WHAT IS IT?
The Kong (TM) is a versatile toy that every doggie-house should have. Great for puppies, dogs, and even senior dogs, the Kong can be used as a chew toy, in retrieve games, and when stuffed with food (the most common use), a great way to occupy a dog and keep him out of trouble. If you're gone for a large part of the day, there's even a machine called a Kong-Time that will deliver the Kongs to your dog on a variable schedule throughout the course of the day!
We have about 25 Kongs - and I stuff them all about once a week. I put them in a plastic bag in the freezer and then I've got them at the ready whenever I need them during the week. When all our pups were little, we helped them learn to love their crate by using Kongs. The pups would only get the Kong in their crate, never any other time. Within a week or two, as soon as the pup would see the Kong, he'd trot off into his crate and wait for the Kong to be delivered.
Now, whenever I leave the dogs (only one of which still needs to be crated - the oldest Labrador, Lily), they all get Kongs as I walk out the door.
HOW + WHAT TO STUFF
You can put just about anything edible into a Kong. It's usually best to use something that's a little sticky to "glue" the treats, biscuits, or kibble inside. For instance, I use a bit of peanut butter and then drop in some of my dog's kibble. Then a little more peanut butter to "glue" the treats inside, then I pop them into the freezer (it's more challenging and takes the dogs longer to eat the frozen peanut butter). You can use non-fat plain yogurt, bananas, mashed potatoes, cream cheese, pasta -- whatever your dog likes.
If your dog is inexperienced with the Kong, make it easy for him to get the goodies out. You can put a few pieces of his dog food inside without anything else in the Kong so it's easy to get the food out. Or smear some peanut butter on the outside edge, as well as on the inside of the Kong to capture his interest quickly.
As your dog figures out how to unstuff the Kong, you can gradually make it more challenging for your dog. The Kong site has lots of cool recipes you can try.
The Kong is also a great resource if your dog is on crate rest due to an injury or surgery -- instead of feeding your dog out of his bowl, you can stuff Kongs with your dog's dinner. Working to get the dinner out of the Kong gives your dog something to do and can help combat the stir-craziness of crate rest.
It's also helpful if you can't get enough exercise for your dog - feed all his meals out of the Kongs!
The benefits of Kongs are many. And they're also fun for the dog. If you haven't introduced your dog to a Kong, go out and buy one today - your dog will love it!