YOUR PET’S BEST FRIEND – CHRISTINE MALLAR– There are very few toys out there as useful to the dog owner as the traditional Kong toy. Many people own one, but very few use them to their best advantage.  Getting stuff out of a properly stuffed Kong can be hard work that will help to tire out an energetic dog on a rainy day. They’re a safe chewing option as they’re quite durable (with a stronger black version for heavy chewers), you can clean them easily on the top shelf of your dishwasher, and best of all, there’s no need for expensive fillers with questionable ingredients – you can make your own stuffings at home!

For dogs that never have used a Kong, start easy. Loose kibbles or little dog cookies that can easily fall out help to convince a dog that it’s worth checking that toy out when you see it. Once they make a beeline to a Kong on the floor to see if there’s an easy treat there, you can start to make it harder to get things out.

Many people know that you can smear things like sugar free peanut butter (or other nut butters) inside a Kong and they can lick it out, but there’s a limit to how much peanut butter a dog should eat, and many become bored quickly without some variety. Mix it up! Other smearable things include a bit of cream cheese or liverwurst. Kibbles and little treats can be added to stick to the “schmear”.

When your dog is easily and quickly cleaning out these items, it’ s time to step it up a notch. Why not try moistening the morning’s kibble with some water, low salt chicken broth or canned food and packing it in there? There’s no reason breakfast has to be in a bowl and gone in a matter of moments – why not use breakfast as a way to keep your dog occupied for longer? Try putting something fragrant like a small piece of chicken in first so that they can smell it  through the tiny hole and stay motivated to reach it. Layer items like cooked sweet potato with the soaked kibble, and wedge a dog cookie in the end to cap it off. More on “stuffing the kong” coming soon!

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