Oh kongs, the real MVP dog ownership-dom. Kongs have saved my sanity time and time again, being there for me during family parties when I needed to make sure the thanksgiving turkey would be left alone, teaching Phoebe to really enjoy time in her crate, acting as the vehicle for all kinds of goodies, including at times my dog's entire meal. I probably talk about the kong at 99% of my training sessions and in my opinion, you can almost never go wrong with a kong! (Hey, Kong, put me on your marketing team! Did you catch that slogan?!)
So, what's the lowdown on kongs? First things first, "Kong" is technically a brand of toy, not just the toy this post is about. They make all kinds of toys for fetching such as this one (which just happens to be Phoebe's favorite toy!) and this one, tough stuffed toys like this and this, food dispensing balls like the wobbler and the gyro, and they make their super tough, rubberized kong toy, which is the focus of today's post! The rubber kong toy wasn't necessarily created for stuffing however it is what the vast majority of people use it for today, and it's what I find most dogs enjoy the most about it.
There are a wide variety of rubber kong toys. The first thing you want to make sure of is that you have selected the right size kong for your dog; too small and it can pose a choking hazard, too large and it can be uncomfortable for your dog to work on. Each kong has a recommended weight and size on the packaging, so that's the place to start! You also want to make sure you're using the recommended "toughness" of the toy. The pink and blue kongs are typically designed for puppies, and are made of a softer, more pliable rubber than the other kongs. There are also purple kongs which are made with the softer rubber, and these are marketed toward older dogs. The middle of the road kong is a bright red, and was the first kong to be put on the market. Lastly, the black kong is for mega chewers and dogs who tend to be particularly destructive. The black kongs are made out of a tougher, longer-lasting rubber than the red kongs, so they're a better choice for dogs who are on a mission to destroy whatever they can get their paws on.
Now, let's get to the stuffing! Typically I will follow a pattern of a smear of something sticky on the entire inside of the kong, then layer soft and crunchy foods on the inside for added texture, plug the hole up with the sticky food, then stick a long and narrow chewy in the middle of the kong before throwing the kong in the freezer.
The freezer you say?! Yes indeed, freezing your stuffed kong makes it last exponentially longer and has the potential to keep your pup entertained for hours! It is important, though, not to jump to this step too quickly! If your dog has never had a kong before and you give them a fully stuffed, fully frozen kong, what sometimes happens is that it's too difficult for the dog to get the food out and so they give up all together. I suggest giving your dog a kong in the following order: