Dear Doodlebug: gourmet kongs and dog reputations

Dear Doodlebug
Hello my lovelies,

It’s time for my second weekly column! I am still receiving she-mails from many of your mamas and he-mails from your dads. Please tell them thank you, ok?

I am trying to reply to as many of your requestions as I can, but it’s hard work for only one dog. So please don’t become angered if I am delayed in getting back to you. Deal?

Let’s begin!

Dear Bug…my  name is Iris and I live in Minnesota.  I am a super chewer and my Mom likes to leave my kongs stuffed with peanut butter.  I LOVE that but now the vet says I am getting too tubby.  What does you Mom put in your Kong to keep you happy?  I love all kinds of snacks and veggies too. Love, Iris      ps.  I think you are cute.

Dear Tubby Iris,

I can’t blame a gal for loving the peanut butters, but it’s no wonder you’re getting tubby! Is it ONLY peanut butters going into your kongs, without anything else? I don’t know how to read nutritional labels or anything, but I think that peanut butters are packed with fats, proteins, and calories — all important things for us dogs, but in moderation! I am allergenic with peanut butters so I can’t eat them, but my brother can, and he says mama never gives him more than a tablespoon or two in a day!


Luckily, there are many other yummies your mama can put in your kongs for you that are more health-like than just peanut butters. Here are some of our favorites:

  • cooked green veggies (broccoli or kale or green beans or spinach or . . .) chopped up and mixed with mashed sweet (or not sweet) potato or canned tuna or mashed beans (lentils, pinto, etc) and a little fish oil or yogurt to get it wetter, then frozen
  • kibbles mixed with canned dog food, then frozen
  • carrots or celery or cabbage or other crunchful foods diced and mashed with a little banana and plain yogurt or peanut butter, then frozen
  • frozen berries and chopped cooked greens (collards, kale, spinach), mixed with yogurt or cottage cheese, then frozen

Basically, our favorite recipes include something crunchy-not-mushy (kibbles, berries, raw or cooked chopped veggies) or something semi-mushy (potatoes, canned tuna, cooked greens) and something mushy to help it stick together (canned dog food, plain yogurt, banana, peanut butters). Tell your mama to mix it all up and freeze until it’s solid. 

If she wants to get all fancy-like, she can give everything a whirl in the food processor and stuff it into your kongs and bones that way — but it all depends on whether you’re a smooth or crunchy peanut butters kind of gal!

XO, Doodlebug

PS- Here’s me helping mama with one of my favorite stuffers, sweet potatoes!

bandit composite

Dear Doodlebug, What is a “good fit” for a harness? xxxooxxx, Purl, Melo, Bounty

Dear Three Musketeers,

Here’s me modeling one of my several harnesses. Doesn’t it make me look even handsomer? 


I’ll tell you what makes this harness most excellent. First, it does not rub me in my armpits when I walk. If yours rubs in your armpits, it’s not a good fit. Second, it doesn’t squeeze my shoulders together (like certain popular harnesses do). That makes it comfy and more orthopedically sound, since it won’t give me any muscular or skeletal injuries if I get real excited and jump toward a squirrel, yikes! Third — and this is a special thing about the way I learned to walk on a harness), it has two connection points — one on the back and another on the chest. So when mama walks me, she actually has a double-ended leash with one clip attached to each point! I don’t know why this makes me feel safer, but it does — and it helps us communicate with each other better. Mama says to think of it as walking with somebody guiding you gently holding both of your shoulders, rather than just pushing and pulling on the back of your shirt (or the front of your shirt). Much safer and more pleasant, right?

Some of the harnesses we like the best are the Control-Ease (my Chick uses this one) and the Freedom Harness (I uses this one), if you’re looking for a most excellent one!

