Learn how the Kong for dogs can help in your dog’s training and resolving behavior issues.
All common behavior problems can be traced back to natural instinct. Barking, digging, marking and chewing all served a specific purpose in the wild. Having their natural instincts suppressed can be very frustrating for a dog. Rather than battling against these natural instincts or punishing your dog, it is better to find acceptable ways to satisfy their instincts.
This is why exercise, play, and toys are critical to having a happy, balanced and well-behaved dog. For more than three decades dog trainers and behaviorists have recommended the Kong dog toy. To select what are the best toys for your dog you need to know what their chewing style is. For more on dog toys read “Secrets to maximize the benefit of your dog’s toys”
The three chewing styles of dogs
Gentle chewers – These dogs are easy on toys and usually prefer plush or soft toys. They will rarely destroy their toys
Average chewers – These dogs love to play with all types of toys. they will often carry them around with them. They can be destructive with soft or plush toys. However, they rarely destroy rubber toys
Power chewers – These dogs are strong determined chewers. Toys that are durable such as the Kong Extreme are best for them. It is often a good idea to size up when selecting toys for these dogs. Remember, there is no such thing as an indestructible dog toy, especially for power chewers.
A Kong for dogs can be used as a reward, for chewing and are also great for a game of fetch. Because of their shape, they have an unpredictable bounce.
Many dogs will not necessarily go for a toy straight away. Because of the Kong for dogs is also a food stuffing toy it helps encourage them to be drawn toward it. It also provides a mental challenge getting the goodies out of the Kong. For more on mental stimulation read “Mental enrichment and mind stimulation for dogs”
Introducing your dog to a Kong
Many dogs may need to learn to enjoy all the benefits of this versatile toy. It is important to use the correct size Kong for your dog. I recommend finding the Kong that you think is best for your dog and then select the next size up. They don’t hold as much as you would think. Engage your dog with their new Kong and even roll it around to get them interested. As many dogs are food driven the Kong is ideal to interest them.
The key at first is to stuff the Kong loosely so the food can come out easily. Once they have become more proficient at getting the food you can stuff it more tightly and even block the large hole with a large treat or paste. Alternatively, mix wet and dry ingredients and freeze the Kong. This heightens the experience by providing a longer lasting and stimulating task.
How to stuff a Kong for dogs
There are hundreds of recipes available for Kong stuffing. However, they can be time-consuming and not necessarily needed. If you enjoy doing this and have the time go ahead. Otherwise, you can use the Kong treats and Kong pastes (available in peanut butter and liver flavors) or even their regular food.
You can also use Kong for dogs to feed your dog their normal daily meals. This is better than free feeding as they have to work for their food. This provides a mental reward and can help with a lot of behavior issues. A dog that is bored and frustrated is more likely to get into trouble. A dog that is stimulated won’t. In addition, it is a great way to feed for dog’s on a weight loss program or for those super fast eaters
If you feed a dry kibble moisten the kibble with warm water or even chicken stock and stuff into the Kong. If you using chicken stock it is best to dilute as some stocks can be high in salt. You can block the large hole with Kong paste or natural unsweetened yogurt to add more challenge. Place in the freezer until meal time. I recommend having 3 or 4 Kong toys so they can be rotated and you don’t get caught out without a Kong available
If you feed a wet or raw diet you can do the same thing. An alternative is to use a Kong biscuit ball as they will be able to get their tongue in to reach all the meat.
An alternative to feeding your dog is to use a Kong Wobbler. Just fill with your dog’s kibble. The large Kong Wobbler can hold two to three cups of kibble.
Kong sizes in inches
Size Length Pet Weight
Medium 3.5 inches 15 to 35 pounds
Large 4 inches 30 to 65 pounds
X-Large 5 inches 60 to 90 pounds
XX-Large 6 inches 85 pounds and up
How to use a Kong for dogs to aid in training and solving behavior issues
Isolation stress or separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety occurs with the first twenty minutes of being left alone. This is why it is important to teach your dog a positive association with being left alone.The way to achieve this is to stuff a Kong with your dog’s favorite treats. Practice this when you are at home during quiet times. This way your dog won’t associate the Kong with being left alone only. You can use several Kongs to leave with your dog when they are alone. This will ensure that they are kept busy while you are gone.
Read “Leaving a dog alone while at work” for more on this.
Digging and Barking
Dogs bark to communicate and dig when bored. This includes digging to escape so they can go on an adventure.The key to reducing this kind of behavior is to create ways for your dog to release energy. It is crucial to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. A game of fetch with a Kong is a great way to release physical energy. A Kong never bounces in the same direction due to its unique shape. Stuffing a Kong and giving it to your dog when outside is a good way to occupy them and focus their attention in a positive way. Read “Dog exercise calculator” to find out how much activity your dog needs each day.
Crate training your dog provides your dog with a safe and quiet area and also aids in house training a puppy or new dog. To create a positive association for your dog when crate training Kong toys are priceless. To crate train your dog, place a stuffed Kong at the back of the crate and allow your dog to go inside. At this stage, leave the door open. As your dog works on the Kong inside the crate they will become more comfortable and relaxed. This will help create a positive association with spending time in the crate.
Chewing is normal behavior for a dog. It becomes a problem when they are chewing on your shoes or other possessions. Many dogs hold tension in their jaw. Chewing provides a stress release for them and also keeps their jaw strong and their teeth clean. Chewing reliefs anxiety, frustration, and boredom. For puppies is also aids in relieving pain when they are teething. It is important to use the Puppy Kong (blue or pink) with your puppy. These are made from a softer more flexible rubber so as not to stain their jaw. Their adult teeth and jaw are not fully set until around nine months of age. After they are nine months old they can move to a Kong Classic (the red kong) or for power chewers the Kong Extreme (the black Kong). The Kong Senior (Purple) is best for dogs that are older than seven years old. It is made from a softer rubber to care for aging teeth and gums.
Other Kong for Dogs tips
Kongs are easy to keep clean and are top shelf dishwasher safe
Keep a Puppy Kong in the freezer to help soothe sore gums when your puppy is teething
You can never have too many Kongs. This way you will never be caught out if you have a ready to go stuffed Kong in the freezer
An ideal treat for those hot summer days. Block the small hole with a piece of cheese and fill with chicken or fish stock and freeze. Probably best to feed outside
Give your puppy or dog a stuffed Kong if you have company. This will keep them occupied while you spend time with your guests.