Tip Tuesday: Basic Kong Stuffing
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This is the third level of stuffed pacifier toy we use. Please see the first and second levels before introducing this step to your dog. Your dog will thank you!
- Kong, Squirrel Dude, or Busy Time
- Base Kibble (your dog’s regular food)
- Novel Kibble (not your dog’s regular food)
- Freeze-dried treats, powdered, optional
- Sink drying rack, OR large bowl
- Wide mouth funnel, optional
- Chopstick, optional
You can manipulate the ratios to your dog’s liking. My dogs love their base kibble and enjoy pacifiers with just their base kibble. But I usually mix about half of the base kibble with a novel kibble, which is any brand of dry food they don’t eat for their normal meals.
If your dog is picky, you can add some pea-sized dog treats, or powder some freeze-dried dog treats to mix in with the kibble.
- Prepare your kibble – I’m using all novel kibble. You can also use your base kibble, a mixture of base kibble plus novel kibble, and/or mix powdered freeze dried treats with your kibble.
- Arrange your toys in a sink or large bowl. Bowl must be deep enough to almost cover each toy.
- Pour kibble into each toy. I use a funnel and chopstick to get the kibble in neatly.
- Add hot tap water until nearly to the top of the toys.
- Let sit at least 30 minutes, or until kibble is fully saturated. This will depend on the individual kibble and may take some experimenting.
- For toys soaking in a bowl, carefully pour most of the water out, then remove toys to a sink rack or dry bowl. For sink soaking toys, pick up the rack and set in the dry side of the sink, or on a cookie sheet. Drain for at least 5 minutes.
- Either put in fridge for beginners, or freezer for more advanced dogs.
We want the first time we offer our dog this type of pacifier to be easy, so I typically give them unfrozen the first time. My dog has already learned the skills of how to manipulate two “easier” pacifiers from our previous lessons by licking or physically manipulating food toys, so typically dogs will generalize these skills to this new type of pacifier. Once they have succeeded, I freeze these so they last longer.
When to use pacifiers
So, we’ve put all this work into teaching our dogs to use pacifiers… What will we use this skill for, exactly? Well, lots of things!
- During crate training practice
- When caregivers need the puppy to be quiet (phone or video calls)
- During car rides (if the puppy isn’t prone to carsickness)
- When the puppy is prone to being destructive or hyper
- When company comes over
Ideally, you will introduce pacifiers during confinement (crates or play pens). This will prevent any mess on your rugs, lost toys under furniture, and any squabbles between dogs. This will also give your dog a positive feeling about being confined.
You will want to also match the interest of the stuffing to the interest of the distraction. For example, if I want to put a young dog in her crate while I have company, I will choose all novel kibble with freeze dried liver powder mixed in. The distraction (my company) is high, so I match the interest level of the stuffing by making the stuffing very exciting (all novel kibble plus liver).