XO, Doodlebug

Today, I was browsing online for local, small, pet care shops to bring my 3 month old puppy to for socialization and found one, that in theory I should love. The shop itself is close enough I could walk, the owner is the guardian of 2 pit bulls and they carry some really high quality food and treats. My issue, is the public image the store itself gives. I’ve enclosed a photo of the “Bully Section”, which leads to my question/need for opinions. Is categorizing all of these items and labeling them “for bullies” perpetuating the negative stereotypes we fight so hard every day to destroy? Am I over judging appearances myself? This person identified themselves as a “breed representative” and owns 2 title holding weight pullers, so obviously this stuff is specialized to their “niche”. When I asked if they were worried about what the general public might think of looking at the display they pretty much told me it didn’t matter. But it does, doesn’t it? Aren’t we all responsible to showing the diversity, and good nature of our dogs?  Thanks Bug! Opie & Gemma’s Mom
Pet Barn bully display


Dear Opie & Gemma & Mama,

What a most excellent question you are asking me! It was so interesting, in fact, that my brother, dad, mama and I thought and talked about it for a long long time. We have many different kinds of feelings about your question — some of which are conflicting — but in the end we came up with a bottom line, and it is this: the most important thing to us is that everybody be proud of their dog and treat it with love and respect.  People who take pride in their dog (often via an activity) are probably more likely to feed it well, take it to the vet, and form a strong, trusting relationship with it. At least, that’s our opinion. And if a variety of activities and types of “image” help more people find healthy ways to be proud of their dog, then we think that’s great! For us, our mama and dad’s love and respect means agili-dogging, hikes, lots of snuggles, learning tricks, and plenty of dog modelings. And it’s easy for us to assume that everybody who loves a pit bull dog loves it for those kinds of reasons. But that would be kind of narrow minded.

There are as many types of excellent dog owners as there are spots under my brother the Chick’s white furs. Some take pride in their dog by dressing it up in tutus, others by maintaining its natural beauty, others by making it a therapy dog, others yet by helping it to excel at a dog sport like frisbee dog, and still others are very, very proud of their champion weight-pull dog. And we don’t think we have a right to believe that the pit bull dog owners who work hard to build their dogs’ muscle mass and use weight pull training as their primary form of excercise are any less excellent, as “breed ambassadors,” than those whose dogs wear tiaras and tutus and swim for exercise.

Here’s another thought: all kinds of people are drawn to dogs like me and my brother (and those dogs with many more toughnesses in the photo you sent us). Some people do want to portray a “macho” image with their large and muscular dogs, and that’s ok, right? And isn’t it even better if they do it via a positive means — like organized weight pull competition — than something abusive or illegal? Let us know what you think!

XO, Doodlebug

Dear Doodlebug, I live where it gets very cold and snowy and, even worse, the roads are heavily salted to melt the ice. This makes my pads burn and I don’t like to go outside, and I frustrate my mom by removing the boots she puts on my paws (this girl likes to be freeeeeeee). Mom already makes me work for my food–sometimes I give her the stink eye because of it. But I need other ways to get my crazies out. So, any suggestions on indoor activities to help exercise/exorcise the mind and body?  Thanks, Shelby the Wonder Dog

Dear Shelby the Snowdog,

I myself am a native Texan, but my brother once told me tales of snowy lands where your paws get froze and you actually wish you were wearing more than one sweater. I can’t imagine it! But here in Texas it sometimes gets most very hot — so hot that you can burn your little pads on your tootsies if you walk on the street while the sun is out, can you believe it? And so, I think I know about the need for exercise/exorcise that your writings are about.

Here are some thoughts on how to keep yourself busy during those snowish winters. First, mental exercise is even better than physical exercise for getting the sillies out and exhausting a dog. A three-mile run may take the edge off, but 10 minutes of trick training, a 10 minute puzzle game, and a 5 minute game of fetch (with rules!) will make you dog-gone pooped!

