Effective Use of a Kong Dog Toy
The “Stuffable” dog toy has been around since the 1970’s but didn’t become a pet store staple until the mid- to late eighties. The “original” Kong is a beehive-shaped hollow rubber toy with a large hole in the large end, or bottom, and small hole in the small end, or top, that is virtually indestructible. Without stuffing or alteration, this can provide hours of fun for dogs as a throw toy or as a chew.
Many dog owners are missing out on the wonderful aspect of stuffing the toy, however. This simple enhancement will occupy your dog and keep him focused on the toy for half an hour or more. For dog owners who would relish this break from a needy dog or exuberant puppy, stuffing a Kong can be invaluable. For less problematic dogs, it will give them an opportunity to get treats and embrace the need to chew. Be sure to choose the correct size toy for your dog.
Before stuffing your dog’s Kong, a second enhancement can be made, attaching a rope to the Kong. Most simply, take a piece of rope slightly thinner than the diameter of the top hole and 2 feet long, and knot it. Thread the rope through large hole at the bottom, up through the inside of the Kong and out the top hole. Make a loop about 3 inches in diameter at the end of the rope farthest from the Kong. Now, you can make a slip knot at any time and temporarily attach the toy to a table, chair, etc. If you need to attach the toy to an object without an open end, for example a tree at the park, you can use a simple carabiner through the loop and clip the active part of the line.
With or without the rope, stuffing is the most important part of enhancing your Kong. While commercial products are available, the healthiest stuffings will come from your own kitchen. You can use anything from your dog’s kibble to beef hot dog parts to carrots and apples to cheese. Find what your dog loves, and dice the ingredients into pieces small enough to fit in the toy. Softer ingredients will bind with firm ingredients, holding them in and providing more challenge for the dog. Hard ingredients will provide a treat, giving the dog a sense of accomplishment that they were able to retrieve the prey, so to speak, from the Kong.
To stuff your toy, ensure the knot of the rope is against the top hole of the toy, if you’ve equipped it. Start with a layer of dry ingredient to keep the string and the farthest nook of the Kong clean. Layer in some soft ingredients, like cheese cubes, hot dog pieces, soft fruits, etc. then another layer of dry, pushing one layer into the other to compact it. Continue until the Kong is filled. Attach the toy to a stable object or, without the rope, just freely offer, and let your dog lick and chew the treat.
When attached to an object, the dog will usually remain with the Kong until the stuffing is gone. You have effectively contained your dog in one area without having to crate him or her.
On warm days, a frozen Kong can be offered. Either stuff the Kong traditionally and freeze, or fill with a liquid and freeze. To use a liquid, turn the Kong upside down in a cup, and fill with a liquid of your choice and freeze til solid. While dogs love ice made with plain water, beef or chicken broth can be used, diluted or full strength. Broths will not only provide a cool treat, but also provide electrolytes for an active dog.
When using stuffed toys, ensure that treat pieces are small enough not to present a choke hazard. If using the rope with the Kong, be sure to tie it only to objects secure enough to hold your dog. Do not leave a dog alone unattended with any toy, in case it should fail and present a choke hazard. Do not allow your dog to chew on any rope you may have attached. Do not offer the toy on carpet or other surface that can stain or be damaged by food.
While there are some caveats to using a Kong, when properly stuffed and offered to your dog, it will provide many extra hours of enjoyment for your favorite pup. Whether you choose a Kong brand or a similar toy, your dog will appreciate the many ways you offer his favorite treats and the chewing exercise these stuffable toys offer.