Unleash the Power of KONG

Unleash the power of KONG toys!

Do you know what a KONG can do?

The unassuming toy with a secret

When we first came across KONG, which must be twenty years ago now, they didn’t look like the most exciting dog toy we had ever seen. In fact, probably like a lot of people, we saw them as a tough chew toy with an erratic bounce. Our dogs just weren’t that interested.

How wrong can you be?

The secret to the Classic, Puppy, Senior, Extreme, and indeed the Kitty KONG, is that it’s a hollow rubber receptacle for all sorts of doggy, or feline delights. It has holes at both ends, one large and one small. The key KONG ingredient is the stuffing. That’s what makes it so special and so very useful.

What does the inside of Classic KONG look like?

The inside of a KONG

Let your dog, or cat, in on the secret

Firstly, you need to get your dog or cat interested in it. Once they understand what it’s all about they will not only want it but love it. To begin with, you just need to fill it with a couple of their favourite treats. Something they really enjoy, that they can smell, and that will easily slip out of the large opening. Try this for a few days. Don’t hand them their favourite treat, put it in a KONG and let them get it out themselves.

As soon as they understand that this ‘toy’ is the bearer of delicious snacks, they will start to get excited as soon as they see it.

You can work on this, gradually stuffing the KONG with other delights and making it a tad more difficult for the dog to get out. Make them work for it. Plug the small hole at the bottom with peanut butter (check it’s Xylitol free) or cream cheese and then fill with a variety of treats. Leave a longish chew sticking out to get them started.

A fully loaded KONG

Eventually, you could dispense with your food bowl and feed them their meals in the KONG. You can also freeze the filled KONG which is great for hot sunny days; a KONG Popsicle, or to make them longer lasting.

It can take your dog a couple of hours to fully empty the KONG and lick the peanut butter or maybe liver pâté from the bottom so they are perfect to extend play-time and can help distract them if they suffer from separation anxiety.

Problem behaviours can be helped with a KONG

Feed their minds

An excellent enrichment toy. They are perfect boredom busters if they are confined to a crate, hopefully, cut down on chewing and stimulate them mentally at the same time.  We had one dog, Sophie, who was KONG mad. She had developed a foolproof method of getting every last grain from her KONG. She would take it to the top of the stairs and drop it. As it bounced down the steps the treats would come tumbling out and she would snaffle them up!

It’s important to get the correct size for your dog so do check out the detailed KONG size chart before purchasing. And take another look at this seemingly simple KONG toy, now that you know how to unlock its secrets.

Check the KONG size chart before you buy

It’s important to get the right size for your dog. If in doubt, size up.

Get stuffing

You may also like our short video on how to stuff a KONG, and you can find plenty of inventive KONG stuffing recipes at BARKTHINK, or maybe your cat may be partial to a Kitty KONG stuffed with bacon and eggs?

Sit back and be amazed at how your much your dog loves its KONG. And the good news for us humans is that when they’ve emptied it, we can stick it in the dishwasher.

But of course, your cat can benefit from a KONG in the same way your dog does. Cats go absolutely crazy over the Kitty KONG once they learn to use it; it’s an excellent way to keep your cat occupied and challenged.

The original and the best KONG

The KONG range

Since their original and we think best ever invention, the KONG Company have branched out and now do a wide range of enrichment toys for dogs and cats. See our full range of exciting and innovative KONG products here.

KONG now do a wide range of enrichment toys for both dogs and cats

We have a wide range of KONG products, both new and old favourites

From left to right KONG Tiltz, KONG Replay, KONG Babbler, KONG Snacks, KONG Safestix, KONG Easy Treat, KONG Ballistic Hide ‘n Treat, KONG Quest Foragers Dumbbell, KONG Rewards Shell, KONG Senior, KONG Quest Foragers Flower, KONG Squeezz Ball, KONG Stuff-a-Ball.

The White Warrior

Daisy, a differently abled dog!

Daisy has degenerative myelopathy, a non-painful, progressive disease of the spinal cord that usually results in hind limb paralysis. At present, she can still move her hind legs, but they don’t support her weight and she can’t walk unaided. Indoors she drags herself around using her front legs.

Living with a disabled dog is a real challenge and we have altered our lifestyle to cope with her needs. So how does our day look? Well, it begins with Daisy plunging from the sofa when we get up, and to ensure she doesn’t hurt herself, we have a folded yoga mat in her landing spot! We use either a rear harness or (for sheer speed) we wrap a belly band under her gut and guide her outside for her morning ablutions, being careful not to stamp on trailing feet.

