Need more ideas to fill your dog’s KONG toy with? Looking for a way to save money with low-cost ingredients that you probably already have? Interested in a way to keep your dog busy with his KONG for longer than 5 minutes? BARKTASTIC! Let BarkThink show you the best way to stuff your KONG toys to maximize your dog’s chewing experience that will increase his mental stimulation and keep him busy longer. This KONG stuffing technique can be particularly effective in calming dogs with anxiety, tiring down hyperactive dogs, soothing fearful puppies, and crate training.
KONG Dog Toys, and similar treat-dispensing toys, has always been a MUST-HAVE toy for my sanity and my dogs. These wonderful enrichment toys is readily available at most pet stores or online.
The premise is simple: stuff the toy with food and allow your dog to keep themselves occupied while he/she works at obtaining the food inside.
What about destructive chewers? Fortunately, KONGs are made out of long-lasting, durable rubber and is built to withstand a dog’s biting. There are also several variations for puppies, older dogs, and extreme chewers.
Dog owners often fill their KONG with treats and kibble in hopes of keeping their canine companion occupied for the hours claimed on the product packaging. Unfortunately, in reality, this usually does not happen quite as advertised. Often, the dog will quickly empty out the kibble-filled toy and quickly become bored once they have achieved their goal of eating the treats. Food paste and peanut butter lasts a bit longer; but still, can be consumed within 5-15 minutes. However, when packed appropriately, these food-stuffed toys can last for an hour or more in keeping your dog occupied, mentally stimulated, and satisfied (and getting rewarded with delicious goodies, of course!).
In my years of trying to keep mischievous puppies occupied and away from things such as furniture, I discovered some effective and healthy ways to get the most out of the KONGs. Ready to learn the secret?
Use Layers & Freeze it.
Freezing Your Kong Dog Toy
Basically, you stuff the KONG Dog Toy in multiple layers of food, and then freeze it. By freezing the ingredients, it will last much longer and provide more stimulation for your canine companion. Sure, you can use the expensive fillers sold at the pet store…but have you looked at the ingredient list? It may be convenient; but not so healthy for long-term use. You can easily blend a healthier mix from a variety of leftover foods you already have in addition to their regular dog food or treats.
Freezing Kong toys can also save you time! By having more than one Kong toy, you can freeze several ahead of time until you actually need them. I’ve had friends who had at least 7 Kongs for their dogs—one for each day of the week. Often, their dog would instinctively run into their kennel whenever a Kong is pulled out of the freezer!
Here is an illustration using a popular 4-layer method for stuffing your KONG. Be creative and change up the ingredients as you (or your puppy) please!
Food Items To Stuff inside a KONG
With that said, for you first-timers out there, here are some simple one-ingredient stuffers to get you started:
- Peanut Butter — Smeared or Stuffed
- Canned Pumpkin — Smeared
- Canned Premium Dog Food — Smeared
- Cottage Cheese — Stuffed
- Ground meat, raw or cooked — Smeared or Stuffed
- Greek Yogurt — Stuffed
- Kibble — Capped with a thick paste (such as peanut butter) to keep it inside the Kong
Now, for the fun part! Feel free to practice with 2-layers or two ingredients and work your way up as you get comfortable. Practice makes perfect! Here are many other easy and healthy ingredients to try grouped by suggested layers (many are interchangeable):
LAYER ONE: TANTALIZER
- Peanut Butter
- Canned Pumpkin
- Canned Premium Dog Food
- Cottage Cheese
- Cream Cheese
- Yogurt (Greek or Plain)
- Apple Sauce (May need to cap with peanut butter)
- Liver Pate
- Cheese Spread
- Velvetta or Cheese Whiz
LAYER TWO: DESSERT
- Dog Treats
- Dried fruit (of any listed here)
- Cheese Slices
- Green Beans
- Liver, freeze-dried
- Peanuts or nuts (preferably unsalted)
- Saltines or broken crackers or hard biscuits
LAYER THREE: ENTREE
- Baby Food
- Bran Cereal (Avoid raisins)
- Chicken, cooked or shredded
- Turkey, cooked or shredded
- Eggs, cooked
- Dog Kibble
- Leftover meat scraps (remember to avoid poisonous spices)
- Mac & cheese
- Oats, cooked
- Pasta, cooked (Ravioli, tortellini, etc.)
- Potatoes, skinless
- Rice, cooked
LAYER FOUR: APPETIZER
- Slice of bread, folded with a tasteful spread inside
- Beef Jerky
- Cold cut deli meat, rolled up
- Hot Dog
- Pizza Crusts
- String Cheese
- Vegetable Stick (Carrot, Celery, etc.)
