Sustainable Pet Care

8 Ways You Could Do With Old Dog Toys 

We’re dog owners; we are dog parents. As dog parents, we all want our furry babies to be overjoyed. This often means a mix of chew toys, rope toys, dog puzzle toys, squeaky toys, tasty treats, bones, and playing fetch.

It’s common for our dogs to end up with an endless collection of toys. They either chew through them super fast or sometimes they just get lucky with a toy bonanza, say during Christmas. Either way, we often find ourselves with a heap of old toys that are either never touched or never left alone.

But what should you do with your used dog’s toys when they’ve outgrown them, lost interest, or the toys are barely recognizable anymore?

Given the growing problem of landfills around the world, we don’t want our dogs to add to the issue more than necessary. The good news is that not every dog toy has to end up in a landfill. There are sustainable ways to give old and worn dog toys new life outside the dump.

Let’s dive in.

Get Creative about Fixing to Extend the Lives of Dog Toys

Too many dog owners discard toys prematurely, not realizing their potential longevity. Most toys can endure much longer than expected. 

If the toy can be repaired, go ahead and fix it. You don’t need expert sewing skills for this task. Be creative and resourceful when necessary.

For instance, if your dog tears off a stuffed animal’s head, sew it back on. If the head is destroyed or eaten, consider attaching a different toy in its place or simply sew up the opening. Don’t fret about your sewing skills or how the repair looks. Rest assured, your dog won’t mind the appearance of their toy.

Upcycle by Repackaging Materials

Did you know that even the most worn-out dog toys can still contain recyclable materials? The first step is to take them apart—separating the rope, stuffing, plastic, rubber, and fabric components. Recycle each piece according to its material type. You can also get creative and turn the salvageable parts into DIY toys.

For instance, braid ropes to make new tug toys or sew together pieces of fleece or durable denim to create patchwork balls. You might even find useful items in your recycling bin, like empty containers, which can be filled with ​treats and kibbles to keep your pup mentally engaged.

Utilize Your Immediate Network

Sometimes, the best way for retired dog toys to avoid landfills is simply passing them onto other pets who will appreciate them.

Begin your search for a new home for your dog’s toys by reaching out to your immediate network. Ask friends, family, and neighbors if they know of any dogs that could benefit from some extra playthings. You can email neighbors, post inquiries on local community message boards and social media groups, or even bring them up with colleagues at work.

Be sure to provide details about the toys you’re offering. Include information about their condition, size, and type. This will assist in finding the right match for each toy. Once you’ve identified potential recipients, coordinate a convenient time and place to pick up or drop off the toys.

Support Some Local Rescue Groups.

Nonprofit pet rescue groups care for animals in need, many of whom have never owned a single toy. 

Do Some Research

Do some research to find reputable rescues in your area. Groups like no-kill shelters, foster networks, and breed-specific rescues often have the greatest need.

Call or visit their website to ask about current toy and supply needs. Some may keep Amazon wishlists or have a donation guidelines document. Make sure gently used toys are allowed before bringing any.

Bring Well-Loved Toys

Focus donations on quality toys without loose parts that could detach and pose a choking risk. Check that squeakers and noisemakers still function properly.

Wash soft toys, rope toys, and tennis balls to sanitize. Use a gentle, pet-safe detergent and air dry thoroughly before packaging up.

Crates, leashes, beds, and unneeded food also make excellent rescue donations when cleaned. 

Attend Local Adoption Events

Many rescue groups hold regular local adoption fairs and fundraisers. These fun community events allow potential adopters to meet eligible pets one-on-one. You can ask the organizers if toy or supply donations can be dropped off at their upcoming events. Having toys on hand makes bonding easier during that critical first meeting.

You can also coordinate a small-scale supply drive with your neighborhood, office, or kids’ schools. Advertise the items needed and provide collection bins. Then, deliver everything at the adoption fair for added convenience.

Every little bit helps enrich animals’ environments as they await forever homes.

One of the best reuse options for gently used toys is donating them to animal shelters and rescue centers. These organizations always need extra supplies to care for the countless pets waiting for forever homes.

That said, it’s essential we don’t treat shelters like the local dump for any old toy our dogs have chewed up and discarded. Shelters have limited capacity, so aim to donate items that are still in good, usable condition.

So, before gathering toys, you also need to call your local shelters first to understand their current needs and guidelines around used donations. 

Some shelters only accept new toys for health reasons. Others are allowed to be used as long as they are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected first.

Another option is to donate some​ used toys to a homeless shelter. It’s a commonly overlooked fact that many individuals experiencing homelessness have beloved pets who also require care and support. And this option, often forgotten or unnoticed by many, can make a significant difference.

When considering this route, it’s important to reach out to local homeless shelters to inquire about their policies on accepting pet-related donations. Providing details about the types and conditions of the toys you wish to donate can be helpful. This gesture not only supports pets in need but also helps in fostering a sense of community and compassion.

Save Toy for Future Puppies

If you plan to welcome a bouncy new puppy or rescue dog into your home someday, avoid tossing usable toys! Instead, set gently worn toys aside to pass on later.

Puppies seem to possess boundless energy and will gleefully play with just about anything they can sink their tiny teeth into. So, pulling out your current dog’s old toys once the puppy arrives lets them enjoy extended use.

