KONG STUFFING 101
Appropriate selection of KONG size and material: Puppies: small & medium BLUE. Beginners: medium BLUE or RED. Most Habibi Bears: Medium or large RED. Very aggressive, strong chewers: medium to large BLACK Kong.
Why Stuff a Kong?
Dogs are animals that are genetically programmed to hunt for their food. Part of the reason there is such a prevalence of behavior problems in pet dogs is that they have so little mental challenge or work to do: their food is given to them for free. Zoos have had some success in decreasing behavior problems and improving the quality of life of many of their predator and primate species by giving them problems to solve in order to obtain their food. This same environmental enrichment concept can be applied to domestic dogs, who thoroughly enjoy finding hidden food and unpacking stuffed chew toys.
Many people’s Kong stuffing efforts consist of inserting a few dog cookies. This is scratching the surface of the creative food acquisition challenges you can cook up for your dog.
Here are a few pointers and principles to bump your Kong stuffing prowess up to the next level:
The level of difficulty should be appropriate to the dog’s level of experience and temperament – is he persevering or a “giver-upper.” Any increases in level of difficulty should be done gradually, so the dog succeeds while developing perseverance. In other words, start easy and then make it tougher.
Easy stuffings are: loose and incorporate small, easy-to-fall-out pieces
More difficult stuffings are: tighter, with some big pieces that take concerted effort and hole-squishing to get in (and thus will be difficult to extract)
You can employ a matrix (peanut butter, cream cheese, canned food, toddler food) to hold the smaller bits in and give the dog side-polishing challenges
You can wrap a stuffed Kong in an old cloth diaper or clean rag and/or enclose it in an old margarine or other container (try Quaker oatmeal cardboard containers!) to increase the level of difficulty through “nesting”
Hide regular stuffed or nested Kongs around the house so the dog has to hunt around to find them before unpacking them
Give him all of his food this way, especially if he is a particularly “busy” dog
Stuff meat, mashed potatoes etc. in it and freeze. Or, plug the small hole with peanut butter and fill the cavity with broth, then freeze this to make a “Kongsicle” (note: this can be messy – best to give it to your dog outside!)
Stuff cheese cubes in and then microwave it briefly to nicely coat the insides
Clean your Kongs regularly with a bottle brush and/or in the dishwasher
Tight (more advanced) Stuffing:
Layer 1 (deepest): roasted unsalted cashews, mild cheese chunks, freeze dried liver bits
Layer 2: dog kibble, cookies or Liver Biscotti, Cheerios, sugar-free/salt-free peanut butter, dried banana chips
Layer 3: baby carrot stick(s), turkey and/or leftover ravioli or tortellini, dried apples, dried apricots
Pack as tightly as possible. The last item in should be a dried apricot or piece of ravioli, presenting a smooth “finish” under the main hole. Bon appetit! “Lite” Version. For cashews, substitute crumbled rice cake; for freeze-dried liver, substitute Caesar croutons; for peanut butter substitute fat-free cream cheese.
KONG STUFFING RECIPES
Kong Dog Toys are widely used and recommended for therapy and prevention of understimulation, boredom, separation anxiety and other behaviour problems. On of the most common techniques is to stuff a Kong. Unstuffing Kongs has become a very popular and important activity, because it can keep dogs contentedly busy for hours while they crunch up and lick out the food nuggets and tasty treats stuffed inside.
The following are recipes created by veterinarians, dog trainers and dog lovers worldwide.
1 fresh banana
2 tbs wheat germ
1 tbs plain yogurt (can use your pet's favorite flavour as well)
Kong Toy that best fits your pet's chewing temperament
In a bowl, mash up banana. Then, add wheat germ and yogurt. Mash all ingredients together and use spoon to add to Kong. Freeze for 4 hours. Makes 1 serving for Medium Kong. Double for every Kong Size that is bigger.
CHEESY DENTAL KONG DELIGHT
3 slices of your pet's favorite cheese
Dental Kong Toy
A very simple and creative way to make any pet drool in delight. Just place the 3 slices of cheese directly onto the grooves of your pet's Dental Kong (if model has rope - make sure cheese does not get onto it). Melt in microwave for 20 to 30 seconds. Give to pet after it cools.
1 ounce cream cheese
Appropriate Kong Toy
Place small scraps of the steak inside Kong toy. Spread cream cheese in large hole to hold scraps.
Apple and carrot chunks
1/4 of a banana
Appropriate Kong Toy
Place apples and carrots in Kong Toy. Mush the banana in large hole to hold fruit in place. You can include other fruits and veggies, such as, orange slices, peach and/or nectarine chunks, celery sticks, broccoli and/or cauliflower, tomato and black olive mixture.
VEGGIE KONG OMELETTE
Your choice of shredded cheese
Any vegetables that your pet may like
Appropriate Kong Toy
Scramble egg and fold in vegetables. Put into Kong toy. Sprinkle some cheese over the top and microwave for about 20 seconds. Cool thoroughly before giving to dog.
MAC 'N CHEESE
Leftover macaroni and cheese
Small cube of Velveeta
Appropriate Kong Toy
Melt Velveeta in microwave until gooey. Add mac 'n cheese to Kong Toy. Pour heated Velveeta into Kong. Make sure it has cooled before giving to your pet.
AUNT JEANNIE'S ARCHEOLOGY KONG (for advanced dogs)
LAYER ONE (deepest): roasted, unsalted cashews · freeze dried liver bits LAYER TWO: dog kibble, cookies or liver biscotti · Cheerios · sugar-free, salt-free peanut butter · dried banana chips, apples and apricots LAYER THREE: carrot sticks · turkey or leftover ravioli or tortellini · Kong Toy (the larger the better!) Pack as tightly as possible. The last item inserted should be an apricot or piece of ravioli, presenting a smooth "finish" under the main opening. LIGHT VERSION: substitute crumbled rice cakes for cashews, Caesar croutons for freeze-dried liver, fat free cream cheese for peanut butter. - by Jean Donaldson
KONG ON A ROPE
Dry dog kibble · appropriate Kong Toy · Rope Take the rope, pull it through the Kong Toy and knot it. Hang this upside down from a tree, deck or post. The small hole should be facing the ground. Take the kibble and fill the Kong Toy. Make the toy hang just low enough that it is out of your dog's reach. The dog will spend hours trying to retrieve the kibble from the Kong Toy. At the end of the day, take the remaining kibble and give to your pet as a reward. This is advanced work for your dog. - by Ian Dunbar
FROZEN JERKY POPS
Peanut butter · bouillon · Jerky Strips · Water · appropriate Kong Toy · muffin tin Smear a small amount of peanut butter over small hole in your Kong Toy. Fill the cool water and add a pinch of bouillon. Place a Jerky Stick inside Kong Toy and freeze. This can also be put (once frozen) in a children's size swimming pool for a fun day of fishing for your pet. - by Terry Ryan
SIMPLE, TRIED AND TRUE
Peanut butter · appropriate Kong Toy Smear peanut butter inside the cavity of your Kong Toy. It's that easy! - by trainers and vets worldwide
Trixie, a 50 pound Aussie/Springer mix, loves turkey, chicken or marrow bites mixed with slightly moistened food nuggets frozen inside her Kong. She is very clean about unstuffing - some dogs are not! - by Joe Markham
Every dog has a favorite recipe - finding your dog's will be fun!
REMEMBER: Some foods are not healthy for dogs. Check with your vet first.