Kongs are one of my favorite "Busy Brain" type toys. They're great for keeping a bored, lonesome, or mischievous pup quiet and focused while you're away (or otherwise preoccupied.) While kongs seem to have been the first on the market, today there are lots of different brands of treat-fillable kong-like toys made with different materials, in varying shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. The premise remains universal: the center of the toy is hollow so it can be filled with supertasty treats, and in order to get them out, your dog must use his brain, creativity, and persistence.
When introducing the toy, start off with easy-to-get-to yummies that will roll out with little effort (so your dog gets the idea.) Then start stuffing with more complication, so getting to the treats requires greater concentration.
"Savor the Flavor" Tips:
1) Try soaking the toy in a bowl of plain chicken broth in the fridge overnight. The flavor and odors will often soak into the toy and make it irresistible even when the treats have all been gobbled up!
2) Try freezing your concoctions (especially in the summer.)
3) For kongs specifically: try heating the kong up in the microwave for 15 seconds to bring out the flavors (this is a tip straight from the kong website, so it's been tested by the specific manufacturer...) Be sure to let the kong cool before giving it to your dog.
4) Sometimes use single stuffers, other times try mixing up different combinations to keep things interesting (invent your own recipes: one smushy item plus one crunchy, etc.)
Treat Stuffer Ideas: As always, remember to stay away from potentially harmful foods (see previous post), keep the portions small in order to avoid tummy trouble, and check with your vet for any dietary/allergy concerns specific to your pet. These are some fun things to try stuffing your kong (& kong-like) toys with:
Meaty Stuffer Stuff:
plain chicken (carefully remove all bones)
dog pupperoni-type treats
hot dogs (the healthier varieties, please!)
frozen chicken broth (plain, no onions, as onions can be toxic)
steak scraps (plain; remember, no onion)
Crunchy Stuffer Stuff:
dog food kibble
frozen apple juice
cheerios-type cereal (low/no sugar, healthy varieties are best)
Smushy Stuffer Stuff:
peanut butter (natural style is healthiest)
wet dog food
mashed potatoes (plain, cooled)
cheese (but only in very small doses, please, as dairy can cause digestive problems)
rice (plain, cooled)
pasta (plain, cooled)
kong brand stuff'n paste (in a can)
plain yogurt (again, in very small doses)
scrambled egg (cooled)
Squishy Stuffer Stuff: