Ready for Baby mini-series: House manners

In the spirit of continuing to prepare for our new two-legged puppy, we are still collecting brainwashing tools dog-themed gear. Naturally, this continues to be the MOST important preparation that we can make. Just this past week, we’ve acquired this amazing little gift from our dear blog-friend Melvin for our future roommate:

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and these adorable stuffed animal versions of ourselves from CharlieDog and Friends:

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Meanwhile, mama continues to think about less important things, like our manners.

All in all, we have exquisite house manners. Even mama and dad say so. But that doesn’t mean that mama isn’t making her list (of important manners) and checking it twice, just like Santa would. It does make us wonder though — will we get presents in the chimney if we succeed here?

Here are the major things we’re thinking about.


Mouthiness / Chewing.

One of us (Chick) is not at all a chewer nor a mouthy player, and the other one (Doodlebug) is only a tiny, tiny bit mouthy. So getting this behavior under control isn’t really taking much work, since it already pretty much is under control already (we make mama’s job easy!). But if you are a mouthier dogs — one who chews on things that humans say you shouldn’t, or one that put human fingers in your mouth (either on purpose or by mistake) — you’ll probably want to work on this with your people before your junior resident arrives. It’s pretty easy for grown-up humans to tolerate a little bit of nibbling on the nose or toothiness on the fingers while playing, but we’ve heard that miniature humans are more delicate and it’s easier to make them whimper by mistake. To avoid that in the future, we have been taught from early on that it’s never ok to put our mouths on a human, no matter what. If we’re playing with our people with a toy and one of our teeth lands on their skin (even by accident), the game ends and the toy gets put away. It’s a total bummer, but we sure did learn quickly to be more careful where our teeth land! We also do many many exercises about impulse control, which means “not taking something quickly just because it’s within reach and you reallyreally want it.” So now, mama can be holding a delicious shiny metal thing in her hand with food on the end of it, and even if it is right at mouth-level, we know better than to just run over and steal a lick. Or dad can leave a plate of tater tots on the coffee table, and we know that it is Forbiddish to sneak even a little nibble. Our people say that this is a good habit all around, but that it will come in *extra* handy when our future human shows up and starts leaving his or her yummables carelessly around all over the place.

To satisfy our urges to chew on things but make sure we pick the RIGHT things, mama has made sure to have plenty of chewables in the house. These include nylabones and antlers primarily, plus the occasional raw beef rib or bone section. When we chew on the right things, we get lots and lots of praise and lovings (plus the fun of the chewing to begin with!). When we chew on the wrong things (which is rare), mama just shows us what to chew on *instead.* She also sets us up for success by not leaving tempting-but-illegal chewables laying around, so it’s harder for us to fail. Pretty smart!


Jumping Up

Jumping up on humans is another one of those things that is pretty safe with regular, healthy, sturdy grown-up humans, but can cause a giant case of the uh-ohs with miniature humans. So it’s best to learn way early that it’s never ok to jump up on people, unless invited!

In the photo above, you see me (Doodlebug) putting my paws up on mama, after being invited. Sometimes just coming over for a pat is enough to show her my love, but other times I really want to hold hands and gaze into her eyes. This is why we invented the “say please” trick! Mama puts her hands together and says “say please,” and I know that I am allowed to put my paws up on her arms and give her my sweetest doodle-look! Putting the behavior on cue can be a good way to curb poor judgment, like some dogs have with putting their paws up on humans. We have both struggled with wanting to jump up on people in the past, but now we each have a special cue that a person can give to let us know that it’s ok. Without the cue, we don’t do it.

Usually, dogs jump up on people when they get too excited and forget to mind their manners. In our house, the humans have combatted this by making it a rule that no dog gets greeted unless he’s sitting down — or AT LEAST has four on the floor. We get to practice our good manners at least a couple of times a day, when mama and dad come home from their various dog-free adventurings. When friends and family come over, they are also warned that it is Not Okay to touch or talk to us dogs until we are calm. Early on, it took the elder one of us (Chick) a LONG time to calm down enough to be greeted — sometimes 10-20 minutes! But over time, we have both gotten the hang of it and now greet our people and other people much, much more calmly. We hope our miniature human is impressed with this very important skill that we have!

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As you can see, one of us is way more of a guard dog than the other. One of us (the whiter one) doesn’t even twitch an eyebrow when the mailman or UPS man comes by, whereas the other (browner) one lets out a little growl for the mailman and a big bow-wow-wow for the UPS guy. Mama hates this, and we are still working on it.

Barking at the doorbell, at people walking by the house, or to demand things (food, games, pettings, to come inside) may seem ok to some folks when they don’t have miniature humans in the house, but once there is a tiny two-legged puppy around who gets woken up from precious sleepy-time by bow-wowing dogs, suddenly it’s not ok. So it’s best to teach a “no barking” rule ahead of time.

