This combination tug and squeaker DIY Valentine’s Day Cupid’s arrow dog toy is sure to set puppy dog hearts everywhere a pitter-patter. This homemade dog toy post is an oldie but a cutie. It was one of the first fancy tug toys that I made for then still just a young puppy Humphrey. As a special Valentine gift, I combined a simple homemade fleece tug with two of his favourite things: tassels and squeakers. Feel the love, furfriends! Hear the squeaks!
To Squeak or Not to Squeak? That is the Question...
Humphrey and Oli both love squeakers and (fortunately) they’re not eaters so we can play safely with a variety of stuffed toys and squeaky toys, both bought and homemade Although the gnawed squeaked toys may not last very long, sometimes. Haha! Supervision and stuffing explosion clean up are all part of my dog mom duties.
You can, of course, also make the arrow without a squeaker. It’s much simpler than sewing the heart, but not quite as fun or as fancy. Making any type of DIY dog tug toy in fun Valentine colours is also a cute option if you are looking for a simple Valentine toy. If this toy didn’t have a squeaky heart, Humphrey would definitely prefer two tassel end knots instead of the stick.
Supplies and Materials
The materials and craft supplies used in making the tug toy shown are:
- Polar fleece fabrics
- Sewing machine and general sewing supplies
Basic machine and hand sewing skills are needed for heart arrowhead portion. Nothing too fancy or difficult. The toy can be fully hand sewn if you wish, but will be quicker and easier if you have a sewing machine. Or you can omit the heart, as noted above.
Squeakers can be rescued from old damaged toys for recycling (if you’re lucky!) or purchased from craft stores or online. I try to salvage squeakers in our DIY dog toy hospital for reuse when possible, but I also have purchased packs of replacement squeakers in different shapes, sizes, and sounds. Squeakers can be tricky to find in shops. Try the toy section of large craft shops or look online at specialist suppliers or large retailers like AliExpress or Amazon. You can check out the replacement dog toy squeakers on Amazon (affiliate link) for product examples and ideas.
Weaving the Arrow Tug Toy
Th arrow shaft can be woven using either a simple square knot weaving pattern (as shown) or a simple simple spiral weaving pattern for an easy alternative. I used the square here, but if I was making it again, I might switch to a spiral instead. The slightly rounded shaped of a spiral tug might be a little easier for neatly sewing into the heart. Not that the square was difficult. Just an option.
Preparing the Materials
To make a similar toy, you will need two long strips of clean dry fleece fabric (grey here) for the arrow shaft and additional scrap strips for the “feathers”, which we will add in the step below.
The length and width of your strips are at your discretion to scale the arrow to the size of your pet. You can read more in our post about choosing and using fleece, and about tug toy size factors. The heavy weight grey fleece strips in the toy shown here were approximately 2m long x 4-5cm wide. Fortunately, when making a tug with fleece there is also no need to be too fussy about straight lines when cutting. Yay!
Weaving the Arrow
Starting the weave:
- Gather the two long strips (grey here) for the shaft of the arrow.
- Tie a knot securing both strips together at their middle. This forms the tip of your arrow shaft.
If you are adding the heart, this will be hidden inside the heart of the completed toy. If you are planning to skip the heart, the knot will be the point at the end of you arrow. See our post on end knots for DIY dog tug toys if you’re planning to omit the heart and/or would like to use a different method to create the stick end.
Weaving the tug body (shaft) for the arrow:
No matter what weaving method you choose, keeping the working end of the tug stable and secure is key to getting a uniform pattern. Fortunately, a single coloured tug is rather forgiving for pattern errors. See the tips and tricks below for help, if needed. You can secure the starting end to something, if you wish, but I prefer to be seated with it nipped between my knees. This allows me to freely flip the strands to the front, back over a shoulder, and from side to side as I weave.
- Position the knotted strips into a cross (+).
- Weave the fleece strips together using your chosen weaving technique
- Weave until you start to approach the end of your strips.
- Pause knotting to prepare the “feathers”.
Creating the feathered end:
- Cut a number of shorter strips from fleece offcuts in a variety of colours. I used grey, black, white, pink, and red. The strips shown are approximately 15cm long x 4-5cm wide.
- Slip a few of the offcut lengths under the loops at the working end of your knotted arrow shaft and tie to secure. Then repeat the box weave steps to knot your arrow shaft material over the top, leaving the ends of your offcut strips sticking out through the sides of the shaft. These form the feathers for your arrow.
- Repeat this knotting-in of offcuts once or twice, depending on your toys size and the fluffiness you’d like in your arrow’s feathers, then do a final offcut tie in but this time allow some of the ends to stick up through the centre of your final knot so that you have a tuft of feathers all around the sides and top.
- You can even out your feathery tassel ends with a straight cut, or use pinking shears to for a little extra feathery flair.
That completes the tug portion of the Cupid’s arrow Valentine’s day dog toy. You can skip the heart arrowhead and use as-is, or continue the craft to complete the full Cupid’s arrow.
Making a Squeaky Stuffed Heart Arrowhead
Preparing the heart shaped arrow head:
- Cut two heart shapes (size to suit your arrow shaft) from a small piece of fleece. Remember to include a seam allowance if sewing with hidden seams, as shown.
- Position the hearts right-sides together.
- By machine or by hand, sew your edges, leaving a shaft-sized hole in the cleavage of your heart and a squeaker sized hole on one side.
- Invert the heart.
You can use the shaft hole for the squeaker and stuffing if you prefer to save on tidy stitching, but it is a little trickier to get squeaker placement, a well-stuffed heart, and a neatly attached arrow this way. Totally up to you!
Attaching the heart to the tug:
- Position the shaft in the heart cleavage, extending into the heart.
- Securely sew to secure in place. Take your time and make sure this is VERY secure for durability and for safer playtime.
Filling and finishing the heart arrow head:
- Insert the squeaker and incrementally add stuffing, making sure that your squeaker(s) is well-padded and positioned. Beware that accidental squeaking during stuffing will cause very excited dogs! Always happens here. Oops!
- Carefully blind stitch to securely and neatly sew the gap closed.
Additional Toy Making Help and Information
Sewing for Dogs
Stuffed dog toys follow the same basic principles as you would use if sewing (or buying) for a small child – no loose parts to nibble free and everything securely stitched into a sturdy toy. It is particularly important to know your pet and how they play before making or buying toy. Not all toys are suitable to all pets. Check out our post on toy safety for helpful links and resources.
Tug Toy Making Tips
Helpful information is also available in our tug toy FAQs, tips, and troubleshooting mini-series:
🚨 Safety first, furfriends! Remember, no matter what a toy is made of or how it’s made, toys are meant for supervised interactive play. Know your dog before giving him or her any new toy. Some dogs try to eat toys or parts (whether bought or handmade) and that’s dangerous. Toys are for playing, and playtime is always safer (and more fun!) with you involved. You can read more in our dog toy safety post, including tips and helpful links for safer playtime. Have fun and play safe!