Kong Starter Recipe - Direct Health Life

If your dog doesn’t like any of the ingredients, please feel free to substitute.
1 cup of your dog’s kibble
2 diced baby carrots
1/2 cup Liver Biscotti
1 jar meat baby food
Mix ingredients together in a bowl, and then pack it loosely into a Kong.
This shouldn’t be too difficult for your dog to unpack because there are no
pieces so big you had to squeeze them in through the hole, and it’s not
frozen. If your dog gets everything out quickly, you can up the level of difficulty with some larger pieces of dog cookie, beef jerky, or dried chicken
strips, and/or freeze it once you’ve finished packing. Both these measures
make it more of a challenging puzzle, which will occupy her longer. You can
make up your own recipes or look for inspiration on the Kong Company

Provision of appropriate chew toys is by no means a luxury in my opinion. Chew toys are the dog equivalent of books and movies for us.
While it is quite possible to get you to the end of your life on a balanced diet, water, and shelter, think of how different your quality of life
would be if there were no more reading, Internet surfing, TV, movies,
or other ways to pass the time.
● Real bones. These are commercially available as both stark white sterilized joints and smoked with remaining gristly material on them. You can
also give butcher soup-type bones, provided they are given raw. There is
massive controversy over raw diets and I’m not going to get into the various arguments here. The final authority is your own veterinarian. The
first time you give your dog a real bone, be on hand to supervise and to
avoid creating an association between this novel object and you leaving,
which is usually a big disappointment for dogs. If it turns out she likes
them, you can subsequently use them as blow-softeners for when you’re
gone, but it’s optimal not to do that on the very first occasion.
● Tug toys. Some dogs love tugging and others have zero interest. While
it is possible to fan small sparks of interest in your dog into a flame, it
may not be worth your while if you have other toy and exercise options
your dog likes better. If your dog is a tug-lover, however, it’s a valuable
and fun game, but has to be played with rules.
Kong Starter Recipe
If your dog doesn’t like any of the ingredients, please feel free to substitute.
1 cup of your dog’s kibble
2 diced baby carrots
1/2 cup Liver Biscotti
1 jar meat baby food
Mix ingredients together in a bowl, and then pack it loosely into a Kong.
This shouldn’t be too difficult for your dog to unpack because there are no
pieces so big you had to squeeze them in through the hole, and it’s not
frozen. If your dog gets everything out quickly, you can up the level of difficulty with some larger pieces of dog cookie, beef jerky, or dried chicken
strips, and/or freeze it once you’ve finished packing. Both these measures
make it more of a challenging puzzle, which will occupy her longer. You can
make up your own recipes or look for inspiration on the Kong Company
website, kongcompany.com.
17_616161-ch10.indd 115 3/11/10 10:47 PM
116 Maintaining and Improving
Games with Toys
Playing games is one of the great pleasures of life with dogs. Two of my favorites are Tug and I’m Gonna Get You! Both involve your dog’s toys, and this
has the important fringe benefit of raising their value to your dog. Both these
games also involve rules, which serve to increase your motivational leverage
over your dog, always front and center in the mind of a trainer.
Rules of Tug
1. The dog may not grab the toy until she is invited (Okay, Get It). If she
grabs too early, the game ends: “Too bad.” Drop the toy and walk away.
It’s a dead object now, much less fun.
2. The dog must let go when asked (Out Please). If she carries on tugging
once you’ve asked her to let go, the game ends: “Too bad.” Don’t worry
about not getting it back—she doesn’t “win” anything. Dogs play Tug
for different reasons than humans do. The dog is thrilled about how you
can make the toy move and resist. Once you let go, it’s dead, which is
much less rewarding.
3. No teeth on skin or clothing. If while grabbing or adjusting her grip,
your dog nips you—however accidentally—the game ends: “Too bad.”
One of the advantages of playing Tug is this important reminder about
putting her teeth on people. She gets the opportunity to practice being
very prudent about where her jaws are even when she’s in midplay.
4. This one is a rule for you: exploit Tug as an obedience motivator. Before
starting the game, ask for Sits, Downs, Stays, and tricks. Dogs that enjoy
Tug will give you a lot of obedience per unit of game. You can also start
and stop the game—partly to maintain your “out” cue, and partly to
“recycle” the game as a reward by doing another round of obedience.
Tug I: “Out”
The key to a smooth rule installation is control. So, before playing the game in
a full-throttle, raucous manner, we’re going to try to keep it low-key, with a
heavy emphasis on payoffs for following the rules. Then later we can rev it up.
1. Get a small supply of high-value food rewards into your pocket or
pouch. Choose a toy that will be the official tug toy. This will help your
dog discriminate when the game’s on and when it’s not.
2. Sit on a chair (you may stand if sitting makes it awkward to play, such as
with a really big dog) and move the toy in an enticing manner to see if

