DIY Dog Crafts for Local Animal Shelters and Dog Rescues

9 minute read By Lucy Hughes
Reviewed by: Pawrade Team
July 17, 2023

A dog and woman paint a picture together using a paint artist palette and easel

Dog owners are passionate about their pups! Our puppies provide comfort, laughter, joy, and a deep bond that surpasses even some human bonds. It’s natural that we would want to use our talents and efforts to help better the lives of puppies and dogs everywhere. 

May pet owners seek out ways to help animals in shelters but want to go beyond writing a check – they want to get more involved. What better way than to use your talents than doing DIY crafts for animal shelter dogs

The staff at animal shelters and rescues often have a thankless job, so brighten their day by helping them provide an enriching environment for the animals awaiting a furever home through crafts to make for dogs

Shelters typically experience high demand during summer months, so now is the perfect time to contribute to dogs’ happiness while helping the shelter or rescue organization meet dogs’ needs. Many pets are lost in summer due to a variety of reasons – running away from fireworks, thunderstorms, escaping during a pet sitting situation when owners are away, etc. (In addition, now is a great time to protect your puppy’s identity with proper microchipping and tags).

Find out how to celebrate National Craft For Your Local Shelters Day on July 21 by giving back to your local animal community. You can truly make a difference in the lives of dogs through your crafty actions. 

@chaithedoodle_ DIY snuffle mat 🐶 PURfect for rainy days 🌧️🐶🐾 #rainyday #dogmoms #snufflemat #enrichmentfordogs #mentalstimulationfordogs #rain #dogmom #dogsoftiktok #goldendoodle #puppy #puppytiktok ♬ I Think I Like When It Rains - WILLIS

How to Celebrate National Craft For Your Local Shelters Day On July 21

While some casual holidays can seem silly, others have merit started from a place of love. National Craft For Your Local Shelters Day began in 2012 as a way for pet enthusiasts to make and donate homemade pet supplies without spending lots of money and offering their skills – and hearts – to enhance a pet’s life.  

Puppies and dogs need both physical and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. Mental stimulation opportunities for dogs allow a puppy to grow and develop by staying sharp, solving problems, and using all five senses to overcome fun, engaging challenges. Many of the crafts we will suggest can be used not only in basic care for dogs, but also as a way to mentally exercise these precious pups. 

If you want to get involved in this noble holiday, here are some factors to consider when crafting for dogs. 

Choose one or several organizations

Perhaps there’s an organization near and dear to your heart. If you don’t know of any, start with your local animal shelter. Another great place to ask would be any breed-specific rescue that matches your dog breed. You can find them through friends’ recommendations, social media, your vet, pet supply store employees, or a Google search. 

Ask what the need is 

Now that you’ve identified your recipients, don’t start crafting just yet – you have a few more steps to take. It’s always best to ask first! Ask what they need or offer up a craft you’re really interested in to give them some ideas. You want your efforts to be needed and not to burden a shelter with homemade items they can’t use.

Research the products you’ll make

Will you make one type or lots of different crafts? How many will you make? Do you want something no-sew or a bit more elaborate? Do you want to use a new skill or stick to what you already know? Decide on your craft based on the organization’s needs and your skill set. 

Gather supplies

The very first thing you want to choose is pet-safe material. Avoid any material that can be toxic or ingested. Check your house first, as several crafts can use items lying around your house. You can also ask for donations from friends, family, or your network of acquaintances because people love helping animals. Common supplies may be items like old sheets, towels, ropes, tee shirts, or fleece blankets to repurpose. Bright, happy supplies will help capture the attention of people and bring more personality to the dogs. 

Stick to a budget

Instead of letting the cost of supplies and materials sneak up on you, make a budget for this project. Your intentions may be noble, but not at the expense of your financial situation. In addition to donated supplies from friends and family, consider getting a sponsor from a local business for materials as well. 

Plan enough time to create

Sometimes shelters will accept donations at any time, while others will ask for a deadline. Make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew with big ideas but not enough time to implement them! We call it “procraftination” around here where you put off your good intentions until the last minute! This process should be fun, not stressful or rushed. 

Craft solo or with others?

Some people may prefer to work alone, while you may see this as a larger community event. Consider throwing a craft party. You can set up an assembly line or keep each other company – as they say, the more the merrier and many hands make light work. To keep the party flowing, set up stations ahead of time. 

Partner with local organizations like the Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, religious groups, youth programs, community centers, active senior living communities, or schools that may know of people looking to volunteer for a good cause. Many of the no-sew crafts are very kid-friendly or require very little skill to make.

