Dear Doodlebug: Running with squirrels, and eating veggies with cat poo

Dear DoodlebugDear Doodlebug, back with another week’s advices column! Boy did we get many many most excellent questions this week! I am trying to answer them as quickly as I can, but my typist is very lazy and only lets me address a few per week . . . so those of you who have sent them in recently, please be patient with my lazy secretary. She and I will get with you soon!

Here we go:

Hi Doodle!  I was wondering if you have any advice on how to put together an active routine for a dog (when it’s not too super hot or too freezing cold out of course). I’m getting into distance running and I was wondering, without a backyard, what’s a good way to determine a good distance/pace for a dog? What should I look for to know whether my dog is too tired or stressed to continue a run and we should pack up and go home? I know every dog is different, but if you have any insight into matching up a new runner to a potential new dog, I’d much appreciate it!  Love, Nevie (Cats Can’t Go For Runs)

Dear Lazy Cat Lover,

I must disagree with you off the bat — my brother and I have chased a cat or two, and let me tell you: they sure can go for runs. They can go for sprints, in fact! But I’ve also seen them go for jogs. So before you toss aside the possibility, why not get your feline companion some nice Brooks running shoes and a visor, and test it out?

Now, on to your question about dogs and exercise. Just like people, dogs need to build up their endurance before they can be asked to run any great distances. And just like people, just because we are able to go for a long run off the bat, doesn’t mean it’s good for us. We can get all kinds of injuries, and you don’t want to deal with that. So whatever dog you end up with (and I hope it’s one that looks exactly like me, obviously), start slow and short. Maybe go a mile at a leisurely pace. If that goes well, next time add a quarter mile, then add some more. There isn’t much of a limit to a sturdy, healthy dog’s athletic ability – my brother the Chick helped train my mama up for a marathon back in 2005 — they went on all of their short and long runs together up to 18 miles!

I am not an expert, but from what I have heard, there are some dogs who do NOT make good running companions. Those are ones with super-squatty noses (like pugs and bulldogs), ones with super-short legs (like doxies), and giant breeds with a predisposition to joint issues (like some Mastiffs). Oh, and puppies should not go running — their joints and bones are still growing, and the impact from running can be bad for them. It’s a good idea to check with a vet before starting a running program with a puppy, to make sure the puppy is ready. But otherwise, any medium-to-large dog with at least a moderate energy level should make you a good running companion.

Oh, and learn the signs of heat exhaustion before you start exercising your dog! Some of the early signs of “I’m too tired” include dragging behind on your run, thick, sticky saliva, and a scoop/spoon-shaped tongue that hangs way out.

You go girl, ‘Bug

Dear Doodlebug, My mama is a veggie-tarian and she heard that your mama and dad are veggie-tarians also. She knows that us dogs like to eat a well rounded diet of meats, vegetables, fruits and healthy grains, but sometimes she feels conflicted about the meats part. (I love the meats very much!) Do you know if your mama and dad have the same conflictions? I don’t want my mama to feel bad about my food. Do you have any advices? Thanks for your times, Bug. Sir Reginald Von Dog. 


Dear Vegemite sandwich,

There was about a minute in my mama’s past (a dark, dark minute, if you ask me) when she thought about switching my brother to a veggie-tarian diet. Since she and dad were veggie-tarian, why shouldn’t Chick be too?  But here’s the thing. Mama never did find a vegetarian dog food that satisfied her. Most of the ones she ran across were full of fillers that didn’t seem right. And talking to a number of different vets, mama never found one who thought that a meat-free diet was optimal — or even healthy — for us dogs.

So as dedicated as our mama and dad are to being veggie-tarians, they are even more committed to us being the healthiest dogs we can be, and lucky for us, that means meat. And lots of it. 

Your omnivorous friend, the ‘Bug

Dear Doodlebug, My sleeping arrangements have gotten, well, complicated. My older pup has navigated north, sleeping by my head. My bigger pup likes to crush my legs. You would never know I have a king-sized bed, considering I’m on the verge of falling at night. To top it all off, my pups presence does not allow me to snuggle with my boyfriend! The older pup would never choose not to sleep on the bed and I don’t have the heart to crate her all night. Is my current sleeping dilemma my permanent future? Sincerely, Concerned, boyfriend-snuggle deprived Dogma.

Dear Dogma,

It sounds like you’re on the verge of losing that boyfriend person. So tell Doodlebug: is he worth it? Studies have shown that you humans sleep better without a dog in the bed, let alone two — though for us dogs, we sleep just fine whether we’re on a human bed or a dog bed. If you like that boyfriend of yours — and your sleepings — you may want to think about asking your dogs to sleep on their very own beds, not on yours. Let them sleep in the room, by all means. You can even set up their beds right beside yours so you can comfort yourself them by giving them pettings as you fall asleep. As for me, I am so perfect that I prefer to sleep in my own bed than with my people, though I do enjoy joining mama in bed during occasional nappings and sometimes for a first-thing-in-the-morning snuggle. But mama says that some of her former foster dogs were human-bed-sleepers, and she and dad had to teach them how to be dog-bed-sleepers. So she got an extra comfy dog bed for the fosters and every night, she would offer a really yummy kong for a bedtime snack, putting it in the dog bed right before everybody goes to sleep. For many dogs, this was enough — by the time they were done with their kong, they were plumb tuckered out and ready to snooze. For other fosters, it took added steps — a baby gate strategically placed, or a leash tied to a railing or piece of furniture to tether the dog to the spot so she couldn’t sneak onto the bed at night. Occasionally, there would be some protesting and crying the first few nights, but very quickly, it was gone. Everybody was sleeping much, much better, and mama and dad are still together!

