Today's post is largely brought to you by Frankie, and his never ending love for Kongs.
First things first - what is a kong? It is a funny looking dog toy, that can be stuffed with treats/food. It can be used for enrichment, play, chewing, and soothing for our dogs. Most people use them as "pacifiers" when leaving for work - I definitely fall into that category. Kongs can help puppies with crate training, and make leaving our dogs less sad (for both us, and them!)
When most people think of KONGS, they think of Peanut Butter. However, you can do soooo much with kongs - and I thought it might be fun to give some recipes and tips to make the kong experience more enjoyable for your dogs.
Variety is the spice of life, and that applies to dogs too. Our dogs love choices, and they love having their little adorable palates surprised. Kongs are an excellent way to excite our dogs, and give them the variety that they so desire.
Tip #1: Freezing Lickable Kongs
A common problem people face when using kongs is that their dogs finish them too fast. They throw in a lining of peanut butter - and the dog licks it up in approximately 10 seconds flat. This is when you want to enlist the help of our good friend, the freezer. Prepare a few kongs in advance (night before, over the weekend) with yummy lickable ingredients (suggestions below) and then pop it in the freezer. This way when we give it to our dogs, it is now a pupsicle - and will last much longer. By making it last longer, our dogs will be working harder and being enriched longer. They also will likely become more relaxed and soothed, as licking can be a very relaxing behaviour for dogs.
Yummy things to stuff in your kongs:
Tip #2: Stuff Them With Hard to Reach Treats!
This is my go to Kong method! Combined with a little yogurt or Peanut Barker.
Get a kong, get a cookie, and shove that cookie into the Kong. For beginners - allow a little bit of the cookie to peak out so your dog doesn't get frustrated and give up. But for the kong pros like Frankie, shove that cookie in! The dog will be busy for a while with this method - they have to learn to pick the kong up and toss it around. Or they just lick and lick at the cookie until it melts and they are able to get at it little by little.
You do not want to stuff anything that your dog cannot chew quickly. For example, rawhides or bully sticks. You should always supervise when your dogs have long lasting chew sticks such as those. However, cookies, greenies, kibbles, and other crunchy yummies can turn kong time into a long lasting puzzle event!
Tip #3: You Don't Need to Fully Stuff the Kongs!
A lot of people question me when I tell them to give their dogs a bunch of kongs, because they think it is a LOT of peanut butter. So I want to make it clear that you do not need to fully stuff the kong - lining the insides with your yummy lickable treat is good if you are using the kong as a snack/pacifier. As I mentioned, my go to is a combo of wet/lickable ingredients, and a cookie stuffed in! This way my dog isn't getting too much of the wet stuff, but it makes the kong last really long!
You can also mix in kibble with the wet ingredient, so in a bowl mix together a portion of their breakfast/dinner with your wet ingredient. Stuff the kong, then freeze! This is a fun texture for your dog, every once in a while they will feel a crunchy kibble and work hard to get at it! Alternatively, you can pack the bottom half of the kong with kibbles - and seal it with your wet ingredient. Then freeze. Now your dog has a jackpot at the end of the tunnel!
Tip #4: Experiment!
Find what your dog loves! Maybe you have a yogurt monster, or maybe you have a dog that hatesssssss peanut butter (it happens, rarely). Maybe your dog doesn't enjoy when the puzzle is too hard, so you have to leave the treat sticking out half way. Test it out, use this as a way to bond with your dog!
Otis, for example, is a yogurt monster.
Whereas Nicky, Sadie, and Frank will do anything for their Peanut Barker
Tip #5: GET TO IT!!!!!!!!
Embrace the Kong! Have fun, and please share any recipes that your dog loves! We are always trying new things here. Remember, it's a Dog's World - we're just living in it!