homemade ring ragger toy for dogs 

This DIY ring ragger toy from Battersea is great for a game of tug. The charity says: “It’s a good idea to have two toys to hand when playing in order to encourage constructive play and stop your dog being too possessive over one particular toy. Always monitor your dog when they are playing with their DIY ring ragger toy to make sure they don’t tear off any bits of material and ingest them.”

You will need:

  • A pair of scissors
  • An old jumper – Battersea recycles old uniforms to cut down on waste

STEP 1 Start by cutting the cuff off the jumper. This will form the base of the toy. If you have a bigger dog, you can make the ring ragger bigger by using the neck or bottom of the jumper instead.

STEP 2 Next, cut one long strip of material from the rest of the jumper. Make this piece as long as you can to make sure it will go all the way around your jumper cuff.

STEP 3 Tie the long strip onto the cuff, at the middle of the strip, making sure you have an even amount of material on each side of the knot.

STEP 4 Take your strip on the left-hand side and pass it around the front of your cuff and over to the other side to make an 'L' shape. Then take the strip on the opposite side and pass it over your first strip, and around the back of the cuff, passing it through the loop that you have made with the strip on the left (this part is a little tricky, so you may want to check out the video below). Pull both strips as tight as you can, trying to cover the material underneath.

STEP 5 Repeat the last step, but this time start your knot on the opposite side. So, this time, you will be making a backwards 'L' shape with the strip on the right-hand side.

STEP 6 Keep repeating this process, alternating sides each time, until you have gone all the way around the cuff. You may sometimes need to shuffle the knot upwards to overlap with the previous knot and keep the material underneath covered. Tie to finish and then cut off any excess material.

WATCH the step-by-step video >>

Find more DIY dog toy ideas including a snuffle mat, designed to make mealtime more of a puzzle and to help slow down your dog’s eating – from Battersea here >>


Tree stump scratch pad for cats

Bring the outdoors in for your favourite feline with this enticing, rustic-effect scratching pad, which doubles up as a place to perch or snooze on.

You will need:

  • Carboard packaging
  • Clear sticky tape
  • Old cork placemats or real bark
  • Some felt or similar material
  • Pet-safe glue
  • Dried catnip

STEP 1 Cut the carboard into strips about 10cm in width.

STEP 2 Make concertina-like creases and then roll each strip up, securing with clear tape.

STEP 3 Keep adding more until you have a log size circle.

STEP 4 Get the old cork place mats and break into strips.

STEP 5 Secure these with glue onto the sides of your cardboard log to give a bark-effect. Alternatively, you could use real bark, glued on and tied with some old skipping rope for extra scratching fun, as demonstrated by Instagrammers sussie_and_kich for a really rustic-looking stump.

STEP 6 Glue some felt to the bottom to create a neat underside then turn over and sprinkle some dried catnip onto the top and watch your cat use their paws and nose to investigate the interesting textures and scents.

WATCH the step-by-step video >>

Find more DIY cat toy ideas ­­– including a cat wand and a hideaway house – from Battersea here >>


A forage weave for rabbits

This forage weave from Wood Green is suitable for rabbits and guinea pigs. It can also be adapted for chinchillas and degus by using dry forage and is an ideal way to encourage natural browsing behaviour and also encourage stretching and reaching, which will help strengthen your bunnies’ backs, keeping them fit and healthy.

You will need:

  • Sisal twine or soft garden wire
  • A bunch of safe wood twigs around 2ft in length, such as apple, pear, willow, hazel or hawthorn
  • A large pile of fresh forage such as sticky weed, rose or wild dog rose, bramble, hazel and buddleia
  • Gardening gloves

STEP 1 Lay one layer of six sticks out about 5cm apart on the ground, then weave in and out of each stick a new stick. Repeat again, keeping them about 5cm apart.

STEP 2 Use the string or soft wire to secure the ends. This should then provide you with a strong frame ready to weave the forage through.

STEP 3 As it is best to use long strips of forage, some plants may have thorns. This is ok for your pets, but it is advisable for you to wear gloves.

STEP 4 Once you have a thick layer of forage and very few gaps visible, your forage weave is ready to be given to your pets. It can be propped up against something or tied to the side of the enclosure.

WATCH the step-by-step video >>

Find lots more pet enrichment ideas you can make yourself from Wood Green here >>


Hay filled hanging rolls for rabbits, chinchillas and degus

If you have small pets, you’ll never run out of uses for cardboard loo rolls! And, turning them into hanging hay-filled toys couldn’t be simpler. Make a few and hang them at different heights to provide some snacking fun with a bit of a challenge. 

You will need:

  • Sisal twine (don’t use synthetic string)
  • Cardboard toilet paper tubes
  • Tasty feeding hay (now available with subscribe and save in a cardboard hay box!)
  • Scissors

STEP 1 Tie a knot in the end of a length of sisal twine.