Best of luck, Your Bedbug (who can sleep happily anywhere)


Dear Doodlebug, I heard that some ground hog said Spring is coming early. I would like Spring to come early because I am sick of cold and snow. Trouble is, I neither like nor trust ground hogs. They get in my tomato patch during the summer and eat all my tasty tomatoes that I like to sample right from the vine. Mama asks me to leave her some, but they are soooooo tasty. How can I trust the predictions of a creature that steals my tastiest of treats? You are smart and seem trustworthy (what are your thoughts on tomatoes?). Will Spring come early?  –Desperately Seeking Spring and tomatoes

Dear Springster,

Well, you are definitely right about one thing: you should never trust a groundhog. Do you think that groundhogs decide whether to make spring come early or not based solely on whether they are hungry for our tomatoes yet or would rather wait another month or two? Those greedy bastards. Not to mention, they are most definitely in cahoots with those evil bushy-tailed squirrels, aren’t they? We don’t really see any groundhogs around these parts, but we sure do see some squirrels. Every day, they try to death me and my brother, and it doesn’t look like we’re the only ones:

So stay safe out there, wherever you are. Remain vigilant against groundhogs, squirrelhogs, and tomato-hogs of all kinds. Spring will be here before you know it, and in the meantime, build up your arsenal of weapons. Mama says the guy who lived in our house before us deathed squirrels with a paintball gun. But I wouldn’t stop there — I would consider a bazooka, or a cannon.
Yours in vigilance, Doodlebug the anti-hog


Hi Dude, Our mom calls us the poop hunters of the Serengeti, becuz we are always on the lookout for some cat poo to eat. Is there a 12-step program for k-9 cat poo addicts? Mom won’t kiss us after we eat it. Can you help? Sincerely, Well, lets just say S&S, since CPAA is anony-mouse. (cat poo addicts anony-mouse)

Oh, you poor S&Sers, you have discovered the golden nugget. For the record, I’ll tell you that my brother says that this golden nugget is not quite as good as the diamond nugget, which is live cicadas. A few years ago when Chick lived in DC and they had the every-17-year-Cicada-invasion, our uncle Tex actually had to wear a basket muzzle when going outside, or else he would eat so many platinum nuggets that he’d make himself sick. He said they tasted like flying chicken nuggets!

Anyhow, our life was so simple before we discovered cat dumplings, but now that we know they exist — in the cat box at work, in the neighbor’s mulch — we are constantly overtaken by the irresistible urge to hunt it out and scarf it down . . . and then french-kiss our mama. You see, hunting and eating cat poo is a self-reinforcing behavior, so it is very hard to teach a dog not to want to do it. So I can’t help you to not crave this finest of delicacies, but I can tell your mama to teach you a really good “leave it” type phrase that gets you to stop hunting. Our mama can always tell when we’re on the poop patrol, and reminding us to stop is often all it takes to get us to move on by. And if that still fails . . . maybe some breath mints?

Forever on the prowl, Doodlebug

Ready for Baby mini-series: Routines & Spaces

Like we told you last week, we are expecting a two-legged puppy in a few weeks. And we are excited! Mostly, we are excited about the Very Important things. Like the fact that mama and dad bought a piece of Major Puppy Equipment that is named after each of us.

I (Chick) got a car seat named after me (Chicco):


And I (‘Bug) got a wheelie puppy carrier named after me (Bugaboo):


We think this is mama’s special way of helping us feel included in this whole process, and we think it’s just great. Everybody should get special two-legged puppy equipment that’s named after their own dogs!

The other thing we are extra excited about is that our new puppy’s first pet will be a petbull! Mama adopted him last week and he is already settling in nicely to our future puppy’s room:


We know that these are the Most Important things, even though our mama disagrees. So just to humor her, we’re going to tell you about what she is thinking about as we make room for our new two-legged companion. This week, she wants us to tell you about routines & spaces.

If you’re a dog, you might be thinking: why would a two-legged puppy change anything about my spaces and my routines? But if you’re a person, you may already have some clues. Here are some things on our mama and dad’s list:

Dogs on furniture

In our house, dogs are only allowed on furnitures with permission. There are one or two furnitures that are “dog-friendly” and we can get on them if we want to (like the Stevie-chair), many furnitures that we aren’t allowed on ever (like the sofa), and some  that we are allowed on only when mama or dad invites us (like that big squooshy elevated dog bed that mama and dad sleep on at night). That means that without an invite, we do not get up on them. We have had these rules for a very long time, and mama and dad are now relieved that these rules have always been around. You see, apparently little two-legged puppies tend to lay all over all the furniture, sometimes in a very messy state of nakedness. Imagine being in the middle of changing a diaper and having a dog soar through the air and land right in the middle of the mess. No thank you! Teaching dogs that furniture is off limits unless an invite is extended is a good house rule to put in place ahead of baby’s arrival. Especially in those early months of parenting, these types of boundaries will help create “safe zones” where parents can put a baby down for a change, a nap, to read a book or have a snack — without the risk of an over-exuberant dog landing right in the baby’s lap. And speaking of safe zones . . .

Safe zones

One of us (we will not name which one, but his name may or may not rhyme with the word “stick”) is a little grumpy by nature and can get easily overwhelmed by loud noises, grabby hands, and general commotion. For dogs like “Stick,” it’s good to set up a “safe zone” where the dog can retreat if he gets overwhelmed with the puppy’s antics. In our case, there are a few corners in the house where we have cozy beds and love to cuddle up rest when we’re sleepy, cranky, or overwhelmed. Once the puppy arrives and starts moving around, she or he will be taught that our doggie “safe zones” are off limits — this means no crawling into our area to pet us, pull on our tails, or spit jello on our heads. Some people set up physical barriers that dogs can get around (for example, a low barricade that a dog can jump but a two-legged puppy can’t step over, or an indoor doggie door that’s activated by a magnet that dogs wear on their collars). Other families can get by with a vigilant eye and a strict set of rules alone. In our house, it’s going to be mama and dad’s responsibility to keep our safe zones safe, but we know they will do a good job — it’s in everybody’s best interest for each family member to have a spot where they can hide away when life gets to be too much.

Miniature humans need safe zones too, and it’s good to prepare us dogs for the loss of access to those spaces. In our house, the new mini human’s room used to be our den where we’d hang out with our people and watch movies, help do the bloggings, and enjoy a variety of other activities that usually involve cuddling. Our favorite sofa (that we used to be allowed on) was in there, and we got many snuggles from mama and dad. But in another month or so, that room is going to belong to our new two-legged puppy. Rather than waiting until that time to change the rules and restrict our access to the space, mama and dad set up a gate ahead of time. This has helped us adapt our routines way before our mini human arrives, so we don’t make any bad associations between the arrival of mini-human and the loss of privileges. Our sofa moved to the living room months ago (and we stopped being allowed up on it), and the gate went up last weekend. This gives us a whole other month to get used to hanging out in other parts of the house, even if mama and dad are in our ex-den without us.


