Easy & Cheap DIY Scent Detection Toy For Your Dog!

For less than a couple of Euros and within 10 minutes, I created a fun (dare I say cute) toy for Inka, the lovely Labradoodle-mix I share my life with.

Scent detection is something I’ve wanted to do together with Inka for a while now.
My criteria for this toy? Something small, light, soft (to squeeze into small spaces), “scent absorbent”, and unique.

Materials needed:


The toy can be any size you want: therefore, the amount of fabric is entirely up to you. I used scraps from curtains that were trimmed – if you get creative, you can find fabric for free or very cheap. That said, I would not recommend particularly thin or silky fabric.

Needle and thread

(Or a sewing machine if you’re feeling fancy.)

→ Sewing pins

Some “stuffing”

I found some pillow stuffing at a thrift shop for less than a Euro – you could also use straw, bits of fabric that are cut into small pieces… anything!
Another idea is to stuff it with herbs (lavender or rosemary, for example) so that it doubles as the scent that the dog can detect, rather than having to put scent on the toy later… maybe you can give it a try and let me know how you get on with it.

→ Optional but recommended: a strip of fabric for a handle loop and/or a carabiner

Step one is to cut your fabric into two pieces of the same size and shape.
Place one of these on a flat surface with the patterned side facing up (see the above picture).
I found some faux leather scraps in the “for free” bin at the thrift store, from which I cut the loop band. Adjust your loop to be the length you want, and pin its ends at the top of the fabric side by side rather than stacked. This will be much easier to sew (whether with a machine or by hand).

Your next step will be to lay the second piece of fabric “face down” (pattern facing down) on top of the other piece that has the loop. Pin this in place however you like so that it is held in place while sewing. The picture below just shows you what it needs to look like on the inside.

Now go along and secure all the sides of this toy with pins, except for the end opposite the loop.

I’m using a sewing machine, but if you don’t have one, there’s no need to worry at all – simply sew by hand. This is a tiny toy, so it won’t take too long!
For this next step, you need to sew all along the toy except for the end across from the loop that was left unpinned – leave that bit open!

Why? Because we will be turning the whole thing inside out like a pillow case after sewing the other three sides. It will look something like the image above.

At this point, your toy is “just” an empty case. You can really get creative here. While I stuffed mine with fluff from the thrift store, you could use herbs or anything at all!

Once you have it filled, it’s time to tuck the ends in to hide the loose threads. Following this, simply sew that end together! I wouldn’t recommend doing it with a sewing machine – just some simple stitches by hand with needle and thread will do.
Ta-da! You’re done!
I had some extra bit of faux leather, which inspired me to be a bit “extra” and cut it into a heart shape that I then sewed onto the toy. You could embroider or sew other fabrics on the outside of it to create whatever look you want. That’s the beauty of making your own creations. 🙂
Enjoy! Let me know how you like it.
Want to learn how to start with scent detection? I am happy to write a post on how I taught Inka to find this toy and alert to it in a wide variety of environments.

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