Another post got me thinking about DIY dog items. I've found that 90% of the items sold at Petsmart are terribly overpriced and can be either made for much cheaper, or purchased elsewhere (in whole or in part) and cobbled together, again for much cheaper. It's not so much that I'm handy, or really into DIY stuff, but I'm cheap, cheaper than Scrooge, and can't stand to spend money on something that can be made easily for less.

 

Most recently we've made the following items for Casey:

 

A leash (we needed a longer one for training) - simply take a piece of nylon rope, and sew on a loop at one end and a small metal hook purchased from Home Depot for $2 at the other.

 

A fabric treat bag with draw-string top - Used some left over fabric, sewed a 1/2 inch space around the top of a rectangular piece of fabric and then sewed it into a bag (sewed three of the 4 sides together, leaving the draw-string portion the open end) and then inserted some string.

 

Crate bed - We had some old Ikea curtains that we weren't using anymore, so they were transformed into her crate bed.

 

Multiple toys made from various household objects/garbage/etc.

 

Treats - As a vegetarian, I never realized how cheap liver is! Several pounds of liver only cost a few dollars - boiled, cut into small training pieces and then the moisture baked off in the oven. I even keep the water the liver was boiled in (wait until it cools down and then funnel it into an empty pop/juice/milk jug). I sprinkle the water over her dried dog food sometimes when I want to add the delicious flavor of liver without giving her too much of a good thing (and causing bowel problems, lol).

 

A Doggy Ramp - Our deck was slightly too high for her to safely jump off/on (but not high enough to warrant stairs for people) so we made a wooden ramp out of some left-over wood from our fence. Just a triangular frame with cut up pieces of 4x4, then lay a wider piece of plywood on top, add some smaller cut up pieces for their footing (we also added some sand-paper type tape to ensure secure footing)

 

What have you built/made/cobbled for your pups? And as a secondary, more specific question: has anyone ever built agility equipment for their dogs?

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I've built agility equipment. I will say, sometimes the materials can cost you as much as buying a set that is already made, especially if you don't have the equipment in your garage already there to put together the stuff. Weave poles are the most difficult things to do if you are just doing "stick in the ground" poles. I made a set myself and the bolts in the end don't stay still. I wish I'd just spent my money on a ready-made set since I'm going to have someone else build me a set anyway.

I did build two practice jumps way cheaper than I could have purchased them for. The only thing I found was the jump cups on the sides are very difficult to cut in half (using PVC endcaps) and bolt to the sides. They also aren't as accurate as the pre-made jump cup strips you can purchase from Clean Run. In the future I'll make my own jumps and just buy jump cup strips to make it easier on myself.

I used the instructions for jump building found here: http://members.peak.org/~helix/Agility/
I did find a cheap play tunnel at IKEA for $17 and got it for the dogs to practice with. Tunnels are SUPER expensive if you get the good kind. The only problem with pop-up tunnels is you can't really curve them easily like regular tunnels do in trials. Still, anything is better than nothing.

I've had friends build smaller sized dog walks and a-frames for their backyards. Teeter totters seem to be a popular choice along with weave poles since those take the longest to train. You can purchase a cheap "teeter base" and put your own board on it. Just be careful with the weather as it can rot out the wood depending on how hot, cold and wet your climate is. You may want to make your own cover for the equipment to keep it nice.

Sometimes building agility equipment can save you money and sometimes it can't.

I read a recent story about the dangers of using children's toys as dog toys due to the stuffing inside of them. The stuffing inside childrens toys is different than dog toys as it generally has some sort of flame retardant in them. Read the story and see why it is dangerous to use children's toys f... I know lots of people do this type of thing so it is good to be careful when doing it, especially with the parts like the eyes that can also get lodged in the GI tract.

I try to build my own stuff if I can but sometimes it is smarter to weigh the cost of building versus buying something ready-made.
The tunnel was the one item that I really wanted to get for Casey, because she loved it so much in class. But you are right, when I looked them up online, they were very expensive and not really worth the price (for my purposes that is - maybe worth it for someone else). I looked into an IKEA tunnel, but the only one they sold here (at my IKEA location in CND) were only about 1 1/2 meters long and cost $30. Again, for my purposes, it wasn't really worth it. I'd love to get one someday, or maybe build one if I can figure out a crafty/thrifty way to do so, but for now, no tunnel for my pup.

Sounds like you've used some great techniques to build agility equipment! We may build a couple items for Casey, but really just because we have a ton of left over wood from several different projects that isn't going to be used up anyway. You're definitely right that, depending on your situation and what type of materials you need to purchase it can end up being quite costly to build over purchase!
I can be frugal in many ways (we still have my first new car, a 1997 Honda Civic---- though we are finally getting ready to trade it in). But I am NOT crafty or handy, so when it comes to it, I generally buy stuff.