It’s heartwarming to think a beloved toy could bring joy and comfort to another dog or child after your own pup has happily loved it to the point of retirement. This reuse-over-repurchase mindset reduces waste all around.

Recycle Materials Responsibly

We get it; some toys ultimately outlive any possibility of repair, reuse, or donation. But before deeming it trash, consider recycling components like wood, fabric, rope, and plastic.

Taking a few extra minutes to disassemble and separate materials based on composition greatly minimizes waste sent to landfills. It may mean getting your hands a bit dirty from wayward stuffing, but that’s a tiny inconvenience in exchange for keeping tons of waste in circulation.

What can You Do Going Forward?- Prioritize Sustainable Toys

The most eco-friendly way to reduce toy waste is to be careful with purchases. Seek out brands that create durable, non-toxic toys from sustainable materials like recycled cotton, bamboo, wood pulp, plant fibers, and bio-plastic. When shopping for dog toys, here is an earth-friendly buying guide:

Sustainable Materials Matter

Opt for natural and responsibly sourced renewable materials like bamboo, recycled cotton, wood pulp, and plant fibers that decompose rather than plastic that piles up. These materials have a lower lifetime environmental impact across production, use, and end-of-life.

Durability is Key

Prioritize toys that offer intellectual stimulation and that are well-designed and built to last through months of chewing and play. Durable toys don’t just save you money in the long run; they also reduce landfill waste by staying out of the trash for longer.

Multi-functionality Adds Value

Seek out classic, open-ended puzzle toys that enable different kinds of interactive play rather than single-function toys. The more ways a dog can engage with a toy, the longer they’ll stay interested, making these toys a worthwhile investment.

Fortunately, more and more brands create innovative and durable dog toys from eco-friendly, sustainable materials that are better for the planet.
For example, Loobani handcrafts interactive dog puzzles from natural bamboo sourced from regenerative forests. Unlike traditional plastic, these renewable bamboo materials biodegrade at the end of their lifecycle instead of sitting in landfills for hundreds of years. Here are Loobani’s top 3 eco-friendly dog puzzles:

Top 3 Eco-friendly Dog Puzzles from Loobani

Best Overall

treat dispenser toys for dogs

“Hide-and-Seek” Dog Brick Toy

No removable pieces to worry about

Durable, even for aggressive chewers

Works best with small treats or kibble

Best for High-energy Dogs

food puzzle toys for dogs

Twirl-n-Treat Dog Puzzles

Easy to clean, install and disassemble.

Easy for most dogs to figure out

Keeps dogs entertained for a long time

Best Advanced Level Puzzle

dog toy that dispenses treats

Double-Layer Dog Activity Board

Might be too difficult for some puzzle toy beginners.

Easy for pet owners to prepare this toy for play

Appropriate for small, medium, and large dogs

“Hide-and-Seek” Dog Brick Toy

Perfect for dogs ready to graduate from basic puzzles, Loobani’s sliding panel toy offers a stimulating mental challenge. Made entirely from sustainable bamboo, this toy features 4 panels hiding 8 treat compartments. As your dog slides panels to discover treats, they engage in a rewarding game that tests and enhances their problem-solving skills.

Key Features:

  • Durable, safe, and 100% bamboo construction.
  • 4 panels with 8 hidden compartments for treats.

Twirl-n-Treat Eco-Friendly Dog Toys

This innovative toy demands your dog rotate the top panel to uncover hidden treats and kibble. Its design encourages your dog to think strategically, offering a fun and brain-stimulating challenge. The eco-friendly bamboo construction is not only durable but also kind to the planet.

Key Features:

  • Eco-friendly bamboo build.
  • Rotating the top panel for an engaging challenge.
  • Four heart-shaped compartments for hiding treats.

Double-Layer Dog Activity Board

Take your dog’s mental exercise to the next level with this two-tiered puzzle. The Double-Layer Dog Activity Board boasts 9 compartments across two layers, offering abundant opportunities for hiding treats. This design ensures hours of entertainment and mental stimulation, all while being an eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic toys.

Key Features:

  • 9 hidden treat compartments across two layers.
  • Sturdy bamboo material.
  • Double-layered for an extra challenge.
  • A greener choice compared to typical plastic toys.

Final Words

While dogs probably don’t produce as much waste as their humans do, every eco-friendly choice – no matter how small – makes a difference in reducing their landfill waste. And sometimes, the easiest step you can take is responsibly recycling or repurposing your dog’s toys. Never underestimate your actions!


About Zelda D.Nelson

As a lifelong dog lover and proud mom to two energetic rescue pups, I know firsthand how important puzzle toys are for providing dogs with much-needed mental and physical stimulation. After over a decade of experience raising well-adjusted, happy dogs, I joined the Loobani Pet team to help other pet parents discover the joy and benefits of dog puzzles. Through my work at Loobani Pet, I've become an expert on the ins and outs of various interactive dog toys. My goal is to simplify the selection process so you can easily pinpoint the perfect puzzles to match your pup's needs and lifestyle. Whether you need a toy to challenge your brainy breed, keep your power chewer occupied, or simply provide some rainy day fun, I've got you covered.