One of the most well-known and probably loved toy for dogs is the Kong classic. It is made of rubber and it has the form of three balls of increasing sizes stuck together, with a smaller hole at the top and a bigger one at the bottom which connect to each other through the inside of the toy, which is hollow.
Uses and Types
One of the main advantages of the toy is its many uses. However, its main purpose is to keep the dog entertained by filling it with food which the dog needs to take out. The hollow area inside the toy is where the food is stuffed. The kind of food that can go inside ranges from a special paste sold by the brand for this purpose, to kibble and wet food. Depending on how you fill it, the dog will have an easier or harder time getting the food out.
The Kong is also a chewing toy. It is made of hard-but-soft rubber which is not easily destroyed by chewing, but it is soft enough to be enjoyable and not damage the dogs’ teeth. In fact, the Kong can be used to alleviate the pain when their teeth are growing. A way to do so is by filling the Kong with food and freezing it, and giving it to the dog afterwards. The coldness will calm their pain and uncomfortableness.
Finally, it can also be used as a toy to be fetched. Due to its form, the toy rolls in unpredictable patterns which are closer to the real-life behavior of prey animals than a standard ball.
And dogs can also play with it on their own, by grabbing it with their mouths and then dropping it on the floor. Due to the toy’s form, it will rebound in weird patterns which may keep the dog engaged for a while.
The Kong classic comes in four different types and various sizes. The types are created considering the dog’s age and the kind of chewer that he/she is: standard, puppy, senior and tough chewer. The sizes range from extra small (XS) to extra extra-large (XXL) and the right size will depend on your dog’s size. For more information on sizes, check this leaflet created by Kong.
Nix and us: Our Experience
I first learnt about Kongs when I was doing the dog trainer’s course, in 2010. Back then Syd was still alive but she was already 8 years old. I don’t know where I bought the Kong, but they didn’t have the senior version in stock so I went instead with the puppy one. I don’t remember the size I got, but I think it was the “Large” one. Syd used it for a while, but not for long.
When we got Nix, we decided to give her Syd’s Kong. Early on she paid very little attention to it, even when there was food inside it seemed as if she thought it wasn’t worth the trouble getting it out. However, about a month ago we started using the Kong as a way to feed her when we are away. Let me explain: if I know I will be away during Nix’s lunch hour, what I do is fill the Kong with her food and leave it to her to keep her entertained. She loves it, although I’m sure it doesn’t take her more than 10 minutes to get the food out.
I’ve also seen her play with the Kong without any food inside, but this only happens very occasionally. I don’t think that she has actually ever used it as a chewing toy, and only very rarely have we used it to play fetch, and always inside the house.
So far, the Kong is still looking very good, although if you look closely you can see that the rubber has started to come off a little bit. Bear in mind, though, that Nix hasn’t used it very intesively.
Nix and Us: Recommendation
Although early on it seemed as if the toy would be useless for Nix, we have now found a way to use it that works for us. Due to the toy’s durability and its potential multiple uses, I certainly recommend getting one. Even if you get it now and your dog doesn’t seem very interested, it’s probably just a matter of time to find the right use for your dog. Sometimes dogs need to be taught how to play with a toy…
Prices can range from €5 to €20 ($6 to $20) approximately, depending on the toy’s size and its type. I don’t think its expensive for what it is.
The story behind the kong…
According to Wikipedia, the toy was created in the 1970s when the founder of the Kong Company realised two things: his German Shepherd Fritz damaged his teeth by chewing stones, but he also enjoyed chewing the hard rubber on a suspension device of a Volkswagen Bus. So, with these two ideas in mind, he created the toy.