At best, it looks like a beehive toddler toy. At worst, it appears to be some bizarre contraption best kept hidden in the bedroom.
Introduced in the late 1970’s, the Kong is a toy (or as we professionals call it, “enrichment device”) that has nearly become a staple in dog-owning homes. The founder, Joe Markham, designed it after his canine companion finally found gnawing satisfaction with a rubber suspension part from a VW Bus.
The patented one-of-a-kind plastic is safe on teeth, yet strong enough to withstand determined chewers. Its hollow “snowman” design allows for treats to be stuffed inside, prolonging the challenge and fun for users. Is the cost worth it? Yes! Even rat fanciers and zookeepers appreciate its value. (See video links at bottom.) To find the perfect Kong “fit,” more on its history, and recipes, visit the official Kong website.
My Josie Junebug is an energetic young dog who spends her workdays in the kennel. In addition to her walks and indoor play sessions, her dinnertime Kong serves as great mental exercise. I fill it in the morning, when I’m packing lunches, and stow it in the freezer (for extra challenge). When the family congregates for dinner, her Kong keeps her too occupied to even consider begging at the table.
I invested in a second Kong so one can be rotated through the dishwasher each night while the other remains available for her enjoyment. (That is assuming she doesn’t hide it from me.) Even after it’s emptied of edible surprises, it still provides hours of squeaky chewing enjoyment.
How difficult is it to fill? My husband was clueless when I texted him a request to prep Josie Junebug’s Kong after I had forgotten one morning. How easy is it? He asked my seven year old for directions!
Step One: Plug the smaller bottom hole with peanut butter (non-chunky), or cream cheese. I invest in a separate doggie PB jar, so I don’t have to worry about double-dipping.
Step Two: Set Kong upright in a cup for filling convenience.
Step Three: Fill with something yummy and exciting. My basic “recipe” is kibble soaked in a bit of meat broth or dinner drippings, but feel free to allow your doggie chef creativity to run wild. The hippie in me abhors food waste, so I often use food scraps (yogurt, pizza crust, rice, etc). The daily Kong is an especially good use for “ugly produce,” those slightly wrinkly blueberries, bruised tomatoes, and old carrots that human family members scorn.
Step Four: Fill to top with water.
Step Five: Freeze until dinnertime
That’s it! That two minute investment in the morning buys dinnertime peace for us all.
Family, friends, co-workers, pets: I think it’s worth a little extra time to set each other up for success and harmonious living. Don’t you?
Obligatory notes about safety and other resources for Kong recipes:
Like diets for all species, do what works for you. If you feel it’s best for your dog to only eat store bought food (or perhaps he medically needs to do so), use a Kong stuffed with dog food and water.
If your dog is getting fat, cut back on calorie intake. You can feed dinner in the Kong as a way of slowing down eating and providing some amount of exercise.
If your dog has a sensitive stomach, of course, don’t go pouring bacon grease or some other craziness into a Kong.
Some human foods are toxic to pets. Chocolate is the most infamous; however, you should also not feed grapes/raisins or onion. Also, check labels. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener, is toxic to pets and now also used in some peanut butters and yogurts! The ASPCA has a good starting list, or check the Pet Poison Helpline for a more exhaustive list.
Still, there is some solid evidence that veggies are good for dogs too: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/want-your-dog-to-live-to-30-add-this-to-their-bowl.html
Here are other videos links where you can watch other species enjoying Kongs:
- Rat Kong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNBRLHOTx9w
- Loris Kong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1APEU__Snkg
- Bear Kong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6ihPTbqZbQ
- Sheep Kong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EygtGOZ6rVk
- Cat Kong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUXNCZNloRI
More Kong Recipes: http://www.k9instinct.com/blog/frozen-kong-dog-treat-recipes