There are things we want, and there are things we need. If you are a dog owner, dog lover, kennel worker, shelter staffer, or pet sitter, then you need to have Kongs handy. Lots of them.
We use Kongs all the time in our family, and I recommend them to anyone who owns a dog. They are amazing and they make life with a dog much easier and less stressful! I’ll explain why.
Kongs are Enrichment
The Kong is a nontoxic, dishwasher-safe rubber toy. When stuffed with food and treats, it provides dogs with a healthy outlet for their natural desire to chew and lick. Kongs are a food and treat dispensing toy as well as a chew toy. The purpose of Kongs is to keep your canine companion busy and mentally stimulated.
Family Dogs Needs Enrichment
Most family dogs are lounging around the house, bored out of their minds! Typically, they don’t get enough daily mental and physical enrichment, such as foraging and hunting like their early ancestors did. All dogs need mental and physical enrichment, and Kongs are a great tool for your dog to get that kind of stimulation!
You Dog Wants to Work!
If your pampered pooch was in the wild, he would have to spend many of his waking hours searching for food. That’s not realistic for our dogs at home, but it is in their Doggie DNA nonetheless. Dogs are hardwired to enjoy hunting and searching for food, and Kongs are great tools to replicate that sort of behavior.
Using a Kong is physically and intellectually challenging for dogs, and searching and working for food and treats is a great way to give your dog a healthy and fun mental stimulus! Studies have shown that once they know how to work for their food, dogs will prefer to do so rather than merely having it offered to them on a plate.
Science Says Dogs Love Solving Puzzles
A study showed that when dogs solved a problem and earned a reward, they wagged their tails more. These dogs were also more likely to try to solve the problem again, rather than if they were just given a reward.
When you give your dog a healthy challenge (like a Kong) and your dog eventually learns how to overcome it, she’ll learn to love that challenge of getting the goodies and will want to do it again and again!
Kongs help your dog by:
- Relieving boredom
- Providing a safe alternative for dogs prone to inappropriate chewing and a constructive outlet for energy
- Relieving stress
- Helping dogs learn how to think and solve problems
- Providing enrichment
- Encouraging sedentary dogs to get up and move
- Providing an opportunity interactive play between you and your dog
- Easing minor separation anxiety
- Aiding in crate training
- Helping to teach basic manners
- Increasing your dog’s daily mental and physical exercise
All Hail The Kong!
Thanks to the Kong and regular mental and physical exercise with our dog, our family experiences peace and quiet, our dog is happier and more relaxed, and the rest of our animal family members are grateful, too! You will be surprised how beneficial this kind of easy mental and physical exercise provided by a Kong can be for your dog. I hope that you and your canine companion will find just as much happiness, peace, and success as we have with Kongs!
This is part one of a three-part series on how and why we need to use more Kongs and enrichment toys with our family dogs, so be sure to stay tuned for more!
Amy is the founder and chief operator of Conscious Companion℠. She is on the Advisory Team for Family Paws Parent Education™. She is a licensed presenter of the Dogs & Storks® and the Dogs & Toddlers™ programs, and a Doggone Safe ‘Be A Tree’ presenter. She is an active member of the Pet Professional Guild and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Amy serves on the board of directors of the Cape Fear Parrot Sanctuary. You can learn more about her on her website.