Dogs are natural problem-solvers. They are also hard-wired to work for their food, and Kongs provide an excellent outlet for this need. These hollow toys can be stuffed with a variety of dog food and goodies, and a thoughtfully-stuffed Kong can occupy your dog for hours. During stressful times, Kongs can also serve as “pacifiers” by keeping your dog occupied doing what he does best: solving a problem to get some yummy food! We never hesitate to give a child a coloring book while we’re at a restaurant, to make it easier for them to sit through something that they’d rather not endure. Kongs can serve the same purpose: to help your dog get through storms, fireworks, vet visits, down time during group dog training classes, etc.

A few basics:

  • The sky is the limit in terms of how creative you can get with Kong stuffing! The level of difficulty should be adjusted for the experience level of your dog. If you make it too easy, he’ll clean his Kong in minutes. If you make it too hard, he’ll get frustrated and give up.
  • Easy stuffings are loosely packed and include small bits of food that fall out easily.
  • More difficult stuffings are tightly packed and include larger pieces that are tricky to get out.

Buster Brown (pictured above), who shares his life with Emily Douglas, of Unexamined Dog, knows exactly what red rubber means for him.

Here are a few recipes to try. And remember to adjust the level of difficulty to the experience level of your dog. Get him hooked on working to eat!

Recipe Level 1 (beginner)

  • Bottom layer: kibble
  • Layer 2: plain Cheerios
  • Layer 3: small bits of raw carrot
  • Top layer: a dollop of organic peanut butter

Pack the ingredients loosely! Your dog will lick the peanut butter, and the bits of goodness will easily be dispensed.

Recipe Level 2 (intermediate)

  • Bottom layer: unsalted cashews
  • Layer 2: small bits of Cheddar cheese
  • Layer 3: a mixture of kibble and deli meat
  • Top layer: a piece of ravoli

Pack the ingredients a little more tightly to make it more challenging. Microwave the Kong for about 15 seconds to melt the cheese and let it cool for 2 minutes.

Recipe Level 3 (advanced)

  • Bottom layer: a large piece of meat that takes a good bit of finagling to get through the opening
  • Layer 2: pure pumpkin puree
  • Layer 3: croutons
  • Top layer: a dollop of cream cheese

Pack all ingredients very tightly! Freeze the Kong for at least 3 hours before giving it to your dog. A frozen Kong is much more challenging to unpack!