One of the most versatile and useful toys in my dog trainer toolbox is the Kong®. Kongs are those snowman shaped toys with a small hole on one end and a large hole in the other. Although the Kong company sells treats that you can stuff in the Kong., you can use your own treats, kibble and/or dog food and seal the large hole with cheese, canned food or peanut butter. Hidden in the Kong website is a section of favorite homemade recipes that you can make on your own without spending a lot of money. The following website also has these same recipes and a great diagram showing a well-stuffed Kong (http://www.labmed.org/catalog/kong2.html).
Kongs are useful for the following reasons:
1) Fetch toy – my dogs love to play fetch with the Kong (after they have excavated the contents). The erratic and random way the Kong bounces really excites dogs.
2) Self-entertainment – my dogs will often throw the Kong around the room and play with the Kong by themselves. My one puppy flings her stuffed Kong around to see if treats will drop out.
3) Alleviates Boredom – a well-stuffed Kong can keep a dog occupied for as long as two hours (I timed my puppy a few weeks ago). The Kong is a good way to occupy a dog’s time while you are away from the house. But remember to give your dog stuffed Kongs during times you are at home too so that your dog won’t associate the Kong with you leaving for work.
4) Slow down fast eaters – for dogs that “wolf” down their food, you can stuff half their meal in the Kong (sealing the hole with cheese or peanut butter). Place the remainder of the dog’s meal in their bowl and place the stuffed Kong in the middle of the food bowl. The dog will have to eat around the Kong to get at the food in the bowl and then have to excavate the Kong to get the remainder of the meal. A meal that might have taken 20 seconds to eat now takes several minutes.
5) Pacifier – sometimes there are times when you need your dog to be occupied with other activities. A stuffed Kong can keep your dog distracted and busy when you have the repairman over or guests.
Kong Dispensers - Kongtime has developed an automatic dispenser that can deposit Kong toys throughout the day. I have not used it because I have a multi-dog household, but I would leave it on a high counter rather than the floor to avoid having the dog chew on the dispenser. This device is best for single-dog households where you don’t have to worry about dogs competing for the Kong or guarding the Kong dispenser. Go to http://www.kongtime.com/index.html for more info.
Does your dog play or use a Kong? What is your experience?
Los Angeles Dog Trainer: www.pawsitivefeedback.com