You are here

Puppy Chewing, Barking, Hyperactivity & Separation Anxiety: How To Teach Your Puppy To Become A Kongaholic

Feeding your puppy only from hollow chew toys rather than a bowl will have an immediate and enormous positive effect on your puppy’s behavior and temperament. Bowl-fed puppies often become overly excited prior to meal times and gobble too much food at one time, which is decidedly unhealthy. On the other hand, chew toy-fed puppies are less destructive, quieter, calmer and less likely to get bloat or develop separation anxiety.

Teaching your puppy to enjoy chewing chew toys is pretty easy; feed your puppy only from hollow chew toys. Initially, make it very easy for your puppy to get the food out. Put a dozen pieces of dry kibble into a Kong and let your puppy investigate. Occasionally prod the Kong with your finger so that a couple of pieces of kibble fall out. Soon your puppy will start to nose the Kong. Once your puppy gets the idea and can quickly empty a Kong containing dry kibble, stuff the Kong so that the food is a little more difficult for your puppy to get out. A well-stuffed chew toy is one that delivers food slowly, so that the Kong “trains” your puppy for a long time while you are away.

The classic Kong is certainly the best chew toy for stuffing with moistened kibble and freezing and the purple PetSafe Squirrel Dudes are best for filling with dried kibble. Measure out your pup’s daily allotment of kibble in the morning and put it in a container so that family members know that the kibble may be used as lures and rewards throughout the day for teaching basic manners and such. In the evening, soak the day’s leftover kibble in water, spoon the mush into Kongs and place them in the freezer overnight. Voila! In the morning, you’ll have Kongsicles!

The Squirrel Dude has a “kibble meter” — four rubber fingerlike projections that partially occlude the opening. The projections may be custom-trimmed to adjust the rate of delivery for different sized pieces of dry kibble. Other good chew toys are Kong Biscuit Balls (wonderful for stuffing with chunky foods and raw diet), sterilized uncooked long bones and antlers. Antlers are attractive in their own right and do not need to be stuffed with food. They are outrageously expensive though, (given that they regularly drop off deer), but nonetheless, worth their weight in gold because dogs love them and they last for ages.

Give your puppy a stuffed chew toy every time you confine her to her playpen (long-term confinement area) and each time you put her back into her doggy den/crate  (short-term confinement area). It is beyond essential that your puppy learns to enjoy down-time alone and that you prevent the BIG FOUR Behavior Problems: House soiling, Destructive Chewing, Excessive Barking and Hyperactivity.

Feeding your dog only from Kongs prevents destructive chewing. Each piece of food extricated from the chew toy rewards your puppy for chewing the chew toy and of course, chewing Kongs is mutually exclusive to chewing anything else. Since your pup now spends most of her time chewing Kongs, there is little time for house destruction. Indeed, the easiest way to prevent or resolve behavior problems is to teach your dog how to act, i.e., what to chew, when to bark, where to eliminate and how to amuse herself when left at home alone.

Additionally Kong-feeding prevents excessive recreational barking, hyperactivity and separation anxiety and also helps with housetraining. When puppies chew, they normally lie down, calmly and quietly. Consequently, each piece of food that comes out of the Kong, also rewards the dog for lying down and for not barking. Since the puppy is lying down she will be less likely to feel the urge to eliminate while in confinement. Consequently, once you wake her up, you can show your puppy where to eliminate and reward her for doing so. The most wonderful thing about feeding from Kongs is that the Kong continues to “train” your puppy even when you are absent, i.e., when your puppy is left at home alone.

Certainly, house soiling, chewing, barking and hyperactivity problems may be resolved pretty easily but prevention in puppyhood is easier still and so, why not teach your puppy good habits from the outset. Feed her only from Kongs. Separation anxiety, however, can be really challenging and extremely time-consuming and difficult to cure, especially with adolescent and adult dogs. Separation anxiety is crippling for afflicted dogs and their hours left at home alone can be a living nightmare. Luckily, Kong-feeding is extremely effective in preventing separation anxiety.

Kong-feeding rewards your puppy for lying down, being calm and quiet and focusing on the task at hand (Kong-chewing) rather than fretting about being alone. Moreover, after chilling and chewing a Kong, most puppies fall asleep. Once your puppy becomes a Kongaholic and enjoys savoring meals from Kongs, she now has a hobby to help her wile away the inevitable hours that she is likely to be left alone as an adult, i.e., If you teach her to enjoy time alone with her Kongs in short-term and long-term confinement as a puppy, then she won’t freak out when left at home alone as an adult. Instead, she’ll enjoy her time alone with her Kong hobby in the comfort of your home. And so, feed your puppy only from Kongs.