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How to Stuff a Kong Toy

 

ASPCA logoThe KONG is a nontoxic, dishwasher-safe rubber toy with a hollow center. When stuffed with food, it provides dogs with a healthy outlet for their natural desire to chew and lick. KONGs come in many sizes, from very tiny to extra-large. Some are made for puppies with baby teeth, some are made for regular chewers and some are made for dogs with powerful jaws. There’s a KONG out there for every dog!

Why Give Your Dog a KONG?

Nature made dogs to hunt, forage, scavenge and work for their food—not have it delivered for free in a bowl! One reason dogs develop behavior problems is sheer boredom, resulting from a lack of physical exercise, problem solving and outdoor exploration and investigation. To make your dog’s life more enjoyable, you can give him fun “work” to do when he’s home alone or when you can’t play with him.

Food puzzle toys give dogs a chance to work for their food. These toys are sturdy containers, usually made of hard rubber or plastic, which can hold food or treats. They usually have holes on each end or on the sides. A dog must work to get food to come out by shaking, pawing, rolling, nibbling or licking a puzzle toy. The effort dogs make to get their food from these toys eases boredom, reduces destructive behavior and lessens the anxiety they can feel when alone. In addition to the KONG, here are some of our favorite puzzle toys:

  • The Tug-a-Jug™, the Twist ‘n Treat™ and the Squirrel Dude™ by Premier Pet Products
  • The Buster® Cube
  • The Tricky Treat™ Ball
  • The Atomic Treat Ball™
  • The TreatStik®

How to Use a KONG

You can stuff KONGs with almost any kind of food your dog likes. Feed him his meals in a KONG by mixing his regular kibble with a little canned dog food, cottage cheese, yogurt, peanut butter, canned pumpkin or mashed banana. After spooning the mixture into the KONG, you can use a bit of cream cheese or peanut butter to seal everything in. You can also fill your dog’s KONGs with special snacks to supplement his diet. See the recipes below for creative KONG-stuffing ideas.

Start Out Easy

Dogs don’t automatically know how to use food puzzle toys. They need to learn how. When you introduce your dog to the KONG, you’ll need to make it easy for him to empty it so he doesn’t get discouraged and give up. Use small pieces of kibble or treats that will fall out of the KONG easily.

Make It Harder

When your dog learns how to use the KONG and can empty easy KONGs quickly, you can make his job more difficult. He’ll love the challenge!

  • Use bigger pieces of food. Wedge chunks of fruits and veggies and larger biscuits inside the opening of the KONG.
  • Put a few cubes of cheese inside the KONG. After stuffing it with the cheese and some of your dog’s regular food, put the KONG in the microwave for just five to eight seconds so that the cheese gets sticky and soft. (Be sure that the KONG is completely cool before you give it to your dog.)
  • Hide your dog’s KONGs around your home. Dogs love finding hidden food and unpacking stuffed food puzzle toys! Try putting your dog’s breakfast in KONGs and hiding them right before you leave for work in the morning. Your dog will have a great time working for his meal while you’re away. (A word of warning: Some dogs can make a bit of a mess while enjoying KONGs. If a KONG has soft or wet food inside it—or if your dog tends to drool a lot when chewing on things—you might want to give him KONGs only when he’s in his crate, outside or confined in a room with flooring that’s easy to clean, like tile or linoleum.)
  • Make a KONGcicle! They’re great for spring and summertime outdoor enjoyment. First, put a dab of peanut butter at the bottom of the KONG to seal the small hole. Then turn the KONG upside down and place it in a cup. Stuff the KONG with kibble, canned food, cottage cheese, mashed potatoes, banana or anything else you like. Pour a little chicken broth or gravy into the KONG and freeze it overnight.

 

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WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

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