Kongs are one of the best antidotes to cure dog boredom.
I sometimes have to remind myself to use them as well because I get out of practice, but every time I use them it reinforces how great they are. I always talk to my clients about them and thought you might need a reminder as well.
If you don't know, Kongs are just one brand of a type of dog toy that allows food or treats to be stuffed inside. They are made of hard rubber and can be washed easily in the dishwasher to remove food residue. I view Kongs as food dispensers. Some dogs like to gnaw on them when they are empty, but most just find them interesting when stuffed with goodies.
It is raining today in Chicago and my dogs did not get their normal romp in the park. They seemed extremely bored so I fed them their dinner out of Kongs tonight. I split their dinner in two and did two "rounds" of Kong stuffing and finding games. They are all now passed out with full bellies and are very content.
Tips for Kong Stuffing
- Use anything that your dog finds tasty and agrees with his system. Options include cooked pasta, rice, peanut butter, wet dog food, dry dog food, treats, cheese, bread, oyster crackers, apple sauce, bananas, lunch meat, etc.
- I stay away from the Kong "sprays". I always read ingredient labels and they have all kinds of extra, unnecessary ingredients. Especially the peanut butter spray -- what's the point? Use regular peanut butter.
- Do not make it too difficult for your novice dog at first. If it is too challenging, even the best ingredients will be ignored because it is too much work.
- Freeze the Kong with the ingredients inside for your expert dog. This will make the extraction process take longer.
- If it is too difficult after freezing, microwave it for a few seconds to thaw it out and make it a bit easier.
- Microwave cheese inside before freezing to make it nice and solid.
- For bigger chunks to hold it together, use pasta or bread.
Tips for Kong Feeding
Once you have practiced stuffing Kongs, finding what your dog can handle and getting your dog excited about Kongs, now you can really have fun!
- Work on a Stay cue and then hide your dog's Kong filled with his dinner around the house
- Use multiple Kongs with varying degrees of stuffing difficulty
- Use a specific cue such as "Go Find Your Kong" to teach your dog to search
- Don't hesitate to help your dog find the Kong if he gives up. Encouragement is a good thing to keep him interested.
- For a novice dog, use a leash and tether your dog to a doorknob during the hiding process.
You can work up to the point where you have your dog stay for 10 minutes or more, hide Kongs around the house and then have him search for it. Your dog will get the enjoyment of "hunting" for food, and then spending a lot of time searching and extracting his dinner. Ten minutes of time for you could equal hours
of fun for your dog. This is also a fantastic form of mental stimulation for dogs. What an efficient use of training time!Also consider the Kong Time product. You can put four Kongs inside and set a 4 or 8 hour timer. It randomly ejects a Kong in that period of time. Great for dogs that are alone for long periods of time.