If you are planning on crate train your dog you’ve probably heard about crate training with a KONG, this magic dog toy that helps you solve most dog behavior issues.
Well, you’ve heard right it is a great toy if not the best to train your four-legged partner. I myself use the kong with all of my dogs and the dogs I train and it certainly helps get much faster results.
However, the kong is not useful if you do not know how to use it and how to make the most of it.
So how can we crate train our dog with Kong chew toy? That’s exactly what We are going to talk about along with the most common questions I get about the Kong.
What is a kong?
The first question you might have especially for those of you who have only heard of the kong, is what is a kong?
The kong is basically a chew-toy but with benefits. Chew toys like their name suggest are toys for chewing, they are designed to be chewed and mangled on a regular basis. So they are generally made of strong rubber or silicone. And they come in different shapes and sizes.
Chewing releases endorphins that calm your dog down and produce feelings of contentment. Chew trained dogs are less likely to get into trouble when unsupervised.
The kong is a chew toy that can be filled with treats, and this is exactly why it is a great tool in dog training in general and crate training especially.
How do you use a Kong to crate train?
Chew toys are the best tool along the training treats to crate train your dog effectively and fast.
When crate training the main idea is to create a bond between your dog and his crate.
In order for the dog to stay in the crate, he needs to feel safe in it and associate it with good feelings; this is where the Kong comes in handy.
There are two ways to motivate a dog about something, toys, and food and these two include all sorts of toys and treats.
Introducing the kong and training treats
The first thing you should consider especially if you’ve just brought home a new puppy is to introduce him to the kong and training treats.
Simply because you can’t use a chew toy as a motivational tool if the puppy never saw one or played with it.
You want your dog to get attached to it and to build a great bond with it; You can also introduce the reward by treats system so you can build that first relationship. You may start gently with some basic commands and toss in a few treats dogs usually get the idea very fast.
However, training treats are not to be abused they are certain limits to how much calories your puppy should get a day, and you do not want to exceed that on treats. If you want some detailed information about how to use training treats and how to phase out on them you can read this article.
I personally recommend America’s Vet Dogs treats(click here to check the current price on Amazon). These are just great dogs love them they are low in calories and made and sourced in the USA so they are safe to use. I also like this brand because it supports a great cause by providing service dogs to disabled veterans.
Prepare a bunch of these treats and get yourself a pack of two kongs(click here to check the current price on Amazon), You want to regularly inspect the toy and retire the ones that are too mangled which is why having two is a good idea.
Start using the kong and treats for basic commands like sit and come to get your dog familiar with the whole reward system. Once you’ve established that you can move on to the next step.
Introducing your dog to his crate
I can’t say this enough, never introduce your dog to something when it’s time to do it. You can’t just put your dog into a new crate he’d never been to and expect him to relax.
before crate training with a Kong, you need your dog to feel safe around the crate first. You can start by simply exploring the crate, take him around it with the leash on and let him explore it.
If there is one thing tip I can give you about crate training it would be do not rush your doginto the crate.
Secure the doors of the crate and let it open so he can get in if he wants to without any incidents that might freak him out.
I strongly suggest you get a wire crate with two doors and a divider to crate train your dog.
Wire crates are the best for crate training as they offer plenty of open space for your dog to explore the crate safely and this is extremely helpful especially at the start of the crate training journey.
I recommend the Midwest iCrate wire crate(Click to check the price on Amazon).
This one gives you plenty of options if you consider using a playpen later on since there is a playpen that attaches to it and you can also get the crate cover if you want more intimacy for your dog.
Making the crate great
Now that your dog have had the chance to explore the crate, you can start using those treats and tossing some in the crate to lure him in.
When the dog is in the crate praise verbally and with a treat, do that for a couple of times and then start only rewarding when in the crate.
Dogs are smart pets and they often get the idea pretty fast, so it won’t take long before your dog starts offering to get in the crate to get the treat. That’s your signal to move on to the next step which is building a happy relationship with the crate.
Food is your best friend when it comes to happy times for your dog, they often associate happy feelings toward the place where they are fed.
Start by feeding your dog in the crate while the door is open, and then gradually start closing the door until your dog is fine with feeding in the crate with the door closed.
The next step would be to keep him a little longer in the crate with the doors closed after his meals, and that is the best time to use the kong.
Crate training with a kong
A chew toy like the kong is a great way to distract a dog for a while, and you want to use it after he finishes his meals.
I personally secure the kong in the crate and let the door open at first, so the dog can relax and not be too focused on the crate.
When the dog is more interested in the kong I close the door and sit by the crate praising him.
It is important at first to be next to the crate while closed so the dog feels safe.
When the dog is comfortable in there and spending more time in the crate with the doors closed you can start to move around the room and let him play with his kong.
Filling the kong with treats will sure keep your friend busy in the crate for a while; However, make sure you do not exceed his daily calorie intake.
Crate training with a kong makes the process way faster and more efficient but the kong alone won’t get you there.
What not to do when crate training
There are a few things you should avoid at all costs while crate training :
- Forcing the dog into the crate when he is clearly showing resistance.
- Rushing things after first signs of success.
- Punishing the dog in the crate.
- Using too many treats.
- Putting the dog in the crate without playtime or a walk first.
Anyone of those would make the dog hate the crate and set you back a few weeks and you’ll have to start over rebuilding the dog’s trust with the crate.
The main idea of a crate is for the dog to have a safe place where he can relax so anything that might make the crate a great place is a good idea whether it’s food toys or a blanket he loves.
Crate training with a kong FAQ
Since we’ve covered the crate training with a kong part now we can move on to answer some of the questions you might have about it.
Are Kong toys safe?
The first one that gets to mind is how safe is the kong?
The kong toy is fairly robust and can be chewed on safely, even the strongest dogs could use it safely.
Are Kong toys indestructible?
The kong is not indestructible and should be inspected regularly and retired when it’s too mangled.
Access to chew toys is permitted at all times, so having another one ready is a good idea.
Are Kongs safe to leave in the crate?
Most dog trainers are crate training with a kong and they do leave it in there, which proves that the kong is safe to leave in the crate.
In case you want to secure the kong in the crate don’t let it hanging from a long string to avoid incidents; instead, secure it directly to the crate wire.
What do you put in a Kong for a puppy?
You can fill the kong with any kind of food your dog likes. You may even feed him his regular meals by stuffing the food in the hollow part of the toy and mix it with some yogurt, mashed banana, or cream. You can use treats if you like for some supplements to his natural diet. All you need is some peanut butter of cheese cream to seal the top and let your dog enjoy his new treat puzzle.
Is the Kong toy good for dogs?
I believe by now we’ve made it clear that the kong is a great toy for dogs. crate training with a kong is much faster and efficient and besides that, the kong provides your dog with an outlet to his natural desire to chew and lick things.
It keeps the dog distracted and avoids boredom, helps with teething problems, and is a huge help when training your dog.
All in all, the kong is really helpful when training your dog and a must-have item.
- crate training with a kong is much faster and more efficient.
- Crate training with training treats is also a great way to do it faster.
- Always have a second kong and enough training treats available.
- Don’t rush your dog and increase the time he spends in the crate gradually.
- Have the dog exercise before going into the crate.