If you are worried about the risks associated with any of the other chew toys / edible chews then stick with this option and you generally can’t go wrong.
Useful tool for aiding crate training, alleviating boredom and helping with separation anxiety - The Classic Kongs are great to stuff and can keep your dog occupied for hours. We often recommend these as safe for leaving your dog with unsupervised so they can be good to give to dogs if you are popping out without them for an hour or two and they can be a useful tool if you are working on a programme to alleviate mild separation anxiety or for crate training. Don't forget to provide stuffed Kongs randomly, not just when you are going out, so they won't always be associated with you leaving. They can also be useful for dogs that have an injury and can't have as much excercise as normal or for those that need to lose weight as their daily food rations can be split up in Kongs throughout the day.
Set your dog up for success/ Start out easy - We sometimes have customers who mention that their dogs just don't like Kongs. Most of the time it is just that some dogs need a bit more encouragement to relish the Kong challenge and it is all about being inventive and experimenting with the stuffing (starting with something that is relatively easy for your dog to get out and that they really love). We recommend starting with high value food/treats that drop out easily, then moving onto slightly larger treats, pieces of food that are more difficult to dislodge and then the final, toughest challenge is stuffing full (using liquid to fill out works well) and freezing. When stuffing full, if you are using liquid we recommend popping the Kong in a mug to fill.
Make meal times fun - Wild dogs would naturally hunt, forage, scavenge and work for their food rather than having it delivered free from a bowl. Our top tip is to give your dog some of their meals from the Kong. This means they will be more stimulated at meal times and you will not be over treating them with too many other goodies but there are LOTS of ideas for stuffing a Kong.
Stock em up - If you are giving meals from Kongs why not freeze them. It keeps stuffing fresh if you are making up multiple batches for the week ahead, it can make destuffing more challenging and it can be good for cooling your dog down on a warm day. (Giving frozen Kongs does not cause bloat as some online reports claim).
Pick the right size/strength - Kongs come in a variety of sizes. It is important to make sure you select the right size for your dog. If it is too small then it can present a choking hazard. They also come in a variety of strengths too. There are puppy and senior varieties which are softer than a standard Kong, there is the classic red range for standard chewers and, for the power chewers, there are the Extreme versions (black in colour).
Daisy pictured below enjoying her Kong stuffed with mashed banana, high value dog treats and some mange tout and carrot (frozen)
YOUR RECIPES Common Kong stuffings include: your choice of fruit and veg, cheese, cream cheese, peanut butter, tinned food, scrambled eggs.
Thanks to everyone who has let us know what they stuff their dogs Kongs with. Here are some of the suggestions:
- Sweet & Tasty - Frozen peanut butter and banana (from Elaine T)
- Cheesarama - Fill it with cheese, microwave it for 20-30 seconds, then put it in the freezer to harden solid. Takes them AGES! (from Jess S)
- Breakfast Delight - Kibble covered with cottage cheese, sardines, scrambled egg and peanut butter in the top. Pop it into the freezer. It takes Millie forever!! (from Nikki B)
- Meat Feast - Dried lung or tripe, use big chunks,if they are tricky to get in, they're tricky to get out. Sometimes if you get pieces you can bend they kind of unfold inside the kong which makes them tricky to get out. (from Linnea L)
- Coconut Surprise - Add coconut oil for flavour and stickiness along with various minced or chopped meats (sardines, liver, turkey, lamb..) and fruit and veg puree, frozen or unfrozen if it's solid enough (from Christina B)
- Sweet & Sour Surprise - Peanut butter to cover the hole then a mix of her daily allowance of food, some treats, carrot and then a cheese string splayed out at the bottom(this goes inside kong) with just the end sticking out (so she thinks it's easy to get) then add water and freeze! (from Kirsty N)
- Go, Go Gravy - Wagg gravy frozen, or kibble mixed with yoghurt, frozen (from Penny M)
- Layered Specials - Trick is to make it easy enough for Kong newbies and up the difficulty as they get better at getting it out! I go for lightly pressed in mushy stuff at the bottom half (mix of something soft and something crunchy) with a wedged in crunchy thing near the top and capped off with something sticky and yummy at the very top. Peanut butter, pate, primula, natural yogurt, tuna mayo, carrot and anything meaty along with pizzle chunks, tripe stick or tasty high quality kibble (from Joanne Vasey, Edinburgh Dog Training)
- Splendid Sausage - One of the mini sausages you guys sell fits into a small Kong perfectly! (from Dan H)
- Double C - Carrots and cottage cheese! (from Jane I)
- Roast beef dinner - Broccoli, carrots, roast potato, beef and tiny bit of gravy watered down the boys love it (from Jodie S)
Foods to avoid - don't forget that whilst fruits & veg are popular Kong stuffings make sure you avoid grapes and raisins, whoch are toxic. Onions are garlic can also be bad for your dog in large quantities. Chocolate is not a good stuffing and whilst cheese and peanut butter are common fillers watch out for intolerances and allergies and high sugar contents.
Other treat dispensing toys - whilst Kongs are widely regarded as the best there are other good treat dispensing toys out there too. A couple of others that come well recommended are the everlasting treat balls (stocked by Just Dogs) and buster cubes (we don't stock these are they are pretty pricey but still a good toy). The busy buddy squirrel dudes are popular too but again we don't stock these as they are manufactured by Pet Safe who also make shock collars (and we do not want to support a company who makes tools such as these).
Other handy links
- "Kongs for Beginners" Video Tutorial - fantastic visual guide!
- "Get Stuffed - Frozen Kong Recipes"- We Love this facebook page. Created by a fantastic dog trainer she shares new Kong stuffing recipes every week. A great resource!
- Some more Kong recipe ideas from Kong Stuffing.com