Stuffed KONGs are a classic and versatile food puzzle toy.
Food puzzle toys require time, patience and problem-solving—all skills that are good for your dog and will help her enjoy quiet time alone. Since our dogs’ wild counterparts spend much of their time scavenging for food, food puzzle toys offer a natural solution to pet-dog boredom
Here are some KONG stuffing suggestions for every level of canine cunning.
- Easy: Put a milk bone, piece of freeze-dried treat, or similar hard cookie in the KONG. Make sure it goes in easily. Allow your dog to knock it out and eat it. Many dogs need to get some easy success at the KONG so that they understand the point of playing with it, and this is a good way to start.
- Medium: Layer the inside of the KONG with peanut butter, canned dog food, plain yogurt, or a similar soft, sticky medium. Jam various treats, cookies, kibble etc. in there tightly, layering with your sticky medium as needed to hold it all together.
- Hard: See above, except squeeze the sides of the KONG so that the opening becomes wider in one direction. Work some treats inside that don’t fit through the hole unless the KONG is squeezed (dried chicken strips or heart-shaped dog cookies are great for this). They won’t fall back out until your dog has either softened them up, or crushed them inside the KONG.
- Time-delayed, for the dog with a KONG-PhD: Plug the KONG’s small hole with peanut butter or a green pea, then turn it upside down in a cup. Fill with canned dog food (if you put the canned food in a plastic baggie then cut the corner off of the baggie, you can squeeze it in there like a frosting bag. Or, the canned food will be “pourable” if you mix it with a bit of water. Otherwise just jam it in there with a fork.) Freeze. Deliver to the especially KONG-savvy dog for a satisfying challenge.
Use stuffed KONG’s liberally to entertain your active puppies and young dogs.
We’d suggest feeding your dog at least one meal per day in a stuffed KONG or other food puzzle toy. Boredom is one of the biggest causes of behavior problems in pet dogs, and allowing your pup to eat a meal from a puzzle toy is one of the easiest ways to counteract that. A stuffed KONG is an excellent thing to give your pup when you want her to settle down and nap, or especially when you’re going to leave her alone for a while.