Toy tip: going beyond classic Kong for frozen food toys

This morning I did my weekly ritual for the second time since Grace arrived in family: filled a dozen toys and froze them.

While it is common advice to new puppy owners to use Kongs and especially frozen ones, in the first two weeks I was too much in a haze to be that organised but since we switched (back) to Ziwipeak wet food and Orijen puppy dry food (more on that in another post!), I decided to try a different strategy for preserving my mental health.

dog toys annotated

Before Grace, I had a couple of the classic Kongs, but since they are way too easily emptied by Nell for kibble and treats, I used them very infrequently. Now, they have multiplied and I have large, medium and small ones for different purposes. The toys in the front (below) are Kong Quests which I’ve found to be excellent for entertaining Nell for long periods of time with treats and peanut butter. Recently, I’ve realised they work just as well or even better than the classic ones for feeding meals so I’ve ordered a couple more – the Frog, which we used to have, and extras of Dumbbell and Flower because they are very versatile.

If you’re considering any of these, here is a short summary of each one:

  • Kong Classics – L holds 60ml of food (1/4 cup), M 40ml, and S 20ml which is not very much at all, so for a full meal for a medium sized dog I need two Kongs
  • Kong Quest Foragers Quad
    • Holds 60ml+ wet food, requires a lot of licking to get the food out
    • More difficult to clean if you use raw
    • Also works well with “squishy” treats that you can push in, but are hard for a dog to get out – or with small swabs of peanut butter as you don’t need to use much to keep the dog’s attention
    • Video of play example
  • Kong Quest Foragers Flower
    • Best used with either wet food or spreads – treats fall out easily unless they are soft and dog needs to lick to get them out
    • Holds an incredible 120ml of food which is twice of a Classic Kong’s capacity
    • Lots of little cavities keep a dog busy licking for a long time – also for a puppy or a smaller dog, they can easily lick each cavity with their shorter tongues unlike a bigger Kong
    • Video of fill example
  • Kong Quest Foragers Dumbbell
    • This is one of my favourites because it’s fairly easy to fill, and has different types of cavities – the ends are easy, and the holes in the middle are usually licked last because they are quite hard
    • Also holds and incredible 120ml of wet food
    • This also works well with different types of treats – the ends need a bigger, crunchy treat and smaller ones go in the middle
    • Downside is that with the current heavy dishwasher rotation the rubber at the ends is bending a little so they no longer hold treats (wet food is still fine)
    • Video of fill example
  • Kong Quest Critters Frog (not in pic)
    • We used to have two of these but they are currently in the “out of rotation” box in the shed – however, they are so good I wanted to mention them in conjunction with the other Quest toys
    • Capacity TBC for the large version
    • This one is great for both wet food, peanut butter and treats that can be squashed in – Nell loved the first one so much it lost a leg! Again, lots of little cavities to thoroughly work through, which keeps a dog busy for a long time
  • Kong Quest Wishbone
    • This one also holds a huge amount of food – this time I filled only one side (60ml) so that it isn’t as messy when it thaws on the floor
    • I also really like to use this with big, crunchy treats like fish cubes or anything else that crumbles because it means Nell has to chew the toy to crush the treats, and then eat the crumbs – although it makes a fair bit of mess, she loves it enough for me to use it
    • Video of how to fill it
  • Kong Quest Starpods (not in pic)
    • Another good one in the Quest series – and like the other ones, it has lots of little cavities
    • Downsides are that the edges are essentially holes, so wet food is a little tricky and so are treats – I have tended to use this with just little swipes of peanut butter or other spread inside the rings which encourages Nell to investigate each pod carefully
    • Video example of use
  • Kong Puppy Goodie Bone
    • Surprisingly, the two ends of the bone hold 20ml of food which is the same as a small Kong Classic!
    • Not as captivating to Grace as I had hoped but maybe she will take an interest later – I have used this with treats previously and now wet food to be used as a quick treat to entertain her when a delivery arrives unexpectedly or I need to otherwise briefly distract her
  • K9 Connectables
    • I previously used these as a full set and connected them in different combinations but they are too easy for Nell so I haven’t used them for a long time
    • Now, they work perfectly well as small Kongs that hold about 20-40ml of food each, and of course they also work with peanut butter or other spreads
    • As Grace grows up, I will use this in it’s original way and connect them, but at this point she doesn’t have the strength to pull them apart (although I’ve just realised that by connecting them I can make the second toy harder – one to try next week!)
  • Beeztees Fish Mint
    • This one holds only a pinch of wet food or small treats, but the small cavities keep a dog’s interest for a long time because it’s so difficult
    • Another toy I use to briefly distract one of them as it is also quick to fill and keep with you when you go to a restaurant or other public places
  • Rogz teeth ball
    • This one holds around 60ml of food
    • It’s really good because the hole at the top is so small, it takes a dog a lot of licking and especially sucking to get the food out – it’s such a simple toy, yet it holds the attention of a busy doggy for 20-30min
    • It also works really well with small treats
    • Cheap, widely available and versatile, so I definitely recommend trying this one alongside your Kongs!

Filling all of these took me 30min this morning, and will buy me 10x as much peace, quiet and sanity in the next week.

In the coming weeks, I’ll also do a post on toys that work with different types of treats, because that’s what I have found to be a missing piece of the puzzle when dog owners are recommended these toys – matching them with the right shape and size of treat makes all the difference in how well the toy performs.

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