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

Dear Doodlebug: eat your veggies and pick the right collar!

Dear Doodlebug

Dear Friends,

I am beside myself with excitement about my first block blog party advices column today! I have many advices to offer you, but first, mama, Chick and I agreed that we have to have a little bow-wow about something. Many of you dear friends of mine sent me she-mails asking for advices on behavioral issues you are having. I would super very much love to help you with your behaviors (and your dogs’ behaviors), but I am not able.

Wanna know why?

Contrary to what many humans think, we dogs communicate many many informations through our body language. We do it all day long. And we are complex animals with nuanced motivations, feelings, and behaviors. The problem is, many of our persons see us performing a behavior and assume that they understand all of the factors involved. But they are often wrong. Seasoned (and I don’t mean yummy and covered in duck fat and oregano) dog trainers with a focus on behavior issues can deconstruct a behavior by observing us dogs in person — they often see things that our people can’t see. And so offering advices on the interwebs is dangerous. Not only would I be going only on the information that your person provided me (which may or may not be all of it), but I also would not be observing on my own. Oh, and there’s the little issue of me not actually being a dog trainer myself, but only a dog. And even my mama, she is very new to learning how to be a dog trainer and is in no way ready to give advices on your complex behaviors.

So if you are having troubles with barking, growling, hiding, getting over-excited, or general misbehavement, do yourself a favor and ask your person to find a reputable, experienced dog trainer and meet them face-to-face to talk about your troubles. It will be worth the investment. Next week I will give you my advices on how to find a trainer, so stay tuned!

Now, on to this week’s questions!

What fruits and vegetables can dogs eat? Which ones can’t they eat, and why? -Michele & Karley

Dear Michele & Karley,
Well I was looking through my favorite culinary book to help answer your question, and here is what I came up with: the best kinds of fruits and vegetables to feed your dog are meat. I personally prefer raw ducks, and also meaty cow bones, but any meats will make your dog very vegetablishly satisfied. What’s that you say? Meats are not fruits and vegetables? That may be true, but don’t many meats eat fruits and vegetables before they become my dinner? My mama (who is a vegetarian) might say otherwise, but I say that eating vegetarians is almost the same thing as eating vegetables!


But if you insist on feeding your dog fruits and vegetables (which my mama does, and honestly, when I get a whole pile of broccoli in my bowl with my kibbles, I always eat all the broccoli first and then the kibbles!), here are some guidelines:

  • Apple seeds and seeds of other tree fruits (pears, apricots, peaches, cherries) are danger-mouse to dogs, because they contain cyanide, which is poisonous! All of those fruits themselves are ok, but no seeds, ok?
  • Onions are bad not only because we dogs don’t like them, but also they can cause upset tummies, deplete iron stores in the body (contributing to anemia), and kill red blood cells. Yipes!
  • Grapes, raisins, and prunes are no good either. Apparently nobody knows why these are so bad, but even in small quantities they can cause kidney failure.  Uh, and dad, that goes for raisin bread too, so don’t leave it out on the counter!
  • Cooked veggies are more digestible to dogs than raw. This means that your dog will get more nutrients and more calories out of them if they are cooked than raw — though either are fine to feed. Chopped up raw veggies mixed with kibbles are especially good for dogs who are starving all day long. The veggies can help you feel full without making you into a teletubby!
  • Fruits and veggies do contain calories, especially fruits and cooked, sugary veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes. So if you start eating them, you might find that your mama reduces your kibbles. Try not to get mad!
  • Some fruits are extra magical — bananas and can’t-a-lopes. They are known to stimulate the brain chemicals that promote relaxation. They’re really nice for nervous dogs — but only a couple of tablespoons, ok?

