Want to know what I can’t live without? Kongs.
Kongs, a staple in our house, help teach puppies to love their crate, keep our dogs occupied when we have visitors, give them something to do when I need to get work done (like write this, for instance), provide an alternative to a feeding bowl, and are an entertaining food delivery system.
Dogs don’t automatically understand how to use a Kong, however, and this article (and video) gives you step-by-step, easy to follow instructions on how to do just that.
Where to start.
- First, get several appropriately sized Kongs. For our Labradors, we use the Large size Kongs. There are different sizes specifically for puppies.
- Next, get something delicious and sticky. We love peanut butter, but you can use cottage cheese, yogurt, or you can even buy Kong Stuff’n.
- Cover the large opening on the bottom with the delicious goop (we use peanut butter in the video). You may need to hold the Kong for the puppy or dog if it rolls around too much. Your goal: the dog is very interested in the Kong and stays engaged to get all the goodie goopy stuff out. It may take several experiences with the Kong for your pup or dog to become proficient. You’ll know you’re ready to move to the next step when the dog is finished in under a minute.
- After your pup is good at Step 3, begin to smear the rim of the Kong with the goop. It should still be easy for the dog to get to all the good stuff.
- Once the dog is easily getting all the goodies, begin to stuff the Kong and push the goop up to the first third, making sure there is still plenty of peanut butter (or whatever you’re using) on the edge of the Kong.
- Gradually begin to push the peanut butter up a little further into the Kong until the entire inside of the Kong is coated with peanut butter.
Alternative to sticky food.
If you’d rather use your dog’s regular meals in the Kong, here’s how to do that. Measure your dog’s normal kibble ration and instead of putting it in the bowl, put the food into the Kong. Let him roll the Kong around (pushing it a bit with your hand at first, to show him that there’s food inside).
To increase the difficulty.
When your dog is quickly and easily cleaning the entire Kong, it’s time to add a little bit of fun (difficulty) for your dog. You can stuff the Kong with the goopy mixture, then put it in the freezer to make an iced Kong! This frozen version will take your dog longer to eat and will keep your dog occupied longer.
Alternatively, you can stuff the Kong with the goopy mixture, then pour in part of his kibble meal. Shake the kibble around in the Kong so it sticks to the sides. Now the dog has to work a bit harder to get his meals, as the food is stuck to the peanut butter in the Kong.
Talk back! We love hearing from you — tell us how you use Kongs for your dog and what you stuff in your dog’s Kongs!