DIY Dog Puzzle

Last December, Mrs. Canada and I considered what get our pup for Christmas.  We were hoping to get him some sort of a puzzle.  On doing some research, we found that these types of toys are typically sold for $40 to $80; pretty steep for something that would likely be forgotten or chewed to bits in a matter of weeks.

But nothing was stopping us from trying to make one ourselves.  Based on some other examples, here’s what we made:

The overall idea is to suspend plastic bottles from a rod so that they can spin.  Put food in the bottles, and your precious pupper gets to figure out how to get it.  Simple enough!


Why a Puzzle Toy?

They’re good for your dog: they relieve anxiety, help in healing from injuries, and help teach good eating habits (source).


Why This Puzzle Toy?

It’s cheap, it’s fairly easy, and it uses a lot of recycled or scrap materials.  When one set of bottles gets worn out, you can easily replace them with more.

This toy allows for a wide range of difficulty.  You can change the difficulty by using different types of bottles, and by mounting the bottles higher or lower.  This means your dog won’t get tired of it after a few days.

It’s also a great project to do with the kids, as you don’t have to get everything perfect.  Your dog certainly isn’t going to mind.


What You’ll Need

  • 2″ x 4″ – three 8′ boards, or several pieces (between 2′ and 3′)
  • Deck screws
  • Some sort of rod, between 1/8″ and 3/8″ in diameter.  Mrs. Canada found a fiberglass driveway marker at Home Depot for about $3.  It had just a little flex to it.
    • You’ll also need some way to cut the rod.  I used an angle grinder.
  • Empty plastic bottles.
  • Some sort of saw, and a drill.


Step 1: Make the Legs

Start by cutting the legs.  For each leg, one end is flat while the other is cut twice on an angle.

I used a piece of scrap to draw angled lines on each piece.

Once the angled end is cut, cut each piece to 24″ (from the tip of the angled end).  You’ll need four of these total.

With this done, attach two legs together (using a piece of scrap to level out one of the legs).  Be sure that the longer angled edges are facing away from each other.

Make two sets of these, and be sure to layer the pieces in the same way for both sets (i.e. left-on-top or right-on-top for both sets).  Then, measure the distance between the longer angled edges.  Both of mine measured 31″.  You’ll need this measurement to create the base.

On one of the two sets, drill a hole so that the rod fits through snugly (we’ll drill the other one later).


Step 2: Make the Base

Take the length you measured from the legs and subtract 3″.  You’ll need to cut two new pieces at this length.  Finally, cut two more pieces; I cut mine at 25 1/2″, but you can cut them based on how long you want the toy to be (as long as they’re the same length).

Use these four pieces to create the base of the toy.  Here’s what we’re aiming for:

The 28″ pieces are running the length, and the two 25 1/2″ pieces are running the width (with 1 1/2″ hanging off of opposite sides).  Use a piece of scrap to space it out when attaching them.


Step 3: Attach and Sand the Frame

Here’s why we made that weird overhang on the base: our legs should fit up against the end of the base.  If the offset is going the wrong way, don’t panic: just flip over the base.

Attach one set of legs on each side of the base.  At this point, you’ll want to sand the entire frame.  You could always finish it somehow as well; I left mine raw.  If you decide to apply a finish, be mindful of anything that would be harmful for your pup to chew on.


Step 4: Drill a Second Hole for the Rod

Try a dry fit of the rod through the set of legs with the hole:

On the set of legs you didn’t drill, mark where the rod touches.  Then, remove the rod and flip the base on its side.  Drill a hole on your mark, but only 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through.

Try another dry fit with your rod.  Make a mark 1/2″ from where the rod enters the first set of legs.  Remove the rod, and cut off the excess at the mark.

Try a last dry fit with the rod.  It should fit snugly, but you’ll want to be able to remove it.  My fiberglass rod had a small rubber cap on the end, and I was able to replace it on the end of the cut piece.  Otherwise, be sure to sand off any rough parts on the end.


Step 5: Add the Bottles

Grab your plastic bottles and drill two holes across from each other near the top.  The closer you drill them to the top of the bottle, the more difficult the puzzle will be.

Once the two holes are drilled, the rod should fit through them, allowing the bottles to spin around them freely (these holes will need to be slightly larger than the holes in the legs).

Now put it all together, and you have a new puzzle toy!


Step 6: Market Research

Needless to say, Moose enjoyed his first Christmas with us.

How Do I Use My Rotary Cutter?

So in my posts about making napkins and coasters I mentioned that types of projects like those would be a lot easier if you had a rotary cutter and self-healing mat. Then I put something to the effect of “dear Santa” as a joke.

Since it was never something I had specifically told Mr. Canada that I wanted for Christmas, I didn’t think anything about those tools when I was eyeing my wrapped presents and brainstorming what they could be.

But to my surprise and great joy (I might have squealed little bit), there was a rotary cutter and self-healing mat under the tree for me from Mr. Canada!

