This post on how to weave a square knot DIY dog tug toy is still one of the most popular articles in our archives. Fun never goes out of fashion! Tug toy are quick crafts and can be made with inexpensive materials and minimal supplies. Check out the DIY details below, including instructions, diagrams, and pictures for how to make a simple four stranded square dog tug toy like Humphrey’s. Woofs!
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 ever was. 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.
I am in no way a pioneer of fleece dog toys, but I did weave a pretty mean gimp bracelet way back in the day. Haha! The fundamentals are the same for toys. After a few (less robust) attempts, I finally made with a toy that both dogs enjoy and is able to survive for weeks of vigorous play. Hooray! Here are some simple visual instructions to help others who would like to try to make something similar.
It has been years since we shared this post. Where does the time go? Now that Humphrey is less puppy-destructive and Oli a senior, these types of tug toys last for ages at our place. They wash and wear very well, and they’ve also been tons of fun for Humphrey playing with other dog friends. Over time, we’ve created all sorts of different dog tug toy DIYs for the dogs and the blog. Check them out!
Tug Toy Making Supplies and Materials
The materials and craft supplies used in making the tug toy shown 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 can be easily machine washed for a drool refresh.
The resulting tug was great for interactive play. The weaving prevented it from being rapidly unravelled as a braided toy might, and the strips were sizeable enough that any pieces that might be ripped off were readily retrieved for the rubbish (supervision required) and unlike typical fabric there are no errant threads. In less destructive hands (claws…fangs…), these would last much longer. I can’t stress enough that supervision and interactivity is a must with this and any toy. Swallowing fabric (or anything that’s difficult to digest) is dangerous as it may lead to a blockage.
Alternative Fabric Options
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.
Weaving a Basic Square Knot Dog Tug Toy
This toy uses what was called a square knot back when we used to make 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 repeating pattern makes it a great technique to start with for your weaving projects. Plus the tugs are great fun! Check out our simple spiral DIY dog tug toys for an easy alternative weaving pattern, once you’re ready to try another design.
Preparing the Materials
To make a similar toy, you will need:
- Polar fleece or alternate fabric
To weave a basic 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…oops! Fortunately, when making a tug with fleece there is also no need to be too fussy about straight lines when cutting. Yay!
Weaving the Tug Toy
- Loop and knot one end securely, leaving a “tassel” at the end.
- Weave the fleece using a square knot technique (see diagram below, images above):
- Spread the strips in a cross (+) shape
- Fold the top strip towards the bottom
- Fold the bottom strip towards the top
- Fold the right strip towards the left, passing over then under
- Fold the left strip towards the right, passing over then under
- Pull to secure
- Repeat until you are approaching the end. Not too close – see tips below! The top/bottom left/right pattern will cycle naturally from side-to-side with each knot.
- Loop and knot securely, leaving a “tassel” at the end.
- Trim excess fabric if/as needed.
Fleece Tug Toy Weaving Tips and Tricks
Once you get the hang of knotting, this is a very quick and simple toy to make, but knotting can be confusing if this is your first attempt. You may find it helpful to work with four different colours until you get the hang of things. As an added bonus, that also makes for a pretty result.
Keeping the working end of the tug stable and secure is key to getting a uniform pattern. If you rotate the working end or accidentally miss a loop or two along the way, it will show in the shape and/or colour pattern. Not to worry…your dog isn’t judging on looks. Just fun!
You can secure the starting (working) end to something, if you wish, but personally 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.
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 to get more free fleece, or switch to an alternative end knotting style.
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 (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!