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The Kong toy is one of the most important innovations in the dog training world. It's a valuable tool for building better canine behavior because it focuses a dog’s energy and chewing on an appropriate outlet. A Kong will keep a dog occupied for long periods of time as he uses his teeth and tongue to pull out the morsels hidden within.
One of the ways I pamper my Pugs, Willy and Bruce, is by creating new recipes to stuff in their Kongs. The Pugs are more than willing to try out my new creations, and I get the satisfaction of seeing them tail-wagging happy as they engulf the contents of their Kongs.
Here’s one of my newest creations. I call it Tail Mix, which is simply the canine version of trail mix. It was a big hit with Willy and Bruce, and it's veterinarian approved by my father, Dr. Marty Becker.
This recipe can be used to replace part of your dog’s normal meal, although you should consult your veterinarian to determine how much of the meal it replaces, to ensure that you're not overfeeding your dog. It incorporates his normal kibble, with a few additional ingredients that are both healthful and flavorful. The exact measurement of each ingredient will depend on the size and number of Kongs you are filling; below is what I used to fill four medium-size Kongs.
2-3 tablespoons slivered raw almonds
1/8 cup carob chips (Not to be confused with chocolate chips, which can be toxic and should never be given to dogs.) 1/8 cup water
1/4 cup shredded carrots 1/2 cup kibble
2 tablespoons peanut butter (Use just enough to get the mixture to a sticky consistency.) 4 dental chews
1. Place the first five ingredients together in a bowl (everything but the peanut butter and the dental chews).
2. Heat the peanut butter and a little bit of water in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds, or until it’s the consistency of raw pumpkin. This makes the peanut butter easier to stir.
3. Add the peanut butter to the dry ingredients and mix until everything is coated and has a sticky consistency. If needed, add more warm peanut butter to make it stick together better.
4. Fill each Kong with the mix. Don't pack it too tightly, though; keep the filling loose enough that your dog can still get the Tail Mix out with his tongue.
5. Place a dental chew inside the Kong so the end is poking out. The dental chew adds extra time to the unlocking of the Kong and cleans teeth at the same time.
Filled Kongs can be stored in a zip-lock bag in the freezer and served later, much like a puppy popsicle (or, in my case, Pugsicle).
Tail Mix was a huge hit with the Pugs! I used the Kong to replace their evening meal. Instead of taking two minutes to eat their meal, it took them an hour. Both dogs were exhausted afterward and were happily content to relax on the couch for hours after their meal.
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