Separation time

And speaking of mama and dad hanging out in our ex-den without us, we have also started practicing spending less time sitting right on top of our people at our peoples’ feet. We have heard that life is going to get crazy for a while and even mama (who is, we have to say, obsessed with us) will pay us less attention. From what we’ve read, she might even come home sometimes with the two-legged puppy and not let us be in the same room! It’s hard for us to imagine! But this is exactly why we’re practicing now and not laterMama doesn’t want us to resent our new roommate for taking the attention away from us dogs, so mama and dad are withdrawing it — here and there — ahead of time. If they do a good job, then by the time the puppy arrives, we won’t even feel neglected! So far, they are just practicing going into our ex-den on the other side of the forbidden gate and hanging out in there without us. Sometimes they are doing projects, sometimes they are just talking. But in all cases, we are on the other side of the forbidden gate. It’s a little weird, but it’s just a little thing, so it’s not so bad.

We are also practicing spending time in our room by ourselves even when the people are home. Normally, once somebody gets home, they come open the door so we can come running out of the room all crazy-like to greet them. But lately, we have been practicing staying in there even though the people are home and we are very excited to see them. And sometimes, we get invited to our room for a snack and then left in there even though the people are still home. This is to prepare us for the times that things are happening and we are not invited to the party. We don’t think it’ll happen very much, but it may happen from time to time — and we’d rather be well-versed!

The silly humans are also trying to cut down on the free lovings we get. We aren’t really sure why, since dogs are Very Best at receiving free lovings, but we think it has something to do with how busy they will be with the two-legged puppy once it arrives. When we do good things we still get plenty of pets, kisses, and praisings, and to be honest we get plenty of free pets, kisses, and praisings for no reason other than being Very Cute and Very Sweet. But we do get fewer of them out of the blue, and definitely no more when we are being pushy and demanding. This shift in attention-giving is also meant to prepare us early and slowly to how much attention we might be getting after our new roommate moves in. The sooner we get used to the change, the more relaxed we will remain once Junior arrives!


Mama wants us to mention one last thing this week before we go — the common theme in all of these changes is that they are being implemented both early and slowly. Us dogs are very resilient to change, but lots of dramatic changes at once can be stressful. So spreading major changes in routine and access to spaces and attention out over a period of time — ideally at least a couple of months — is a much better way to prepare us dogs for a new tiny human than a more sudden shock. Implementing changes early has the added benefit of disassociating the change from the arrival of the two-legged puppy — an experience that we all want to be as positive as possible!

Please join us next week when we tell you about House Manners & Baby Matters!

**If you are experiencing behavioral concerns with your dog, please seek out an experienced, reputable trainer in your area. In Austin, we sing the high praises of the Canine Center for Training and Behavior, where Chick and Doodlebug learn and play. For more info on picking a quality trainer in your area, see this post.**

Chix-A-Lot Friday: On Snuggling and Not

If you have spent much time reading our blog or following us on the Facebooks, you know that we don’t mind being close:

Snickerdoodle-120105-9Sometimes REAL close:


But even though there are a bazillion photos of us sharing one bed:
Snickerdoodle-120202-14photo 3

Did you know that we don’t ALWAYS want to snuggle?

Here’s how it goes: For about three weeks, we will always go to our room and curl up in the same bed together. Usually I settle in first, then my brother squooshes himself into position to share:

photo (42)

But here’s where I have to admit something. If my brother is in a bed first, I will usually go to the other one (unless it’s ultra chilly, like less than 65 degrees outside), and then he usually gets up out of his and moves over to mine. To share.

So anyhow, this is how we sleep. For weeks and weeks. And then all of a sudden, something changes, and we decide that everydog deserves his own bed, and we are not going to share anymore:

photo 2

We sleep happily in two separate spots in our room:

Photo1 (5)

Snickerdoodle-120306-46And then a couple more weeks go by without sharing, and we’re back to sharing again:

photo 4And a few more weeks of sharing, and we’re sleeping separately again:

photo 5

Right now we’re sharing:
photo 1

But it’s only a matter of weeks before we’re back to sleeping solo.

Even I will admit it: we are some pretty strange birds dogs. Does anybody else have strange sleeping habits they want to tell us about?

Dear Doodlebug: on Hawaiian shirts, the Big Lebowski, and being spoiled.

Hello friends,Dear Doodlebug

Here we are again on Dear Doodlebug Day! I am most very excited about today’s post! Do you want to know why? Not only because there are some extremely handsome photos of me included, but also because I finally get to talk to you about things that are not dog behavior! I had the most funs ever writing the answer to the first question below, so if you have other Important Advices needs that are not related to serious issues of dog behaviors, send ’em my way!

Here we go:

Dear Doodlebug, You and your brother always look so dapper laying on your Hawaiian print sofa. Does it make you feel like you are on the beach, digging for sand crabs and rolling in dead fish? How can I convince my dad to get one like that for me? I would like to look as handsome as you two and have such wonderful daydreams! XO, Dreaming of the Tropics


Dear Tropical Dreamer,

Thank you as always for the complements. However, I must clarify a few things about our The Dude Sofa. First of all, I don’t think that this is technically a Hawaiian print, as Hawaiian prints should have Hawaiian flowers on them, right? I am not sure because I am not a Hawaiian Shirt Museum Curator, but it seems to be so. And second of all, mama thinks it is important that I tell you that this sofa is our outside sofa, not our inside sofa. You may remember the Dora, which is our inside sofa. Mama says she would never be caught dead putting a non-Hawaiian print sofa inside the house (although I hope she never gets caught dead at all, personally). I don’t know why it’s important that I tell you this, but apparently it is. And third of all (this is the most important one of my points about the sofa), I want to point out that this sofa is the same as the sofa that my namesake, The Dude, had in his apartment in the Big Lebowski. How cool is that? Enthusiasts might recognize it, but for those of you who have not seen the Big Lebowski enough times to understand why I am named after it, there is a tiny corner of my sofa visible in this screenshot here. Pretty neat, eh?

