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Dog trainers recommend using Kong toys with the same frequency that high school counselors promote getting a college degree. These hollow rubber toys, which are stuffed with food or treats, have improved the lives of countless canines by serving as training tools, stimulating the canine brain and providing outlets for energy release.
Kongs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from miniature Chihuahua size to gigantic Mastiff size, and varying in material strength from the softer puppy and senior versions to the impossibly strong indestructible version that even the most avid chewers can’t power through. While most Kongs are fairly indestructible, for dogs that are notorious for chewing and swallowing things they shouldn't, consider asking your veterinarian for special Kongs that are visible on X-ray. Kongs can be stuffed with loose treats for beginning chewers, or can be frozen with canned dog food and a pencil rawhide to turn the eating experience into a longer lasting challenge for experienced Kong code crackers.
Kongs serve as productive outlets for dogs to focus on, which makes them excellent training tools. Kongs can be used for a variety of training behaviors, such as teaching a dog to enjoy his crate, helping a dog endure separation when his owner leaves, channeling a dog away from begging at the dinner table and getting a dog to settle quietly at his owner’s side at a family outing.
The majority of household dogs do not have productive outlets for mind stimulation and energy release; this results in a bored and restless dog, which in turn can cause behavior problems. The Kong unleashes a dog’s inner scavenger and hunter by turning mindless 30 second meal consumption into a longer, more satisfying experience that requires the dog to use a combination of brain and body. A dog who is satiated both physically and mentally will be less likely to exhibit problem behavior, and the Kong helps fill this gap of environmental enrichment. What's particularly handy about the Kong is that there are many versions of this multitasking toy that can be purchased for under $10.
Want to try it out for yourself? Here is how to make one of my dog's favorite recipes.
1 can of your dog's normal food or a nutritional canned food
1/2 cup kibble or tasty dog treats
1 pencil rawhide or pencil-shaped dental chew
Plastic Freezer Bag
1. Fill the Kong with the canned version of your dog's normal food or with a nutritious canned food.
2. Place small pieces of kibble or dog treats in with the canned food as you go to make it harder to extract.
3. Place a pencil rawhide or thin pencil-shaped dental chew inside the Kong so that it hits the bottom of the Kong and has a portion of it hanging out of the end like a fuse.
4. Place the stuffed Kong in a plastic bag in freezer.
Once the dog food is frozen, let your pet have at it. Both you and your dog will be glad you did. For more information on mastering this toy, watch Mikkel's video on How to Stuff a Kong for Your Dog.
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