In our climate-controlled house we play all kinds of physical and mental games to keep me and my brother nappish all day long. Those include:

  • Fetchings (which I just learned last week and am loving very much!);
  • Trick training (we like this book for new trick learnings);
  • Scavenge (where mama puts me in the sit-stays and hides kibbles or other treats all over the house, then releases me to scavenger hunt for them);
  • Mini agilities in our living room (using benches, brooms, and chairs);
  • Hide-and-seek (where mama puts us both in the sit-stays together and then goes and hides and releases us and we have to find her);
  • and of course many puzzles of different kinds — frozen kongs and bones, other kibble-dispensing puzzles, and sometimes kibble puzzles made of non-dog-things like a pile of towels with kibbles hiding all throughout them or even a big box with paper inside and kibbles. Check out how many funs I had and thinkings I had to do to get the kibbles out of this box the other day:

Chickerdoodles-130124-24 Chickerdoodles-130124-27 Chickerdoodles-130124-40 Chickerdoodles-130124-54 Chickerdoodles-130124-62 Chickerdoodles-130124-69

Enjoy your indoor adventures!

XO, Doodlebug

Dear Doodlebug, My mom has been on this thing called a sabbatical for the past several months, which was great because we got to hang out a lot more than usual. Now, although I have separation anxiety, mom gives me a few toys stuffed with food (kibble, apples, pumpkin, yum) around the house, and I am good. I am afraid that my mom is going to have the worse separation anxiety when she has to leave me more often now. What can I do to keep my human’s separation anxiety at a minimum (I don’t think her colleagues will like if she chews their books like I used to do)?  Signed, Concerned Canine

Dear Concerned,

Well aren’t you full of thoughts for your mama, worrying about her being separationally anxious about you when she goes back to the Workplace to stare at a glowing rectangle all day! Here are a few things you can do to help her not be so anxiousful. First, make sure she brings lots of snacks to chew on so she doesn’t chew on her colleagues’ books. Second, maybe you can pack her a giant paper box full of paper and kibbles to work on when she starts to feel worried? Would it fit in her car? Third, tell her that she can take Rescue Remedy. Many people give it to their dogs to help with the anxieties, but people can take it too! Mama’s boss swears by it. May be worth a try! And fourth, if she has an iPhone and a computer with a camera in it (most macs do and many PCs), she can download an app to her computer and phone that makes her computer into a webcam that she can watch on her iPhone! My mama and dad did this when I was new and doing my magical crate-destruction-and-escapism-routine, and also the first few times they left me and my brother alone together. It helped make them feel better knowing they could always check in and see what I was doing at any moment. And know what? Most of the time I was just stone cold sleeping!

All my love, Doodlebug

27 responses

  1. Hello! I was wondering if the very clever Doodlebug could tell us humans what the app is to make the computer into a webcam and then be able to see it on our phone? Our dear Azzie Spazzie has… issues… and we would like to be able to check in with her if we have to leave her alone. Her big sister Gina is with her at all times, but she still gets anxious when we leave the house.

  2. For those days when it is snowy and dreary outside, one of my favorite puzzles is an old muffin tin with 12 muffin cups. My mom loads it with tennis balls and puts kibble under some of them. Then I lift out each ball to get the kibble. My mom learned this from the internets.

  3. Bug, these are most insightful answers to some tough questions. I don’t have a freezer in my home for the dogs – they don’t mind but hearing your love for frozen kongs, I need to look into it. Thanks for a most excellent post.

  4. Thanks Doodlebug, Great ideas and advice. We can’t wait to learn some new tricks (it’s cold and icy here today) and set up the webcam! The new kong recipes are great too! We really liked the response about the “bully” issue. My girl, a mixed breed that many call a pit bull but who I call four legs of love, is also a weight puller. She loves it. We looked for extra activities but she is a nervous girl and dog reactive, but when she puts that harness on she’s all about the pull and forgets about all the other dogs around her. We are lucky that we have a great trainer who runs it and makes it all about it being fun and safe for the dogs. If it becomes too difficult physically or mentally for the dog, she stops the pull. It’s all about being positive. She usually makes us stop after we’ve had a particularly good pull so we end on a positive and the pups want to come back. While I’ve seen some participate who are a bit more into the “macho” aspect of big strong dogs, most people do it to bond with their dogs and, most importantly, because their dogs enjoy it, and you can actually see the happy expression on the dogs’ faces. Look forward to more words of wisdom from the Doodlebug.