But I digress. Our particular outside sofa was a special find on Craigslist, and as far as we can tell, the cushion covers were handmade by somebody and not The Dude Sofa manufacturer. So in order to get your own, you will have to learn how to sew very well with pipings and zippers, and I have to admit I do believe this would be pretty challenging without any supposable thumbs. As a second-best option, why not go for a Hawaiian shirt? Sometimes I wear my dad’s Hawaiian shirts since mama does not allow dad to wear them himself (although to be honest I do not prefer them because they are too long and loose around my middle, and sometimes I pee on them — don’t tell dad). Also, I have even seen a tutorial while surfing the Youtubes about converting a men’s shirt into a dog shirt. Wouldn’t that be neat? Or if –again– you’re not such a seamster or seamstress, maybe you could settle for one of these handsome dog Hawaiian shirts from the Amazon. I bet you’ll look just as dapper in one of those as I do on my The Dude Sofa!

XOXO, The Dude (who Abides)

PS – We are no longer allowed on our inside sofa the Dora (even though it is named after a dog), so if you have any ideas for how to get our mama to let us back up there, please tell them to us!


Dear Doodlebug, I started working from home in October, and now that I am with my dogs all day every day, I am noticing they seem a little bored.  While they snooze happily for much of the day, my girl, Victoria, wakes up between naps and barks at me.  Mostly she is barking for treats, but I think it’s coming from boredom.  I’ve tried a couple food puzzles which seemed to interest her for a couple weeks, but she is pretty finicky about what she will actually work for.  One other thing to keep in mind – the vet told us her x-rays show that some of her tooth roots seem to be weakening.  I need something gentle on the teeth, but satisfying to the nose. XOXO, Old Dog, New Trick

Dear Tricksy, 

Victoria really is clever, figuring out how to bully you into giving her more puzzles, more variety, more activity, more, more, more! There are a few advices I have for you, as a canine friend to the humans. First, it sounds to me like Victoria is barking at you to demand things from you, and sometimes, her pushy behavior gets her exactly what she wants!  So stop paying attention when she barks. Put in your interior ear muffs and pretend you do not hear her at all. Wait until she settles back down, and only then — and only if you really want to — give her some attention or some treats. Just because she is an eldergal like my brother, doesn’t mean she can be pushy with you!

Second, on the puzzles. Will she eat out of kongs? You can mix some dry food and wet food and stuff it into one of those puppy/elderdog kongs, and let her work on that — you don’t even have to freeze it, which makes it harder. If you get a really big size, it will take her a while to get to the bottom of it, especially if you put something extra stinky and yummy (like litter-encrusted cat poo) at the bottom. You can also try putting canned food inside her bones, or cutting a little hole in a tennis ball and jamming some kibbles in there (only you have to watch to make sure she doesn’t eat the ball pieces as she gets the kibble out). 

I am not quite sure, but I have heard that older dogs can sometime start to not smell things quite as well as younger dogs, which can make them less interested in holy, delicious noms. Try buying some extra stinky food, and see if she is more interested. Fish-based formulas are nice and stinky, as is the Holy Grail of all yums, Green Tripe.

Good luck! Your omnivorous Bug

Dear ‘Bug, I mean this in the nicest and most admiring of ways, but you and your Chick seem pretty spoiled. Do you have any tips for how to get my people to spoil me better? Yours in admiration, Stella the Hungarian Vizsla Princess

doodlebug w tulips

Dear Hercegnő (I believe that is how you say “princess” in your motherland),

Let me ask you this: do you bring your mama her favorite flowers (tulips) and her favorite chocolates (any)? Maybe THIS is why we are treated so well!

But more serious-like. We have a very good life, yes. We get to go to work with our mama. We have our very own dog hammock in the back of the car. We eat the finest of kibbles and get treats of organic roast beefs, chicken skins, and other delicacies. We bask in the sunshine and snuggle under the covers. I get to go do agilidogging every week with my favorite teacher, Miss Patti. We have the most beautiful of dog collars, and a rotation of seasonal outfits that we don when the weather and mood are appropriate. We have nine dog beds in our house, and at least four blankets of our own. When mama and dad go away, we get to go to doggie camp where we are treated like kings. We have our very own blog, and sometimes people recognize us out on the street and come say hello. So yes, our life is good.

But are we spoiled? Not really. You see, Miss Princess, we have to work for everything. We never get anything by being pushy or demanding. We have strict house rules, and if we break them, we lose our privileges. Mama and dad expect a lot from us, you see. We get to go for walks, but only if we walk politely and follow the rules. We eat delicious kibbles, but only if we sit patiently until we are released. We get yummy snacks, but only out of puzzles that make our little brains hurt. We get plenty of pettings and cuddles, but only when we are relaxed and being polite. We get hand fed roast beefs, but only when we are in a very challenging situation, like teaching reactive dogs how to not be scared (Chick), or mastering agility weave poles (me), or learning to not stare rudely at tiny fluffballs (me again), or learning how to have our nails filed (my brother). If we break the “no barking at the door” rule, we go to time out. If we act funny and protective of a toy or a bed, that toy or bed disappears. If we act pushy and demanding, we get stone cold ignored — or worse — put in our room to calm down. If we act wild on our leashs, we go right back in the house and lose our walk.

In fact, when grandma comes to visit, she actually feels sorry for us and how non-spoiled we are. For example, she is always wanting to give us a scrap of food from the counter while she is helping with the human-cookings, or let us up on the Dora (which is Off Limits) to snuggle with her, and she gets very frowny and sad for us when mama says NO! We would get frowny and sad too, but Mama says the rules are important, and we trust her. After all — our life is pretty sweet!

Best of luck with your Princessness,

Prince Doodlebug the American Pit-mix

New Mini-Series: Preparing for a two-legged puppy


We sniffed it out a few months ago — we’re getting a puppy! A two-legged one!Chickerdoodle-130219-14Mama always goes on and on about how smart dog noses are — that they are many times sniffier than people noses. We never really knew what she was talking about until we caught a whiff of this two-legged puppy in the air (to be clear: the puppy was not in the air, it’s just the whiff that was in the air).

