The classic KONG is possibly the most recognizable dog toy on the market. While we know this toy as a durable rubber chew toy, there are tons of unique and fun ways to use a KONG to entertain your pet.
The KONG line up is now huge, and they continue to innovate new ways to bring joy and value to your dog’s life, but it all started with the classic KONG design.
Regardless of breed, age, and play habits, almost every dog has or has had a KONG toy at some point in their life. While this tried and true design is still a staple for many dog owners, not every dog shows the enthusiasm for this toy as they used to.
It doesn’t squeak, crackle, or smell and taste good. It can’t be easily ripped to shreds like stuffies, and doesn’t fulfill that natural prey drive like other toys. For dogs that need more mentally stimulating toys, the KONG just doesn’t stand up to some of the new and unique toy styles available.
13 Ways to Use a KONG
Has your dog lost interest in their old, boring KONG? There are more ways than you think to rejuvenate your dogs love for their KONG.
1. Freeze it for Teething Relief
At a very young age, dogs have a natural instinct to chew. While their teeth are moving and pushing through their gums, they instinctively chew to help speed up the process and loosen baby teeth quicker.
The KONG is a soft rubber material that is less painful to chew on than hard nylon toys and can curb the desire to chew destructively on household items. Freeze your puppies KONG to provide even more pain relief.
2. The Slow Feed KONG
Food motivated dogs tend to gulp their food, rather than chew. The faster they eat, the harder that food is to digest, and calorie and nutrient distribution can be compromised.
If you want to slow down your competitive speed eater, then try filling their KONG with full meals. They will need to nudge, chew, and toss their KONG to get the pieces of food out. This slow eating method can improve digestion, weight, and eating habits.
The KONG slow feeding method works for all types of food, but kibble will be the easiest to clean up after. Wet and raw diets can create a larger mess, and the toy will need to be sanitized after each meal, but that doesn't mean you can try it out.
3. The Brain Teaser KONG
KONG’s are a relatively basic design, and not much of a challenge to knock out small treats or kibble. You may need to up the difficulty level of this toy to really stimulate your dog.
Fill the KONG with treats or kibble as you normally would, but use a piece of carrot, broccoli stock or even a larger treat to plug the large end of the KONG. The tighter the fit, the better.
Your dog will need to work that large plug out before they will be able to access the goodies inside. This can slow down eating and provide a mentally stimulating problem to solve.
4. Cool KONG-cicles
Frozen treats are great for cooling down your dog in hotter months. Double coated breeds and dogs that easily overheat will benefit from these treats the most.
Turn your KONG upside down in a cup or bowl and use a soft, pliable treat to plug the small hole that is now facing down. Toss in some treats, veggies, or even kibble and fill the rest with water, broth or goat’s milk.
Place the KONG in the freezer overnight, and you will have a delicious frozen KONG-cicle to offer your dog the next day. As if defrosts, it can get messy, so this is a great outdoor treat or should be fed in an area that is easy to clean.
5. Calming KONG
For pet’s that don’t do well when left alone, leaving them a stuffed KONG can be a great way to distract them and help them settle. A frozen KONG, like described above, will last the longest, but stuffing a KONG with dry treats, kibble or slathering the inside with dog-safe peanut butter can work well too.
Make sure that the KONG is appropriately sized for your dog. You need it to be large enough that they can’t try to swallow it, but small enough that they can’t fit their bottom jaw inside the larger opening.
Dogs that destroy and eat things should never be left unsupervised with any toy.
6. KONG Scent Detection
Scent detection is a great dog sport for exercising your pooch’s sniffer. Dogs have a very acute sense of smell, some breeds more than others, and can be taught to seek scents around the house or yard.
For this game, you will need to use a high-value treat or scent to keep them engaged. Bacon, hot dogs, or fish can work well for this fun hide-and-seek twist.
Place a small amount of the desired and aromatic reward inside the KONG, and hide it. Keep a small piece for your pet to smell, and reward them with a taste.
Start slow, and help them find the first few. As they get the hang of the game, you can hide the KONG in harder to find places, and give them fewer clues.
This type of interactive game is a great way to engage your pet in playtime and can strengthen your bond.
