There is a toy on the market today that can solve a plethora of your dogs problems. That toy is in fact the Kong toy. Now you don’t specifically have to get a Kong but the design of it is simple and proves to be effective for many dogs. A Kong can help with chewing, anxiety, hyperactive behavior, and even aggression. If your dog has any of these issues keep reading, and maybe this $6 toy could be your saving grace.
A Kong is a rubber puzzle toy that has a hollow center that allows you to put treats in it. When packed with food your dog works to get the food out of it, and even when the food is gone, the tough rubber provides a safe toy for them to chew on.
Using a Kong is very simple. When first introducing the Kong to your dog put their kibble in it and let them bat it around to get the food out. After a while they will begin to associate the toy with food and have a basic understanding of how to use it. Loose kibble will be too simple for them in no time, so what you can do next in grab their food and soak it in water. This will produce a wet mixture that you can stuff in the Kong. WARNING! This can get messy. I recommend you have your dog play with the Kong in their crate. If you are working on crate training then this is also a great way to build a positive association with the crate.
From there you can start experimenting with different recipes. You can start freezing a Kong full of food, to make it last longer, or put peanut butter in it. Do what gives your dog the most enjoyment. I like to give my dog a Kong with most of their meal in it. That way, feeding time is less passive.
It is natural for a puppy to chew on anything and everything. When a puppy is born they have sharp little teeth called milk teeth. Until about 6 months of age, the dogs adult teeth are coming in. This can be very painful for the puppy and they get relief from chewing on things. Puppies also chew on things as their way of learning the world. Much how a human baby like to touch things, dogs chew. Although both are natural for the puppy to do, they are living in the human world and not destroying our house and furniture is something they need to learn to do. The Kong is great for remedying both of these. It is a solid rubber that can withstand a puppies chewing, but the softness to provide comfort. It is also a great object to give to them to redirect their chewing. If you want a dog to stop chewing on things you have to show them what to chew on. When you see your puppy about to chew on the leg of a chair, pull out the Kong and draw them over to chew on it instead. Soon the dog will direct his chewing towards the Kong instead.
If you have an adult dog a common reason for chewing is out of boredom. Lack of exercise and mental stimulation can lead to destructive behavior. By using a stuffed Kong you can provide a puzzle to stimulate the dog for a few hours and then a chew toy afterwards. Reminder, the Kong isn’t a supplement for daily exercise. However, it has been shown that mental stimulation, whether through training tricks and obedience, or puzzle toys, can effectively tire out a dog. If you work full time, and your dog has been known to chew on things, try leaving them with a Kong or two to occupy their time. You may find that your pillows still have fluff in them. Another reason for chewing may be a medical issue. If you suspect this, then it is best that you take your dog to the vet immediately.
When it comes to anxiety a Kong provides your dog with a positive distraction. If your dog cries and wails whenever you leave, there are a few steps you can take to help fix this behavior. If your dog is already comfortable with a crate then you can move to the next step, if not, consider reading my article on crate training. Once your dog is comfortable in a crate, while you are home put them inside with a Kong. This will really solidify the idea that the crate is a great place to be. Then whenever you leave give them the Kong. This redirects their mind from thinking about you leaving. Instead they will think “Human is leaving, I get my Kong”. This is classical condition, like Pavlov’s dogs (he rang the bell, and they drooled). Your behavior of getting ready to leave will trigger in the dog’s brain to be excited. Whenever you get ready, they get their Kong. Over time, your dog won’t cry when you leave.
For these two issues a Kong does essentially the same thing for both. It channels their energy into a positive outlet. If your dog is hyperactive you can fix this with two things: more exercise, and mental stimulation. Some breeds, like Belgian Malinois are so high drive that you probably do not have the patience nor energy to tire them out everyday. This can lead to issues within the house. The Kong Provides the dog a calm behavior to do inside the house. When a Kong is stuffed with food and frozen, it becomes very difficult for the dog to get everything out. They will have to think and work, and for a dog this is very tiring. A tired dog is a happy dog.
When it comes to aggression, I am talking more about a dog having so much pent up energy that it turns to frustration. If your dog is aggressive from fear consider building their confidence, and consulting a trainer. Pent up energy in dogs can manifest in their behavior in many negative ways. So ,much like the hyperactivity, if you channel your dogs energy to a positive outlet then you should see a decrease in their aggressive behavior.
The Kong is a great and versatile toy to deal with a wide range of problems. Even if your dog’s problem was not mentioned in this article, a Kong could still provide a benefit for your dog. If your dogs problem stems from lack of mental stimulation or exercise then a Kong can help.
If you are convinced that a Kong can help your dog, then here are a few tips for you.