As much as people regret it, a dog is often alone in a house or apartment for hours at a time. This can lead to boredom, and boredom can lead to mischievous and even destructive behavior. Idleness can also produce the kind of couch potato syndrome we see in people. Dogs that are thinking and working, in our opinion, are likely to live healthier, happier lives, be prone to less stress, and make better companions.
The KongTime is a product that helps keep your dog from being bored when you're not at home for extended periods of time. It might also be useful if you work at home and cannot spend much time with your dog. You fill four Kong toys (included with product) with food. One at a time, they roll out of the machine onto your floor at random intervals, over four or eight hours. Before a toy is dispensed, a sound beeps. Working to get the food out of the toy makes the experience more interesting and longer lasting than it would be if the machine just dispensed food.
Overall, we recommend the product. If your dog likes Kong toys, you'll both really like KongTime.
Ease of use: 10
The KongTime is easy to use. Load the batteries in the machine. 4 Kong toys come with the product. Stuff food inside the Kong toys. Put a Kong in each dispenser tray. Choose the 4 or 8 hour session button. Put the cover on, place the unit on a table, shelf, or counter, and press the start button. (A useful "demo" button dispenses all the toys in five minutes so you can see a test run and be sure you've done it right.)
The product flawlessly delivers the toys.
- The beep sound preceding the noise becomes a classically conditioned discriminative stimulus. Soon the dog will hurry to the machine when he hears the beep.
- We set the machine on a table, a counter, and on the floor and it worked great. Once, when the machine was on the floor, the dog pushed the toy under the opening to the dispenser pocket which prevented the next Kong toy from coming out. Some dogs might try to chew the machine to get at the Kongs, so it should be located out of reach.
- The Kong toys can roll under cabinets or other furniture. Your dog's efforts to get the stuffed Kong could cause scratches or other damage, a point to consider when deciding where to locate the KongTime.
- We love, of course, the randomness of the timing of the rewards. Your dog will not be able to anticipate when the goods will be delivered. A pleasantly surprised dog will be a happier dog.
- Cleaning the KongTime is easily done and infrequently required.
The KongTime is an effective boredom buster, if your dogs enjoy Kong toys. Overall, we recommend the product. Our dogs were really interested and enjoyed the KongTime. We found that the product benefits people leaving their dogs at home and also those who may be at home but can't spend a lot of time with their dogs.
Everyone's experience will be a bit different because dogs respond differently to the food-stuffed toy. One of our test dogs managed to get all the food out in about 10 minutes and then lost interest. Another test dog, given a tiny smear of cheese far inside the Kong toy, worked on getting that out for over an hour and then chewed and played with the Kong off and on for two days. Experiment with your dog and see.
- We have not tested the product with dogs that become anxious or depressed when their owners leave for the day, since none of us have dogs with that level of anxiety. We can't guarantee that it will help every dog with separation issues but it certainly might make things easier.
- To keep the calorie consumption down, you don't have to fill all four Kong toys with food; a little is as good as a lot. Kong manufactures highly palatable pastes in a spray can, which can be squirted far inside the large or small Kong toys to present an interesting challenge without fattening the dog.
- We wish the product had a silent mode option where the beep preceding the toy delivery could be silenced, if desired. Many mornings we couldn't easily find all four Kong toys to put in the machine (they had been hidden all over the house) and wanted, therefore, to use the machine with the two that we did find. We didn't want the machine to deliver the discriminative stimulus and not deliver the expected reward, however. A silent mode option would overcome this issue.
- The manufacturer recommends you use the Kong toy with only one dog at time to avoid fighting. If you have dogs that are good sharers or have at least established a well-accepted pattern of who gets the goodies first, there's not much reason to worry. Also you can put two (or more) small toys or Kongs in a single pocket.
- The manufacture recommends that you use the product on a table, counter, or shelf so your dog can't work to get at the Kongs inside. Be aware that the Kong itself will roll and bounce as it is dispensed. Food may jump out or splatter.
- The Kong toy can get stuck or lost under cabinets or other furniture. Your dog's efforts to get it back could result in scratches or other damage. This of course is true with any toy or ball that you make available in the house when you are not around.
- Other chew toys or treats can fit in the KongTime and be dispensed randomly, so if your dog has a favorite squeaky or chew toy, try that too. Be sure the toy is safe for unsupervised use.