The Kong Is King
Dog owners ask me how to keep their dogs busy, especially during winter or when working from home. Puppies are also a struggle when they’re teething and filled with energy! Separation anxiety? Destructive chewing? The Kong dog toy meets all of those needs and provides an alternative to bowl feeding.
Allow me to say that again: Feed your dog using Kongs instead of a boring bowl.
Personally, this advice courtesy of Dr. Ian Dunbar saved my sanity several times over as I’ve raised a Labrador, a French Brittany, a cairn terrier, and a German shorthaired pointer. When they were energetic little puppies, this method provided up to 30 minutes of distraction followed by peaceful napping.
Not only does a Kong provide mental stimulation but it also teaches puppies and young dogs independence when you combine snack time with quiet time in their kennel or playpen. I’ve also used a Kong during vet visits, in the car, and during potentially stress-inducing situations. The possibilities for positive associations are endless!
Power chewers aren’t a problem either. The masterminds behind the traditional Kong also designed a heavy duty black rubber version; mine have been going strong for 8 years and show little wear and tear.
The biggest challenge has always been the act of stuffing the Kong. My Labrador would regularly chomp through every roadblock I threw her way, tearing out the innards of her Kong within 2 minutes flat. All that effort…wasted. Now what?
- Put it in the freezer. Peanut butter, wet dog food, unsweetened apple sauce, pumpkin puree, banana, or even unsalted chicken broth are amazing choices when freezing a Kong. They’ll love a nice, cool treat during hot summer days.
- Plug the holes. Pill Pockets are gummy, pliable, and great at sealing both ends of the Kong. Combine with freezing and you have a locked safe full of goodies that’ll keep them occupied sometimes for hours!
- Jam a hard dog treat in the opening for kibble. While my Brittany can pull things out easily, my small cairn terrier has to work a bit harder. Depending on the dog’s size and skill, give them a good challenge, but not an impossible one. Something crumbly like a biscuit is easier, while a Dreambone is more difficult.
- Help them out. A dog’s undying devotion is solidified when you float in like a guardian angel and deliver the little bit of food they’ve been trying to get for the past 45 minutes. I have a magical tool (just an old pencil) and I fish out whatever is left in the Kong. My dog’s attention is rapt and his tail is wagging every time I pick up the Kong and come in for the assist.
Got a Kong stuffing recipe to share? Comment below!