The invention of the Kong, the popular hollow dog toy which has been on the market now for over thirty years, has been quite a blessing for dog owners, veterinarians, and trainers worldwide. Its use is much more involved than simply being a toy a dog can play with for several minutes a day. Indeed, Kongs have been even recommended by veterinarians, trainers and dog behaviorists for behavioral problems, stemming from separation anxiety to hyperactivity. Kongs also offer great training opportunities, re-directing bad behaviors by offering a great alternative to problem behaviors such as chewing, jumping, and barking.
How to Use a Kong to Diffuse Problem Behaviors
A dog cannot chew, bark or jump, if it is actively engaged in an interactive game of emptying a Kong filled up with goodies! A Kong, therefore, can be used to re-direct a dog from engaging in unwanted behaviors. So let’s say Rover gets hyper and jumps up at guests? Have them ask for a sit and toss him a stuffed Kong as a reward. Puppy urinates submissively when friends are over? Have them ignore the puppy and casually drop a Kong: the excitement will quickly dissipate as the puppy works on dislodging the tasty treats. A dog feels threatened and barks at guests at the door? Have a Kong ready the moment he notices them, and give it each and every time. Your dog will start associating guests with getting a Kong, and will, therefore, be more likely to anticipate their arrival. Guests ultimately bring good things!
There are many further productive ways of using Kongs. Dogs suffering from mild separation anxiety may be less likely to notice all the cues owners are about to leave if given a stuffed Kong right before leaving. Shelter dogs or working dogs may feel more mentally stimulated and less bored if provided with a Kong each day. Use a stuffed Kong as a great jackpot for rewarding those above average performances when training dogs. A stuffed Kong may bring relief and break the cycle in the initial stages of obsessive-compulsive behaviors. A dog recovering from surgery may be less likely to bother its sutures or itchy wound is provided with a Kong. And these are just a few examples!
While Kong sells special sprays (Kong Stuff’n) which can be used to fill up the hollow cavity of the toy, there are many Kong stuffing recipes that can help dog owners save money, and keep Rover guessing and guessing about what hides at the bottom of their favorite dispenser!
Some Great Kong Recipes for Dogs
One of the best features of Kongs is that they can be stuffed in many different ways. Some people decide to stuff their dog’s Kongs with kibble so to prevent them from eating too fast, or to simply keep the mind of working dogs stimulated. Following are several recipes that will keep dogs entertained and happy for quite some time.
A Great Way to Refresh
When the temperatures rise, humans may crave ice-cream, a bottle of beer, or a refreshing soft drink, but what about Rover? Make his day by stuffing a Kong with peanut butter and freezing it in the freezer. Watch him cool down enjoying his treat by the pool-side!
Some Winter Comfort
In the winter, you can stuff the Kong with your dog’s regular kibble and a few pieces of cheese. Microwave the Kong for a few seconds until the cheese manages to melt. Make sure the Kong is not too hot by testing its warmth before feeding it to your dog, recommends the SF SPCA.
Philly Cheese Steak
Simply fill up your Kong with cream cheese and some left-over steak scraps. Do not use fat steak sections, rather use only lean meat. Fatty, greasy meat may predispose dogs to dangerous pancreatitis.
Full Course Meal
Westwood Animal Hospital in Kansas offers an interesting twist on the Kong. It recommends to start by filling the small hole at the top with some freeze-dried liver, peanut butter or cheese as a tantalizer, next comes dessert, a 1/3 layer of crushed doggie treats and biscuits, the remaining two thirds are composed by the main course, a layer of canned dog food, which ends with the appetizer, basically a dog biscuit sticking out of the opening to entice the dog to start!
Upset Tummy Recipe
This recipe is for dogs suffering from an upset tummy. It is made using a vet-approved bland diet for dogs suffering from diarrhea. Boil some rice and let it cool. Stuff the bottom of the Kong with a large piece of boiled skinless and boneless chicken. Fill up 1/3 of the Kong with more boiled chicken and the remaining 2/3 with rice. End with another piece of chicken on the top.
Skin Allergy Recipe
Always check with your vet before stuffing a Kong for a dog suffering from allergies. This recipe comes from the ASPCA. Start by filling up the bottom of the Kong with some fruit such as apples, banana, blueberries, cantaloupe or a part of an orange. Then mix your dog’s hypoallergenic diet with a few spoonfuls of water, broccoli, zucchini, and carrots and make a layer. Place a chunk of baked potato on top and continue making layers. Lodge a hypoallergenic biscuit in both ends of the Kong and top with vegetarian refried beans.
Other helpful quick stuffers include but are not limited to halved bananas, wedged apples, squirts of Cheez Wiz, roasted peanuts, plain pureed pumpkin (not the pie mix), peas, carrots, cooked brown rice, lean hamburger, canned dog food, cream cheese and plain or naturally sweetened yogurt (avoid products with artificial sweeteners which can be toxic in dogs).
How to Use a Kong Dog Toy – 90% of Behavior Problems Eliminated
How the Kong Was Invented
Curious about how the Kong was invented? The creation of the Kong was purely accidental. It all started when Joe Markham grew frustrated about his dog’s obsessive behavior of chewing rocks. Indeed, his German Shepherd, which by the way, was called Fritz, had managed to wear down its teeth from engaging so much in his favorite activity. Out of desperation, Joe decided to disassemble his van providing his dog with pieces that may have intrigued him more than the rocks. None of the parts gained his interest, other than a rubber suspension part that finally shifted Fritz’s interest. After refining the item’s design, the Kong was finally born for all dogs to enjoy!