We don’t have trouble with barking to demand things or at people, dogs, or squirrels outside the window. But we do have a little bit of an issue with the doorbell, so we are working on it. Early on, mama tried putting a consequence to door-barking (time out). For some dogs (like Chick), this works great. For others, it’s not enough. So now instead, mama is working on teaching us (especially Doodlebug) what to do *instead* of getting worked up with the barks and growls. When mama hears the mail man or FedEx guy coming, she asks for a specific behavior from us — something that will distract us from our door-related frenzy. It’s best if it’s a non-compatible behavior, like running to the dog mat by the BACK door and waiting for a treat. It takes time for this kind of thing to work, and it’s easiest if the bad behavior is preempted, not interrupted. Eventually, when we hear the mailman or UPS guy coming, we will run to the back door all by ourselves to wait  for a treat. Pretty cool! At this point this is a work in progress, but mama promises we will get there. Good thing we have started early!

**Note: As several readers have mentioned, it is important for babies to learn to sleep with all kinds of noises going on, so maintaining a silent house should in no way be the goal. But still, times will come up when a loud barking explosion will be unwelcome and disruptive. So it’s best to get the behavior under control sooner than later!**


There will most certainly be times after our puppy moves in that us dogs just need to not be under foot. Adult humans are clumsy enough (especially our mama lately), but once the people are carrying a puppy around, it’s gonna get downright messy. The puppy might be throwing things, spitting yummables on the floor, and doing who knows what else. So it’s going to be nice for mama and dad to be able to just tell us “go lay down” and know that we will go to our spot. Fortunately, we have been working on this since the beginning, so by now we’re pretty good at it. And we love our special spot so much that we would often rather be there than anywhere else.

But if we weren’t so prepared, here’s how we’d train it. First, mama would pick a spot where she wants us to go hang out by default, and she’d teach us that it should be our favorite spot. She’d do this by giving us All The Good Things there — our pettings and chin scratchings, our chewables, our special snacks, and our praises. Then, she’d start teaching us to go there on cue (we use “go lay down” in our house). Then, she’d help us learn to stay there, because you never know when something good might come to you in your spot (she would bring us random surprise wonderfulnesses while we’re on our spot).

Now we’re at a point where this gets even more complicated. Mama is working on dropping an especially good yummable on the ground near us, and asking us to go to our spot. If we get it right, mama brings us the dropped yummable AND another goodie! Boy, she really is upping the ante!

One more word about dog spots (and I’m not talking about dalmatian superhero spots like my brother has under his furs). As we mentioned last week, it’s important that us dogs have our own spot that is ours alone, and will be protected form the miniature human once it arrives. Even though we all might get along swimmingly, sometimes dogs get tired of little human puppies and need a break. It’s the adult humans’ job to make sure that everybody has their own special place where they can go and hide.

Join us for another installment next week, when we talk about dogs & babies, out & about!

To catch up on the rest of our series so far, check out the following links:
**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 theCanine 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.**

Dear Doodlebug: napping with headrests, hunting for Atlantis, and how to become a Celebridog

Dear DoodlebugHoly cannoli friends, it’s a doozie of a Dear Doodlebug this week, mostly because I got SO carried away with one Most Excellent question. Those of you whose questions didn’t get answered this week, just keep holding on, we’ll get to you as soon as we can!

On to the dirty work:

Dear Doodlebug,You always look like such a dedicated sleeper and also very fashionable so I hope you can help us with bed advices. I too am very serious about my sleeps and I need a serious bed! I have one that is one piece bolster bed that mama got at Petsmart a long time ago. It is ok but it is one big piece and I cannot rearrange it. Also it is starting to wear out and it looks very tired. Mama also got me a bed from Westpaw that I like better because it is two pieces and I can arrange the middle piece exactly how I like it. But that one is also starting to wear out and the middle is not as fluffy and comfy as it was. I would like a bed that will stay comfy for a long time or that does not cost too much so mama can keep buying me new ones. I would prefer a bed that is in two pieces but what is most important is that it has a bolster part or something similar where I can rest my giant head. It would also be a big plus if it is nice looking and fashionable but that is not as important as comfyness and headrestyness. So do you have any advices for me about beds? Thanks, Don!

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Dear Donald Duck the Chick Look-a-Like,

Did you ever stop to think that you look a little bit like my brother? And maybe it’s because you’re a duck and he is a chicken, I’m not sure. But there is something to it.

