Watching my dog chase a balloon around the house, or chew happily on a stick for hours on end, I’ve come to question the wisdom of spending money on pet toys. Part of me understands: you love the little guy and want to spoil him, and besides – it’s a toy for you, too. But another part of me knows full well that dogs don’t really distinguish between, well, “toys” and “garbage,” and would be just as happy playing with something you had lying around the house. [caption id="attachment_260" align="alignright" width="152" caption="Photo: ginnerobot"] [/caption] With that in mind, I’ve cobbled together a list of tried-and-true DIY dog toys. No assembly required. The empty plastic bottle Dogs lose their minds for these. Just screw the cap on an empty 660 mL or 2 L (depending on the size of dog) bottle, and watch the fur fly. Cheap water bottles make a crunching noise when chewed, so they’ll be munched on happily for hours. Sturdier soda bottles tend to escape grasping mouths and skitter away erratically – meaning they’re that wonderful kind of toy that the dog can play with by himself – and they’re great for a playful-yet-harmless bop on the backside. Like any toy, of course, keep in mind your pet’s propensity to eat, rather than enjoy. The old towel It’s a time-tested standby, and no dog can resist a tug-of-war with an old towel. Just remember that once that towel hits the floor, it’s not yours anymore: dogs of all sizes tend to adopt their towel as a security blanket, and will carry it around the house until it's in shreds. [caption id="attachment_261" align="alignleft" width="289" caption="Photo: jaybergesen"] [/caption] Balloons This might best kept to small dogs with small mouths, lest the balloon to become a very quick snack (and, trust me, you don’t want that). There’s a drawer in every kitchen that has a few forgotten birthday balloons in it, so find yours and Fido’s got a new toy. The balloons float teasingly and are hard to trap, bouncing off swiping paws and poking noses. And, of course, there’s the darkly hilarious moment when your startled pup’s toy bursts. Good fun for everyone – but be extra careful your dog doesn’t eat the pieces of burst balloon.