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The Wonderful Kong

Author: Katie Moody | Date: January 23, 2012

As the mother of two, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have made it through the exhausting newborn period without the help of my good friends the infant swing and the vibrating bouncy seat.   Usually one or the other worked to give me enough time to do something requiring two arms, like showering, and kept my baby happy and relaxed. Without a doubt, the equivalent when you have a puppy is a Kong.

Kongs are wonderful in so many ways.  They provide an outlet for a dog’s natural desire to chew, they provide mental exercise as the dog tries to work out how to get the food out, they make crate training a snap, and, best of all, they guarantee the puppy parents some quiet time.  Our pup always gets his dinner out of a Kong (or two!) while we eat ours.  This routine prevents pesky begging (or outright stealing) behavior and allows us to have some family time without always having to monitor his behavior.

He also gets a Kong when we are leaving the house.  He could care less that we’ve just walked out the door because he’s so busy working on extracting the delicious treats.  One word of caution, though, with young dogs, eating a substantial quantity of food can get the intestines moving.  If you’ve just left the house for several hours with your pup in a crate, at a minimum, it might be very uncomfortable for the puppy if he has to go and is confined, and at worst it might result in a very unpleasant mess for you upon your return.  I generally use a smaller Kong (I own a range of sizes) with just a few dry treats and a bit of peanut butter if I am leaving the house.

I have heard a few people say that their dogs don’t like Kongs.  Usually it’s for one of three reasons:

  • No food in it.  OK, an empty Kong might be interesting for some really intrepid chewers to play with, but for the most part, getting food out is what keeps it interesting.
  • The food comes out too easily.  Dry treats or kibble poured into the Kong will just fall out.  Boring.  Enough said.
  • The food is too hard to get out.  Your dog needs to have a history of success to be motivated to keep at it.  If you make it too hard, too soon, your dog will be frustrated and give up.

Here’s how to make your puppy into a Kong addict.

First, start by filling the Kong with kibble and then putting a smear of something gooey over the hole to seal the kibble in.  Your pup will lick the delicious goo off and then be rewarded with a shower of kibble.

The gooey stuff can really be anything depending upon your dog’s likes and intestinal fortitude.  Ideas include:

  • Peanut butter – a classic
  • Cream cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt – unsweetened
  • Mashed banana – a great use for those slightly browner than you like them bananas sitting on the counter
  • Canned pumpkin – good for digestion and especially for those with more sensitive tummies
  • Canned dog food
  • Squeeze cheese – no need to buy the branded stuff in the pet stores, it’s cheaper at the grocery store

After a few go rounds with this very easy to crack into Kong, it’s time to make it a little harder.  This time, mix the kibble with the gooey stuff in a bowl and then spoon it into the Kong.  You can still add the smear on top.  Now, the kibble no longer falls out when your dog is finished with the smear.  He will have to work much harder to get his reward (i.e. your peace a quiet time just got a lot longer!)

The final step is to take a Kong prepared as described above and then put it in the freezer for a couple of hours.  When you take it out, add a fresh smear of goo to the top to get your dog interested.  I use this technique when I know I need to keep my pup happy and occupied for a long time like when we have dinner guests, and I know we’ll be lingering at the table chatting.

As you figure out how effective your dog is at un-stuffing his Kong, you can get more creative.  There are lots of fun ideas on the internet, some of my favorites are here.  Best of all, Kongs are dishwasher safe, so you don’t have to be better than your dog at getting all of the goo out of the nooks and crannies!



    1. […] So, the take-away?  Unless you catch your dog in the act of dumping the garbage, chewing the chair leg, or peeing in your living room, let it be.  You can’t be effective for the next time they have the inkling.  Instead, if you walk into the room to find a dog like Tank and his mess from who knows how long ago, lighten up, take a video, and next time, take precautions by giving that big lug less freedom and something fun to chew on like a stuffed Kong! […]

    2. […] The other major use of kibble when Tucker was a puppy was stuffing Kongs.  The food that I didn’t use for training went into a Kong mixed with something soft like peanut butter and was given to him when I wanted him to have something to do to keep him out of trouble.  For more about feeding out of Kongs , click here. […]

    3. […] gold standard is the Kong, which I wrote a previous blog about using.  In terms of other chews, my dog tends to find most non-food toys, such as bones made […]

    4. […] one thinks of a tough dog toy, Kong comes to mind, and I have used Kongs with remarkable results. However, Kongs are reserved as a special treat when […]

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