small measures

Small Measures: DIY Dog Beds, Treats & Spray

by Ashley

I think I was about eight years old when I got my first puppy. My brother was 10, it was Christmas Eve and we were living in Chesapeake, Virginia. I found it odd that our mom was playing Barbra Streisand albums really, really loudly all night long. But she’s an eccentric one, that mother of mine, so I just chalked it up to “mom being mom.” The next morning, though, the reason for her nocturnal auditory assault came bounding, wagging and slobbering up to the Christmas tree. It turned out “Sandy,” as we named our Golden Retriever puppy, had been wailing in the garage all night, and Babs and her soothing, soulful melodies were called upon to mask the sad pup’s whining.

After Sandy, it was years before I owned a dog again. I’ve had cats for ages (five, in fact, until rather recently) but never felt I had the time or the space to care for a dog. That all changed when I met my husband, Glenn, in 2007. He already had two large (as in, 80- and 110-pounds large) German shepherds. I was instantly smitten with all things canine all over again. When our shepherd, Spider, passed away quite suddenly in 2008, Glenn was overcome with sadness. Several weeks later, we went to a pet adoption and spotted the Black Lab mix pictured above. Dexter keeps us in stitches. He’s hilarious, goofy and an absolute sweetheart.

I can’t imagine life without dogs now. They’re messy, loving, loyal and every other adjective associated with goodness in this world, in my estimation. For today’s Small Measures, in honor of the love Design*Sponge is directing at pets this month, I’m sharing some DIY canine projects. From an easy-peasy dog bed and homemade dog treats to an odor-banishing pet spray (because no matter how much we adore our dogs, I think we can all agree that they kind of smell), there’s something here for every dog lover and every sloppy kiss and outstretched paw. — Ashley English

The full post continues after the jump . . .

Several weeks ago, when visiting the home of our friends Rich and Jen, I noticed a large, lovely, comfy-looking dog bed that their dog was resting on. It turns out Jen, a deft seamstress and general Jill of all trades, had whipped it up herself. I’d been looking for something similar for our two dogs, and when I mentioned that to Jen, she offered to make them for me. We met at a local fabric shop several weeks later, and with her guidance, I selected fabric and filling. The beds pictured here are the finished result. I love them. They’re durable, fluffy and large, and they work expertly within the overall aesthetic of our home. I’d recommend that, whatever fabric you select, you go for something a bit dark and perhaps with a pattern. Pets get dirty, and darker palettes and patterns will go a long way toward hiding dirt and fur.

DIY Dog Beds

The Goods

  • 1.5 yards of upholstery fabric per bed (regular cotton fabric isn’t wide or tough enough)
  • 3–5 pounds of polyfill per bed (get more than you think you’ll need and overstuff it a bit)


The Deal

1. Sew an inside-out rectangle, leaving one of the smaller sides un-sewn. The size of your particular rectangle will be determined by both the size of the dog and how much floor space you can spare for the bed.

2. Turn the rectangle right-side in, and fill with polyfill until the bed feels fluffy and a bit overstuffed.

3. Sew up the remaining side. You’re done!

Our German shepherd, Fly, can be quite stubborn. When she doesn’t want to do something, she goes completely limp. Considering she weighs about 80 pounds, this always puts the proverbial ball in her court. Fortunately for us, she’s also quite food motivated. So when she puts her mind to not heeding whatever it is I’m requesting, I turn to dog treats. The recipe here offers a gluten-free dog biscuit packed with nutrients. Loads of protein from the buckwheat (which is actually a berry and not in any way related to wheat) and salmon are tucked in with eggs, carotene-packed sweet potatoes and chlorophyll-rich parsley. Our dogs get a little treat, and I get them to go right where I want them. Win-win!

Buckwheat Salmon & Sweet Potato Dog Treats

The Goods

  • 3 cups buckwheat flour, plus extra for flouring the counter and rolling out
  • 1 14-ounce can wild-caught salmon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped parsley


The Deal

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until fully combined.

2. Transfer the mixture to a lidded container. Refrigerate for one hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line several cookie sheets with either a silicone mat (such as a Silpat) or parchment paper. Set aside.

4. Transfer the mixture to a floured surface. Lightly press a bit of flour into the mixture and onto your hands to prevent sticking.

5. Using a rolling pin, roll the mixture until about 1/8-inch thick. You may need to turn the dough over several times and add flour to the counter to keep the dough from sticking. Be prepared for messy hands!

6. Cut out shapes in the dough using a cutter in whatever motif you prefer. I used circles and stars here. Dog bone cutters would be cute, as would seasonally themed shapes, such as pumpkins for Halloween or trees for the holiday season. This is a nice touch if you intend to gift the treats to another dog-loving friend.

7. Place on the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 30 minutes, until the dog treats are hard like a gingersnap. It’s imperative that the treats are completely dry before storage; otherwise, they could go bad.

8. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container. Use within several weeks.

Owing to their size, we take our dogs to a groomer just down the road from us for their monthly bath. We tried doing it at home, but their girth, coupled with the fact that we have a large soaking “garden” style tub made it really hard (on everyone!). In between visits, though, they can get a bit, well, funky. To combat that, I simply turn to my pantry. A mix of equal parts white vinegar and water placed in a spray bottle is my solution for freshening up dog beds, rugs and furniture. If you’d like a fragrance, several drops of lemon or cedar essential oil could be added.

Dog Deodorizing Spray

The Goods

  • spray bottle
  • white vinegar
  • water


The Deal

1. Fill the bottle halfway with vinegar.

2. Top off with water.

3. Spray on furniture, rugs and dog beds whenever you need to freshen an area.

What about you? Got any homemade dog remedies, treats or products you’ve made? I’d love to hear about them. Otherwise, there’s a wet nose nudging me that needs a little attention. Happy tails to you!