Then it’s time to get ready for her first walk of the day, and for this, she is ‘booted and suited’. Her feet are constantly dragging on the ground so we ensure that they are well protected with boots. She is then hoisted into her wheelchair which is made by Best Friend Mobility. We are delighted with it. It’s sturdy and has a flexible saddle which is comfortable for her and allows her freedom of movement.

She’s always eager to get going, yipping with excitement and the pressure is off of us for a while as she runs free in the field, chasing her favourite toy, the Puller, or sniffing out rabbits with the four other dogs. Occasionally she topples over and then it’s all hands on deck to get her upright and back in her chair, but whatever happens, she has a whale of a time!

Back from her walk, she’s assisted into the office and onto her bed. Her boots are removed, feet dried and cream applied to any sore areas (these are rare thanks to our prep, but they do happen). Then her feet are wrapped in lint and Fun Flex Bandages to prevent any damage when she’s dragging herself along the floor.

She is served breakfast on a stand to make it easier for her to eat sitting up, and for ‘elevenses’ she has her first dose of vitamins wrapped in a slice of ham and followed by a tasty biscuit. She is taking and a mixture of B Vitamins (mainly B12) and Biotin as it has been suggested that dogs with DM may be deficient in B12.

Then it’s snooze time for her but work time for us as we get an hour or so off.

At lunchtime, she is assisted outside to toilet then back to her bed for another biscuit and her afternoon snooze.

Late afternoon and we start gearing up for her second walk of the day. Boots on, harness on and hoisted into her wheelchair. On her return, her routine is similar to the morning.

Another snooze until dinnertime.

After dinner, outside for more ablutions, then she’s assisted onto the sofa next to the woodburner, where she awaits her evening treat. Then more snoozing until her final outing to the toilet just before bed, and her final biscuit of the day.

She generally sleeps through the night, but has been known to have the odd accident so we have a special cover for the sofa. We have also covered the floors in hardwearing, industrial rubber matting which not only makes clearing up after her a lot easier, it also gives her a grip on the floor so she can pull herself along.

The next day we begin the whole process again.

It is physically and mentally exhausting looking after her, she weighs around 25kg so it takes strength to lift her and she’s not the most cooperative dog to deal with. Not to mention the constant worry about her deteriorating health. We are very fortunate to be working from home which allows us to care for her 24/7, so she’s rarely left alone.

DM is a horrible condition, and to see our once healthy, very active dog dragging herself around is heartbreaking. However, she still loves going out, she adores chasing her Puller and she also swims regularly which gives her freedom from her paralysis as all four limbs seem to work perfectly in the water.

Swimming at Fusion Veterinary Physiotherapy

We know what’s in store for us. She will continue to deteriorate and despite all our efforts, there is nothing that can be done to prevent it. We just care for her as best we can, keep her comfortable and happy take hundreds of pictures so we will always have the memories. We are amazed at the way she has adapted to her situation and feel so proud of her when she trundles along in her wheelchair.

We were really lucky to get her wheelchair through the Finding a Cure for DM Foundation. They run a Wheels to Help Me scheme. By making a donation to the charity you can borrow a set of wheels that have been kindly donated by parents of DM dogs. Her particular wheelchair has two tags on the back with the names of its previous occupiers. Such a lovely way to remember them and we are so grateful for their generosity. The wheels will, of course, be returned to them at some future date, but we don’t want to think about that just yet.

Hungry like the wolf

Biologically appropriate raw food

It must be about 20 years ago now that we first started feeding our dogs a raw diet. The reason it came about was that we were having such a problem getting them to eat consistently. They were forever turning their furry noses up at bowlfuls of dried food, also known as kibble. To try and entice them into eating we were smothering the pieces in ‘dog gravy’ or topping their dinner off with tuna, anything to try and get them to eat. Of course, these meals are designed to be wholly balanced so us adding bits and pieces on top wasn’t really helping. Whatever we did,  they would only eat it for a couple of meals and then once again they would leave it. We were getting quite desperate and trying a different kibble every other week, and ending up with bags and bags of half-eaten dog food.

We really weren’t sure about it, but we decided to make the leap and try raw, or the BARF diet as it was back then.

