Dog owners tend to view crates as a safe haven for their dogs or puppies – a place to stash a puppy for a short period of time to keep it from chewing household items or chasing the kids. Even adult dog owners sometimes use crates to protect their dogs and prevent them from escaping the house or arguing with another dog in the house, to name a few examples. The basic idea is that the crate is a place where the dog or puppy is safe, while we need to draw our attention elsewhere and not be able to supervise it for a short time.
However, owners are often advised to give their puppies or dogs a toy, bone, or chewy candy to make the crate more enjoyable and to pass the time. And if the item that is given to the dog or puppy is harmful, then that unsupervised time in the crate is absolute Not for sure. It can indeed present one greater Danger to him than being in the house without the object.
As you move away from your dog or puppy in the crate, even just for a shower or a zoom meeting, your choices for a crate-proof chew or a food-serving toy are somewhat limited.
If the item you are giving your dog is meant to be chewed, it should be way too big for the dog to swallow, even after a long chewing session. do not give any Dog something that can be fully chewed to a swallowable size in less than an hour.
The problem, however, is finding items that are big enough. Time and again I have been dismayed to see chews that are for “large” dogs and are smaller than anything I would give a five-pound Chihuahua.
Many of the chew products available in the market can be chewed and swallowed by an aggressive chewer in 10 minutes or less. If your dog can chew the item to a swallowable size in less than an hour of chewing, it is unsafe to give it unattended.
Many people buy dried beef pizzles for their dogs, and they are often sold in 12-inch lengths. But have you noticed that most dogs can chew these to three or four inches within 15 minutes or so? At this point there is a risk that these (and similar chews) could be swallowed and the dog suffocated! While some dogs chew until the item is small enough to be safely swallowed, others will swallow it when it is definitely long enough to present a choking hazard if swallowed. Because of this, we wouldn’t recommend using such an item in a box!
There is a single Rawhide product on the market that I occasionally buy for my heavy chewing large dogs (around 70 pounds each) and for any puppy or teenage dog I am currently grooming: Wholesome Hides 10 Inch Retriever Roll. These chews are made in Illinois from a single sheet of very thick rawhide. It takes a lot of work to chew off small pieces of the rawhide, which is good as we don’t want a dog to consume a lot of rawhide in one sitting. When Wholesome Hide just made it greater I would buy bread rolls for small dogs instead. If my large dogs have to chew over and over again for days to reduce the product to the size at which I throw it away, it takes a small dog over a week to do so – and that’s great! Providing something ridiculously large will slow the dog’s rawhide consumption and prevent suffocation.
We do not agree to give dried bones to dogs – neither the sterilized, bleached whites that contain no tissue or bone marrow, nor the decided Not sterile, dried bones with tissue and marrow still present. The previous bones are too hard; Dogs invariably try to pry them open and are at high risk of cracking their molars. While the latter bones are softer, they contain enough moisture to keep pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella.
If you are giving your dog a bone to keep him happy, it should be fresh (or freshly frozen). Ideally, tissues are still attached to these; Chewing, licking, and tearing these tissues is incredibly helpful in scraping plaque off a dog’s teeth.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to find bones with tissue still attached to them unless you are lucky enough to have access to an old-fashioned butcher who is still cutting up carcasses. Industrial “big meat” practices use most bones for other purposes, and the few that make it to supermarkets (and even commercial raw food suppliers who sell raw bones) typically lack these tissues.
In addition, bones should only be given to dogs who have shown through numerous supervised trials that they can chew bones safely – not very aggressively and not careful to swallow as much bone as possible quickly. Even then, we would only give a skilled bone-eating dog a large, fresh, meaty bone in a crate if the crate time was no more than an hour or so. Bone chewing should be monitored.
What about dried pig ears and snouts, beef hooves, tendons, and all the other various dried animal ingredients that can be found in the aisles of the pet shop? No We would not put any of these items in a box to a dog if we were not around and actively monitoring. Too many of these items can be chewed to sizes that can be choked in a short time.
Putting food in a toy like the Original Kong is the safest option for most dogs who benefit from having something in their crate to keep them busy and happy.
If you fill your dog’s kongs with canned food or a raw food item and then freeze the toy, it will take longer for the food to melt and the dog to completely empty the toy. Or you can use nibbles made with peanut butter, cream cheese, or yogurt – anything healthy and sticky enough for the dog to have to lick and manipulate the toy to try to reach and eat all of the food.
However, you still need to make sure that the toy is of adequate size (too big to swallow) and toughness (chew-resistant), and that your dog is safely evacuating food from the toy without getting any further chew the toy after the food is gone is. While you are supervising, do a series of experiments to determine what type of food will keep your dog working the longest on the task.
There are many types of “food puzzles” (where the dog has to manipulate the sliding lids or remove pegs to get food) and balls or dice that give off nibbles when the dog beats around. These are generally not safe for most dogs without supervision and certainly not suitable for use in tight crates.
Nothing is 100% certain. We’ve heard of dogs that can chew even the toughest of kongs – the black ones, made for the toughest of chewers. If you have one of these dogs, the only safe solution may be to wrap them up with a scattered handful of nibbles. It won’t take as long as some of these other options, but it will be the safest choice for him.