What to make first!? And maybe more importantly, how do I use this thing!?

It seemed pretty simple, based on what I had read, but it seemed too good to be true.

IT WASN’T. It was wonderful.

And really, it’s just as easy as it seems.

Lay your mat out on a hard surface. I use the dining room table (who am I kidding… It’s a craft table now).

Lay your fabric out flat lining it up at the corner where the ruler starts (be careful to set the corner of the fabric at 0 and not 1 – I seem to have that problem).

Decide what your fabric measurements need to be, find that number on the ruler of the mat. Line your straight edge up on those lines being careful to get it straight.

Use the hand that isn’t holding the cutter to hold the straight edge VERY still. Roll your rotary cutter along the straight edge, moving your “holding” hand as you go so that your edge doesn’t accidentally get tilted.

Turn fabric, lining it up as before, in order to cut the other side.

This will be all you need to cut a square/rectangle.

I have also used the rotary cutter to cut around a pattern. Basically use the pattern in leiu of a straight edge that we used above. You can either use a fabric pencil to trace the pattern then cut, or just hold the pattern while you cut.

Depending on the size of the pattern, you may want to have someone help hold it still – especially if you have a Moose that thinks he wants to help you with your sewing.

The rotary cutter isn’t the best on curves, but in my experience, it does the job. Ultimately, it’s your sewing project – you decide.

I think the rotary cutter was one of the best investments as far as sewing tools is concerned.

Note: please know that rotary cutters are VERY sharp. It seems like an obvious reminder, but one that I think needs to be emphasized. This is even more important it you have children or pets who may not be able to  understand what you are doing.

Be careful, also, because some mats have certain storage instructions. The particular one I have says not to roll it or get it wet.

Happy Sewing!

Modesty – Is It Really What We Think It Is?

While doing some research for a post a couple of weeks ago, I came across something I had never really put a lot of thought into: modesty. And by not putting a lot of thought into it, I mean that I had grown up assuming that what I heard from the people around me was the correct way to think.

Please know that I don’t believe there is a definitive answer regarding modesty; everyone has different beliefs and different things with which they are comfortable.

My original view on modesty before this post: make sure your body is covered up enough as to not entice others. I don’t think I was on either extreme end of this – probably somewhere in the middle. I guess I try to not compare myself to others, so this is just my presumption (I have recently gotten into leggings, so maybe I have moved toward the “liberal” end of the spectrum, haha).

Anyway, this is the verse that started all of my thinking:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12-14)

Read more about where this verse came from in this post.

Rachel Marie Stone wrote an article that addresses this very concern I had. She notes that the Greek word for modesty is kosmios which is translated as ‘of good behavior, modest,’ or in a letter from Paul as ‘respectable.’

As it turns out, this word that we often attribute to meaning “make sure your clothing covers you up” has very little (if anything) to do with the clothes you wear. Which makes sense, because there are many verses that talk a lot about not putting too much thought into the clothes/jewelry/makeup you wear, but rather to focus your energy on ensuring you have qualities such as gentleness, compassion, kindness, humility, and patience.


Verses such as these, if you want more to study:

For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. (Luke 12:23)

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matthew 6:28-30)

likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

Based on what I can see about the word for modesty, it seems like this verse should really say something along these lines: wear clothing that others find respectable. Have good behavior (behavior that deserves respect) and practice self-control. Don’t worry about fancy hair or spending a lot on jewelry, but focus on doing good works to spread the kingdom of God!

This verse is similar:

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3:3-4)

It seems that a lot of the bible says to not worry too much about clothes, hair, jewelry, etc. but to make sure you look and act in a respectable manner, focusing on cultivating good personality characteristics.

Do I think you should have your body hang out of your clothes? No, but I think that maybe we put too much emphasis on the “correct” amount of skin showing – I would like to challenge you that maybe there is no right way – that if you are respectable looking, that’s fine. And that everyone will have a slightly different of a view on this. And that’s okay.

So if people may have a different view on what is respectable, what are we to do? Well, Rachel Marie Stone has a thought on that too:

It’s easy for us to understand that certain occasions call for certain kinds of dress. It would be equally odd to wear an evening gown to help someone clean out a flooded basement as it would be to wear basement cleaning clothes to someone’s wedding. But it is often harder for us to accept that what is considered respectable, appropriate, and well ordered in other cultures is not categorically ‘wrong.’ (Rachel Marie Stone)

She goes on to state that in certain parts of Africa, knees are considered sensual. Seems weird to us (my knees are definitely not getting anyone excited), but covering up your knees is respectable and polite in that place. It would show disrespect if you had your knees hanging out, just for the sake of it. And really, is it that much of a burden to wear a longer skirt or shorts if you are in a place that has these values?

Are you dressing respectfully for your place in the world? And perhaps a more important question: are you cultivating good values in yourself? Something to think about this week.


If you liked this, feel free to share with your friends, just give credit where its due.