Your stuff sounds wonderful, Carla, so if you ever care to make some gifts for my dogs, I would not turn them down. ;-)
I'm going to make him a pool ramp. A pool safety ramp costs like 300 USD, which is completely outrageous. I'm going to get some PVC and make a frame, some fabric, and a bouyant foam thing and get the same results for A LOT LESS. I'm also thinking of just buying a pillow as his dog bed.
Our corgi beds are made of $0.99 ikea pillow and faux fur fabric from Michaels

Martingale collar (modified w/o chain to save weight and be quiet):
3/4" nylon webbing (light, not tubular; doesn't have to hold a car), 2 D-rings, a loop of Perlon (instead of the chain); you can add a nylon bayonet quick-release buckle if you want for an emergency release (I did not). See collar FAQ with photos.

Harness for safety belay [I've not completed this, I'll post it on the collar FAQ when I get it perfected.] I use these only for dangerous stream crossings on logs or steep terrain, short-term use:
7-9 ft. of 1/2" lightweight nylon webbing for the knotted version. Requires no hardware at all. 5 simple overhand loop knots, or you can replace these with STOUT stitching (this is a safety harness, remember). You could add a small D-ring for a tag, or a stout D-ring for clip-in anchor. It could be knotted (uncomfortable, short-term usage) or STRONGLY stitched (more comfortable).
Copy a commercial harness. Get it set-up for your adult dog, since it will not be adjustable. Mark the center of the webbing. Tie a ladder of 5 loops:
Loop 1: very small, Loop 5 passes thru here for the tie-in.
Loop 2: big loop for the chest (you have to help pull the forelegs through here, not as clumsy as it sounds).
Loop 3: medium loop, follows the sternum, nothing goes through this loop, it's just a strap.
Loop 4: neck loop, goes over the head.
Loop 5: this passes through Loop 1 on the dorsal side, at shoulders, then clipped to leash. It might be tied as a lanyard, or short leash, or stitched as a loop. OR (as I intend) it can be permanently fixed to Loop 1.
Loop 2 slips over the dog's shoulders (help the forelegs) and Loop 4 over the head. No fasteners.

This is basically a climbing harness. Make sure the dog can hang in it without strangling or falling out.
I want to tie this in at the collarbone with the belay rope so if the dog falls into a river, it will be facing the rope upstream with its head held up; most harnesses attach at the back and I fear this might pull the head underwater.
Always watch harnesses for rubbing sores; we had a problem with that.
I'm with Carla on PetSmart being over priced on many things. I don't mind paying a fair price but I dislike being taken advantage of. We went to buy Gromit a plain leather collar when we first got him and all PetSmart carried in leather were fancy rolled and stitched items for $19.95. I visited a small local pet store (not a very clean place which is why I usually don't shop there) and found a plain, flat leather collar just like I wanted for $6.95. A decent flat leather leash will last for years and years; two of the three we have are more than twelve years old now and going strong.

Except for the weave poles, parts of all of Gromit's backyard agility equipment are made from wood and even screws saved or salvaged from past projects and most of the surfaces are painted in part with paint left over from painting the exterior of our house. The entire set up cost me about $200 to make and I could have spent less if I'd have planned better.


We've begun feeding Gromit and Holly a 50% raw diet. It's not cheaper than kibble, maybe 10%-20% more expensive in fact, but buying close-out meats keeps the cost down and I'm pretty certain it's better for them.

The rug in Gromit's crate is just a small throw rug from Walmart. An old piece of blanket tossed in there finishes off the sleeping arrangements. He seems to like to wad stuff up in his own way and most of the time sleeps on the hard vinyl floor (it's cooler) anyway.

It is fun to spoil the dogs and we can be good at it but I see no need to spend money unnecessarily when a bit of effort to recycle materials and items does just as well and the dogs certainly don't know the difference.
This looks great! It's amazing that you did all this yourself - and with the paint everything looks so professional and uniform, like you bought this as a set or something!

I can't agree more that "the dogs certainly don't know the difference." I think we buy a lot of doggy items for ourselves more than for them, lol. I know the same can be said for children (my sister recently bought a pair of tiny Crocs for her 5-month old son who will probably outgrow them before he's even old enough to crawl...But darn it if they aren't the cutest things I’ve ever seen in my life!)

The difference between a fancy stuffed toy and a piece of scrap fabric is pretty negligent to them - so long as they can play with it and have fun!!
I bought some fleece at the fabric store and then cut it into strips and made a braid that Tobey loves to tug and chew on. Much cheaper than the PetSmart variety.
This is a fantastic idea! I think I'll be heading to the fabric store today to pick some up. I'll probably end up attaching it to some nylon rope at the end so I can have a handle (I have some nylon rope left over, and hate the feeling of fleece, lol).

It's probably stronger than 90% of the toys I've made for Casey over the months.
Your idea in action. I added a handle because I hate the feeling of fleece. This cost me about $1.00 to make (the nylon rope was the most expensive item, but it's long enough and comfortable enough for me to run and tug at the same time).

I love digging through the odds and ends bin at fabric stores! With the materials I have found and recycled I have made dog beds, bandanas (the kind that slip over their collars), toys, a dog quilt and a couple of agility jumps fashioned out of PVC pipe. I am very jealous of all that gorgeous agility equipment I see in this posting! Fabric I can handle, woodworking is something completely foreign to me.

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