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How to choose the right Kong for your dog

Are you scratching your head in the pet store what side kong should I get for my dog? When you're in the pet store it can be a bit overwhelming with the amount of choice there us. Are you unsure about what size Kong you should get, the type or what you use it for? Kongs are an amazing enrichment toy made by The Kong Company that pups as well as seniors love to play with.  They look like rubber snowman shaped toys, and can be stuffed with food for your dog to enjoy.

Choosing the correct Kong size as well as the right type of Kong dog toy is crucial for your dog's safety and enjoyment during meals and playtime.

Don't worry, we've got you covered. In this article, we'll guide you through the process of selecting the perfect Kong type and size for your dog.

So, let's dive in and make sure your dog gets the most out of their playtime, hopefully by the end of this article we'll help you with the question !

By the way if you haven't seen it yet, then check out our article on how to stuff a Kong, so your dog can make the most of mealtimes, and you'll get some Kong recipe ideas too! 

Classic Kong Sizes and Selection

To choose the right size Kong for your dog, you should consider their weight and chewing habits. Kongs come in six different sizes: extra small (XS), small (S), medium (M), large (L), extra large (XL), and extra-extra large (XXL). As well as sizing each Kong is color-coded based on its strength and type.

Puppy Kongs are softer and designed for teething puppies, and come in pink and blue colors, while Senior Kongs are purple colored and are tougher than puppy kongs but make of  softer rubber than Classic Kongs which are red. It's important to choose the appropriate size Kong for your dog's comfort, as well as how big your pup might grow!  

Kongs that are too small can pose choking hazards and make it difficult for dogs to access treats, when in doubt, it's recommended to choose the larger size for safety. Size recommendations based on weight include XS for dogs up to 5 pounds, S for dogs up to 20 pounds, M for dogs between 15 and 35 pounds, L for dogs between 30 and 65 pounds, XL for dogs between 60 and 90 pounds, and XXL for dogs over 85 pounds.

Benefits of Kongs

Kongs offer a range of benefits for your dog. Here's some key features that your dog will love about Kongs:

  1. Treat Dispensing: Kongs are designed with a hollow center that can be filled with your dog's favorite treats. This treat-dispensing feature engages your dog mentally and keeps them entertained for longer periods of time.
  2. Stuffed Fun: You can stuff Kongs with a variety of goodies, such as peanut butter, wet food, or even fruits and vegetables. This creates a fun and challenging puzzle for your dog to solve as they work to retrieve the treats from the Kong.
  3. Strong Chewers: Kongs are made with durable materials that can withstand the toughest chewers. They're designed to hold up against the strong jaws and sharp teeth of dogs who love to chew, and if this sounds like your dog then the black extreme range could be what your looking for.
  4. Mentally Enriching: Kongs provide dogs with a puzzle that needs solving, and dogs really enjoy this type of problem solving. It's a phenomenom known as contrafreeloading 

Different Types of Kong Classic

When considering the different types of Kongs, it's important to understand the unique features and benefits they offer.

There are four main types of Kongs: Puppy Kongs, Classic Kongs, Senior Kongs, and Extreme Kongs.

Puppy Kongs are softer and designed for teething puppies, who only have small, sharp puppy teeth and not a lot of jaw strength

Classic Kongs are suitable for adolescent and adult dogs with typical chewing tendencies and come in all six sizes.

Senior Kongs are tougher than Puppy Kongs but softer than Classic Kongs, making them ideal for older dogs with lighter chewing habits.

Extreme Kongs are perfect for power-chewing dogs, as they're made with ultra-durable materials.

Each type of Kong has its own advantages and caters to different dog sizes and chewing strengths.

How to Use a Kong With Your Dog

Introducing your dog to a Kong toy and using it effectively can provide hours of entertainment and mental stimulation. Here are four ways to use a Kong with your dog:

1. Crate Training:

Stuff the Kong with your dog's favorite treats or wet food and place it in their crate. This will create a positive association with the crate and keep them occupied during crate training.

2. Obedience Training:

Use the Kong as a reward during obedience and life skills dog training. Fill it with treats and use it as a treat-release tool to reinforce positive behaviors, like adding duration to a down, or teaching a dog to settle on a mat.

3. Interactive Play:

Play a game of fetch with the Kong toy. Its unpredictable bounce will keep your dog engaged and entertained. You can also use the Kong for scentwork and teach your dog to find their Kong.

4. Food Motivation:

Fill the Kong with your dog's food, placing dry food at the bottom and wet food on top to seal it. This will make mealtime more interactive and slow down your dog's eating. Good for dogs like Labradors who don't seem to have a slow down switch when it comes to eating.

