DIY Square Knot Fleece Dog Tug Toy

Dalmatian puppy with DIY square knot fleece dog tug toy

Grab ahold of a blog dog fan favourite! This post on how to weave a DIY square knot dog tug toy is one of the most popular posts in our blog archives. Fun never goes out of fashion, and this DIY is favourite! DIY dog tug toys are quick crafts that can be made with inexpensive materials and minimal supplies. We have lots of different tugs on the blog, but this one is a great starter for weaving. Full DIY details are shared below, including instructions, diagrams, and pictures of how to make a simple four strand woven fleece square knot dog tug toy.

It has been many years since we first shared this DIY tug toy post. Humphrey is no longer a destructive puppy and Oli is a senior dog, and now these types of tug toys last for ages at our place. As a bonus, they machine wash for easy toy cleaning, too. Over time, we’ve created all sorts of different dog tug toy DIYs for the boys and their furfriends. Many of these are shared on the blog to show readers different tug toy patterns and designs. Simple square knot woven tugs like this one are still favourites, and this is a great project for beginners. 

Flashback to Puppy Playtime

As some of you may already have seen on our social media posts, our puppy Humphrey is much harder on his toys than our older boy Oli. I won’t name any brand names here, but some very expensive heavy-duty dog toys have lasted for mere minutes in his happy little mouth. And both of our boys are more than capable of decimating the average stuffed toy in a frenzy of fluff, like the ill-fated Mr. Elephant.

I’m not pioneer of tug toy weaving, but I did weave a pretty mean gimp bracelet way back in the day. Haha! The fundamentals are basically the same for making woven tug toys. After a few less robust attempts with other materials, I created a tug toy that both dogs enjoy and is able to survive weeks of vigorous play. Hooray! Here are some simple visual instructions to help others who would like to try to making their own tug toys. A fair warning though, it can get a little addictive and you might just get hooked on making and playing with tugs! Just like us!

Dog Tug Toy Making Supplies and Materials

Fun with Fleece

The materials and craft supplies used in making the pictured tug toy are polar fleece fabric and scissors. No fancy tools or equipment required.  Polar fleece is sturdy (as fabrics go), has a nice touch of stretchiness when playing, and is easily laundered for a drool refresh. You can read more in our post on choosing and using fleece for DIY dog tug toys.

The homemade tug toy was great for interactive play. Weaving prevented it from being rapidly unravelled as a braided toy might, which is a huge bonus. Unlike many other fabrics, there are no issues with fraying or errant threads from fleece. Any pieces that might be ripped off from wild play were easily picked up for the rubbish. Supervision is required like all toys of course, but playing together is part of the tug toy fun. In less destructive hands (claws…fangs…) than my wild young beasts, this type of tug would last much longer. I can’t stress enough that supervision and interactivity is essential with any type of dog toy. Swallowing fabric or anything that’s difficult to digest is dangerous.

Alternative Fabric Options

Dog tug toys can be made with other materials if you don’t have fleece, dislike using it for personal or environmental considerations, or just feel like something different. If you’re keen to upcycle, old blankets or clothing may be suitable for repurposing. Materials should be clean and sturdy, and avoid fabrics that shed threads as those types of linear bodies can be particularly dangerous if swallowed. 

Polar fleece material for making DIY dog tug toys

How to Weave a Square Knot Dog Tug Toy

Weaving Method

This tug toy uses what we called a square knot when making bracelets and other woven trinkets as kids, as the resulting woven object has square sides. It is also known as a box knot or an alternating crown sinnet.  The easy repeating pattern makes it a great technique to start with for your weaving projects. It’s a easy weaving project for learner or for younger crafters. And, of course, the tugs are great fun for playtime. Check out our simple spiral DIY dog tug toys for another an easy weaving pattern, once you’re ready to try another design.

Preparing the Materials

To make a similar DIY square knot dog tug toy, you will need:

  • Polar fleece or a sturdy alternative material
  • Scissors

To weave a basic square knot tug toy as shown, clean fabric is cut into 4 long narrow strips.  You can scale the toy to suit your dog and your materials by altering the width and/or length of the fleece strips. I’ve made many different shapes and sizes over the years.  In the toy shown, I worked with approximately 6-8cm x 2m strips. Mine were cut rather uneven. Fortunately, when making a tug with fleece there is no need to be too fussy about straight lines when cutting. Yay!  Another thing to love about making fleece tug toys. 

