Has peanut butter been met with less enthusiasm than it used to? Even if your dog has yet not turned up his snout to the standard Kong filling, a little change here and there and can go a long way when filling a Kong or other treat dispensing chew toy. Consider yourself lucky if your dog goes nuts for empty hard rubber toys. However, most pooches need a little help finding chew toys more appealing than your brand new shoes. If your dog does not seem instantly excited, try a few different filling options before abandoning your new purchase to the bottom of your dog’s toy box.
Here are a few basics about using any treat dispensing toy:
- Kibble, cheese, plain yogurt, baby food and all-natural peanut butter are great fillings. We also like plain ol’ American cheese slices, sharp cheddar sticks or swiss cheese. If you microwave the cheese, do so on a plate and transfer it to the Kong and ALWAYS double check that it’s not to hot for your pup to eat. But dogs DO get bored, so remember to vary things for them!
- Partially freezing the filling helps makes the fun last that much longer! Fill a portion of the treat dispensing toy with your filling of choice, freeze it and, once you remove it from the freezer, fill the leftover space with kibble then top with another filling before giving it to your pup. The fresh filling is appealing NOW; then, he or she will roll the toy around to get to their kibble and the frozen stuffing can satisfy much needed longer-term chewing.
- Add fruits and vegetables! Chopped or pureed apples (no peels), celery, pears, green beans, peaches, snap peas or bananas are great and healthy ways to “punch up” the fun! Toss them into the peanut butter or cream cheese filling or with your dog’s kibble!
- If you’re using the treat dispensing toy for crate association or confidence building when you leave, make sure to hide the toy once you return home so your dog learns that good stuff happens when in the crate or alone. Once freedom returns, the awesome toy goes away!
- Have a dog who seems to use his or her mouth 24 hours a day? Feed all meals out of your treat dispensing toy. It may take a minute or two to keep refilling the toy but you prevent replacing your couch and limit extra calories your dog consumes. Plus, meal times that usually last .3 seconds will take more time AND mental energy. A tired dog is a good dog. Skip this if you feed a raw diet.
- Here are just a few recipes you can use to add variety to your dog’s treat dispensing toy. Get creative, be safe and always double check with your veterinarian that your stuffing is A-OK for your dog.
1. Crate Hater: Fill treat dispensing toy halfway with canned pumpkin and freeze overnight. In the AM, add cream cheese and a few jerky treats. Make sure the jerky treats are pushed into the cream cheese so they are a surprise. Rotate different proteins!
2. Dinner Distractor: Fill toy halfway with peanut butter and freeze for a couple hours; remove then smear honey around the edge, add peeled apples and carrots. Top with fresh peanut butter.
4. Sensitive Stomach: Fill toy halfway with plain yogurt (never any flavors or sweeteners) and freeze. Remove and fill with kibble then smear a little fresh yogurt around the edge.
5. Finn’s Favorites: Plain ol’ pumpkin in the Extreme Goodie Bone. My Lug loved to get to the filling from all sides. He also loved plain yogurt mixed with a ripe banana and a little honey. However, as an old dude…the big frozen glob was boring.
So, I mixed up the ingredients and filled them in an ice cube tray. The cubes fit tight enough into a standard Kong that Finn was challenged but not so snug that I had goop all over the floor (recipe from Bone-A-Fido Bakery).
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*** Please remember to take your dog’s digestion and health into consideration when using any of these suggestions. Although all of our recommendations are tried and true, every dog is very different from each other, so make sure you monitor them. Too much of anything is still too much!