Kong Stuffing Pointers
Why Stuff a Kong?
Dogs are animals that are genetically programmed to hunt for their food. Part of
the reason there is such a prevalence of behavior problems in pet dogs is that they
have so little mental challenge or work to do: their food is given to them for free.
Zoos have had some success in decreasing behavior problems and improving the
quality of life of many of their predator and primate species by giving them
problems to solve in order to obtain their food. This same environmental
enrichment concept can be applied to domestic dogs, who thoroughly enjoy finding
hidden food and unpacking stuffed chew toys.
Many peoples Kong stuffing efforts consist of inserting a few dog cookies. This is
scratching the surface of the creative food acquisition challenges you can cook up
for your dog. Here are a few pointers and principles to bump your Kong stuffing
prowess up to the next level:
- The level of difficulty should be appropriate to the dog's level of experience
and temperament is he persevering or a"giver-upper". Any increases in level
of difficulty should be done gradually, so the dog succeeds while developing
perseverance. In other words, start easy and then make it tougher
- Easy stuffings are: loose and incorporate small, easy-to-fall-out pieces
- Easy stuffings are: loose and incorporate small, easy-to-fall-out pieces. More difficult stuffings are: tighter, with some big pieces that take concerted
effort and hole-squishing to get in (and thus will be difficult to extract)
- You can employ a matrix (peanut butter, cream cheese, canned food, toddler
food) to hold the smaller bits in and give the dog side-polishing challenges
- You can wrap a stuffed Kong in an old cloth diaper or clean rag and/or enclose it
in an old margarine or other container (try Quaker oatmeal cardboard
containers!) to increase the level of difficulty through "nesting"
- Hide regular stuffed or nested Kongs around the house so the dog has to hunt
around to find them before unpacking them
- Give him all of his food this way, especially if he is a particularly "busy"dog
- Stuff meat, mashed potatoes etc. in it and freeze. Or, plug the small hole with
peanut butter and fill the cavity with broth, then freeze this to make a
"Kongsicle" (note:This can be messy. Best to give it to your dog outside!)
- Stuff cheese cubes in and then microwave it briefly to nicely coat the insides
- Clean your Kongs regularly with a bottle brush and/or in the dishwasher
Tight (more advanced) Stuffing
- Layer 1 (deepest): roasted unsalted cashews, mild cheese chunks, freeze dried liver bits
- Layer 2: dog kibble, cookies or Liver Biscotti, Cheerios, sugar-free/salt-free peanut
butter, dried banana chips
- Layer 3: baby carrot stick(s), turkey and/or leftover ravioli or tortellini, dried
apples, dried apricots
Pack as tightly as possible. The last item in should be a dried apricot or piece of
ravioli, presenting a smooth ìfinishî under the main hole. Bon appetit!
For cashews, substitute crumbled rice cake; for freeze-dried liver, substitute
Caesar croutons; for peanut butter substitute fat-free cream cheese
Reprinted with permission. The San Francisco SPCA Dog Behavior and Training Department
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