More than a Dog Toy

It was invented as a toy. It has morphed into a valuable tool for dog trainers, puppy owners and behaviorists. I am referring to the Kong toy and other similar items that allow you to stuff food in them. Many times when I recommend it, owners wonder why these toys are so helpful. They can be used as a reward, a boredom breaker, an anxiety reliever and, even a toy! When puppies are young, owners need time to do house chores, help with homework or work on the computer, which will take focus away from the puppy, which will then change into an amazing house destroyer, chewing on furniture, walls, etc. By stuffing a toy with peanut butter, it gives the puppy something to do that will occupy its time, while your time is occupied! For owners that work outside the home, a stuffed treat toy gives the dog something to work on during the day. Dogs like to eat. Spending time in this activity takes mental activity and keeps the dog busy. For anxious dogs, licking and working to retrieve the yummy contents takes their mind off their worries. A dog owner can easily put the morning kibble ration in a Kong, glue the pieces together with a little canned food and go to the gym or work, content in the knowledge that the pooch will be busy for a while. For puppies that are undergoing crate training, it is a great tool to keep them happy and quiet. Canine Learning Center instructors have been known to use a stuffed Kong to pacify a barking, anxious dog during class. They are easy and dogs love them. What could be better? As far as the food to put inside, peanut butter or squeeze cheese are popular choices. Other choices include liverwurst and cream cheese. Combinations that include biscuit or kibble can make it challenging. Putting the Kong in the freezer before serving makes it last even longer. A low calorie filling for portly pets includes canned pumpkin, maybe with a few baby carrots mixed in. A banana for the fruit loving canine would be a good choice, adding in a little yogurt, perhaps? I’d love to hear your ideas on good fillings for Kong toys. Photo courtesy of erichcpeters via Flickr

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