It seemed so complicated. Instead of a balanced meal at each sitting, we had to achieve balance over time. There were different meats to included, offal, fruit, veg and bone. When we started, we had a spreadsheet which detailed their twice-daily meals for weeks at a time.

Dried food, BARF or tinned

However, it was all worth it, and it was a complete revelation when from day one there were no turned up noses or food left sitting in bowls all day. It was eaten with great gusto. We nearly fainted when we first saw our dogs eating a raw chicken wing!

In all that time, with all of our dogs, we’ve never had a dog that wouldn’t eat raw. Yes, there were days they wouldn’t eat if they were unwell, or bits and pieces they would leave. We don’t think we ever had a dog that liked raw liver, cooked yes, raw no! From pups, they’ve all been switched straight to raw without any problems whatsoever.

Until now, that is.

Our Tilly has been raw fed since the day we brought her home at eight weeks. She took to it like a duck to water in the same way as the rest of them always had. However, when she had her first season, we noticed that her eagerness to eat her dinner disappeared. Sometimes her food would be down for a couple of hours before she would touch it.

Tilly and Toby with their first ever chicken wings

When her season was over, she appeared to return to normal, but maybe not quite as enthusiastically as before.

At the beginning of this month, she stopped eating again. We were pulling our hair out trying to entice her to eat. The only thing that had an effect on her was having Toby walk past her meal; she suddenly developed an interest in it.

Just when we were beginning to think she may actually be ill, even though she would happily eat a treat or a piece of cheese, we realised she had come back into season a month sooner than expected.

We moved her out of the house away from our entire male dogs, to the caravan, but she absolutely refused to eat. She was still wolfing down treats but not her meals. The weight was dropping off her. As a last resort, we tried some tinned meat that we had bought for Fin when he was unwell many moons ago. Duck and plum flavour. We started with just a couple of spoonfuls.

She scoffed it up, so we gave her more. Again, she ate it, so she got the rest of the tin.

At last, we had managed to find something she would eat. We ordered a whole stash of tinned meat for her, and she continued to wolf it down, nothing wrong with her appetite at all, she just didn’t like raw.

For the time being, we will keep her on tinned food. Some of it smells so nice; we are quite tempted ourselves!

We are hoping that when this season is over, she will come to her senses and return to raw, as there is a downside to NOT eating raw food…

So, what do you feed your dogs, and why? Dried food is definitely the easiest option for a multitude of reasons and if you have a dog that eats it without fuss then why change?  There are lots of myths and half-truths about the dog food industry, as there is with our own food, and if you are contemplating a change in diet, why not have a look at this website All About Dog Food which may help you to make up your mind, if your dog hasn’t already made it up for you!

And if you’re a cat feeder, check out the Reviews for the Best Wet and Dry Cat Food available.

The Great British Dog Walk

The daily dog walk is sadly in decline

As dog owners, one of our main responsibilities is the daily dog walk. Let’s face it, when the weather is rough, or we fancy another hour in bed, or there’s something good on the telly, we often search for an excuse NOT to walk the dog. In fact, those are some of the top reasons we use as well as a whole host of others. Now Forthglade have launched a campaign to reinstate The Great British Dog Walk and help you re-discover the joy of walking. Not only is it good for our pets, it’s good for us too, and a good walk can affect our health, wellbeing and happiness.

What with the obesity crisis, which affects not only humans, but our pets as well a daily walk could be just what we all need to get us back on track.

But before we all rush out and get started, another factor we may want to consider, especially in the colder weather is the ‘warm-up’, which can be important if your daily walk involves chasing a ball, flying disc, or in our case, the Puller Exercise Toy for Dogs. It had never occurred to us before. Our dogs can be seen hurtling out of the front door, across the yard and into the field in hot pursuit of their favourite purple toy! However, recently we came across an article on Warm-up Exercises for your Dog. Humans are aware that they need to warm up their muscles before exercise but for some reason, we hadn’t thought about it for our dogs.

It doesn’t have to be a long, complicated process, just a few minutes of some basic moves will make all the difference and could prevent injury. It also offers a fabulous opportunity to bond with a bit of training. Do some circles to the left and right, have your dog weave through your legs, teach them a play bow.

Similarly, towards the end of your exercise, make sure that you calm things down and give your dog time to cool off before he returns to the car or indoors.

So now is the perfect time to think a little differently about that daily chore, turn it into a fun experience that is a pleasure for both you and your dog. There are some great motivators on the Forthglade site and also experts on hand to help you along the way.