How to make a DIY square knot dog tug toy using fleece

Weaving the DIY Square Knot Dog Tug Toy

  • Loop and knot one end securely, leaving a tassel at the end. 
  • Spread the strips in a cross (+) shape. The photos above show this on a table for clarity, but I actually like to sit with the end nipped between my knees (like the example photo later in the collage). It’s convenient and helps to keep everything secure and steady.
  • Weave the fleece using a square knot technique (see diagram below, images above). Each repeat of this sequence will form a securely woven layer for the body of your tug toy:
    • Fold the top strip straight down towards the bottom. 
    • Fold the bottom strip straight up towards the top. 
    • Fold the right strip towards the left, straight across, passing over then under.
    • Fold the left strip towards the right, straight across, passing over then under.
    • Pull to secure. 
  • Repeat the step of weaving layers until you are approaching the ends of your fleece strip. Not too close, you’ll need enough free fleece length left to tie off a finishing end knotted layer. The top/bottom left/right pattern will cycle naturally from side-to-side with each layer.
  • When you’re ready to finish off the tug, loop and knot securely, leaving a tassel at the end.
  • Trim excess fabric if/as needed from your tassels.
Step by step weaving diagram collage for making a square knot dog tug toy

In the basic square knot, the over/under loops are always straight back and forth in each layer. The over loops are visible in the outside of the finished tug toy body, creating a continuous line of each colour up the sides of the tug. See how the strips of fleece stay in their positions as horizonal upper/lower and vertical left/right but swap back and forth with each layer in the diagram above? Follow that pattern on repeat and woofs the word! You’ll have yourself a doggone good-looking homemade square knot tug toy, just like the one Humphrey’s tugging on here. 

We’re slowly working through updates to our old posts to refresh photos, update diagrams, clarify instructions, and add extra information from reader questions. The new diagram above shows the back-and-forth switching from side-to-side and top-to-bottom. We hope you like it! But if you adore the old one we’ve kept it available for you in our file archives while we’re testing and tweaking our new visuals. New photos and colour pattern variation examples are on our to-do list to be added here soon. Feedback, suggestions, and requests are always welcome!

Fleece Dog Tug Toy Weaving Tips and Tricks

Pattern Consistency

Once you get the hang of knotting the weave, this is a very quick and simple toy to make, but it can be a bit confusing if this is your first attempt. You may find it helpful to work with four different colour for the fleece strips, like we did in our example above, until you get the hang of things. It makes it easier to keep track of positions. As an added bonus, you’ll have a cute colourful tug toy when you’re finished, too.

For a square knot tug toy, always keep your strips moving straight back and forth for a clear pattern. Don’t accidently go corner-to-corner on a diagonal instead of straight. That would create a spiral weave instead of a square. Accidentally mixing methods is a common source of pattern anomalies in tug toys. Don’t worry if you make a few mistakes, though. Your dog won’t be judging the toy on looks. Just on the fun!

Keeping the working end of the tug stable and secure is also important for getting a uniform pattern. If you rotate things or accidentally miss a loop or two along the way, it will show in the shape and/or colour pattern. You can secure the starting (working) end to something, but personally I prefer to be seated with it nipped between my knees, as noted above. This allows me to freely flip the strands to the front, back over a shoulder, and from side to side as I weave. Simple, convenient, and it works great for maintaining placement. 

End Knots

Don’t leave yourself short on the tie-off. You’ll need more fabric than you might think. If you’ve gone too far, you can always unpick a layer or two to get more free fleece, or switch to an alternative end knotting style. Since each woven layer is a knot, the tug will hold shape without an end knot, but they won’t look as finished and may not stand up quite as well to pulling and playing over time. 

Additional Toy Making Help and Information

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 of toys (whether bought or handmade) and that’s doggone dangerous. Fun only, not food, furfriends! 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!

How to make a DIY square knot dog tug toy with fleece
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