We can’t explain it, but all of a sudden, mama smelled different. Even before she started to look different. Human people had no idea that anything funny was going on with our mama, but we knew. That’s how smart we and our noses are.

Mostly, we haven’t been too bothered by the new smells and shapes, but the brown one of us has been a little more concerned about strangers, especially ones that are overly zippy and close-to-us in their movements. Mama says this is normal, and we’ve been working on it.

We’ve also been working on some other things — to get ready for the two-legged puppy, they say. Dad and mama have been putting on their thinking hats and thinking about different us-related things: our eating routines, our walking routines, what rooms we hang out in, what things make us most worried, the different games we play.

And the thinking hasn’t just been for nothing, you see. When you’re getting ready for a new two-legged puppy, it’s best to plan ahead and make any big (and small!) changes in routine well in advance.  As it turns out, we hear that two-legged puppies are way more work than four-legged puppies at first, so putting on thinking caps and thinking about dog routines after the puppy has showed up might be a hard. So our people are doing what they can in advance!

And as much as we love keeping secrets, we’ve decided to put on our generosities and share our ideas and activities. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be telling you all about our new activities: how we’re learning to walk with a two-legged-puppy-wheeled-transporter, how we’re learning to like spending more time by our lonesomes, how we’re getting our friends and family ready to help us have fun and exercise those first few weeks, and other important things. After all — maybe we’re not the only ones with a puppy on the way?

Chickerdoodle-130219-30Photos courtesy Matt Williams



Chix-A-Lot Friday: Sweaters are for Snuggling

Hi Friends,

Sorry I missed our regular date last week — I was so very busy preparing for and entertaining my many many family persons from out of town! You see, Aunt Kareaux was in town, as was Aunt Sara, and also ALL of my grandparents and my Uncle Jefe. As you can imagine, I was a very busy Sir!

But boy do I have something special in store for you, and it involves a secret discount code! I’ve been saving up this eye candy for you for a couple of weeks now, waiting for a seasonably chilly day in Texas. I’ve been storing my eye candy (and my brother’s) with my local, sustainably-harvested firewood, my organic, vegan hot cocoa, and my antique oil lamp — where I keep my most special things for winter-type days.


Now, what those of you who are not from Texas do not know (but I DO know because I am from Texas) is that we Austinites don’t have very seasonable days if the season in question is winter. In fact for the past few weeks, it’s been the kind of warm and sunny that makes the trees and bulbs get confused and start to bud and flower all up. Silly, right?

So I have been waiting and waiting until FINALLY it got below 60 degrees once, and in fact at night time it got downright chilly– down to the 40s! So what did my brother the ‘Bug and I do to celebrate? We donned our gorgeous, custom, hand-knit sweaters from Tiennot Knits Sweaters!


It sure is nice and cozy wearing these sweaters — we get all kinds of complements when we go out on the town — not only are the sweaters gorgeous, soft, and non-itchy on their own, but they also make us look even more handsome than we already were (if that’s even possible). Just check out these sophisticated grey stripes and coordinating Chick and Doodlebug color bands:Chickerdoodle-130214-29

The one thing that we may have thought was even more fun than wearing the sweaters was picking out all the features. We got to custom pick our colors (red for me and blue for the ‘Bug, obviously), our patterns, our exact measurements, and then we got to add buttons for easy on-and-off and turtlenecks to really show off our most beautiful faces!

How fun is that?

You can order your own custom Tiennot Knits sweater via our friends Turk and Rufus’ blog or their sweatermaker’s facebook page. And if you mention the code CHICKERDOODLE with your order between now and Monday (February 18), you will get 10% off your order — sweet!!

And once you’ve done that, hurry back here and leave us a comment to settle our debate once and for all — who is the best sweater-model of us all? My brother the ‘Bug:


or Yours Truly?Chickerdoodle-130214-48

Dear Doodlebug: the Humpty Dance, Death to Vacuum, and non-eating craziness

Dear DoodlebugDear Doodlebug, back once again! Some of you may know from our Facebooks Page that I had surgery on my tooths yesterday, so I’m still feeling a little dopey and drowsy. I got one Great Big tooth and one Very Small tooth ejected from my mouths, and although I have to only eat soft foods for a couple of weeks, I know I will be on the up-and-up very soon.

But I am a Very Brave Dog, and so I answered some of your requests for advices even though my head is a little cloudy! Here we go!

Dear Doodlebug, Do you like the vacuum? I hate the vacuum. I am pretty sure if my people would just let me attack its soft underbelly, I could rid my house of the vacuum menace forever. Do you know of any dogs who successfully killed a vacuum in this manner? Is there some other method of disabling a vacuum that you might recommend? My people insist that I ignore the roaring beast or go to a different room while the monster is attacking the floors we walk on, but I think it’s only a matter of time before it becomes dissatisfied with the floors and turns on us! For some reason, my otherwise excellent people seem blind to this danger in our midst. Help! Abbey of the Brindle Furs

Dear Abbey (ha ha, get it?),

I am a Buddhist and also a pacifist, so I can’t help you with the deathing of your vacuum cleaner. But if I were not a Buddhist or a pacifist, I might offer you some suggestions . . . like what about poisoning it? Maybe you could get your paws on some vacuum poison and sneakily sprinkle it all over the floor right before your people let it do its noisy thing? Or maybe you could make friends with a cat or a rat and convince them to chew through the cable (making extra careful sure that it isn’t plugged in while they’re doing the chewing)? Both of these seem like they might work, if I were less of a Buddhist and a pacifist.

But since I am a Buddhist and a pacifist, I have another idea. What if your people help you make friends with the enemy instead? They could do this by leaving it out someplace that you walk by all the time, like your kitchen. Then they could start feeding you your dinners or playing your favorite games with you near the vaccum (but not so near that you’re skeered to approach). Then gradually you could start eating and playing closer and closer. And if the way it yells and hollers and carries on is the biggest problem, maybe you could have them make a recording of the hollering sound and play it for you when nothing is happening — first very, very quietly, then eventually louder and louder until it’s up to its normal noisy volume. I’m not sure if this might work, but maybe it’s worth a try if the deathing doesn’t go as planned, or — even worse — if your people replace your newly deathed vacuum with another one?