Images and styling by Jen Altman

Suggested For You


  • We mix pureed squash and yogurt and freeze it inside of a Kong to make dog popsicles in the summer time. Keeps our dog busy for a while, and I think they benefit from the fiber. A little less fattening than peanut butter.

  • Very awesome tips Ashely! I loved learning more about your dogs as well. Did you know the vinegar will also help to repel fleas and ticks? Added bonus to it being an eco-friendly way to deodorize our pups!

  • Wonderful post and I’m going to try that vinegar spray. In the summer we fill buckets with water, freeze over night and drop the big blobs of ice into our repurposed porcelain sink/dog bowl that’s outside. It’s a nice cool treat for our 6 dogs and keeps outdoor water cool once it melts.

  • Regarding the dog beds-
    Constructing a second, inner pillow sham would allow the outer cover to be removed and washed while the loose stuffing was contained by the inner casing.

    Unless you are throwing the entire thing into the washer…. which would be VERY CONVENIENT……….does that work with the polyfill ?

  • I found out that the VERY expensive dog urine cleaner which actually breaks the urine down so they don’t keep “going” in the same place is also the very thing they use to remove stains from the inside of pools. It’s an enzyme. I imagine it is much cheaper by the GINORMOUS bucket load!!!

  • We’ve been making toys for our dog out of old socks (i.e. when a hole has worn through the heal of one). Take the one that is least good and role it up. Then stuff it inside the better one, pushing it down to the toe end and then tie a knot in the top of the good sock.
    There you have it! A great indoor soft throwing toy for those rainy days. And they are washable. If your pup chews holes in the outer sock – undo the knot and pull out the other sock and just reverse …for more use : )

  • We just adopted a second dog and things are smelling a little…well…doggy. I’m definitely going to try your spray.

  • With three dogs and a cat in the house we go through A LOT of vinegar spray. For the doggy deodorizer I add a couple of drops of lavendar essential oil to make things smell better!

  • Beverly-My friend Jen, who made the beds, doesn’t recommend throwing these in the wash. Your suggestion for a second, inner sham, which would hold the polyfill, sounds like a great idea.

  • Thanks, Ashley! I’m going to try the dog beds. Dexter is beautiful! He looks like maybe he’s an English lab? I have one who looks just like him, and everyone thinks she’s a mix, but she’s 100% lab. Except that she doesn’t love people, or water… ;-)

  • This won’t work for large dogs or chewers, but for my smaller dog (beagle mix), I made a dog bed from a bath towel, stuffed with an old bed pillow. The towel is folded to the size of the pillow (sort of in thirds), the two sides of towel matching the long sides of pillow are stitched, then snap closure for the third. Basically it’s an envelope pillowcase made from terrycloth. I made two, so I can change the dog bed cover often.

  • I have made my dog a number of beds over the years – I always add a zipper or a pocket fold so I can take the lining out and wash it. I also have a couple of covers at any one time so he can still use the bed while the cover is being washed and dried. I have often used fleece blankets or fake fur for a cosy bed, but I love the idea of using upholstery fabric. It might be time for a new cover :)

  • Awww really great stuff and thank you for the personal experience share!! EXCELLENT! I look forward to finding the time to make our new chihuahua, Nemo (yes after the FISH lol kids) a brand new bed of his very own.

  • How do you stop your German shepherd from eating the bed? My ones always do and over the years no matter what I try including a custom made Sealy mattress that I had covered in very thick damask it gets destroyed rather quickly.

    I’ve ended up on a compromise with letting them sleep on the cushions we use on the outdoor furniture. Maybe having our scent on them is stopping the dogs from destroying them. I am going to take a stab at the Dog treat recipe this weekend, they look great.

  • Raul-Our Shepard and our Lab will completely destroy anything if we leave it outside with them. The photo above was taken on our porch just to capture natural light, as my house runs rather dark inside. Otherwise, Dexter would’ve ripped it to shreds! He did the same thing when he was a puppy, too. I think you’re right about having your scent around. Ours haven’t attempted to shred their beds at all. Good luck!

  • These are all great ideas. I will have to try all 3!

    I do make homemade dog treats quite often. I make pumpkin-peanut butter and sweet potatoes chews the most.

    The chews are extremely easy! Peel as many sweet potatoes as you want, I use 2 large ones at a time. Cut long lengthwise strips about 1/3″ thick. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 250 F for about 3 hours. This makes them chewy. You could bake them longer to make them crunchy if that what your dog(s) prefer. These last longer if they are cooled completely before storing. Use them within a few weeks of making.

  • For a smelly dog I make a spray to spray directly on the dog, not just the bedding.
    Listerine and water in a spray bottle. Don’t have the exact measurements but not a lot of Listerine. Not toxic to the dog and helps with the odor. They now have Listerine Zero which is alcohol free so not drying to the dog’s skin. I don’t spray enough to soak the skin anyway, just like using a hair product on humans, a light spray on the fur.

  • Can the spray be used directly on the dogs? Also I can spray my couch and recliner with it as well?

  • At times, and I don’t know why, one of our dogs urinates on the carpet in one room of the house. What is a good and effective way to treat the area?

    By the way, I love the dog biscuit recipe, and will be making my doggies some healthy treats.

  • Great ideas, my two little Yorkies, Trixie and Sofie, love treats. I’ll try it soon. Also, I need something to freshen up their bed. Thanks

  • Does the vinegar spray repel the cats as well? Our dogs behave nicely in the house. The cats not so much. Thanks!

    I’m excited to make the treats.