she’ll latch on right away. If she does, praise her “So good, so good,” and
then after a couple of seconds, say “Out.” If she doesn’t latch on right
away, try to gauge whether she’s just not interested, which means Tug
may not be her cup of tea, or whether she’s too distracted by your food
rewards. If it’s the latter case, make them less apparent and try again.
3. As soon as you say “Out,” stop all movement of the toy—keep hold of it
but make it go dead by squeezing it between your held knees, with as
much of it pulled in as possible. Then just wait. This is much less fun
and sooner or later she’ll let go. When she does, praise her heavily and
with the toy safely sat on by you, supply a food reward.
4. Start again from step 2. This procedure takes a bit of practice and each
dog is a little different. Some are ultrakeen, so your main problem is
getting them to “out” those first few times. Others like the tug well
enough but once they’ve had a food reward, the tug toy has been
trumped, and they start trotting out their obedience and trick repertoire
to get you to pay them with a food reward. These types, because they
don’t latch on quite so grimly, can often be taught without food rewards
to get the “out” going. The tug-maniacs will need food to compensate
for outing until it’s a strong enough behavior. At that point, interestingly, the reward for outing will be the sequence of obedience that leads
to the reinitiation of the game. This is a lot of behavior—the out PLUS
several obedience behaviors—for one reward, but for dogs who really
love Tug, it’s a small price to pay. Behavioral economics in action!
Practice like this until your dog has let go immediately on your
verbal “out” five times in a row.
Won’t Tug Games Make Her Aggressive?
For years and years people were admonished not to play Tug with their dog
as it was feared this game would increase aggression or allow the dog to
feel “dominant” over the owner. Tellingly, lots of people did it anyway,
though they were sheepish to admit it to the Dog Training Tug Police.
Finally, a study was performed by Peter Borchelt and Linda Goodloe, which
looked at the incidence of aggression in dogs who played Tug regularly with
their owners and those who didn’t. There was no difference. Many of the
sharpest trainers around in fact—those in the highly competitive sports of
obedience, agility, and Flyball—use Tug games routinely as a reward for
their dogs without any increase in aggression. And because it’s such a great
energy burner, it’s a good exercise option. And fun.

Tug II: “Okay, Get It!”
In Tug I, we focused on “out,” back-burnering the other rules, including letting
the dog grab the toy as soon as we presented it. Now a new rule: she can’t grab
it until we say “Okay, get it!”
1. Sit as you did before, with the toy out of sight. Say “Okay, get it!”
Whip the toy out and play some Tug. Ask your dog to out, and praise
and reward when she does. Before she can regrab, put the toy behind
your back or sit on it.
2. Wait several seconds. If she looks a bit puzzled, this is excellent. Say
“Okay, get it!” and repeat the procedure.
3. If she happens to grab the toy without your invitation, in spite of your
efforts to keep the toy under wraps between rounds, simply say “Too
bad” and walk away.
Push to the next exercise when you have done two tug sessions like
this on two different days, and with at least five instances of you
preceding the game with “Okay, get it” in each session.
Tug III: “Okay, Get It!” Enforced
1. Set this up exactly as you have until now, with the toy hidden. Say
“Leave it,” and then slowly start bringing the toy out. If your dog makes
a move to grab it, put it away immediately. Wait until she calms down
and then try again. The rule now is you won’t say “Okay, get it!” until
she does a Leave It first.
2. If at any point the dog is too quick or sneaky and grabs the toy, instantly
say “Too bad,” and apply a thirty-second penalty. Walk away in a huff,
get the toy back (or get a different toy), and then return at the end of
the thirty seconds. Repeat this procedure whenever she does this. Try
to bring the toy out slowly enough that you have the advantage and
can get it out of range if she moves for it. Think Dirty Harry: you’re in
hair-trigger mode—the toy is gone if she flinches.
3. Do several rounds and then quit. Some dogs—the really keen ones and
the ones who have not had the impulse-control exercises in the second
section of the book—take two or three sessions to start leaving the toy,
or to do so with any regularity.
Push to the next exercise when your dog has waited for the “Okay,
get it!” cue five times in a row, in spite of the toy within reach.

