Dogs are genetically programmed to hunt for their food and often enjoy being challenged by the process of finding and removing food that is hidden or stuffed into toys. This process engages them and expends mental energy, which makes for a happy and well-behaved dog.
Dogs who aren’t able to exercise their minds and bodies will commonly engage in undesirable behaviors, such as barking, destroying things within the home or yard, etc. Our pets rely on us to make sure they receive the stimulation they need, and luckily, a stuffed Kong provides an excellent — and easy! — opportunity for mental stimulation.
Which Kong Should You Get?
The product line has different versions for puppies, seniors and strong chewers, to make this activity as safe as possible for your dog’s dental and gastrointestinal health. Consider your dog’s experience with a Kong and his temperament: Is your dog is a large, strong chewer who tends to tear through things he can chew quickly? Does he eat non-food items? If there’s any risk that your dog could eat all or parts of the Kong, supervise him very closely or consider not providing this toy at all.
Tips for Stuffing a Kong
While many people simply put a few dog cookies in a Kong, there is so much more you can do that will require much more engagement — and be much more fun! Start with Level 1 and work your way up. The levels are designed to decrease any stress or frustration for your dog. If you skip ahead and immediately give your animal a Level 5 Kong, they may give up and lose interest.
- Level 1: Fill Kong entirely with kibble and then give to dog.
- Level 2: Fill the Kong three quarters of the way with kibble. Fill the last quarter with wet food, organic pumpkin or plain yogurt.
- Level 3: Place a Level 2 Kong in your freezer. Once the top layer is frozen, give to your dog.
- Level 4: Mix wet food, organic pumpkin or plain yogurt with dry food. Fill the entire Kong with the mixture and then give to your dog.
- Level 5: Place a Level 4 Kong in your freezer. Once the entire Kong is frozen, give to your dog. This version may keep your dog busy for up to 45 minutes.
After Your Kong Is Stuffed
How you provide the Kong is as important as what you put in it.
- Think about how you might make it a bit (or a lot) more challenging for your dog to find.
- Wrap the Kong in a cloth, or put it in an old margarine or other container (try Quaker oatmeal cardboard containers) to increase the level of difficulty.
- Hide stuffed Kongs around the house so your dog has to hunt around to find them before being rewarded with a treat.
- Freeze a Kong with “wet” food in it to make it last longer (see filling ideas above).
- You may want to give your dog all of his food this way, especially if he is a particularly energetic dog.
- Once your dog has enjoyed his treats, don’t forget to clean the Kong regularly! Use warm water and soap with a bottle brush or old toothbrush, or put it in the top rack of your dishwasher.
Kong has more stuffing ideas and recipes.
Behavior Helpline: Contact our Behavior Team
For behavior questions, please contact our Behavior Helpline either by calling 619-299-7012, ext. 2244, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or filling out our Ask a Trainer form. San Diego Humane Society Adopters can fill out the Post Adoption Consultation form to schedule their troubleshooting session. We aim to respond within 7 days, but responses may take up to 2 weeks. Thank you for your patience!
Note: Due to the potential for serious injury, canine and feline aggression are best handled by a professional who specializes in aggressive behaviors. Because phone or email counseling is inadequate for addressing serious behavior concerns, we ask that you contact a qualified professional for help. Please refer to the list of behavior resources here.
Questions About Public Classes
San Diego Humane Society offers training classes and resources to address a variety of needs for companion animals.
Our training philosophy is based on the behavioral science concepts of positive reinforcement. Training your pet using these concepts will not only help them learn new behaviors more quickly, it will also strengthen the bond you share.
Our website includes a current schedule of training classes or call 619-299-7012, ext. 2398.
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