Hello again, my doggists!
These days I’ve been hearing from several people that their dog is not interested in the Kong. So here it goes, this post is for all of you who think this may be your situation (and if not as well).
Dogs are genetically programmed to search for their food. One of the main causes of behaviour problems in our furry friends is precisely the lack of mental challenges or tasks to solve. So instead of giving them all the food for free we can try to mimic nature a little and make your dog solve a problem: How to get the food out of the Kong, for instance.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Kong, it’s a very recommendable toy for any dog, but especially for those dogs that tend to spend many hours alone at home. It helps to prevent separation anxiety, destructive and other undesired behaviours. It keeps the dog mentally stimulated while he’s learning to solve a problem and relax him; he will be sniffing, breathing and entertained for a good while. On top of being a really safe toy, fabricated with natural rubber and without toxins, it lasts a very long time. There are different sizes and resistances depending on the type of jaws and age (for puppies, dogs with strong jaws, senior dogs, small breeds, medium and large breeds). It’s important that you have the right size for your dog. When in doubt, always buy the biggest to avoid being swallowed.
Coming back to my main reason for this post, for those who think your dog is not interested in it, it may be happening one of three things:
- You stuffed it with treats that don’t motivate him enough
- You made it so simple that it didn’t last a minute and he lost interest.
- You made it too complicated; he’s frustrated and given up.
Any of these cases may have caused that he ignores the Kong. So let’s change that!
Many of you stuff the whole Kong only with one type of treat, but this way it’s not very motivating. Ideally you will stuff it with different layers of treats and, very important, from high value treats (the ones make your dog drool) in the top to less value treats in the bottom. So you can get an idea:
Image: 1st Temptation, 2nd Dessert, 3rd Main dish, 4th Snack
To start you will make it pretty easy so he learns how to do it. If you have already tried before, do it again in a very easy way but appetising; when he smells what is in the end it will be enough motivation to be interested in it again. Try it a few days like this until he makes the association “I get something out always when I try”. From here on, you can keep increasing the difficulty level (of getting food out) gradually.
How to make it easy: cut everything in small pieces and without compacting it too much so it falls out easily.
How to increase difficulty: to start you can put some kibbles soaked a bit in water so it swells and add a few pieces of cheese, another day you may try to put some chunky pieces a little harder to get out and keep it like this a few more times until he really gets it, later on you can smash some pieces, and when you are at a pro level you may compact everything as much as you can.
The key is to use a sticky cream on top so all the small pieces get stuck and can’t fall out. For this you can use cream cheese, peanut butter, can food, baby food, etc. You can refill a layer with whatever you may have at home, from meat, mashed potatoes, pasta, hot dog pieces or dog snacks and treats.
I leave you this video for Kong beginners:
And of course I am going to share with you a couple of recipes so you get ideas:
Layer 1: cream cheese like philadelphia (light if possible)
Layer 2: chicken or liver pieces
Layer 3: wet food or deli cookies
Layer 4: frankfurt/turkey pieces and/or left overs like pasta (a raviolli would be great to plug the Kong)
Layer 1: peanut butter or cream cheese
Layer 2: smashed potatoes or pumpking, cheese pieces
Layer 3: mix of dog snacks and kibbles
Layer 4: non-salted cashews and slices of banana to plug it
Here give it a touch on the micro for 15 seconds so it melts a little and sticks it in, it will make it irresistible! Leave it 2 minutes before serving.
Before summer you will become an expert and we will be able to freeze the Kongs to increase the level of difficulty. Leave it in the freezer at least for 3 hours before you give it to him and you will see how much it lasts, besides being a little refreshing also!
As you can see, creativity is the limit!
If you are going to leave him alone many hours you can hide a couple stuffed Kongs so he has to look for them, double challenge!
Be careful not to serve always right before you leave, because that could be associated negatively predicting your departure and that he is going to be left alone. In order to avoid this you will give it to him also when you are at home in calmed moments, like watching a movie or just being on the sofa. No need to do this all the time, sometimes you put it so he can see where, sometimes you are with him and other times you hide it without being noticed, you keep alternating it.
A tip: clean the Kong after every use so it doesn’t get too hard, I do it with a bottle brush, leave it soaked in warm water or straight to the dishwasher.
I hope you liked the post, although I’m sure your dog will like it more!
Share if you found it useful, like it, comment and all of that.
See you soon!