Tug IV: Proofing Jaw Control
The final piece to having a well-trained tugger is emphasizing to your dog that
she must be very careful, even in midgame, about where she places her jaws.
1. Play a couple of rounds of Tug, rehearsing your out and Okay, Get It!
rules. You probably don’t need food rewards at this point, as the reinitiation of the game is itself now the driving reward, and the cancellation
of the game the incentive not to make errors.
2. From now on, if ever your dog nips your hand or clothing, however
slightly, while grabbing or grip-adjusting, say “OUCH!” even if it didn’t
hurt, then “Too bad” and abruptly stop. Give her a thirty-second penalty,
and then try again.
3. Have no mercy—if you fudge this rule (“Well, that one was my fault…”)
you’ll limp along with tooth contact here and there. Strict is better
here. You can even play devil’s advocate by “feeding” her your hand.
Before a regrab, hold onto most of the toy so there is much less for her
to grab. Another proofing maneuver is to inch your hands down the
object in midtug so your hands are closer and closer to the dog’s end.
There is no question this is setting her up to fail, but in the area of dog
jaws on human flesh—an area with frequent death penalties for dogs—
strongly proofing the dog like this is, I think, wise.
When two complete Tug sessions have gone by with no boo-boos,
your rules are installed. You may now play Tug as you wish.
Remember to insert obedience and tricks into the breaks between
rounds—this is a motivator not to waste!
If your dog actually injures you when she makes a mistake, don’t play this
Teaching I’m Gonna Get You! Using Your Dog’s Own Toys
So far we have gotten the dog focused on her own toys by auditioning different
kinds, and then supplying her with chewies that she likes, and if she enjoys
Tug, instilling rules so you can use this valuable energy outlet that also adds
value to her toys. There is one more thing we can do to reduce naughty objectgrabbing in the house, which is to teach your dog that picking up forbidden
items no longer works to get you to chase her, but picking up her own toys at
certain times does.
We humans have a tendency to ignore dogs when they’re being good. Your
dog may even have picked up one of her own toys, hoping you might play chase

with her. But we don’t attend to dogs when they pick up their own toys, do we?
We attend to dogs when they pick up something of ours. From the dog’s perspective, it works, and so she repeats it. If your dog loves being chased around,
you may recognize the pattern now.
It’s important to understand that your dog is not deliberately trying to do
something wrong. She couldn’t, as she has no concept of the value of any artifact besides its nutritional, toy, or button value. Button value means when a dog
touches a certain thing, it’s like pressing a button that makes the owner
instantly pay attention. If your dog finds chase games fabulously rewarding,
even if you’re stern and nasty when you finally catch her, it may still be worth
it to her. And, of course there’s no need to get violent. You’d call child services
if someone beat a two-year-old child for picking up your eyeglasses case. By a
similar token, it’s way out of proportion to get violent with some poor dog
because she innocently picks up an object.
I’m Gonna Get You!
1. Choose a time when your dog seems to be in a playful mood. (If your
dog is very toy oriented and has a long history of making you crazy running around with your possessions, pretty much any time will do.) It’s
ideal to use a new toy, like a stuffed animal or plush squeaky. If she has
a favorite, this will also do nicely.
2. Sit down on the floor or a chair with this toy behind your back. Call
your dog over and give her a brief, tantalizing flash of the toy. Pull it
out, move it around enticingly, and then hide it again. This should
pique her interest. Do it once or twice more. Then get up and run
around the house a bit, flaunting the toy above your head, as though
playing tag and your dog was “it.”
3. Stop, tease her with the toy one more time, and then drop it. If she
picks it up, immediately wiggle your fingers in a playful menacing manner and say “Iiiiiiii’mmmmm gonna GET you!” and then hop forward
reaching for the toy. If she doesn’t run away, try a light, wiggly jab at
her rear quarters. If she runs, immediately give chase, squealing and saying “I’m gonna get you, get you, get you!!!”
4. If she doesn’t pick up the toy but seems interested and excited, try slowly
reaching for the toy: “Oooooh, I think this is myyyyyy toy . . .” and see
if she takes the bait. If she grabs it, chase her gleefully.

