How to Make Stuffed Animals for Grooming Therapy

  • By: Mohammed Zeliche
  • Date: December 8, 2021
  • Time to read: 6 min.

A therapist, who specializes in grooming therapy, can be a great resource for your dog. They will groom the dog and offer them some one-on-one time to help rehabilitate their spirits after illness or injury. If you would like to learn how to make stuffed animals that are perfect for use as part of a grooming session, this article is just what you need!

What is Grooming Therapy? 

Grooming therapy is a form of animal therapy.  It is not just about making them look good, but the act of caring for another living being can go far in helping that creature feel better.

What materials will I need to make these stuffed animals?

 You will need cotton fabric (such as flannel), yarn, stuffing, and plastic pellets. When choosing your fabric colors, keep in mind what you want the finished product to look like. If you intend to give this fluffy, stuffed animal to an owner/therapist working with their pet on grooming issues, it would be best if the animal looks like an actual dog. 

Likewise, if you are planning on using this toy for therapeutic purposes with your own animals, consider their favorite color(s) and maybe even a favorite food. You might also want to think about putting a feather or ball inside the toy so it crinkles and jingles when held, and maybe even some training treats!

How do I Make my Stuffed Animal? 

First, you will need to cut all of your fabric into pieces so they can be sewn together. The size of these pieces is up to you; some people like small plush toys that are easier for one person (or dog) to carry, while others prefer larger toys that can be shared between two or more people during grooming sessions. 

If you the latter, keep in mind that you will need to sew up one side of the toy so that it can be stuffed but leave the other three sides open until all of the stuffing is finished. Next, choose how many strands of yarn you would like to use to stitch the pieces together. Generally speaking, using at least two strands produces a secure enough stitching pattern, but if you are planning on using this for canine or feline grooming sessions (where your furry friend might try and bite down on their new toy) then it would be best to use four strands. 

After making sure that all of your edges meet perfectly, tie one end of your chosen number of strands around all four corners; no more than an inch from the edge. Holding the knot with one hand, take the two ends of these strands, and begin to tie the fabric pieces together. When you are finished, this should look like a little bag with four corners. 

Now, it is time to stuff! Grab your plastic pellets (the professional term for these is “bean bag filler”) and start sprinkling them inside the toy until it feels soft enough. Once you have filled up one side of the toy, close it by sewing up that final opening. If you would like to give this plush toy some extra special features (such as crinkly material or jingle bells ), now is the time to do so!

Why should I make stuffed animals? 

Black and white long coat dog beside an animal plushy

Making stuffed animals is not only fun (and can be a great way to take your mind off of things you don’t want to think about), but there are many therapeutic purposes for these toys. For example, stuffed animals can help people who are grieving see that they are not alone. They can also provide comfort to those struggling with depression, loneliness, social anxiety (the feeling of being judged by others), or any other form of mental illness. 

As demonstrated above, stuffed animals can even help rehabilitate the spirits of dogs and cats after surgery or an accident! And because these cute little plush toys come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and textures (not to mention scents!), they provide plenty of ways for people (or dogs) to enjoy them.

What other things can I put inside my stuffed animal?

The possibilities are endless, so try to let your imagination run wild! Some common options include crinkly paper (to imitate the sound of crunchy leaves or autumn rain), empty plastic water bottles (for that soothing “jingle” noise), squeaky rubber balls, catnip, or lavender sachets, jingle bells, and even little packets of pet treats! If you would like to use your plush toy for canine grooming sessions, remember to avoid any toys with metal pieces. 

For cats, make sure there are no small pieces that might be swallowed if they get a chance to play with this toy when alone. And regardless of who you plan on giving this to, always inspect it for any sharp pieces that might hurt anybody – no matter how careful you (and your stitching) are!

Where do I find things to put inside my stuffed animal? 

You can rummage through your recycling bin or kitchen drawers for some great sources of items that will make wonderful stuffing. Bottle caps, plastic silverware (but not the sharp parts!)twist ties, hangers, and even old credit cards make great additions to any toy. 

Just be sure not to let children handle these sharper objects; after all, they are more likely than adults to try and chew on anything not made of food! Other fun sources of stuffing include rice or dried beans (but not the crooked kind!), little bits of yarn, fabric scraps, and even paper money! If you are trying to give your stuffed toys a scent, some popular choices are lavender sachets, catnip packets, or even bags of ” potpourri .”

What is grooming therapy? 

White and brown small dog on a brown textile with a pink monkey plush toy

Grooming therapy is an animal-assisted activity that helps people who struggle with sensory processing. Though there are many types of therapies designed for this purpose, one form uses grooming as its primary tool. 

Depending on the situation, this can be done in the home environment (such as when working with children), at schools (for both students and teachers), at hospitals (for both patients and staff), or at nursing homes. Grooming is used as a self-soothing strategy to help people relax. 

However, this therapy has its limitations: grooming behaviors can be task-specific (meaning that not all animals respond the same way) and there are some dangers involved (such as bites and scratches). Despite these disadvantages, research has shown that grooming therapy can provide many benefits, such as helping those who struggle with anxiety, stress, depression, anger management, loneliness, low self-esteem, autism spectrum disorders, dementia / Alzheimer’s disease. 

Also have posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder ), cancer recovery/chemotherapy support, seizures/epilepsy support, behavior control issues in children with ADHD or ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), and other mental or physical disabilities. 

So get out there and discover all the wonderful things stuffed animals can do! Grooming therapy may not be the only thing they’re good for, but it sure is an excellent starting point.

Benefits of using Stuffed Animals in Grooming Therapy

There are a number of benefits in using stuffed animals in grooming therapy, including:       

  • can help calm/soothe someone when agitated or stressed
  • provide a form of distraction from the environment and noises around them to focus on something calming, soothing, and familiar
  • increase positive interactions
  • make it easier for people who have trouble connecting with others to build relationships
  • keep their hands occupied which can decrease stimming behaviors (repeated body movements)


The benefits of grooming therapy are clear, but the expense can be hard to justify. One way you may be able to provide this important service without breaking your budget is by making stuffed animals for children who need them in order to have a safe and calming experience during their session. If you’re interested in learning more about how to make these toys or what materials are needed, check out our blog post on the topic! Good luck with all that you do!

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