Jan 23, 2013

The Mighty Kong

The Classic Kong Dog Toy

It seems that almost every one of my clients has a Kong. When I go into their home to walk the dog, there it sits - usually in the basket with all the other unused dog toys. 

Occasionally, when I get a chance to speak directly to the dog owner, I ask them why they don't use it. Nearly all of them tell me that the dog just isn't interested.

Even though the Kong has been in production for over thirty years, most people don't seem to know the proper way to use it. They just buy a Kong and put it in the crate empty, then wonder why the dog won't play with it. After a few days, the Kong goes into the "no longer used" basket.
Raw dog food
I think the Kong is one of the best interactive dog toys on the market. As you can see from the photo, I use them everyday. If you introduce these toys to your dog correctly, they can be a great tool to use for the rest of your dog's life.

The first time your dog gets a Kong, you should make it super easy for them to get at whatever is inside. I like to start with a small treat that will fall out as soon as the dog gives it a nudge - instant reward! The dog quickly gets the idea that this strange object is a good thing. You can then fill them with something that your dog really likes but is a little more challenging to get out. Most find peanut butter works great for this.

You can get more information about how to introduce the Kong to your dog from their website.

Instead of just using them for treats, I actually use Kongs as part of my dogs' regular feeding schedule.

Many dogs today live a very leisurely life and lack enough mental stimulation. To combat this, I've put my guys on a "work to eat" program. They've got to do something to get something - no free rides in this house. Since I feed raw and keep frozen products around for quick meals, I like to stuff these nuggets inside the Kong. It takes them at least 20 minutes to completely finish these - great if you have to leave the dogs home alone for a while. 

If you use dry food, you can simply wet the kibble, stuff it in the Kong, and then stick the whole thing in the freezer. Same with wet food or the peanut butter mentioned above - freezing it extends the length of time it will keep your dog occupied. Again, the Kong website provides a number of different recipes and "stuffing" ideas. 

There are many other enrichment toys on the market, but I would suggest starting with the Kong before moving on to the more complicated ones. You might find it's the only toy you need to keep your dog entertained.
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