STEP 2 Make a slit or small hole in one side of a toilet tube.

STEP 3 Poke the string in through the tube and up through the hole until it stops where the knot is.

STEP 4 Stuff with hay, hang and watch the fun begin!

SEE the step-by-step guide here >>


Fleecy peek-a-boo curtain for guinea pigs

Old slippers, winter hats, scarves, mittens, blankets and other items made of fleece will all appeal to comfort-loving guinea pigs. And, as guineas like to keep a close eye on the world from a safe place, why not make them a fleecy curtain to peek out from?

You will need:

  • An old fleece scarf or blanket
  • Scissors
  • Needle and thread
  • Sisal twine

STEP 1 Take the fleecy material and cut into long, thin strips and cut it into long, thin strips.

STEP 2 Turn the end of each one over and stich to create a loop, about 3cm long.

STEP 3 String these strips onto a length of sisal twine so they form a curtain.

STEP 4 Tie to the top of your guinea pig’s enclosure and trim to the required length to create a soft, fleecy curtain they can peep out from.

WATCH more guinea pig enrichment ideas here >>


A digging box for rats

Most rats will love exploring a digging box, particularly if there’s some foliage to investigate and a few buried treasure food treats to seek out.

You will need

STEP 1 Take the litter tray and fill it halfway with the sterilised potting soil.

STEP 2 Plant some cat grass, water it and wait for it to grow (or buy some ready grown).

STEP 3 Let the soil dry out a for a day or so and then strategically bury a few rat nuggets.

STEP 4 To minimise mess, place the tray on an old sheet to collect any dug-up soil and grass.

STEP 4 Let your rats sniff, explore and dig!

After all that digging, your pets will need a rat nap – so why not create a cosy hammock for them to chill out in, such as this one made out of old scraps of material from Wood Green >>


A maze for hamsters, mice and gerbils

A maze that leads to treasure treats  (scatter a few along the way for encouragement) will keep small furries physically and mentally busy.

You will need

  • Cardboard packaging
  • Scissors or a sharp utility knife
  • A ruler
  • Pet-safe glue

STEP 1 Use one large box as the frame and cut and glue cardboard strips to the bottom inside, forming the sides of the maze, in whatever configuration you prefer.

STEP 2 Make the strips high enough that your small pets don’t merely climb over, but don't make it so complicated that they can’t work it out.

STEP 3 Add removable cardboard tubes or small boxes with entry/exit holes cut in them as tunnels and some rest stops (add some bedding material here) and then watch your small pets use all their senses to solve the riddle of the maze.

WATCH how to create a maze for your small pets here >>


Fun times for ferrets

The best ferret toys are ones that engage these clever and curious animals in natural behaviours such as tunnelling, climbing, and exploring. What’s more, recycling can take on a whole new meaning when you have ferrets. Take a look at what you have lying around the house – and, with a bit of imagination, you’ll find you have a whole lot of ‘toys’ for your ferrets to have fun with...

  • That old cardboard box can become an intriguing den if you cut a couple of wriggle-size holes in it and place some ferret nuggets hidden in an old sock inside it.
  • A tatty, worn out, rather stinky walking boot? It will make a great hidey-hole to pop out of.
  • A cosy jumper that’s past its best? Your ferrets will love tunnelling through the sleeves.
  • Faded, fraying pillowcase? Stitch some sturdy rope to it, attach each end to the sides of their cage and it becomes a hammock for your ferret chums to clamber on.
  • Paper bags can enjoy a second outing as a ferret toy – just put some ferret nuggets inside and scrunch them into a ball and watch your ferrets chase them about.
  • Got a pile of old clothing, pillowcases, unused small blankets or throws? Simply bunch them up together and hide some ferret nuggets in them. Your ferret friends will have a wonderful time, tunnelling, burrowing and snuggling.

SAFETY TIPS FOR DIY PET TOYS

  • Make your creations from natural, safe materials that aren’t toxic to animals such as hessian, sisal and plain cardboard.
  • Only use pet-safe glue.
  • Ensure there’s nothing your pet could break off or swallow that could harm them
  • Always supervise your pets with their new toys and never force them to play. Depending on your pets’ species and personality, the new thing you’ve introduced may be exciting or a bit scary at first, so always let them go at their own pace.

MORE IDEAS AND INSPIRATION

The RSPCA has put together 8 simple DIY loo rolls games to keep your pets entertained including: A Dog Scent Game, Mouse House, Cat Hunt Game and Rabbit Treat Toy

Blue Cross has lots of ideas for DIY pet toys for dogs, cats and small pets


Are your pets, Burgess pets? Join the Burgess Pet Club for exclusive offers and rewards.


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