The quintessential hollow toy that every dog owner should have offers more than just an opportunity for dogs to get tasty morsels out. Kongs cater to a dog’s needs for mental stimulation and more and more trainers and behavior consultants incorporate Kongs in their treatment plans because of their therapeutic effects. For those who are not familiar with Kongs, Kongs are rubber toy with a hollow center that allows them to be stuffed. Once stuffed with tasty goodies, dogs are kept busy working on getting the treats.
There are different types of Kongs on the market specifically crafted for every type of dog. Kongs for puppies, Kongs for small dogs, regular Kongs, Kongs for strong chewers and Kongs for seniors. If you purchase your dog a Kong, make sure it’s suitable for your dog’s age, size and chewing habits. Following are seven things you can do with a dog Kong.
Replace the Food Bowl
Many dogs eat their meals very quickly which causes them to become gassy and puts the large, deep-chested breeds at risk for bloat. On top of that, bored dogs look forward to their meal times and they often end up wolfing down their meals in under a minute. After eating their meal, they’re then left to deal with more boredom. Try instead feeding your dog’s meal in a food dispensing toy such as a Kong, suggests, dog trainer and author Nicole Wilde. This way your dog is kept busy while he’s provided with an outlet for this natural desire to chew.
Hang it Up High
To further kick the challenge up a notch, thread a rope through the Kong and make a knot towards the small end, where the smaller hole is. Then, fill the Kong with your dog’s treats and go tie the unknotted end of the rope to a tree branch at a height that will require your dog to jump and bat at it so to get his favorite treats out. Now, grab a chair and watch your dog have fun in getting all the treats out. This game of doggy pinata works very well for those athletic, energetic dogs who are always looking for something to do.
Keep Lonely Dogs Busy
A Kong can be a part of a behavior modification protocol for dogs suffering from separation anxiety. Dr Jeff Vidt recommends investing in three to four Kongs and stuffing them with goodies such as bananas, yogurt, peanut butter, cottage cheese and then freezing them. Before leaving, give your dog one Kong, and leave the remaining around the house. Your dog will associate your departure with something good and he’ll also be kept busy as he works on getting the frozen goodies out.
Use as a Distraction
Let your dog lick contents out of a Kong when you need to do some grooming that requires your dog to be still and collaborative. To keep his tongue extra busy, you can fill the Kong with treats or his daily ration of kibble and then add some cheese. Next microwave the Kong for a few seconds, just enough to melt the cheese. Let it cool down. Now you have an extra gooey Kong for your dog to lick while you work on brushing your dog or trimming his nails.
Kong Bobbing Game
For dogs who love to play in the water, you can fill a large bowl or bucket of water and place a Kong or two inside. Next, ask your dog to fetch the Kongs outside of the bowl or bucket. Alternatively, in the summer, you can place a stuffed Kong in a big, deep bowl, then submerge it with water and freeze it overnight. The next day, dump the whole frozen ice dome with the Kong inside a kiddie pool and let your dog have fun with it. As the ice melts, your dog will get his reward.
All Roads Bring to Kong
Try making a trail with your dog’s kibble by placing it on the floor for your dog to follow. Start easy, making a short trail that’s straight and leads to a Kong stuffed with a cookie. As your dog gets good at following the trail, start making it more complicating each day by adding twists and turns and placing the kibble more and more far apart from each other.
Stuff it in a Sock
If you want to keep your dog extra busy, you can place a stuffed Kong inside a sock and then let your dog work on figuring out how to get it out. Since the sock will likely get teeth marks, use a pair of old socks you do not care about. If your dog gets proficient in getting the Kong out of the sock, you can try tying a knot at the end of the sock, suggests Rick Woodfard, author of the book “Feed Your Best Friend Better: Easy Nutritious Meals and Treats for Dogs.”.