Take up the six-week dog walk challenge and fall in love with that daily walk all over again, but more importantly, make a dog happy today and every day!

 

It’s in their DNA

We get into genetics…

For many many years, we have been dedicated German Shepherd owners. Only once did we stray, and that was with our Border Collie, Jack. We really needed a sheepdog and the shepherds just didn’t have the knack.

Each and every dog we’ve had has been unique, and we’ve loved them all. It has always been our dream to one day breed a litter, but up until now, we never felt we had dogs of the right temperament.

Along came Toby and changed all that. He is smart, maybe too smart, good-natured, and equally importantly he has good hips and elbows.

We finally thought we had found the perfect dog to breed from. We looked around for a bitch that would be suitable and were lucky enough to find Tilly locally. She is a year now and will soon be hip scored. If she passes, the endorsement will be lifted on her pedigree.

But before embarking on any breeding programme, and because we have had two shepherds who have suffered from DM (a non-painful, progressive disease of the spinal cord that usually results in hind limb paralysis), Daisy is going it through it currently and it’s heart-breaking, we decided to look into genetic testing.

We found a lab that provides this – Animal Genetics – and ordered our testing kits. We were testing for DM, specifically the SOD1 gene. There has been a huge interest of late in genetic testing, and it seems people are not always delighted with the results.

Just like on detective programmes, when the kits arrived, we swabbed the insides of the cheeks of Toby and Tilly, then they were posted off to the lab for testing, along with details of their Kennel Club registration numbers.

Within a week we received the results in an email and as others have discovered before us, we were devastated by the results.

Tilly was clear, no problem with breeding her, she was very unlikely to ever suffer from DM. However, Toby, our precious Toby, was a carrier!

What did this mean?

If he is bred with a clear bitch, he has a 50/50 chance of producing puppies that are carriers. NOT at-risk puppies, just carriers like him.

We were very upset and started talking about neutering. We have been through this horrible disease twice now and wouldn’t wish it on anybody else.

However, we have done further research and listened to advice from other breeders.

If we breed him with Tilly, he could produce carriers, but these carriers would not be at risk of DM. We could have them genetically tested and identified, place endorsements on the pedigrees of the carriers so that they could only be bred with a clear dog. Any future owners would be fully informed, it would all be up there on the Kennel Club website, and it must surely be a good thing that they would know they are getting a dog that is practically guaranteed not ever to have DM?

There are other important issues to be considered in breeding and temperament is one of them. Toby and Tilly both have excellent temperaments, and we would very much like to perpetuate that, weeding out the highly strung, flighty, dare we say, aggressive dogs.

At the moment the jury is out, we haven’t made up our minds one way or the other, and until Tilly is hip scored, we can’t take any decisions. But just recently the Kennel Club published a press release on the powerful long-term impact of DNA tests on dog diseases and appears to indicate that selective breeding using DNA testing is the way forward for responsible breeders.

And as DNA testing can bring good news as well as the not so good, we know Toby will never need a wheelchair, we decided to order a test kit for Archie. At least if we find out now that he is “at-risk” we can take some measures to slow down the onset of this terrible disease.

How we wish now that we had known in advance for our Daisy.

 

Rayburn woes

They don’t make them like they used to…

Back in 2015, we replaced our 1950’s Rayburn with a big new beast. This one ran the solid fuel heating throughout the house. Previously, the heating was driven by an open fire which we replaced with a stove, but we only lit it in the evenings and the house could be quite chilly during the day. By plumbing in the Rayburn too, we were aiming to have warm radiators all day.

After years of living with the ancient lump of metal (our original Rayburn), we had a huge learning curve to understand the new one. It never managed to get the water as hot,  and while it took the chill off the house, it never really heated it completely. However, it was much better than what we’d had previously. The stove was a much better source of heat overall, when lit.

At the end of the summer we thought we detected a slight leak in our new Rayburn. Surely not? We consulted the company that installed it, and they advised us to keep using it, which we did. One morning we were only out of the kitchen for about 15 mins and when we returned there was water literally gushing out of the thing.

We quickly switched off the water and covered the room in towels trying to soak it all up. The tank inside had burst. We’d only had it three years!

Rangemaster provided a new tank but wouldn’t pay the installation costs. We had to have the whole Rayburn removed, the new tank fitted, and then it had to be wheeled back in and reinstalled.

All this took time, and we were suffering a bit from the cold!