We don’t really see a KONG as the ideal fetch toy, but an appropriately sized KONG can make for a great game of fetch. Keep some treats on hand to reward your dog when they participate.
Similar to the scent detection method, you can rub a small dab of fish oil or meat juices on the KONG to further encourage your dog to play.
If you want to play this game at the dog park, than feed a rope through the KONG and tie a large knot outside of the small end. The rope will provide some leverage for you to really fling that KONG as far as you can.
8. Bobbing for KONG
Your KONG will sink like a rock, so when we recommend this as a "water toy", we are referring to pools, shallow ponds, and shallow lakes that you can see to the bottom. Avoid deep water, as you may never see that KONG again.
For natural swimmers, this toy is a great way to exercise, not to mention a cool activity for a hot summer day. For novices that are fearful of water, you can use this game to encourage them to get comfortable with sticking their head under shallow water to grab the toy.
Take baby steps for more anxious dogs, and be prepared to get in that water with them to further support their training.
9. Keep Away KONG
This method is best for group play time. Stuff a KONG full of kibble or treats and play a good ol’ fashioned game of keep away. Toss the KONG back and forth between 2 or more people with your dog in the middle.
It may seem a little patronizing, but your dog will forgive you once they notice the goodies launching out of the toy with each toss. In grassy areas, it’s even harder to find the fallen food, so your dog will have to get a good nose work out in at the same time.
10. DIY Tether KONG
Tether tugs are a great toy for high energy pups that may need to learn how to play by themselves for a little bit. Similar to a tether-ball pole, this DIY version uses a KONG on a rope instead.
Using a pre-made tether-ball pole, or crafting your own with a long metal pipe, bore a hole near the top of the hole and tie one end of the rope to it.
Make sure the knot is sturdy because your dog will be tugging on it. The other end of the rope can be fed through the KONG and tied off with another tough knot.
Play with them by helping them bat at and pull on the KONG. The pole should be stuck deep enough in the ground that your dog can’t pull it over, so once they get the hang of it, you’ll be surprised at how quickly they start to have some solo fun.
11. Medication Hack
Dogs often hate medications and supplements in their food, and for some, it can be a daily struggle. Use your KONG to hide these supplements. Mix the pills or supplements into some wet food, peanut butter or other soft foods and stuff the KONG.
They’ll never suspect that their favourite treat is hiding something healthy. This can make medications a cinch and taste the stress and fight out of daily supplementing.
Only use this method for medications and supplements that are designed to be taken orally. Read instruction to ensure that their medications can be taken with food.
12. The Koñgata
This neat hack is a little more effort, but it’s definitely worth it. Get a long rope, long enough to tie around, and stretch between, two stable posts or trees in your yard.
Feed the rope through the KONG and set up your line at a height slightly higher than your dog’s head in a standing position.
Fill the KONG with goodies or food and let your dog go to town on that Koñgata. It’s mentally stimulating, and frankly, fun for the whole family.
If you try this method, be sure to take a picture and tag us @homesalivepets so that we can get a good chuckle too!
13. The Dental KONG
Chewing is beneficial to your dog’s dental health. It can massage their gums, loosen bacteria stuck in between teeth, and exercise their jaws. The KONG is originally known as a durable chew toy, so why not further improve its dental benefits.
Grab a dog toothpaste, dog oral gel or spray, or a small amount of coconut oil, and slather one side of the KONG with it. As your dog chews and licks, they will circulate the oral treatments around their mouth and help reduce bacteria.
This method does not, by any means, replace regular toothbrushing, but can help improve upon their existing dental routines. Check out our Complete Pet Dental Care Guide to learn other methods for managing your dog’s dental health.
How will you use your KONG?
The KONG is truly a multi-purpose dog toy, and the size and texture variety makes KONG the perfect toy for any dog or even cats, so don’t give up on that old rubber KONG yet.
These nifty life hacks will help renew your dogs love of KONG toys and can actually aid in many of their daily routines. Choose the method that best suits your dog’s needs and habits.
Do you have any fun life hacks to spruce up an old KONG? Share you tricks in the comments below!