How To Make Your Dog Kong-kers!
Boredom is a modern-day curse for dogs! KONG Classic dog toys are just what the doctor ordered - an easy and fun way of enriching your dog's lifestyle.
Here is the 'inside information' on how to use your Kong for the best effect.
Who owns the KONG toy?
It is important that the Kong retains its novel effect for your pet. Therefore, unlike most other toys you give to your pet, your Kong is so useful that it should not be left available all the time. You don't want your pet to get used to it.
So - you own the Kong, not your pet.
Therefore the Kong only comes out of hiding when you have a specific use for it and should not be left available for the dog all the time.
When should you use your KONG toy?
When leaving your pet when you go to work or go out
Many of my clients report problems with unattended barking and destructive behaviours. So often these behaviours are due to a Separation Anxiety or boredom.
As you depart, giving your dog a Kong stuffed with food rewards (as described below) will give it something to occupy its time while you are away. This alleviates boredom.
Another distinct advantage is that it associates your leaving with something pleasurable.
Generally, dogs which are closely bonded to their owners associate the leaving of the owners as a stressful time. If you treat the dog with a Kong at leaving time will dissipate its stress. From that, it learns to look forward to your departure rather than to fear it.
If you are leaving your dog with a Kong, don't forget to pick it up again when you get home. Don't forget - you own it, not your dog!!
When training your dog in the backyard with the ABCs Technique
A program of backyard fun is not only good for your dog but also helps to alleviate boredom. It makes the dog realise that the backyard is a fun place to be in. This helps greatly if your dog continually escapes from your yard because 'the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence'.
However, backyard fun is not just a matter of throwing a Kong around a few times. The ABCs Technique means you should give your dog Aerobic exercise, Brain work and Cuddles or Companionship in the backyard on a daily basis.
The Kong combines the aerobic exercise and brain work. When throwing the Kong, you are giving the dog aerobic exercise and the very unpredictable bouncing of the toy is stimulating in its own right. To introduce brain work, try the following 'Seek' methods:
- Cue your dog to 'Sit and Stay'. Walk off with the Kong and drop it behind an obstacle (a bush, a box and so forth) so your dog cannot see it. Return to your dog and cue it to 'Seek' the Kong. It will have to use its brain more to find where it is.
- Cue your dog to 'Sit and Stay'. Place the Kong about a metre in front of your dog. Now let it see you concealing a piece of kabana, cabanossi or other smelly food reward under the Kong. Cue your dog to 'Seek' and encourage it to investigate where the food is and to find it. As it learns, extend the challenge by placing the Kong further and further away and then by hiding it around the garden in different locations.
Active dogs, working dogs or bored dogs should have a twice daily ABCs session to ensure they are getting enough brain work and attention.
When coping with attention-seeking behaviour
If your dog continually seeks attention by barking at you or jumping on your lap, your main aim should be to redirect this attention to something else. Next time your dog does this, cue it to 'Sit and Stay', wait for five to ten seconds, then place a pre-stuffed Kong (see below) on the other side of the room.
When you are ready, cue the dog to 'Seek' the Kong. When pooch discovers the food inside, it will be occupied for some time. You have thus avoided giving attention when the dog demanded it and distracted it from seeking further attention by giving it something else to do.
More about Kong Toys
The unique cone shape of the Kong is important. This shape makes the Kong bounce in a totally unpredictable fashion. Your dogs will find this irresistible and the chase provides that aerobic work out it needs.
Kongs are also very resilient. The Kong's strong, thick, flexible walls keep springing back for more. It will satisfy your dog's natural need to chew and will also clean its teeth and condition its gums.
Kongs are made from puncture resistant, super bouncy, natural rubber. Their exclusive variety of rubber formulas are chewer-friendly and are unmatched for resilience, durability and bounce. The-Flex rubber is non-toxic, nonabrasive, non-splintering and does not create sharp edges when chewed.
How to stuff your Kong
The Kong's hollow centre is designed to be 'therapeutic'. It can be filled with food or treats to create immense interest.
'Unstuffing' Kongs will become a very popular and important activity for your dog because it will keep your dog contently busy for hours while it crunches up and licks out the food and tasty treats that you have stuffed inside.
Note: Wash your Kong before adding any food so that it is as clean as a dinner plate - your dog will be eating from it and you don't want to make it sick with old contaminated food. It can be placed in the dishwasher.
Easy method 1
Smear the inside of your Kong with peanut paste, Vegemite, liverwurst or cheese spread and give it to your dog.
Easy method 2
- Get a packet of treats and place a small strip of the treat through the small hole in the apex of the Kong to act as a lure.
- Place small pieces of treat inside the Kong and lastly wedge a larger piece inside the bottom lip of the Kong. The small bits are easy, the wedged bit more difficult.
A more elaborate method
- Place a little morsel of smelly food such as Kabana, cabanossi, freeze dried liver, peanut butter, Vegemite or cheese into the little hole on top or apex as a lure.
- Fill about two thirds of the cavity with a commercially available dry dog food, laced with some of the tasty morsels used in step two. The tasty bits act as incentive to 'keep going'.
- Fill the last one third with some type of softer food such as fresh meat, canned food or food roll. Then wedge a piece of hard dog biscuit such as a Lucky Dog treat or a Schmacko into the end.
- Leave a tempting tidbit of dog biscuit sticking out of the opening. The 'easy pickings' will provide an immediate pay off and entice your dog to 'get serious' about the job.
Now give your patient pooch the Kong and enjoy the result!
For experienced Kong-kers
It is important for your dog to succeed at its 'work'. Make it easy to remove the Kong stuffing at first. As it becomes more experienced, you may want to make its job more challenging.
Try the following:
- Pack the stuffing tighter.
- Wedge biscuits inside the cavity using the inside rim of the opening to secure them.
- Freeze it - great for extended entertainment or in the warmer months. Try various combinations of canned food, fresh meat, gravy, noodles, rice and mashed potatoes. Mix these with dry dog food and freeze. It will retain the healthy nature of the food and provide a 'timed release' of food odour to attract your dog back repeatedly.
- Kongsicles are a favourite with many hot dogs in summer. Pack a dab of peanut butter in the small end of the Kong to plug it. Turn it upside down in a cup. Fill it full of water, chicken soup, fruit juice or Whiskas Milk Plus and freeze. Naturally, Kongsicles are recommended for outdoor use or areas where the melting treats won't make an unacceptable mess.
Kongs are wonderful toys. However, if you are having ongoing difficulties with your pet's behaviour, please seek advice from your veterinarian or animal behaviour specialist.
Contributors: Provet Resident Vet
By Dr Cam Day BVSc, KONG Company - Last updated