Friday, 12 August 2016
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Basic Box Knot vs. Twisted Box Knot DIY Dog Tug Toys

Side by side comparison of square and spiral woven fleece dog tug toys

Today we're sharing an easy twist (literally) on the basic box knot tug toy, so that there is a how-to here to go with one of the special toys for Humphrey's second birthday (stay tuned for the birthday bonanza next week!).

The materials and craft supplies used in making the tug toys shown are:
  • Polar fleece fabric
  • Scissors

basic box knot dog tug toy is simple, sturdy and good looking. If you weave evenly, the toy will be squarish, as you would expect from a straight box knot, with uniform bands of colour down the sides.  These bands (if you are using different colours) come from your chosen four fabric strips, with left/right alternating beside top/bottom throughout the length of the toy, as shown in the example below:

Diagram for weaving fleece dog tug toys
Step-by-step making square woven fleece dog tug toys

For a variation in style and appearance, you can twist while you weave, rotating each strand by one position after each knot. Side strands become the top/bottom strands, and the top/bottom strands become the sides, as shown below. As you then tie with the same method as above, each layer includes a quarter twist along with the box knot. This quarter turn rotates the colours on a diagonal, which makes for a pretty multi-coloured touy with four strands or a diagonal stripe when made with two colours (which you'll see in next week's birthday toy). It also softens out the square box knot into a more rounded tug toy. If this is your first attempt at weaving, you may find it helpful to work with either two alternating or four different colours so it's easier to keep track of the strand movements until you get the hang of things. As an added bonus, it's cute too! To keep things in position while you twist and tie, it helps to be seated with the toy nipped securely between your legs/knees.

Diagram for weaving spiral fleece dog tug toys
Step-by-step making spiral woven fleece dog tug toys

In terms of sturdiness, they are both similar - I find it depends more on the size of the strands/toy, tightness of your weave, and (of course!) the vigor of the play than the style, although it can be difficult for beginners to weave the twist toy tightly for a solid tug. Why not make both? Choices choices...

✂️  Want to weave a spiral tug toy? You can also use the Circle Twist weaving method (my personal preference) for the same effect as the twisted box knot. It creates the same spiral effect in a basic four strand tug toy, like this one, but it is the "proper" method and is a stepping stone to more complex weaving patterns, so a great method to learn and practice.

Dalmatian dog with square and spiral woven fleece dog tug toys

You can use the post labels on the footer below to explore related content, and helpful information on making fleece tugs is is also available in our Tug Toy FAQs, Tips, and Troubleshooting Mini-Series: 


  1. Great instructions. Loved the pics of the toy you were making. It made it easy to follow. My dogs are going to love it.

    1. Thanks so much for the comment, Diane! It's always tricky trying to put out these types of instructions on a blog, so I'm really happy to have the feedback you found the images helpful. :) Hope you have lots of fun with your dogs and their new toy!

      If they enjoy their tug, there are lots of other fun DIY ideas here one the blog, some easy, some a little trickier, but weaving becomes very easy once you have the hang of it. Twisted double spirals are one of my personal favourites - thick, sturdy, fairly straightforward weaving, and nice looking too.

  2. What length did you cut the fleece strips?

    1. Hi there! Apologies, but since this post was shared a few year ago, I'm not sure exactly how long the strips were when the pictured toy were made. The good news is that there is no right/wrong size. The longer the strips, the longer the toy will be for the same thickness/style.

      To avoid having to buy big lengths of different fleeces, I often like to work with the selvage-to-selvage size (the width on the roll) to cut long strips from a small purchased length of fleece. Check out our post on choosing and using fleece for tug toys for more info on working with different types of fleece and our FAQ post on DIY tug toy sizing for other handy hints. I hope that helps! :)


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