- Agave Nectar
- Chicken Soup
- Oatmeal (uncooked, sprinkled)
- Parmesan cheese
- Soy or vanilla ice cream (watch for excess sugars)
- Tomatoes (be careful with canned sauces)
- Water cooked with bouillon
Mix It Up! Change is Good
Like dog toys, it is always a good idea to ‘mix it up’ in order to help prevent your dog from getting bored with the same thing.
With KONG Dog Toys, alternating between freezing and not freezing the fillings works well, as does changing up the ingredients stuffed inside the KONG.
For a change of pace, instead of using a KONG, you can try stuffing a hollowed out marrow bone (available from your local butcher). The key is to ensure that bone length is two to three times the length of your dog’s tongue.
2017 Update: Lately, in addition to the KONG, the Nylabone Dura Chew Marrow Alternatives have been a HOWLING hit with our dogs. Both, our small Rat Terrier (Spock) and Olde English Bulldogge (Otis) have been stealing each others bones and eating it for themselves. You can stuff it similar to the way you stuff a KONG; but it feels and looks like a hollow marrow bone. Otis, our most aggressive chewer, has enjoyed the ability to gnaw on it like he does traditional nylabones…a two for one winner!
VIDEO: Learn some unique ways to stuff a KONG, plus some tips on how to introduce the toy to your dog for the first time:
More Great Ways to Use Your KONG Dog Toys
Why KONGs are the Best Interactive Dog Toys
KONG Dog Toys Color Guide – Color is Important!
KONG Stuffing Recipes
How to Clean & Sanitize KONG Dog Toys
While I’m sure the dogs would love all of those messy treats, I don’t feel like cleaning up what’s been smeared all over the floor and rugs. I guess I’ll stick to dry treats.
Never had a mess. Freeze it and it stays together
I’ve never had a mess with frozen Kong’s
Sure, you might get a few bits of kibble on the floor, but as a general rule, frozen kongs stay together really well.
I use peanut butter and stick a couple of small treats inside, freeze it Nothing on the outside. Never have had a mess at all
I’ve never had a mess from frozen Kongs. Our puppy always gets one in her crate, whether when we are leaving for work or at bedtime, but there is zero mess in the crate as she licks it frozen. It works so wonderfully and she now LOVES her crate since she associates it with this special treat! So for any new puppy owners, freeze the Kong and you will have zero mess!
A note on nuts: while peanuts, cashews, and hazelnuts are great for dogs, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, and hickory nuts are doggy no-nos. Some nuts only give dogs an upset tummy but some can cause seizures and pancreatitis.
Almonds are not bad for dogs, nor toxic. They MAY give an upset stomach, however my dog loves them and has no issues.
Peanuts are not nuts. All nuts can have a detrimental effect on dogs’ health. They are high in fat. While you will not immediately see ill effects, over time the animal will be harmed.
These things are easily researched.
Hot dogs? Pizza crust? Peanut Butter? **I frown upon – especially lately (maybe a pinch, here and there) but NOT often
All of those are perfectly healthy for the dogs, just make sure its natural
Thanks for the post. I was looking for recipes for my two new large kongs. I love them for my two huskies. I also really liked the like for the squirrel one I bought two on Amazon.
Glad I found this info, just got my new puppy’s kong in the mail today. This was very helpful!
Can you use the kong balls? The holes seem kinda small but I didn’t think about it till after I left the store with it.
Are you referring to the (mostly) solid rubber KONG balls with the hole on each end such as these? KONG Ball with Hole
If so, yes you can…but it’s a bit tricky to fill and clean because it has TWO large openings in it versus 1 small and 1 large in a traditional KONG. I would recommend using something with a bit more substance/thicker to seal the hole. My go-to is often peanut butter or similar consistency.
Alternatively, my favorite KONG ball is the KONG Stuff-a-Ball because of the options available with the ridges. Albeit, I’ll admit it usually don’t entertain as long as a regular KONG though. But definitely provides great variety for the pups! Let me know if you have any other questions.
Please be extra careful when giving frozen treats to dogs! On hot days this can actually cause them to over heat. Their self cooling system works differently than in humans. If they eat ice and other frozen items it can make their system think they are cold and trigger their bodies to “warm up” even if they are already hot.
What are your credentials? What is your source?
Do some research before posting.
I use their regular food stirred up with peanut butter just lightly coated) and layered with sliced frozen banana and apple cubes.