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The art of Kong

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Kongs.jpgI've had quite a few owners ask me recently about chews and activity toys for their dogs. So I thought I'd write a post that will hopefully help. There are lots of toys, gadgets and chews available as canine entertainment, but one of my favourites and, I think, one of the best investments you can make, is to get your dog a Kong.

The classic Kong is a food activity toy which is great for occupying your dog when you’re unable to or want your dog to have some ‘down time’. Providing a filled Kong can help in teaching your dog to settle quietly; it’s also an invaluable tool for helping them to learn independence and coping with being alone.

Chewing helps with relaxation, so a Kong can help induce calm behaviour and provide a pleasant distraction when you leave them. It also gives your dog something to do whilst you’re busy or to prevent them from getting overexcited, such as when you have visitors.

So how can you get your dog addicted (in a good way!) to their Kong? 

It’s not just about what food you put inside. Firstly, an empty Kong isn’t much fun, so make sure the Kong retains its high value, by putting it away when it’s finished with. Then when you bring the filled Kong out again, your dog will know there’s good stuff on the way. 

Be imaginative when stuffing the Kong; a couple of dried biscuits won’t keep your dog interested for long. Your dog needs to work to get the food out by some persistent chewing, shaking, pawing, rolling, nibbling and licking it. The more effort a dog makes to extract the food, the more it will keep them occupied - consider it as 'occupational therapy'. If you want your dog to be still with their Kong, such as when you’re out in public, you can always put your foot on it to stop it rolling around.   

And just like any good menu, you can try layering the food like a three course meal, a starter to stimulate the taste buds, a satisfying main and finishing with ‘dessert’ or a treat, i.e. something tantalising that cannot be eaten until the other ‘courses’ have been consumed. 

So start packing the Kong with the ‘dessert’ first – here are some ideas for the art of good Kong stuffing:

The Tantalising ‘Dessert’: Cheese, cottage cheese, cooked chicken, bacon, pâté, cooked liver, ham, or wet dog food. Use one of these sparingly and put it at the narrow end with the small hole so your dog can smell it but can’t reach it. 

The Main Course: Using larger pieces, wedge cooked potato, dog biscuits, wet dog food, fruit or cooked vegetables into the main body of the Kong. These should not be easy for your dog to remove, so press the contents down into the Kong. 

The Starter: Top with dried liver treats, dog choc-drops, cubes of cheese, chopped sausage, cooked rice or mashed potato. To create immediate interest, the starter can fall out easily as soon as your dog nudges the Kong. 

Prepare Kongs in advance and keep them in the fridge, or freeze them when the weather is very hot. A top tip is to have two Kongs and keep one stuffed and ‘ready to go’ for unexpected situations. And if you need a quick and easy filler, insert dog biscuits, such as a Boneo into the Kong, then smear the inside top with peanut butter or marmite, cream cheese or meat paste. Choose Kongs that are suitable for your dog's size and chewing style - you can find out more at the Kong website. 

Let your culinary skills run free when preparing food your pup’s Kong. Here are some recipes you may want to try.

Spanish Kong: 1 egg, grated cheese and any pieces of cooked vegetables your dog likes.  Scramble the egg and then fold in the vegetables. Pack this into the Kong and sprinkle the top with the cheese, microwave for 20 seconds to seal. Cool thoroughly before stuffing into the Kong and giving it to your dog.

Iced Kong: Plug the end of the Kong with a treat or a dollop of peanut butter and turn the Kong upside down in an empty jar. Fill with chicken gravy, a weak Bovril or Marmite stock or soup, and then freeze. This is more suited for eating outdoors as it becomes very messy when it starts to thaw. It’s a great idea for teething puppies!

Kong au Gratin: Mix pieces of cheese or cheese spread with your dog’s dried food and microwave for a few seconds until the cheese starts to melt. Cottage cheese can be used instead and saves microwaving the contents. Allow it to cool to a safe temperature before stuffing into the Kong and giving it to your dog.

I hope you enjoy trying some of these ideas - and I'm sure your dog will thank you for it!

 

 

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