How to make a DIY dog bottle game and entertain your pet for hours

Does your dog love to play? Does she love treats? If the answer’s yes – and we’re pretty sure it is – then this might just be her new favourite toy.

Here’s what it looks like in action:


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“I’ve had this toy made for Bella because she eats too fast when I just put the food in her bowl,” explains the owner of the dog in the video.

“But also because she has a lot of energy, her breed is extremely intelligent, has a big will to please and she wants to play all the time!”

The bottle game is perfect for Bella and other dogs like her because it provides a challenge, allows dogs to play even when no humans are around and dispenses rewards – though only in moderation, and only when dogs have used their skills to get them. We’re reliably informed that some cats enjoy it, too.

Bella’s owner had her bottle toy made up, but with a few simple supplies and basic DIY skills, you should be able to create your own in the space of an afternoon. Here’s how.

Method 1: Build your own frame

This option is straightforward if you have your own tools and know how to use them. We adapted it from this version by FoxysMyGirl on Instructables.

Photo by FoxysMyGirl/Instructables .
Photo by FoxysMyGirl/Instructables .

Materials: 

  • Decking or plywood
  • Dowel rod
  • Three 1 litre plastic bottles
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Tape measure

Instructions: 

1. Measure and cut the wood into six pieces: two long pieces for the sides, two shorter pieces for the base and top, and two short pieces for support. The dimensions will depend on the size of your dog. As a rough guide, the frame should be a little more than double the height from the ground to your dog’s nose and about two-thirds wide as it is high. Cut the dowel rod to be about 10 inches longer than your frame is wide.

2. Drill a hole for the dowel rod through each of the side pieces, at about nose height.

3. Starting with the base, screw the frame together as indicated in these photos.

4. Drill two holes through each bottle, about 4 inches from the very top.

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5. Insert the rod through one of the side supports, thread on the bottles, then slide it through the other side support. Check that the bottles spin freely.

6. Insert a handful of your dog’s favourite treats and watch him try to get them out!

Method 2: The no-drill option

This is the simplest version of the bottle game you can make. It’s a less permanent option, but you can put it up or take it down within minutes and even take it with you when you travel. It was designed by Leah Erb of Let’s Go Dog.

Photo by Leah Erb/Let's Go Dog .
Photo by Leah Erb/Let’s Go Dog .

Materials: 

  • Utility cord
  • Two cord tighteners (optional)
  • 1 litre plastic bottle
  • Scissors

You’ll also need somewhere suitable to set the game up: between two trees is ideal.

Instructions:

1. Cut two holes in the bottle, about 4 inches from the top.

2. Thread cord through the bottle.

3. Insert cord into cord tighteners, if using, wrap each end around a tree or secure post at about the height of your dog’s nose, and pull tight. Or simply pull the cord taut and tie a knot in each end.

4. Add treats and you’re good to go.

If you make the bottle game for your dog (or cat), let us know!