XO, Doodlebug who sleeps through vacuumings but thinks motorcycles are QUITE scary


Dear Doodlebug,  My mum says you seem very smarty-pants with all of your advises, so mum really hopes you can help her out with this conun… conden… comdumderan….. ah, problem. I am a five years old and i had the chop when i was just a little pup, but in the last few months have become a rather frisky dog. My beloved bed is the love of my life, and i cannot help the fact that i sometimes get a little over excited and amourous when it just lies there looking all floofy and squishy and soft. Mum wonders if this is an attention seeking thing, because i often do it when she is in the kitchen cooking dinner, but i will happily make the moves whenever the mood strikes me. Don’t worry, i don’t do it to people or other dogs – just my beautiful bed! Mum knows that she shouldn’t yell at me or make a big deal out of it when i do get carried away, incase i love the attentions and do it more and more to get her to come look at me, but for some reason it emabrasses her when other people see my humpy ways (they just don’t understand me). Doodlebug can you please explain to my mum why i do this so much and how to get me to maybe possibly do something else instead?  Love (but not in that way),  Mr Frisky the pugalier

Dear Humpty Dumpty,

Well gosh, that must be some special pillow that you have, huh? It sure sounds like you give it plenty of attentions! From what I have heard and read, humpty-dumptiness happens for a whole bunch of different reasons, like sexiness, dominance, attention-seeking, anxiety, and boredom. It’s hard for me to say which of these things are making you do the humpty dance with your bed — though I can say that it’s probably not the sexiness or the dominance. If this humpiness is new, then have your mama ask herself: has anything Major changed in your life or your house recently? Sometimes stress can make dogs do strange behaviors that didn’t happen before. Or have there been any medical issues with you lately? Big behavioral changes that happen suddenly are often a good reason to go to the vet’s office and check things out to make sure everything is okie-dokie.

Do you have a $50 trick? That is, a trick that she is confident enough about that she would slap $50 down on the table as a bet that you will do it upon request, no matter what you are busy with? If not, maybe it’s time to work on that. If you have one already, have your mom ask you to do that trick (even if it is just “sit” or “down” or “come”) when she sees you doing the humpty dance. It will be a Non-Compatible Behavior, which means you will have to stop the humpiness in order to do it. Then your mama can distract you with something else — a toy, a puzzle, a game, etc. Over time, she may be able to teach you to do something else when you’re feeling kind of humpty, and if you are a Very Clever Dog, you may even stop doing the humpty dance altogether. 

But it’s still a good idea to check with your vet and — if your mama suspects anxiety or another behavioral cause — a good trainer in your area. They will set you straight!

XO, your ‘Bug

Dear Bug, I am terrified when my mama takes me to the vet. It’s a scary place. I used to be okay with it but then I was sick for a while. All the poking and prodding made me never want to see those people again. Now, even sitting in the waiting area makes me nervous, and by the time I get to the exam room, I’m a wreck. I don’t want them to touch me. I growl and sometimes show my teeth when they get too close. I know it makes my mama very anxious. Do you have any tips to help me feel more comfortable at the vet?  Your biggest fan, Reggie-doodle 

Hi Other-doodle,

Mama says this is a Behavior Question and she does not let me answer Behavior Questions on the interwebs, but I will try to sneak in a quick few Brilliant Thoughts before she catches me. It sounds like you had a bunch of Bad Days at the vet’s office, so now every time you go, you think it’s going to be a Bad Day. But what if it were usually a Good Day instead? My advices are no substitute for the help of a real live Dog-and-People Trainer, but here are some things to think about anyhow. If you live close enough, have your mama take you to the parking lot in front of the vet’s office a few times a week to eat dinner or play your favorite game or get your favorite massage. Bring your kibbles and your bowl or your toy and just hop out of the car, eat your dinners or have a game, then go home. Then once that becomes easy, eat your kibbles or play fetchings right inside the waiting room — or treats and maybe do some basic tricks like “sit” and “shake” or whatever you know and like best. Then once that becomes easy too, see if some of the peoples who work there will help your mama feed you kibbles and treats or toss your ball for you when  you visit. The activity isn’t important, it can be any of the Things Reggie Likes Best. The only thing is, Reggie, that you have to go slow and make sure that you are relaxed every step of the way. If you are too nervous to play or enjoy your massage or eat the treat, your mama moved too fast and needs to back up some. If you do it right, the vet’s office may soon be a place where Good Things happen instead of Bad Things. 

Hope this helps! 

Doodlebug who is basically a celebrity at the vet’s office because he visits so happily and so often 

Dearest Doodlebugger, I’ve got a really important question and it has to do with food! I am allergic to wheat and it makes my stomach really hurt & make funny noises, and makes me have very bad poops. Mom and Dad started feeding me wheat free food, but I only like the fish & sweet potato flavor, and only sometimes. My poor mom tries and tries to buy training treats that interest me, but she doesn’t have much luck. She even tries to stuff my kong with human foods, but I don’t even like that most of the time. I’ll eat anything I can steal off the kitchen counter, but when I know it’s for me it’s just not as fun or interesting. Sometimes I go a whole day without eating anything! It makes mamma worried and it makes me look a little skinny. So doodles, how do I help mom find foods that interest me without breaking the bank? Do you have any wheat-free recipes you want to share with her (we got some from two a few posts ago that mom can’t wait to bake!) Could I have another allergy that makes me not eat sometimes, or is it normal for the cutest pups to be picky with their foods? Thanks in advance doodle, you and chick are my favorites, and I wish could bite your necks in play all day, XoXo, Calvin 

Dear Finnicky Eater, 

One Major Question: Are you crazy? Your peoples give you fish and sweet potato foods and you are not interested? Jeepers creepers, I am just not sure what to make of this! I have always been a Champion Eater, so I can’t say that I understand where you’re coming from. But I can ask you some questions because I am a Clever Investigator, and maybe together we can get to the bottom of this very funny situation. How long ago did you make the switch from your wheaties to your new, wheat-free foods? If it was very very recent, then maybe it’ll just take a little time for you to adjust. Dogs won’t starve to death, so eventually you will probably get hungry enough to eat. Unless . . . my second question: how often do you steal food off the counter or get Human Food from the Table or Counter? If it’s often, tell your mama that it’s not good for you! You are just learning that you can pick whether to eat the dog foods or the human foods, and although the human foods may smell and taste yummy, they are not as full of nutritionality as dog foods for you! And third, have you asked your Dogtor about this situation? It is possible that there is some kind of medical situation (tummy problems? ouchy tooths? illness of the sense of smell?) that is making you not want to eat. Your Dogtor will be able to tell you whether this is the case.