Different Ways to Use Kongs and What to Stuff Them With

To maximize the benefits of using a Kong toy with your dog, explore the various ways to engage and stimulate them, as well as the different filling options available. Here are some different ways you can use Kongs and what you can stuff them with:

Ways To Use KongsWhat to Stuff Them With
Play a game of fetchYour dog's favorite treats
Use as a chew toy  Kong Easy Treat or peanut butter
Freeze for a cool treatDog-safe peanut butter, chopped carrots, and celery
Slow feederDry kibble or wet food
Puzzle toy experienceKong Marathon treats
Bully stick holder Bully stick secured with peanut butter or pumpkin puree

How do I choose the right Kong for my dog?

Choosing the right Kong for your dog can be a daunting task. You need to consider the size of your dog's mouth, your dog's breed, and your dog's chewing habits. The general rule is to choose a Kong that is slightly larger than your dog's mouth to avoid it being a choking hazard. If your dog is a heavy chewer, go for a Kong Extreme which is made of stronger material. For puppies and small dogs, a smaller Kong or a Puppy Kong would be more suitable.

What is a Kong toy?

 A Kong toy is a dog enrichment toy that is made of a durable rubber material. It is shaped like a hollow cone with a hole at the top and a larger opening at the bottom (the smaller hole at the top is so it doesn't turn into a vacuum when your dog empties it as it could get stuck on their tongue!). The Kong toy is designed to be stuffed with treats, kibble, or other food items to provide mental stimulation for your dog. It can also be used for games of fetch or as a general chew toy.

How do I stuff a Kong?

Stuffing a Kong is easy and fun, you can fill your dog's Kong with most types of dog food. You can start by using small treats or kibble to fill the bottom of the Kong, but that will fall out easily, so it's an easy win for your dog. As time goes on you can make the Kong filling more difficult for your dog to get out. Then, you can add a variety of ingredients such as peanut butter, wet dog food, cheese, or even frozen fruits and vegetables.  Once your dog understand how to empty the Kong give your dog more of a challenge by packing the ingredients tightly/ You can also use a spoon or a butter knife to push the ingredients inside. Once it's filled, give it to your dog and watch them enjoy!

Learn more in our guide to Kong stuffing.

Can I freeze the Kong?

Yes, absolutely! Once you've filled the Kong, you can add water or broth, freeze it and it's a great way to make it last longer and provide additional entertainment for your dog. The frozen Kong will take longer for your dog to empty, giving them more mental stimulation and help to cool them down on hot days, as well as provide a nice cooling soother for the sore gums of a teething puppy. You can freeze a stuffed Kong by placing it in a freezer for a couple of hours or overnight. Just make sure to use ingredients that are safe for dogs and avoid using anything that could be harmful. Also, only do this once your dog has the hang of emptying it, if it's too difficult too soon they'll probably walk off and leave it.

How do I clean a Kong?

Cleaning a Kong is important to maintain good hygiene for your dog. You can clean it by hand using warm soapy water and a bottle brush to reach all the crevices. You can also put it in the dishwasher if it is dishwasher-safe. Another option is to soak the Kong in diluted white vinegar or a pet-safe disinfectant to remove any bacteria or odors. Once cleaned, make sure to rinse it thoroughly before giving it back to your dog. 

Can I use the Kong as a regular toy?

Yes, you can! The Kong is not only a treat-dispensing toy but also a durable chew toy and a fetch toy. It is designed to withstand rough play and chewing, making it suitable for interactive games with your dog. When not filled with treats, your dog can enjoy chewing on it or playing fetch. Just make sure to supervise your dog during playtime to ensure they don't damage the Kong or swallow any small pieces.

Are there any Kong recipes available?

Yes, there are plenty of Kong recipes available that can help you make the stuffing more exciting for your dog. Some popular recipes include mixing peanut butter with mashed banana, filling it with wet dog food and freezing it, or stuffing it with yogurt and blueberries. You can get creative and try different combinations of dog-friendly ingredients to see what your dog loves the most.

What size Kong do I need for my dog?

The size of the Kong you need for your dog depends on the size of your dog's head and their chewing habits. Small dogs and puppies may need a small or medium-sized Kong, while large dogs may require a large or extra-large Kong. As a general rule, you want to choose a Kong that is slightly larger than your dog's mouth to prevent it from becoming a choking hazard. If you're unsure, it's always better to opt for the bigger size.

How long can my dog play with a filled Kong?

The length of time your dog can play with a filled Kong depends on their chewing habits and how determined they are to get the treats out. Some dogs may finish it quickly, while others may take their time. On average, a well-stuffed Kong can keep a dog entertained for about 15 to 30 minutes. However, freezing the Kong, or using an extreme Kong (the black range) can extend the playtime as it takes longer for the dog to lick out the contents.

Is the Kong suitable for all dogs?

The Kong is suitable for most dogs, but it's important to choose the right size and type of Kong for your dog's needs. Small dogs and puppies may need a smaller Kong, while larger and more aggressive chewers might require a Kong Extreme or a larger size. It's always a good idea to supervise your dog during playtime with the Kong, especially if they are prone to chewing or swallowing non-edible objects.

Read more in our guide to enrichment toys for dogs, or read our ultimate nutrition guide for dogs.

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