How To Make A DIY T-Shirt Dog Toy

DIY t-shirt tug toy made from green, yellow, black, and gray t-shirts.

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If you’re like most dog owners, you love spending time playing with your pup.

Toys are a great way to keep your dog entertained and engaged, but they can get expensive fast. Especially when some dog toys don’t last very long once your dog starts playing with them.

This DIY t-shirt dog toy is easy, and inexpensive, to make and perfect for any playful dog!

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Pin image of a German shepherd playing with a t-shirt toy above the words "DIY t-shirt toy" and a t-shirt tug toy below those words.

Materials You Need To Make a DIY T-Shirt Dog Tug Toy

Besides some time, there are only two things you need to make a t-shirt tug toy:

  • 2 to 4 old t-shirts (without side seams)
  • scissors

DIY No-Sew T-Shirt Dog Tug Toy Directions

There are only a few steps to making a t-shirt tug toy for dogs, though you do have to repeat one step multiple times to get it the length you want.

Cut The T-Shirt Strips

First, you start by cutting your t-shirts into 1-inch wide strips, going from one side to the other of your t-shirt (not from the neck to the bottom hem).

A t-shirt laid on a cutting mat with acrylic ruler set to cut at 1 inch.

Then cut one end so you have a strip instead of a loop.

Once you have all your strips cut, take a bunch of them and lay them in a neat pile so all of them line up on one end. The number of strips you use will depend on how big of a toy you want to end up with.

16 strips make a thin tug toy which would work for a little dog but isn’t what I would want for a big dog. 32 strips make for a toy better suited to a big dog.

If you are using two or four different colors of t-shirts, cut an equal number of strips from each color. This will make the process of tying your knots easier.

Tie The First Knot

Next, you need to tie all the t-shirt strips together. To do this lay all the strips in a pile with the ends lined up. Grab the whole pile and make a knot.

Tighten the knot as best you can, pulling on each t-shirt strip. You need to get this knot as tight as you can to limit the chances of your dog getting it untied later.

Tie The Square Knots

Now you are going to tie the t-shirt strips together in a series of square knots. You will continue this until the tug toy reaches the desired length (or you get down to the last few inches of the t-shirt strips).

Do this by splitting the groups into 4 equal groups. If you used multiple colors of t-shirts, grouping them by color will make this process easier.

Then lay the strips so one group is at the top, one at the bottom, one on the left, and one on the right (like in the picture below).

Strip groups laid out with one at the top, one on the right, one at the bottom, and one on the left.

Fold the top group down over the left group. Fold the bottom group up over the right group.

Top group of strips folded down over the left group and the bottom group folded over the right group.

Feed the left group over the top group and through the bottom group. This can be a little confusing, but hopefully, the picture helps.

The right group of strips is over the folded up group and under the folded down group. The left group is over the down group and under the up group.

Pull all the strips tight. I found it easiest to pull opposite sides together a little at a time, switching back and forth between top/bottom and left/right. Once all the strips were mostly tight I pulled one strip at a time until all the strips were fairly tight.

With all the groups pulled tight a knot is formed that looks like a square.

Now just repeat the process until you reach the desired length. Make sure you leave enough length to tie a knot at the end.

Tie The Final Knot And Trim

Once you have reached the desired length (or are close to the end of your t-shirt strips), tie a knot just like you did to start the tug toy. Do this slowly so you can get up next to the last square knot you tied.

Almost finished tug toy with the top and bottom fringe long and messy.

Make sure to tighten the knot as much as you can. Pulling on each t-shirt strip can help to get this knot tight. You can leave your t-shirt toy like this or you can trim the loose ends to make them pretty and neat.

Finished dog tug toy with the top and bottom fringe cut neatly.

At this point, your toy is done and you can try it out with your dog for a game of tug. As with anything you give a dog, please supervise them while they play with this toy and take it away if it appears worn.

German Shepherd chewing on the t-shirt tug toy.

Why Upcycle T-Shirts Into A Dog Toy?

T-shirts are a great fabric to use for this project since they’re durable and can stand up to a lot of wear and tear. They also don’t pull apart as easily as rope toys when your dog is playing with it.

Another great benefit to using old t-shirts is that you’re giving them new life and keeping them out of the landfill. Win, win!

Don’t Want To Use Old T-Shirts?

If you don’t want to use old t-shirts for this project (or if you don’t have any), you can also use fleece.

The process is the same as it is for making this with t-shirts except for the size you cut the strips. To make a thicker tug toy, cut the fleece 2 inches wide and the full length of your fabric.

The one advantage of fleece over t-shirts is that you will only need 4 strips, one for each direction of the knot, instead of 16 to 32 strips.

If You’re Not In A DIY Mood

If you don’t want to make your own dog tug toy, you can always buy one.

Amazon has this toy that is made out of cloth. Unfortunately, you don’t get to pick the colors like you do by making your own.

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Making your own DIY T-shirt dog toy is a great way to recycle old t-shirts and give your pup some entertainment.

This project is simple to follow, and with just a few steps you’ll have a new toy for your furry friend.

The best part is that this toy is durable and can withstand hours of playtime. So get started today and see how much your pup loves his new tug toy!

1 thought on “How To Make A DIY T-Shirt Dog Toy”

  1. Really love this diy dog toy project. You have great directions listed and it sounds easy. It’s such a clever idea to reuse old t-shirts for a dog toy!

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