So like I was saying, my brother the Chick and I are Champion Eaters. But a few times during his fostering career, my brother came across a dog who was too nervous or sick to eat for a few days, and he did find some tricks to make them more interested in their kibbles. Try having your people mix your kibbles with some cottage cheese, some low-sodium chicken broth, or (the best) some raw goat’s milk (available at the fancy hippie pet stores only). Start out with several tablespoons per cup of food, and then gradually reduce the Added Yumminess until you’re back down to just kibbles.

Best of luck Calvin, Doodlebug the Foodie

Doodlebug LOVES sweet potatoes!

Doodlebug LOVES sweet potatoes!

Dear Doodlebug: Foster, foster, and wear your harness

Dear Doodlebug

Dear Doodlebug here for another installment of my new blog advices column! It has been hot and sunny in Austin these past days which makes me and my brother very happy and very, very lazy. So ‘scuse me if I don’t write as much this week. I am very much enjoying your questions, so keep sending ’em!

On to business:

Dear Doodlebug, My mom keeps talking about fostering a pit bull type dog. The problem is I am not a big fan of this idea. I am HIGHLY dog selective and still get reactive if a dog looks at me the wrong way, even though I myself give long glares at most strange dogs I meet. My mom tells me this is rude and tries to distract me or go in the other direction, with limited success. I do have some friends I really like to play with and hang out with, though, preferably somewhat smaller and male and who don’t mind my rather rude behavior, rough play and wild vocalizations. Do you think I could ever handle a foster brother? Do you have suggestions? Do you think my mom is crazy for even considering this? Do you think you can convince her to give me more treats? Thanks Doodlebug. Sincerely, Shelby the Wonder Dog and Queen of all she surveys

Dear Queen (Shel)Bee ,

I have never gotten to be a foster brother myself, but I have heard stories about it from my brother the Chick, who has fostered many dogs. According to my brother, your mom can foster dogs whether you decide to be friend-like with them or not — the only question is whether YOU  foster them too. You see, some of my brother’s fosters, like Gonzo Bunny-Ears, Stevie Wonder, and Curious Georgia — became good pals with him and got to spend lots and lots of time together. 


Others — like Lollie Wonderdog and Dora the Explorer — he wasn’t entirely sure about, so they only spent time together sometimes but not all the time. And others still — like Little Zee — did NOT want to be friends with my brother and there was no changing her mind, so they never even met at all. You see?

We wrote a few weeks ago about fostering and how to get started — please tell your mama to read that post if she hasn’t already. If she thinks that she can separate your house or crate-and-rotate, then she can get started irregardlessly of whether you are going to want to party with the foster over time. And if she is comfortable with her separation arrangement, then she can really take her time integrating you and the intruder (slowly, slowly, slowly) to maximize your chances at friendness. And who knows — you may even end up falling in love, just like my brother did with me!

XO, Doodlebug the foster failer

Dear Doodlebug… My question is this, why does my dear dog Tina love to burrow? Into your armpit, the corner of the couch, a pile of blankets, really anywhere. She particularly loves to burrow into my armpit/shoulder area making groan-y noise and then twist all around for belly rubs. Is this a special dog trick, do my armpits smell delicious or is her face really itchy? Please advise.  Yours Truly, Flummoxed in Philadelphia a.k.a Rose


Dear Flummoxed,

I am not an expert of any kind, but I have been exercising my big brain thinking about your question just the same. What I came up with is this: maybe Tina likes to burrow because she is a dog who is getting back to her ancestral roots? Wild dogs (nothing like me and Chick, but our ancestors just the same) were denning animals, which means they liked to hide in small spaces to feel safe and warm. For those dogs, covering themselves up and making a little nest out of soft things was the best way to achieve the safeness and the warmness. Us modern dogs are no wild animals, of course, but maybe we still like to give a little shout-out to our homies of past by continuing some of their behaviors?

XO, Your Brainiac Bug

Dear Mr. Bug, What are your advices to get me to behave while in the car? I do so enjoy a car ride, but I get so excited sometimes that I misbehave. My mama sometimes uses a doggie harness, but sometimes we just need to go somewhere quick, and she is too lazy to put me in the harness. Are there any good ways to get me to be more calm so my momma doesn’t yell at me and threaten to pull the car over? Thanks, Hazel the Monkey-Puppy


Dear Hazel,

Mama says that I can say this to you because she knows your mama personally. My extremest apologies if I offend you! You should tell your mom to stop being a lazy-butt and use your harness when you ride in the car! First of all, harnesses are much safer for the dog in case of accidentation. Second, they are safer for your mama because you won’t be trying to put yourself on her head like a hat while she is doing important things like texting using her turn signal and monitoring her surroundings. And third, they are so very stylish!

Also, tell your mama to never yell at you for being silly — you and I both know that when you are being silly, you are just trying to get attention, and her yelling is still attention (even if it’s mean attention), which is what you are going for. Tell her to strap on your harness, ignore your sillies, and praise you like the good girl you are when you’re being a good and calm girl.