    • Awesome, thanks for the response, Holly!! I think it’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that owners who have different perspectives than we do can’t be good owners, but you are such a clear example that that logic is faulty!

  5. Bug, I love you! You have so blossomed since that day I carried you out of the shelter and though I only knew you about 30 minutes ( I took you to your transporter), I fell in love and and what an amazing gift to experience actually getting you out of that place. You touched my heart and soul forever. Gooooo Doodle!

  6. Great post, Doodlebug. But I have a question… seems like all the suggestions for stuffing kongs are ideas that require freezing…. which makes them great for outdoor play, but what about indoor play? Any non-frozen ideas other than p-nut butter and/or cookies?

    • Dear Amy, My brother and I are trained to eat on our special eating mats, so we don’t make a mess (though I am not sure why frozen treats would be messier than non-frozen?). But any of these recipes you could non-freeze too — just make sure they’re more solid-like before you start your snacking! We get ours frozen because non-frozen treats only last us about five winks, while frozen ones can go on for 30 minutes sometimes! XO, Doodlebug

      • Hm, well I guess I was thinking the melt factor would make them messier… but I could be wrong on that. Guess we will just have to try it and see! And I do like the idea of special eating mats… Thanks for your response, and for all the great ideas!

      • If the stuffing is not runny when it goes into the freezer, it shouldn’t be runny as the dog eats it — at least that’s been our experience. Good luck and let us know how it goes 🙂 Aleks

  7. We use a product called Musher’s Secret – it’s a paw protector wax to put on pup’s paws before heading out into snowy weather. It creates a barrier that keep ice balls from forming between our pups toes and it helps to keep out the salt … plus we always keep a wash rag by the back door so when we get home from our walks in the snow, we can wipe the paws off and get rid of any of the snow melter that may be somewhere else on the foot (so it doesn’t get licked off later!). Musher’s secret also works well when it’s really hot, to help protect the pads from hot pavement … it was a lot easier to use than booties and the pups kind of enjoy their ‘paw-de-cure’ time, too!

  8. Holy smokes, I am floored by the double ended leash! I didn’t know this existed. Jack has been doing very well on his new harness (for the last several months), and we only clip it on the front, but now I’m wondering if we should have a double ended leash, too?

  9. I don’t know if the fact that my Monster had other problems makes this note negated, but Rescue Remedy actually seemed to make him more anxious when I’d leave him. I noticed a correlation of barking more when I’d put RR in his water. There may have been other factors, but RR and also these chews that were supposed to be for separation anxiety (they had tryptophan in them to make him sleepy supposedly) seemed to have the opposite effect in my experience. The best luck I always had with separation anxiety was yummy yummy kongs and food puzzles in the crate, and if I left him with treats in his crate and he didn’t eat them while I was gone, he didn’t get to eat them outside his crate when I got back.

    But I’m definitely not as smart as Bug, and not as successful as Bug’s mama. RR is probably worth a try anyway.

  10. Doodle Bug,

    You’re so handsome… especially next to your momma’s beautiful area rug in the photo with the box-kibble game. Will you please ask her where she purchased that rug?!?!

  11. Thank you Doodlebug for your advices on frozen kongs. 3-minute Kong breakfast has turned into 30-min Kong breakfast. You see my mama is afraid of the winter and the colds, but she also feels guilty that I am getting shorter walks. But I assured her that this new frozen kong thing is keeping me occupied and ready for long naps when she is at work. She made one with tuna, kibbles, avocado and peanut butters. Then I got smelly tuna farts but I’m sure it was sooooo worth it. It is the most excellentest thing ever. Love, Reagan

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