Ready to rock, furfriends? We’re painting ourselves some doggone dapper rock dogs for playtime. DIY painted rock dogs are a simple fun craft on their own, but also super cute way to make your own homemade dog tic tac toe set.
Rock Dogs? Dog Rocks?
Whether you prefer dog rocks or rock dogs, these little painted dogs rock. Where did such a crazy DIY idea hatch? When I was painting my nesting Matryoshka dog dolls, it made me think about how much fun I could have crafting if I lived closer to my nieces, nephews, and friends’ young children. And so the idea for these tic tac toe rock dogs was born. Instead of being used for hide-and-seek rocks (which might not be suitable due to COVID or your local park/council rules), these little pups can be played with at home or with friends. Pawfect!
Tic Tac Toe Themes and Teams
My set combines Dalmatians (of course) with a team of golden brown dogs. You could create a similar set using any breed or colour combination you like as long as the teams are clearly different for play. A dog-themed tic tac toe set could also be created using a set of dogs with a set of bones, paws, or other design. Or perhaps a team of competitive cats. Your imagination is the limit. Remember that you’ll need ten pieces (five on each team) for a nine space tic tac toe game, which maxes out at five and four, depending on who place first.
Making DIY Painted Rock Dogs
Supplies and Materials
To make a similar set of DIY painted dog rocks (or other tic tac toe rock design), you will need
- Small flat-ish smooth rocks
- Pencil (optional) for outlining your designs, not used here
- Markers (optional) for fine details, not used here
Preparing the Dog Rocks:
My rocks came from the purchased landscaping rocks in our home garden. They’re not quite as smooth or as perfect as a beach rock, but they’re readily available and do the trick nicely. Make sure that the rocks are clean and dry before you start your project.
- Set up a work area in a suitable location and protect your work surfaces.
- Paint the base fur colour(s). I used white and a golden brown for my dogs. Apply recoats per your chosen paint product until you have the desired level of coverage.
Designing Your Dogs:
This is where you get to have a creative fun. The rock dogs can be as fancy or as simple as you like, depending on your painting talents, time, and patience. Not sure where to start? Take a look at carton dogs in your favourite breed(s) for inspiration. These flatter and less-detailed style of drawings can help with ideas on how lines, outlines, and colours can be used to create your dog designs. Painting has never been a strength for me (shakey hands and a lack of patience) but it’s still fun! And painting can be rather relaxing, too. I used simple features on my dog rocks, with a combination of semi-smiling closed mouths and happy tongues. For added interest and colour, I also used a mix of collars, bow ties, bows, and the tops of bandanas.
Painting Your Dog Designs:
- Optional: If you’re not comfortable with free-painting faces and features, you can use a pencil to outline your basic design elements.
- Use the shape of your rocks to help you choose the placement and shape/sizes of features.
- Working incrementally with drying time in between coats and colour changes, add your design elements. Because we’re layering, I started with the main facial features as shown in the collage above. Then I added the starting elements for big embellishments, like eyes, ears, and spots. Then I slowly added the finer details and accents.
- When ready, topcoat with a compatible sealer or varnish (optional). My dogs are not coated.
- Allow the paint (and topcoat if used) to dry and harden thoroughly before playing or storage.
I used shading in only a few places on my dogs. Most of the painting is as unblended colour, although the inclusion of a few metallic paints really helps to add interest and dimension. It’s hard to see in the photos, but my golden puppers have a light wash of shimmery gold on their ears for added dimension as well. I have to confess that as much as I’m partial to Dalmatians, I really love the cute golden dog rocks. The faces pop in such a different way to the on-white and high black/white contrast of the Dalmatians.
Tic Tac Toe Boards
If you’d like to DIY a complete game set, you can make a painted tic tac tie board that can be used indoors and/or outdoors. As a simple stand in (and a very easy-to-store option) strips of ribbon can be used to make the board as shown in some of the photos above. They can be stored in a container or drawstring bag with your painted rock pieces for quick and easy use. Or you can just go old school with some temporary lines drawn in the dirt or make a temporary board drawn with sidewalk chalk. Ready to play?
Playing Dog Rock Tic Tac Toe
The ever obliging Humphrey played me in a few games (haha!) for photos and treats, but of course these rocks are meant for people and not pups. Take care with small children or curious canines. We wouldn’t want anyone trying to eat their toys – whether people or pups.
The two teams of painted dog rocks work the same way as conventional pieces or drawn letters for tic tac toe (aka naughts and crosses, Xs and Os). There are a finite number of possible play scenarios for tic tac toe, so it’s best played when it’s just for fun and/or with young players. Although, if you’re hardcore set on winning, you can play using those solved game strategies and moves, just like Checkers or Chess on a mini scale. And how fun would a full painted set of those games might be in dog form? Hmmm… Maybe someday!
A Pawnote on Other Uses of Painted Rocks
Our DIY painted dog rocks are staying at home, but if you’re looking at this DIY as painting inspiration for making hide-and-seek rocks or kindness rocks, a few extra pawnotes apply. Check the rules of your local park or council first. As fun as hunting for painted rocks can be, they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. Many parks and natural spaces actively discourage leaving any traces, and that includes painted rocks, stacked cairns, and other interference. They also discourage taking treasures with you, and that includes rocks for painting. In some areas, placing or looking for painted rocks might not be respectful, including memorials, cemeteries, monuments, and other sensitive locations. Consider the full cycle of the rocks, and use non-toxic / non-plastic paints if possible for extra environmental care. Woofs and have fun!