Reduce, Reuse and Ruff-cycle


Today we welcome guest writer Sidehill Pet Sitter Jessica! 

As the owner of two Australian Shepherds- who are way smarter than any toy I can buy them– I have had to come up with some creative, low-cost ways to keep them entertained. I decided to ruff-cycle. All of the toy ideas in this article are things that you likely have in your home or in your recycling bin!

As with any toy, make sure to supervise your dog the whole time he has it to make sure that he does not swallow anything he should not!

If your dog is on a diet or is sensitive to treats you can use his dry kibble as treats!

  1. Towel treat hide-it

This toy involves taking a towel, laying it on the ground and placing treats under it. It helps to let your dog watch you the first few times so that he can figure it out, or use smelly treats so he can find them quickly. After your dog catches on, you can put the treats under the towel with your dog out of the room! Most dogs will start by digging or licking the top of the towel, but will soon figure out to push their nose under the towel. * Please watch your dog to make sure that he does not swallow any part of the towel.

  1. Egg carton toy

This toy involves an empty egg carton. Take the egg carton and place treats in a few of the cups, then close your egg carton all the way, or leave the carton unlatched ( slightly open). Be prepared for your dog to rip the carton apart or flip the top open with his nose. In this picture, I am using apples to make this toy for my rabbit ( who thinks he is a dog)!

  1. Paper-tube toy

This toy involves taking a paper towel or toilet paper roll and applying peanut butter or another sticky yummy food onto the inside of the roll with a knife. Your dog will try and lick the peanut butter out of the roll!

  1. Orange Juice Container puzzle-toy

This toy involves taking a cardboard drink container ( like the kind orange juice comes in) and turning it into a puzzle toy. First be sure to rinse and clean the container very well! After the container is clean, remove the plastic spout with a knife or scissors. Then cut small (1 to 2 inches) holes into the sides and bottom of the container. Stuff small and medium-sized treats (such as your dog’s kibble, cheese or hard treats) into the container. Then, cover the holes with peanut butter. The treats should be able to fit through the holes with a little bit of shaking and knocking around. You can adjust the size of your holes to make it harder or easier for your dog. Your dog will shake and lick your toy, and eventually get the treats!

Hopefully, these reused toys will bring enrichment to your dog and a lessening on your carbon footprint!

Getting Familiar with Kong Toys


Chances are you have heard of the famous dog toy, the Kong. Kongs are a great tool in the repertoire of any dog owner. They are great because they can be customized to fit you and your dog’s needs.

Some tips before getting started:

  • Buy the correct size (sized by weight of dog).
  • Buy one large enough for the largest dog in your house.
  • Supervise your dog while using the Kong to make sure they do not chew pieces off and eat them.
  • Wash the Kong after each use. They can be washed by hand or in the dishwasher.

Loading the Kong:

1. Start with a hard food such as treats or your dog’s kibble in the bottom third of the Kong.

2. The second layer is the flavors add on. This is something your dog likes to eat like fish oil, or coconut oil.

3. The next layer, that fills the last 2/3 of the Kong , is the soft layer. This can be any type of soft food. I like to use canned, wet food, cream cheese, peanut butter or dog safe baby food.

4. Top the Kong by sticking something in the soft layer, like a carrot or dental chew. In order to make the Kong last longer, you can stick it in the freezer.

5. To make a simple Kongscicle fill the Kong with chicken or beef broth and freeze it.
6. You can also buy Kong brand filler. It comes in a few flavors. This is good in a pinch but is not very healthy for your dog.


This toy is perfect for when you have to be gone for most of the day. Or even just rainy days that you want your pup entertained. It’s challenging, fun, and also rewarding.  Want to learn more about incorporating the Kong into training your dog? Check out these Training Videos for even more tips!

What are your experiences with this toy? Does your dog love it, did they shun it, or even destroy it? Let us know your stories in the comment section!