WHAT IS THE KONG
Kong is an educational game for dogs, invented in the mid-70s. It has a conical shape and is made of very resistant natural rubber.
A large hole in the lower part allows you to insert food in any shape and texture you want. The small hole in the upper part prevents you from creating the “vacuum” effect, preventing your dog’s tongue from getting stuck in there.
The important characteristic of the kong ball is the food. Once put inside it, your dog will be motivated to find a solution to get it out.
He will then try to bite him at first (and destroy him), but he won’t get anything good out of it. It is very difficult for him to destroy it because it is made of a very strong material.
Since the smell of the food inside attracts it, he might try to roll it by tapping it with his paw (and if you put dry food in it it’s likely that something will come out).
The reward obtained will motivate him even more to try other ways to get the contents out, pushing him to concentrate and let his wits work.
IS KONG DANGEROUS?
Warning: the kong game can be dangerous if not original, let’s see why.
If you decide to buy one, it is essential that it is the original version and that there is a hole at the top. Otherwise it can be very dangerous for the dog.
In August 2015, in America, a dog named Maximus died from being stuck with his tongue in a small ball containing food. The ball did not have a hole at the other end to let air out. Once the dog put his tongue in the hole he got stuck by the vacuum effect created inside. To read the news click here.
WHAT THE KONG IS FOR
Using a Kong can help hyperactive, stressed, very young dogs, but also the most balanced dog in the world. The mental activation that requires its use can benefit any dog as long as it is used properly.
Kong can help with dogs suffering from separation anxiety, especially when the owner leaves the house and the dog is left alone. On these occasions it is common for the dog to destroy something, take care of things at home and much more.
Having a Kong available in cases like these can help him cope better with separation. The mental energies to bring out the food and chewing (of the food inside and the Kong itself), will facilitate the release of endorphins in his body, leaving him calmer and more satisfied.
Even if the dog does not have these problems, Kong remains a source of very important mental stimuli, which contribute to his serenity and well-being. A pastime that can be used both in the company of the human being and alone at home.
WHAT IT IS NOT FOR
Kong is not the solution to any dog’s behavioral problem. It is not a real educational tool and it alone will not solve anything.
In the previous chapter we said “it can help”, “source of stimuli”, “it can bring benefits”, but we want to point out that Kong is not a miracle tool that will solve all your problems in a few days.
Kong is definitely not an excuse to leave your dog alone in the house for 8 hours. It is not a good excuse not to take the dog out for a walk. It does not replace the game with the human or (more importantly) with his fellow humans. It is a source of stimulation, but it cannot be the only one.
Kong is not a friend, it is not a walk, it is not a dog-sitter, it is not a dog educator.
He remains a very valid help in a rehabilitation path or more simply one of the many activities that we propose to our dog (even if he doesn’t have any problem). Among the many activities it remains one of the most interesting. An excellent pastime, stimulating and fun.
HOW TO USE IT – HOW TO FILL IT
To fill it you can give vent to all your creativity.
Inside Kong you can put both dry and wet food, but with the dry the drawback is that the game lasts very little. The nuggets or nibbles will roll away very easily, leaving Kong empty in a short time. Game over.
To overcome this drawback a good solution is to fill it with something wet: dog pâté, spreadable cheese (be careful if intolerant to dairy products), and anything else you can think of.
A good idea is also to make a mix of wet and dry, putting pieces of sausage or nibbles together with the pâté inside the kong.
To make it even harder, you can also try putting it in the freezer for an hour or so, so that the contents will be more difficult to get out.
Some dogs, when you offer them Kong, will look at you with a look that says, “What do you want?” In some cases, in fact, the dog does not immediately perceive the activity that we are proposing him, and it will be our task to try to motivate him to start the game.
If he’s not interested, you might insist a little bit, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to live with it. It happens very rarely, to tell the truth, and these are usually dogs that are not very motivated by food or that have a full stomach.
In this regard, think about reducing the daily ration in the bowl to avoid overweight problems in a short time.
Much more frequent is the situation in which the dog gives up after a few attempts. He tries, tries again, sees that it is difficult to get the food out and gives up. In this case we naturally have to lower the level of difficulty. No more pâté and of course don’t put Kong in the freezer. Let’s try only dry bites that are easy to extract.
That said, as we mentioned earlier, you can let your creativity run wild. On a Facebook page dealing with Home cooking for dogs, we found this for example:
WHICH ONE TO BUY AND WHERE
You’ll be spoilt for choice. Originally, the name Kong exclusively identifies a cone-shaped game type (now called Kong classic). With the passing of time the company has diversified its production, widening the offer of its products also in different forms.
As far as Kong Classic is concerned, we just have to be careful to choose the right size. If too small it will be difficult, if not impossible, to allow the dog to bring out the content with his tongue. If too big it will be too easy.
Here is a selection of Kong Classic in various sizes.