Does your dog spend the day relaxing? Is he just eating and drinking and lounging around all day? Must be nice! Or is your dog getting into trouble when he’s bored by checking out the trash can, chewing on the furniture, and eating pillows? Let’s end the freeloading and the destruction caused by boredom by putting your dog to work.
In addition to using food for training rewards, a great way to feed your dog is with a puzzle toy. One of the best options available is a stuffable dog toy called a Kong.
Why Bother with a Kong Dog Chew Toy?
What Kind of Kong Should You Buy?
Look for the version of the Kong dog chew toy that best suits your dog. Are they a puppy, senior, or extreme chewer? Look for a size that your dog can’t swallow or wedge into the back of his mouth or throat.
What If Your Dog Doesn’t Seem Interested in Getting the Food Out?
It could be the contents. Maybe your dog doesn’t like what’s inside very much. It could also be too challenging to excavate. You may have to start out by making it easier to get the food out. Also keep in mind it could be the thing that happens around it. Every time you get out a Kong, do humans leave the house or does the dog go into a crate? If so, the Kong predicts going into the crate for your dog.
Pro Trainer Tip: Provide the Kong after the dog goes into the crate, instead of luring the dog into the crate with the Kong. You always want the Kong to be a pleasurable experience for your dog and something they look forward to.
How Do You Stuff a Kong Quickly and Easily?
Stuffing a Kong can be a quick and easy process. In fact, it can be made into a family project that is a lot of fun. Teach your kids how to stuff a Kong with these easy instructions and watch our Kong Stuffing video to see more ways of getting everyone involved. Let your kids be creative in what they stuff in your dog’s Kong, but be sure to avoid the foods listed below in our infographic.
- Use a mug or cup or Solo cup or Tupperware to hold it upright while you stuff.
- Squeeze it to make the opening wider.
- Use baby food spoons to shove things down inside.
- Use a frosting bag or make your own with a sealed Ziploc bag full of soft/wet ingredients and snip off a corner of the bas.
- Seal the bottom, tiny hole of the toy with food like peanut butter, cheese, cream cheese, or a glob of any food that will squish into the hole.
- Put sticky stuff on the sides.
- Fill with snacks bought at your favorite pet food store or see recipes below.
- Put in a last piece of something that sticks out a little, like a biscuit, carrot, apple, bully stick, etc.
- Seal around the top with more sticky stuff like peanut butter, squeeze cheese, cream cheese, etc.
What Food Isn’t OK to Stuff Into a Kong?
When in doubt, leave it out until you can research it. Many of us know dogs who have eaten some of these things without incident. Depending on how much they consume compared to their weight, they may be ok or get a sick stomach but it’s not worth the risk to stuff something you aren’t sure about. Here are some thing you definitely should avoid:
How Do I Keep the Kong Interesting?
Use a variety of stuffing options to keep it interesting and unpredictable. Increase the challenge by making it sticky, making it crunchy, refrigerate or freeze it, melt cheese in it, and use larger pieces of food that are more difficult to remove. Buy several toys and stuff a week’s worth at once to have on hand for busy days, for scary situations like fireworks or thunderstorms, etc…
How Do You Clean a Kong?
Do read the package instructions, but they are generally dishwasher safe, though you may need to soak them first. You might also want to try a bottle brush if you have little ones at home.
If you’re looking to spice things up for your dog, try one of these fantastic recipes, developed especially to stuff in a Kong or similar dog food dispensing toy. Your dog will probably like some of the recipes better than others, so keep track of what really gets your dog enthused for their Kong.
- canned tuna
- low fat cottage cheese
Mix the tuna and cottage cheese together and spoon it into the toy. Serve as is or freeze.
- green beans, steamed or cooked in broth
- broth (beef, chicken, or veggie)
- squeeze cheese
Use the squeeze cheese to fill any small openings in the toy. Fill the toy with veggies and then pour in broth. Freeze.
- low fat, plain yogurt and/or low fat cottage cheese
- chopped banana
- a few blueberries
- narrow apple wedges
Mix the yogurt/cottage cheese with the chopped banana and blueberries and fill the toy. Wedge a few pieces of apple inside. Can serve as is or freeze.
- pieces of cooked chicken
- small biscuit or Milkbone
- steamed rice
- cooked green beans
Mix chicken, rice, and green beans together. Fill toy. Wedge the biscuit into the middle. Serve as is.
- cooked oatmeal, cooled
- honey, just a spoonful
- wedges of apple
Mix the oatmeal and honey. Stuff the toy with the mix. Wedge a few pieces of apple into the oatmeal. Serve as is.
Frozen Recipe Ideas
- peanut butter (xylitol free)
- plain yogurt
Mix the peanut butter with pieces of banana and yogurt – use the blender if you like. Stuff and freeze.
- mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes
Mix the kibble and mashed potatoes and stuff until the toy is almost full. Stand it up in a up and pour a little gravy. Cap with a little extra mashed potato. Freeze.
In a Rush Recipe Ideas
- dry dog food / kibble
- narrow wedges of apple
- string cheese
Break the string cheese into small pieces. Mix the pieces with the kibble and fill the toy. Shove a wedge or two of apple in the middle. Put the whole toy into the microwave for about 30 seconds and check to see if the cheese looks melted. Wait until it completely cools, then give it to your dog.
- dry dog food / kibble
- peanut butter (xylitol free)
- baby carrots or chunks of carrot
Smear peanut butter into the small opening of the toy, if any. Fill with a mix of kibble and carrots. Smear peanut butter over the large opening of the toy.
- plain yogurt
- baked sweet potato, cooled, or canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
Mix the baked potato & yogurt. Spoon into the toy. Serve as is, or freeze.
Bland Stuffing (better for dogs with easily upset tummies)
- cooked white rice
- low sodium chicken broth
Put a small piece of banana in the small hole of the toy to plug it. Spoon the rice into the toy. Fill with broth. Freeze. (Another option is to cook the rice in the broth, stuff the toy, and serve as is.)
So, are you ready to pick up some Kongs and put your favorite freeloader to work? You can buy Kongs right here at Good Dog in a Box. Trainer tip: having more than one on hand will allow you to keep one in the freezer/fridge ready to go, one in use, and one in the dishwasher.
Tanzi Leary is a Cornell graduate and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) as well as a Pat Miller Certified Trainer (PMCT). She works in the Baltimore County area in clients’ homes using effective, rewards-based methods to help them with puppy socialization, basic manners, and modification of anxiety, over-arousal, and aggressive behavior. Thirteen veterinary clinics in the area regularly recommend her to clients. She believes that training your best friend shouldn’t be stressful – for you, or for your dog! You can find her at dogcrazylady.com
Check out our kid and dog friendly, reward based training tools at Good Dog in a Box!
Share with us how your family and friends have used Good Dog in a Box! Share your pictures on our social media. We’d love to hear from you. Let’s keep kids and dogs SAFE together!