Introduction: Life Hack: Soccer Ball Dog Toy
I don't feel like this is complex enough to call a true instructable (literally just putting a ball into a mesh sack), it is more of a life hack for dog people and or people with pets that are interested in soccer balls.
My 12.5 pound dog Bunk (named from detective on the Wire) loves soccer balls. He loves to chase them and he loves to pick it up with his teeth to flaunt and strut around the park.
The problem is that all his flaunting and biting destroys the outside of the ball. I was going through a ball a month or so but then stopped for good when I realized he was unintentionally eating bits of the soccer skin.
Thus began my search for a tougher soccer ball. I went through several different balls trying to find the balance between being tough and enticing to my dog.
Eventually I found the simple solution of putting the size 5 soccer ball into a mesh bag, which has been both a cheap and effective solution my dog loves.
Step 1: Search for the Perfect Ball
The first thing I tried was getting one of those ChuckIt! Kick Fetch balls, which are these foam balls with tough fabric on the outside. I think the ball is great, seems tough and it is puncture proof because of the sport foam core. However, Bunk could not pick it up with his small teeth. He likes to chase it, but he can't grab it. The ball is definitely meant for a larger dog. All that being said Bunk's favorite fetch ball is the rubber ChuckIt! ball for small dogs.
The next ball I tried was a orange fabric ball I picked up from HomeGoods. Seemed soft enough for Bunk to get his teeth into and sturdy enough for me to kick. This ball lasted about a month or so, may have lasted shorter because I would also play tug with Bunk using the built in handles. I came home to find that Bunk had discovered how much fun it was to pull out all of the stuffing.
The third I tried was a bit desperate. I wrapped up a soccer ball in an old t-shirt and then duct taped all around it making a silver duct tape ball with a layer of cotton underneath. Then I discovered Bunk loves to eat the adhesive from the duct tape so this was also a no go. So then I took the duct tape off and tried just tying up the ends of the t-shirt and Bunk loved that.
So now I had a soccer ball inside a t-shirt with the ends tied. This worked pretty well except that whenever I played in a wet area the cotton absorbed the water and got all muddy. And my knots would eventually unravel. Then I began looking for something similar, a bag I could throw the ball in that would be cleaner but also be enticing for the dog and still fun to kick. What I found was a tough mesh stuff sack.
Step 2: Ball in a Bag
My current final solution is putting the ball in a high strength stuff sack mesh bag meant for laundry and sports equipment.
I used a size 5 American Flag soccer ball.
The mesh stuff sack bag I used I got off Amazon:
Mesh Stuff Sack, Laundry Bag, Durable Lightweight Mesh Bag with Cord Lock Closure
Sold by Spitz & Kay
16" x 12"
Price $7.49 with Prime Shipping
Simply place the ball in the bag and tighten the chords.
***I also recommend you cut off that plastic lock piece and just tie off the cord once you have the bag on. You don't want to risk you dog chewing that lock piece and ingesting little bits of of plastic.
Step 3: Final Comments
I think for $7.49 the ball in a bag solution is holding up impressively. The mesh allows Bunk's small teeth to easily pick up the ball so he can flaunt and taunt me with it. Yet he does not destroy the soccer skin because he is biting and holding around the bag instead of the ball.
I think this is a good solution for small dogs who like to play with soccer balls. Larger dogs would probably still have the problem of puncturing the soccer ball with their teeth, I would recommend the ChuckIt! Kick Fetch ball for them or something similar.
Please let me know if you have any ideas for enabling small dogs to play with soccer balls or have products you recommend that would be suitable replacements.
I actually really like this soft one with tug ropes from PrideBites, but it does not kick as well as the soccer ball in a bag. My other dog Besta likes to join in the fray when we play with the PrideBite ball.
Good luck and enjoy playing with your pets.