As for beds, you are so very right. I have much seriousness when it comes to my sleepage. Sometimes I even fall asleep during agility class on the breaks between my turn and my turn — and that’s on a bed of shredded cedar with NO bolster at all! My brother and I, lately we are extremely loving our new beds that mama adopted from Costco. She says that their adoption fee was only around $30, which sounds like not that many green papers to me. They are a lot like a little dog sofa, with nice cozy headrests on three sides, and a cushion in the middle that I can pick up with my mouth and burrow underneath when I feel like hiding. The only problem with them is that the covers come off so mama can put them in the washer and get rid of all of my hard-earned dog smells — you probably shouldn’t tell your mama about those zippers, or try to hide them after she brings your new bed home. The bed is not very enormous and I know you are taller than me and my brother, but we both like to sleep together in one of ours instead of each dog in his own, and all 110 pounds of us doesn’t think it’s too small.

If that one doesn’t work out for you, our uncle Tex just scored a bed with headrests from Overstock. I haven’t talked to him to hear whether he likes it or not, but maybe some other dogs’ secretaries have left reviews on some of those and can give you a clue on how wonderful or terrible they are?

Love, Doodlebug, Grand Champion Napper

Dear Dude,  I am writing to get some advices on how to be as famous as you are. My mom has a blog like your mamma (it’s even named after me!), where she writes about me and my foster siblings, but I am not a star like you and Sir Chick are on the inter-webs. I want to be more famous so I can help mom spread the word about how important it is to share your house with dogs in need. So, just how did you and your bro get so popular and get so many adoring fans (other than by using your pure handsome-ness)? 

Thanks in advance, 

Nola, The Rising Star of Mr. & Mrs. & Nola Kisses

Snickerdoodle-120212-31Dear Nola,First of all, we love your blog about you and the dogs who come into your home and steal share your toys, food, beds, and people with you! We absolutely do hope that you achieve many fames like me and my brother. And second of all, what a very important question you have asked. I’m not sure if I can totally answer it (because my brother and his other foster kids were pretty famous way before I came along), but I have interviewed my brother the Chick and he has given me some ideas about how we got to be Kind Of A Big Deal. So here we go:

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1. Use high-quality photos. Sometimes mama writes posts that she thinks are very clever and interesting and funny, and then the comments of the people are all about the pictures. Most internet-viewers are very visual people and dogs, so big, bright, interesting photos will draw in a lot of people who otherwise might have skipped along. Our mama is lucky because she has a giant black box that goes click and makes nice photos of me and my brother, but even a simple camera can do the job. There are lots of great tricks on the internet about taking good photos, so read up!

2. Post regularly. For the first year and a half of this blog, mama wrote every single weekday. As you can imagine, this was a lot of work! But the advantage was that our blog was dependable. This was especially important to mama back then, when my brother was trying to get dogs out of the house as soon as possible they were trying to find the perfect home for fosters. The more people who grew addicted to their stories and would check in every morning before work or every afternoon after lunch, the more potential homes we were reaching. Mama has since gotten lazy slowed down the posting schedule because we are not fostering anymore so readership is not quite as critical, and we have seen a big decrease in the number of blog views per post.

it wasnt me0023. Write from the heart. We don’t only share the good stories. We also share the hard stuff. Our post about euthanizing a foster dog, Goodnight sweet Blue, is one of our most-read posts of all time. Chick’s tales of his past issues (I used to love to bake, or how we worked through my anxieties) is another. People love reading about happy dogs experiencing happy things, but so many dog owners — most dog owners — also deal with the hard stuff. The problem is, the hard stuff is also harder to write about, so it gets suppressed, and regular dog owners dealing with regular problems end up feeling isolated and alone. Being open about the good AND the bad of dog ownership and fostering can bring in loyal readers a lot faster than a few cute photos and a sweet anecdote.

4. Network. Lately mama has been too lazy to keep up, but early on, we were doing a lot of reading other blogs and commenting — and forming allies in our community. Making friends with rescues, shelters, non-profits, businesses, and regular ol’ folk in your community can help build your reader base and increase your chances at finding adopters for your fosters.

5. Think big. Writing about bigger policy or advocacy issues is more time-consuming than The Daily Chronicles of Dog and Dog, but it can pay off.  Our two most successful posts ever were of this nature — Pit bull awareness — words do matter; and Do Unto Others: intimidation in dog training. We took on sticky topics that can be controversial but that we feel strongly about, and it paid. Each of those posts was picked up by large and popular groups on Facebook and other blogs, and our posts ended up circulating and re-circulating. After each of those posts, we saw a big boost in readership, too.

