4 Steps To Make Your Dog LOVE His KONG Toy
Steps to Teach your Dog to LOVE his KONG Toy
1. Toy Selection 101
When selecting a Kong toy for your dog there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, choosing the right type is important! On their website's User Guide, Kong has divided all dogs in three chewing categories: gentle chewers, average chewers and power chewers. The hardness and pliability of the toy depends on how much of a chewer your dog is!
Secondly, the size of the Kong is key to the succes of this endeavour. If you select a Kong that is too small, your dog won't be able to get the food out and is most likely to give up in frustration. An oversized Kong will not fit in your dog's mouth. For my five-month old Labrador cross, I purchased a Medium size. As she grows we'll switch to a Large.
Don't just drive to the pet supply store and pick up a Kong. Do your research. The safety of your dog and the durability of your toy depends on this choice!
2. Stuffing the Kong toy
There are many options for stuffing the Kong toy. The official website sells cans of bacon and cheese paste and peanut butter cookies. In my opinion, these treats are hugely overpriced and don't have great ingredients. It looks like the doggy equivalent of junk food and that's not what I want to feed my pup.
Pinterest has an overkill of healthy Kong recipes, with ingredients such as greek yoghurt, fresh vegetables and meat. Most of the recipes look great but it's a time consuming process and that's not for everyone. If you have some extra time on your hands and you enjoy making these recipes, I don't see a reason not to do it!
However, for me it's easiest to take out some of the kibble I feed my pup, moisten it with some water and fill the Kong with that. I freeze it for an extra challenge (my dog figured the toy out pretty quickly so I had to make it harder). Alternatively, you can mix kibble with plain greek yoghurt, cream cheese or pumpkin puree.
And now for the fun part..
3. Increasing difficulty in Kong stuffing
When you first give a Kong to your puppy or dog, he will need to learn that they contain yummy stuff. Therefore, the first Kong toys your pup receives should be easy to empty. I used three 'beginner Kongs' to teach my puppy to get the treats out of the toy.
- Dry kibble with some pieces of dry meat (I used boiled chicken). By simply moving the Kong around the treats will fall out.
- Slightly moistened kibble and meat which you soak for a few minutes before stuffing it into the Kong. Here your dog will need to be more creative. He might start throwing it around or use his paws.
- A moist ingredient, such as plain greek yoghurt or pumpkin puree, alternated with dry kibble.
Once your dog completes the beginner level, you can decide to freeze the stuffed Kong for a heightened experience. For this, I recommend using a mixture of kibble and a moistener (either water or a wet ingredient).
Now that the Kong toy is stuffed, frozen and ready to go, it's time to get your dog interested! Smear something appealing on the opening of the Kong. I use a little bit of peanut butter or greek yoghurt. This gains your dog's initial interest and will keep him working at it, even though a frozen Kong is more challenging than an unfrozen one.
The harder your dog works, the more food he gets. This is a stimulating task and can be very enjoyable for your dog. It's important to remember that your dog needs to be TRAINED to like the Kong! So praise your dog verbally when he's working at his toy and soon this will be one of his favourite toys!
4. Further uses of the Kong
Your Kong will provide numerous benefits for your dog. If you teach your dog to love his toy, it will help tremendously in raising your pup.I prefer to give my dog his Kong in his crate. This way, it can double as a boredom fighter when I'm not at home!
Additionally, you can bring a Kong when you go on a car ride. This may help subside some car anxiety your dog might experience.
By looping a string through the Kong before stuffing it, you can tie it to a tree or a fence in the summer for some outdoor entertainment!
If your dog is scared of thunder and fireworks, giving him a Kong to occupy his might could be a great relief.