A dog’s instinct to work for food origniated far back in its ancestry, but it holds true in the psyche of canines in today’s world as well. Yet, think about the way we feed our dogs today. We provide them with bowls of food and water. We give them treats without requesting they perform a trick in return. Nature intended for all dogs to have a job, and to work for their food. The lack of a clearcut job can even cause behavioral problems.
Kong toys, constructed of durable rubber, are a good tool to alleviate the boredom your dog may feel for lack of a challenge. They come in many sizes and shapes to suit all breeds. There are even softer rubber ones meant especially for puppies. Kongs stimulate the imagination of our canine friends by providing a challenging game of food search and reward.
Purchase a Kong at any pet specialty store, such as the Petco in Watertown Towne Center in Watertown, N. Y. Be sure to get the proper size for your dog. Once you bring it home there are a number of food treats you may choose to fill it with. Here are a few examples:
- Peanutbutter: Peanutbutter provides protein and dogs love the taste. You can stuff it easily into the hole in the top of the Kong and your dog will work hard at getting it out, bit by tasty bit. Place a small treat or biscuit in last for an immediate reward and incentive to work for more.
- Fruit, Cheese and Vegetables: Combine cut-up pieces of fruit, cheese and carrots to create a gourmet meal for your dog. Include a few bites of dry kibble for variety. Remember not to overfeed, though. Consider the size of your pooch to determine an appropriate portion.
- Dog Treats or Kibble: Pour a handful of bite-size kibble or other type of dog treat into the top of a Kong and plug the hole with a piece of cheese or meat. Your dog will do the rest.
- Frozen Treat: If the day is hot, try this one. Fill a Kong with a small variety of treats such as carrots and kibble. Then smear the outside of the toy with peanutbutter or honey and freeze it for a special summertime treat. Be sure not to stuff it completely full or the inside will become a frozen ball. This treat is best for the outdoors because it is very messy.
- Fruit Salad: Mix cottage cheese or yogurt with chopped fruit such as apple, banana or melon. Add a single marshmallow for a sweet treat. Fill the Kong, but do not overstuff. This treat may be served chilled or frozen. Never give your dog artificial sweeteners because they can be toxic to your pet.
Enjoy the fun of watching your dog work for his food as much as he enjoys retrieving the goodies from his Kong and eating them.
A fun website filled with ideas for Kong toys is here:
The Fun Times Guide: Dog Recipes That Work Great In Kong Toys
Also, visit ASPCA: Virtual Pet Behaviorist: How to Stuff a Kong Toy to read more about Kongs and other food puzzle toys.
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