Follow through with the drop-off

Don’t just go by without having a conversation – shelter and rescue workers and volunteers are very busy and need to be able to tell you when the best time for drop-off would be. Sometimes a tour can be involved, but don’t just show up unannounced, especially if the rescue is at someone’s home.

When you commit to donating dog crafts to shelters and rescues, follow through. The shelters and rescues can’t use the lovingly made items if they’re sitting in your garage for months or riding around in the trunk of your car. 

Share what you’re doing for awareness

You’ll want to share not to be all, “Look at me! I’m a good person!” but to encourage others to jump on board and inspire them to make their own. It could be a chain reaction of good deeds! Ask if you can post on social media to bring awareness to their courageous work. You may just start a movement! 

8 DIY Dog Crafts You Can Make to Donate

From simple cutting and tying to elaborate items, here are some DIY dog craft ideas to bring to local animal shelters and rescue organizations to see how you can use your talents for a pawsitively noble cause. 

Before you get started, take a look at our roundup of DIY Mentally Stimulating Toys for Dogs first to see if anything catches your attention.

dalmatiandinosewbandana (1).webp

1. No-Sew Dog Bandana by Laura of Dalmatian DIY

This is a great first project to do if you have fun fabric but not the sewing skills to put two pieces together! Not to worry because you can have a cute bandana in no time. 

With 3 different versions ranging from very easy to a polished finish, this craft works great for kids who can use scissors responsibly and can be done during a one-session dog crafting party. You can even use old dress shirts instead of buying material! 


SewCanShe Leash and Crate Comforter

2. Narrow Dog Leash and Crate Comforter by Caroline of SewCanShe

This project is a great way for sewists to use up those scraps from past projects for a bright, colorful narrow leash for smaller dogs. A crate comforter provides a lively way to cushion a crate or enclosure. The site also offers a link to a thicker leash for larger dogs and a variety of things to sew. 


Sherman models the no-sew dog bow tie collar slide

3. No-Sew Dog Botwie Collar Slide by Katie of Helpful Homemade

Have your favorite shelter pooch looking dapper with a no-sew dog bowtie collar slide! Using just fabric, a needle & thread, and a piece of elastic, you can have a bowtie to make any pup look handsome. 

4. No-Sew Fleece Blanket by Deb at Debs Days Design

This easy, no-sew approach is an easy way to create a blanket that can follow the puppy from the shelter or rescue to their new home. You’ll need 2 pieces of fleece and scissors. If you have it handy, you can use a rotary cutter, painter’s tape to get those even cuts, and a self-healing mat for cutting, but these materials are not required in order to have a cozy, colorful custom pet blanket. 


5. 20-Minute No-Sew Tee Shirt Dog Rope Toy by House That Barks 

We love easy projects that end up as fun toys! You’ll just need 3 things: A tee shirt, scissors, and string. You probably already have some tee shirts in your closet you could spare for this project, and we all have the junk drawer with possible string and scissors! 


6. Dog Sweater Sewing Pattern by Kate Blocher at See Kate Sew

Are you ready to elevate your crafting skills? DIY dog sweaters will keep them warm and stylish. You’ll need an old sweater to chop up – this is a great project after cleaning out your closet, asking for old sweaters in your social circles, or purchasing inexpensive sweaters at thrift stores or garage/yard sales. The pattern comes in three sizes to fit a variety of dogs. 


7. Super Easy Dog Toy Bin by Robin and Samantha of A Home To Grow Old In

Do you know how to use tools to build a box? No? Well, no worries! This super easy dog toy bin upcycles a boring wooden crate to make a dog toy and supplies box. Rescues and shelters most likely could always use more storage, and colorful crates will help bring character and pizzazz to the facility. This would be a fun project for a group of people. If you don’t have a sander, you can use sandpaper instead. To elevate the crate, use a vinyl cutter to apply custom designs. 


8. DIY Dog Leash & Mason Jar Treat Holder from Megan Harney of Wit & Wander on Our Handcrafted Life

While this project requires some advanced skills, it’s still a great idea. Shelters ad rescues are always needing easy storage solutions out of the way since space is usually at a premium. You can make individual holders or long holders for multiple hooks, and the dog tail gives it an adorable yet functional look. 

Adopt a Pawrade Puppy 

At Pawrade, we believe all puppies need loving, caring homes to live healthy, happy lives. We’d love to help you decide on puppies for sale if you are interested in a new furbaby. 


Lucy Hughes profile picture

Lucy Hughes

Lucy Hughes has been teaching and writing professionally for half her life. She has a passion for helping people choose a puppy and lead an exciting life with their new furry companion. She enjoys spending quality time with her family and her beloved Golden Retriever, Bowie.

All Author Posts