Introduction: How to Make a Ball and Rope Dog Toy

About: I've been a software developer my whole life, studied computer science with a focus on 3D graphics in college, was an effects artist for Dreamworks Animation and have taught technology to kids and adults here…

After getting a puppy, I started making her dog toys out of rope. This toy has a long tail which is great for swinging it around to throw it for fetch, or for playing tug-a-war. At the dog park I had someone call it a "fishing line for dogs".

Step 1: Materials

1. 3/4" cotton rope.

You can get some from Knot and Rope supply:
Or from Amazon:

2. A lacrosse ball.

3. Electrical tape.

Step 2: Prepare Your Rope

I work directly off the spool of rope so I don't cut it until necessary, but if you're just picking up enough rope for this knot I'd say you need between 10 and 15 feet of rope. Start by unwinding the strands a bit and taping the ends of each strand to prevent them from unraveling. Then unwind about 5 feet of rope.

Step 3: Tie a Matthew Walker Knot

Now tie a Matthew Walker knot. I've explained how to do that in this instructable:

Step 4: 3 Part X 3 Bight Turk's Head

We'll be tying a 3 part 3 bight Turk's head. Just follow these steps (it may be easier to follow the last diagram):

Strand 1)
    1. Loop it around the ball, then come up and Under the same strand.

Strand 2)
    1. Take the next strand and go Over the first strand near the bottom.
    2. Then go Over the first strand again near the top.
    3. Then go Under the second strand.

Strand 3)
    1. Go Under the first strand.
    2. Go Over the second strand.
    3. Go Under the first strand.
    4. Go Over the second strand.
    5. Go Under the third strand.

Step 5: More Passes

Each strand will be stick out in a position to follow the next strand around. Do that with each strand to double up the knot. Then go around again to triple it. At this point a pair of needle nose pliers can be useful to pull the strand through. If it's not too tight and you have enough rope you can do it a fourth time as well. A fourth pass will cover the ball a bit better, but can be hard to get it in if you've tied the other passes too tight. My first time tying this I did four passes, but in these pictures I did three. Either way, you'll still be able to see parts of the ball.

Step 6: Tighten the Knot

You'll likely have some slack near the Matthew Walker knot. You'll want to take out that slack by going around the knot again (through every pass). Start at the beginning of the strand and work out the slack. A large knitting needle can be useful to get under the strand so you can pull it tight.

Step 7: Trim the Ends

Now you can cut the ends and poke them down into the knot. If you'd like to make them extra secure, you can sew the ends to their neighboring strands. I didn't bother doing that and eventually one of the strands was pulled out while my puppy, Maggie, was playing with it. At that point I sewed that one as it's hard to get it tucked under after it's been trimmed, but the others never came out.

Step 8: Measure Tail and Begin Handle

Dangle the rope down to the length you want it. Add about another foot so we can tie our Matthew Walker knots. Now cut the rope. Tape the ends, unravel the rope about a foot and a half and tie a Matthew Walker knot to start the handle.

Step 9: Twist the Strands Back Up

When twisting rope, you must twist in two ways. You'll be twisting the strands together, while also twisting the individual strands the opposite direction. This causes the rope to stay twisted together. After twisting it as much as you want, tie another Matthew Walker knot.

Step 10: Finish Up

Trim the ends and fray them with a comb or brush and you're done!

Take a look at the last step of this instructable to see other dog toys that I've made:

If you see one you like, let me know in the comments and I'll make an instructable for it! Be sure to follow me to stay tuned!

Step 11: Maggie Playing With Her Toy

Here's a video from a few months ago of my puppy Maggie playing with her new toy.

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