5. If your dog knows the Tug rules, you can throw some Tug in at the end
of the chase. This is a fun workout for both of you. Always say “I’m
gonna get you!” before starting to chase. This helps with the compartmentalization we are trying to achieve.
Some dogs don’t catch on right away, but it’s worth persevering if
you think your dog might enjoy this game. Encourage any little
sparks of interest you see. You already know she’s a good prospect
for this game if she has a history of running around with your stuff.
While you are trying to get the I’m-Gonna-Get-You game up and running, it’s
a good idea to keep the forbidden items your dog has grabbed in the past well
out of reach. This is especially true if they are valuable. Things that you can’t
afford to have her spit on or chew will compel you to show great interest when
she picks them up, chase her around, and perpetuate the whole vicious cycle.
This prevention of a problem behavior through careful environmental control
is called management by dog trainers.
Killing Interest in Forbidden Things
If your dog is a stealer, be sure to instill the I’m-Gonna-Get-You game before
doing the following. It is important your dog have some outlet for this kind of
energy. It’s not good enough to just snuff out a behavior without instilling a
1. You will need to plant a previously stolen object for this exercise. Make
very sure it’s one you don’t consider valuable, because if your dog grabs
it, you’re not going to chase her.
2. Plant this item in a spot where your dog might normally find it, and go
about your business.
3. If she ignores it for a good ten minutes or more, bring out the I’mGonna-Get-You toy and play a round with her. She has been very good
4. If she approaches the item, say “Leave it.” If she leaves it alone, praise
warmly. If she picks up the item, do absolutely nothing. Don’t even look
in her direction (watch if you like but out of the corner of your eye).

5. If she settles down to chew it, distract her away from it. Walk toward
the door, run out of the room, anything that will get her off it but without approaching her, which is the rewarding part. We do not want to
keep rewarding this behavior.
6. Once you’ve got her well away from the item, prompt her into a room
or her crate and close the door. Then collect the item. Don’t risk
another grab.
7. Repeat the procedure but with an item your dog will not chew. Station
yourself closer as well, to add a bit more weight to your Leave It. If she’s
naughty and grabs, once again don’t chase. There mustn’t be any
reward for grabbing. The big reward is your attention, positive or negative. We want to starve this behavior into what is called extinction. Do
at least one a day.
Alternate this exercise with rounds of I’m Gonna Get You! to really
underscore which items—her toys—have button value. Grabbing her
own toys when you give the “I’m-Gonna-Get-You” cue immediately
makes you chase her, whereas your possessions are useless in this
Push to the next level, relaxing the management, when your dog
hasn’t even tried grabbing a forbidden item in one of your set-ups for
five days in a row.
Loosening Up the Management
Now that you’ve met your dog’s needs with regard to toys, attention, and chewing, you can start bringing Leave It into real-life situations. Gradually return
the previously problematic items to their usual spots. In spite of Leave It and
the keep-away game that you have installed, these items still have some history
of reward, so it’s very possible she’ll attempt to grab one. So for the first twenty
minutes or so that you put a really “hot” item back into its place, don’t go too
far. The earlier you can time your Leave It, the better the chance of success. It’s
also a good idea to play a round or two of I’m Gonna Get You! with her toy
right after putting one of your possessions in place.


leave a Comment