A week ago we noticed what looked like another leak inside the firepit and investigations are underway as to whether it is a leak or just the fuel bubbling. In the meantime, we are living on tenterhooks, nervous about leaving the house in case the whole thing happens again and again floods the kitchen. We could be in for a cold, cold Christmas!

We lived with the 1950’s Rayburn for 12 years, our predecessors for a similar time, and we had no real problems with it. They certainly don’t make them like they used to!

 

 

Daisy rides again!

Daisy does a wheelie…

It’s been a huge learning curve for us this past month, and for Daisy too, probably. Last month she was a 4-wheel drive this month only a 2-wheel drive. Somewhere along the line she’s lost the use of her back legs, but only on dry land.

As soon as we realised she was suffering from degenerative myelopathy we visited a local dog hydro centre where we were lucky enough to find a trained physio who did everything she possibly could to help us.

As we’ve mentioned before, she had a full exercise programme designed to keep her back legs working, and she swam or walked on the underwater treadmill. All this built up the muscles in her back legs, so they are very strong. Her problem is that she can’t control them.

Earlier this month we realised that her days walking unaided were over and so tried her in the wheels that we had ready for her. She wasn’t at all keen and just stood still until we hooked her back legs up behind her in the stirrups. That got her moving, but it also gave us another problem.

With her legs so strong, she paddled when she walked in the cart, rather like when she was swimming. This was causing the stirrups to rub on her legs making them sore and bleeding. We began bandaging her legs before taking her out, but with the constant friction, they weren’t healing.

While looking for a solution, we temporarily reverted to the belly band, made from an old sweatshirt. We first used this with Blitz, who also had this horrible disease.

She loved it and took to it immediately, but for us it was exhausting.

The next logical step was to combine the wheels with the belly band. In order to do so, the whole cart had to be re-engineered with new aluminium rods!

We finally managed to come up with a solution that gave her (and us) the best of both worlds, and although it may not look very elegant, she is one happy bunny again. It’s given her back her freedom and independence.

Here she goes…

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All grown up

Tilly leaves home…

It seems like only yesterday we bought home that little bundle of fluff and sharp teeth but already our little girl has grown up. This month saw the start of her first season, and with two entire males in the house, we decided the safest thing to do was get her out of there!

We moved her out and spent a month camping with her in a caravan. She was kept completely separate and every time she went outside it was like a military operation, with texts exchanged between the caravan and house. We are lucky enough to have our land fenced into paddocks, so she was even walked in different areas, to ensure neither Archie nor Toby got wind of her.

We would very much like to breed from her as she has an excellent temperament but that will depend on her hip and elbow scores. Like Toby, she will be tested when she is a year old.

For the time being, however, we managed to get through a very difficult 3 weeks for all of us.

On a different subject, we have been very keen supporters of Finns Law and are delighted by the news is that it is to become a reality in Scotland thanks to supporters and campaigners. If you have somehow missed this story of bravery by a wonderful police dog, you can read all about it HERE and lend your support to ensure that it comes into being in the rest of the UK. A word of warning though, have a tissue handy when you read it!

Dog on Wheels

Daisy does a wheely…

Through plenty of exercise on the underwater treadmill, swimming, and puller sessions, we have managed to build up quite a bit of muscle in Daisy’s back legs. But unfortunately, it’s not enough to keep her mobile on all four paws as although her back legs are strong, she has little control over them. Thanks to her worsening CDRM she doesn’t have much idea of where her back legs are. We have tried Rock tape around her feet to attempt to increase awareness, but it’s a losing battle.

It is heartbreaking because her legs are far from paralysed they work perfectly, just not in the way they should. When she’s sleeping and dreaming about chasing rabbits, she moves her legs easily, and when she’s swimming, there’s no stopping them. Just walking on dry land seems to be the problem.

When she’s in the house, she tends to drag herself around using her front legs. Outside, once you get her up and in a straight line, she can break into a somewhat drunken little trot, swaying from side to side.

We had to face the fact that, despite all our efforts, she was only going to deteriorate. When we spotted some dog wheels for sale locally, we snapped them up.

We are determined to keep her independently mobile for as long as possible but need to be prepared for the inevitable. She’s only been in the cart a couple of times, and she was a little confused by it, but we believe when the time comes, she will adapt to her new circumstances and will love the freedom that the cart will give her. It will allow her to run freely, keeping up with the other dogs without falling over. Just the way she used to, only with a little help.