6. Host fundraisers, contests & give-aways. We have hosted a number of fundraisers and giveaways over the years, and each time, our readership has seen a big-temporary-followed-by-a-small-permanent increase. Early on, we constructed a simple Kibble for Comments fundraiser, in which we donated a pound of dog food for every comment on our blog during a certain period. It was a success! Since, we’ve done more sophisticated fundraisers for specific causes, including one for our darling Elderbull foster Little Zee, who needed a lot of medical care, and one for the Schrodi Memorial Training Fund, an Austin-area non-profit that offers training scholarships for families who need the help but can’t afford high-quality private training. Some new readers come for the story and some come for the loot. But either way, the good people of the internet seem to love having a cause to rally behind.

Hope this helps, Miss Nola!
Sir Chick & Dr Dude, Celebridogs
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Dear Doodlebug, My mama buys me puzzles and toys that will hurt my brain thinking but I’m just *not* a chewer.  She’ll give me a chewy puzzle filled with yummy treats and I give it right to my boyfriend who is perfectly happy chewing away all day long. We often play fetch, which I love but can you please give her some hints on what else would work for a very clever girl who isn’t mouthy?! Thank you, Bella the very sensitive, and very clever, pibble-mix girl

Dear Lazy-belle,

How can you not want to chew on things that taste or smell like dinners? I don’t even understand it! Have you tried puzzles that are about getting the kibbles out but not chewing, like the Treat Stik or the Kong Wobbler? What about hollow bones stuffed with wet food and frozen? You can’t possibly be a dog and not enjoy those fine delicacies.

But here’s the other thing — my brother and I always have to work for our foods. When mama was first teaching us how to do this, she would measure out our daily portion in the morning and give us bits of it throughout the day in puzzles. Whatever we didn’t finish in 20 minutes got taken away and put back in the dog food bin or in the trash can — so we got that much LESS food during the day. Well as you can imagine, it didn’t take us many days to figure out that we’d better work for those snacks, and quickly! Now, I must tell you that Chick and I were both natural chewers and eaters, but Chick has had some foster dogs who did NOT care to work for their kibbles. But even they came around after a couple days of not eating enough!

Oh, and tell your mama to put you and your boyfriend in separate rooms while you eat. It’s no fair for him to steal your snacks!

XO, Bugga-snacker


Dear Doodlebug, Just about every day mom goes out at 8 and doesn’t come home until about 6.  I think she’s hunting for yummy kong treats but my cat brother and sister say it’s mice she’s looking for.  Does your mom go out every day like that….what do you think she is doing? Pondering, Jake

Dear Pondering Jake,

We are among the luckiest of dogs, because when our mama leaves the house, she usually brings us with her — especially if she is going for many hours. You see, she works at a dog place where we are welcome. So we come with her, and maybe that’s why she never brings home any mice . . . or maybe it’s because we already have mice living in our yard and garage (and twice even in our house, yuck!).

But my brother and I put our giant, giant brains together, and we came up with some potential things that your mama might be hunting for when she leaves the house for so many hours every day.

She might be hunting for:

  • dog treats
  • mice
  • some green papers
  • the Holy Grail
  • psychedelic mushrooms
  • witches
  • the perfect place to retire
  • Atlantis
  • Red October
  • a boyfriend

I hope I helped solve your mystery!

Signed, your Bug-sleuth

Chix-A-Lot Friday: New collars for Texas Independence Day!

Happy Texas Independence Day, y’all!

Chickerdoodle-Lonestar collar 18I bet you didn’t even know that on tomorrow in 1836, Texas officially broke loose of Mexico and became an independent republic? And it wasn’t for another ten years that we joined the US? Yup, it explains a lot, right? It’s why us Texans are such badasses!

All you other-state dwellers must be very jealous, not having the rich heritage full of badassery like we in Texas have. Even our flag rubs it in your faces reminds us. A single star — a Lone Star, if you will — flying proud in a sky of loyal blue. And the flag looks great on us, don’t it?

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So it’s in honor of this very special Texas holiday that we are THRILLED to debut a brand new Sirius Republic collar — the Lone Star! The new Lone Star collar comes in red or blue with complementary, patriotic stars throughout. It was dreamt up especially for Texans, but we won’t tell anybody if you choose to get yours for other patriotic holidays — it happens to match the American flag, too! And how convenient, with Memorial day and July 4th just around the corner.

So go on, you know you want to. Get yourself a Lone Star collar and celebrate whatever it is that you love most about Texas — whether it be our famous cowdog style:

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Or our famous Texas beer:

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And through this weekend — because they love Texas so much — Sirius Republic is offering 10% off ALL orders (not just the Lone Star collar), if you use the secret code CHICKERDOODLE at checkout. Also consider using the rescue code for Love-A-Bull, RPLB57, at checkout: if you do, 20% of proceeds for your order will be donated to Doodlebug’s very own — and very Texan — rescue group!

So hurry along, and while you’re at it, tell us: what is YOUR favorite thing about Texas, and what are YOU doing to celebrate?

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