Good luck! XO, The World’s Laziest Car Bug

Dear Doodlebug — Our blue Pit Bull Lola battles horrible allergies ever since she was a pup… fast forward to 3.5 years old — environmental allergies equaled numerous trips to the vet, Cornell University, allergy injections every 10 days… steroids, prednisone, benadryl, zyrtec… antibiotics for infections relating to her chewing and scratching… enzyme baths… have only temporarily helped. Then last year she developed a food allergy on top of it. I’m at a loss… we feel helpless and hate having her medicated all the time…. she’s just miserable. Per her food allergy tests we have ruled out much of what she is allergic to… rice, corn, chicken, potato… tho she did well with beef and quinoa, carrots and green beans… currently she on a dry prescription diet of Kangaroo & Oats, which worked for a bit in conjunction with her injections… but for the past 4 months she seems to be reverting… and altho she eats like a horse, she’s losing weight.  We are thinking of cooking her meals… can you recommend how to go about it to ensure she gets a balanced diet? Thank you ever so much! Peace, Love & Pawprints,  Jess

Dear Jess the Dog Chef,

Your poor Lola looks even worse than I did when I was having the worst of my allergenicness, yikes! I am not a vet or a nutritionist, so I can’t really help you. BUT, the good news I can offer you is that there are experts out there to solve your problems! Please find your nearest canine nutritionist and go see her or him. Most prescription vet formulas really aren’t very high quality as far as food goes, so I am not that suprised that she is losing weight. Home cooking (or feeding raw) might be a better option than the Iams food she is on right now. There are many books on the market about homemade dog food, but it’s a complex matter, and important, too. Best to save yourself the worry and consult with somebody whose whole job it is to help dogs like Lola eat healthy, well-balanced meals that don’t give them the itchies and the baldies!

XO, Your Ex-Itchy Bugaroo

Chix-A-Lot Friday: How to Choose your Dog Trainer

Good morning friends! I’m a little late in writing to you today because, well, I slept in. Here is me at 9AM today:

photo (40)

Many of you have written to my Brother-the-‘Bug with requests for advices about behavior issues. In a way, we are relieved to hear that so many of you are having behavior issues, since both my ‘Bug and I have some things that we’re working on too. For instance, did you know that my ‘Bug sometimes gets so worried about bicycles or motorcycles or joggers whizzing by that he wants to leap out and punch them with his teeth, to tell them to go away? Yep, it’s true! But he’s working on it, and I’m very proud.

My brother’s excellent advices a couple of weeks ago about your behavioral issues were that you need to find a good, reputable, experienced trainer in your area who can meet you in person and help you. But we put our handsome, handsome heads together and got to thinking: some of you may not know how to pick the very best trainer, so here are our ideas on what to look for and how to get started. This list does not include everything, but just our favorite things to think about when thinking about dog trainers.

Chickerdoodle summer-121004-8

1. What can you find out through research? These days, any ol’ Chick or Doodlebug can hang a sign outside his door claiming to be a Professional Dog Trainer or even a Behavior Expert. There is no regulation and no certification of this profession! So just because somebody says they are a professional or an expert doesn’t actually mean anything. Yikes!  Look at the person’s website. What are their credentials? How long have they been in the business? Can you find any reviews of their services in your local paper, on Yelp!, or elsewhere on online forums? Do you know anybody who has used them with success? A dog trainer with little or no public info available and with no published references or recommendations may be an excellent trainer, but tread with caution — you can’t know for sure what you’re getting! And that’s a big risk for any serious behavioral issue!

2. What are their affiliations? Are they certified by any official governing body? Those fancy letters after some trainers’ names may mean that they have put in hundreds of hours of learning, have years of training already under their belt, and have taken a standardized exam to prove their knowledge and commitment to humane training methods. But other fancy groups of letters don’t mean much at all! APDT, for example, is a membership group that any individual interested in dog training can join. Pay a fee, and you’re in. It says nothing about an individual’s qualifications to work with dogs. My brother’s certification is CGC, which means he passed a test of good behavior, but it doesn’t make him qualified to offer advices on your behaviors! And my certification is GDG (Gosh-Darn Genius). It’s an elite title, but also does not make me an official expert! Other certifications come from private training clubs or programs, ranging a great deal in depth and duration — some programs offer just two weeks of instruction and gift students with a certificate! So before you let yourself be impressed by an affiliation, do your research — here is a good place to start.

3. What motivators do they use in training?  A trainer who uses fear and intimidation (shock collars, collar jerking, squirt bottles) should send you running in the opposite direction. One who primarily uses food is fine, but it’s best to find one who uses a wider variety of positive motivators — praise, attention, toys, and fun. My favorite place to learn (and I am biased, I know) focuses on the relationship between dog and person, even before addressing behavioral issues straight on — they are linked, after all. Many dogs who come in as behavior cases first spend days or weeks working on fundamental relationship issues with their person like trust, positivity, and fun, and only then move on to addressing the specific behavior that brought them in from the start.

photo (34)

4. In behavior cases, do they look at the whole dog? I’m not talking about a dog’s tail and underbelly and ears — though those are important too. Jumping right in to a “fix” for a behavioral issue can be dangerous. In your first meeting with the trainer, be cautious if they don’t ask a lot of questions — even questions that don’t seem relevant. A good trainer should be interested in a dog’s physical appearance, behavioral and medical history, diet, relationships, and home behaviors — not only the immediate issue the owner is worried about. In countless cases, what looks like one issue to the casual observer can turn out to be caused by something seemingly unrelated. An experienced, sophisticated trainer will look at the big picture.

5. Are the dogs and handlers having fun? If still in doubt, ask if you can sit in on a group basics class. Do the trainer, handlers, and dogs look like they’re having a good time? If dogs are being bullied, forced, or yelled at while learning how to walk on leash or perform a “sit,” you might want to keep looking. Learning should, for the most part, be fun. If a trainer isn’t working with her clients in a warm, engaging way in a group setting, there’s good reason to believe that private consultations and lessons will involve the same bullying, force, and yelling. And you don’t want that.


Of course, there are many more important criteria to consider when selecting a trainer for your dog — the Association of Pet Dog Trainers has a nice web page about this topic here. When you’re ready, you can search for a trainer here.

And if you’re in the Austin area, please come to the Open House (party!!) at the Canine Center for Training and Behavior, where mama, the ‘Bug, and I, work and play, tomorrow (February 2). We’ll have training demos, yoga, agility, food, music, balloons . . . a good time for everybody!

Open House Flyer 2013Love,

Sir Chick, GDG

%d bloggers like this: