Monday, 7 May 2018

DIY Spiral Dog Toy in High Visibility Colours for Dog Vision


Well hello there, beautiful blue and yellow tug toy!  As detailed in our post about the differences between how dogs see things vs. how humans see things, blue and yellow are the two "true" colours for a typical dog's vision so we combine those with the high contrast of white and black for this special spiral tug toy.  This combination is my new version of doggy "high vis" for maximum colour and contrast, as shown in the side-by-side simulation below:


As noted in our dog vision post, our new knowledge of dog vision won't change most of the toys and other projects that you see here on the blog. Many of the toys we make are for special occasions and styled for a combination of doggy fun with human preferences, especially holiday/occasion toys, and are more about the shape, texture, toughness, and often squeaky fun than the actual colours of the toy.  For toys where anything goes though, we'll definitely keep colour in mind and for simple ready-made toys, we'll think about how the toy colour plays against the backdrop of our carpets/flooring or green grasses for outdoor toys.   


We haven't shared a tug toy DIY here on the blog in quite some time. With young Humphrey a little less fangy and Oli mellowing into senior dog play, our tug toys last a whole lot longer than when I first started to make them.  They are surprisingly tough and the toybox is still well stocked, with some tugs now well over a year old and still going strong even with regular play and frequent washing.  This is a special Oli vision edition, and is simply a blue, yellow, white, and black version of our standard circle twist box knot spiral tug toy.  I went for a four-colour spiral for the visual impact of the speckled colours, but some/all of these dog-friendly colours could be adapted into any DIY tug design, including the simple basic box knot toy.


When weaving a spiral toy with the circle twist method, you are altering the form of the basic box knot by weaving corner-to-corner instead of straight.  This creates a circular tug with either a uniform spiral twist (two colours, like this example) or a uniform speckle (four colours, like this post).

To create your own similar toy, you will need sturdy fray-free fabric and scissors. I like to use heavyweight polar fleece in making tugs. Fleece is sturdy (as fabrics go), has a nice touch of stretchiness when playing, doesn't shed threads, and can be easily machine washed for a drool-refresh.

  • Cut clean fabric into four long narrow strips. You can scale the toy to suit your dog by altering the width and/or length of the fleece strips. I've made many different shapes/sizes.  There is also no need to be too fussy about straight lines when cutting.  Yay!
  • Loop and knot one end securely, leaving a "tassel" at the end. 
  • Knotsingle basic box knot to establish the starting strand position, and then weave box knots on a diagonal corner-to-corner instead of straight as you would for a square tug toy.  
    • If your starting configuration is top strand left (as shown in the diagram below) as you prepare to tie the loops, top left bends to bottom right, bottom right bends to top left, then left bottom weaves to the top right (over then under) and right top weaves to the bottom left (over then under). Alternatively, if your starting configuration position is top strand right, it is the opposite sequence.  
    • Tips: Keeping the working end of the tug stable/secure is key to getting a uniform pattern. Not to worry if you have a few boo boos though - your dog isn't judging on looks!  You can secure the starting/working end to something, if you wish, but personally I prefer to be seated with it nipped between my knees. 


  • Repeat the exact same sequence to weave the tug until you are reaching the end of your strands. Tip: Not too close!  Don't leave yourself short on the tie-off - you'll need more fabric than you might think!
  • Loop and knot the working end securely, leaving a "tassel" at the end, and trim if/as needed.


Remember, this is for supervised interactive play. Know your dog before giving him or her any new toy. Some dogs would rather eat their toys (whether store bought or handmade), and that's dangerous. Toys are for playing and playtime is safer (and more fun!) with you involved.  You can read more about dog toy safety here.

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