XOXO, Your culinary genius the ‘BugChickerdoodle-130115-3

Do you or Chix have any suggestions or porters for teaching “leave it”. I have a very smart pup who is great with sit, down, paw, wait and roll over – but drop it… no chance, especially when it’s a tennis ball. She doesn’t understand we will throw it for her a lot more and quicker if she will let go of it. I try not to tug and pull, I don’t want to encourage her that it is game, and i haven’t found anything more enticing then that ball for her to drop it in exchange. You and Chix are such good pups – what would you suggest we try? Thanks Doodlebug!! Erin & Evie (the tennis ball hog)

Dear Ball Hog,

My brother has been through this. He is a big-time toy hog and never used to want to give mama his tennis ball. Mama thought it was because he was stubborn, but then she learned that in reality, it’s because he was just scared that she was gonna take it away! The more she tried to take it, the more worried he got and the more he didn’t want to give it to her. Mama thought he was being stubborn, but in reality, he was just worrying about his stuff! 

So try this — I learned this in my Class On How To Be Basically Obedient: have your mama offer you a ball, and then just pet you on your body for as long as you’re willing to hold on to it. Have her not let you lay down, but instead stand or sit and hold it or chew on it to your little heart’s content. When you drop it, have her just put it back in your mouth. Keep doing that – it will be her new way of saying “I don’t want your ball, Evie, you can keep it whenever you want to!” and you will feel safer knowing that she isn’t trying to steal it — and you may eventually become more willing to share! After practicing that for a while, have her throw it for you — but only after you have dropped the ball yourself. When you bring it back, have her pet on you again until you get tired of holding it and drop it. Etc. It may take some time, but eventually it will get faster, and you will be fetching!

XOXO, Your ball ‘Bug who always shares his ball

My daughter, Aeryn, loves to eat pigs ears. Is it okay to give her a pigs ear every day?

Dear Aeryn,

I am no dogtor, but here is what I do know about pig ears. They are downright delicious. But also, they have a very high fat content, which makes them maybe not the best treat for every day. Mama and I don’t know much about whether they are treated with icky chemicals (like rawhides are) or anything like that, but the fat can be hard on a dog’s system, turn you into a tele-tubby, and possibly — from what we’ve heard — cause troubles with your pancreas (whatever that is!). If your mama is looking for an alternative treat, tell her to think about hollow bones stuffed with canned dog foods and frozen. These are yummy and nutritious, and your people can reuse the bones over and over again!

XO, Your Foodie Friend the ‘Bug 

I noticed the pups’ beautiful Sirius Republic collars and wanted to purchase one for my very own Honey Bear (Rose). I was wondering which style you prefer and why? I seem to be leaning towards the Limited Slip but wanted to get your opinion. Thank you so much, Jamie

Dear Honey Bear,

What a great question! Tell your mama that she should get not just one beautiful collar, but several. Don’t you need one to match every season at least? And what about holidays? I personally wouldn’t be caught dead without my special patriotic Sirius Republic collar for Texas Independence Day!

As for style, we like the Limited Slip (also called a “Martingale collar”) variety and use it every day for our walks. Here’s what makes it so great: properly fitted, it will tighten around a dog’s neck enough to prevent you from slipping out of it if  you’re startled or just trying to get outta there, but will not tighten so much that it chokes you. Also, it’s a nice flat fabric collar so it doesn’t put any pokey things in your neck. And it’s super stylish to boot! 

At the training center where mama, Chick and I work, we actually require that all dogs come to class in a Martingale collar or a properly fitted harness. That’s how important we think they are!

Let me know if you need help picking out your fabric, width, and size, mmkay?

XO, Doodlebug the Fashionista

Deer Doodlebug, What is you thinks ’bout dogs wearin’ stuff like glasses and ties and swetters and stuff? I don’t likes it, but it looks like you do. Da hoomins likes it, so can you helps me tell dem dat I would preffers to be nekkid? Kisses and butt sniffs, Mushroom

Dear ‘Shroom,

You not liking to wear glasses and ties and sweaters just means that your person didn’t introduce them right! Whenever our mama surprises us with a new outfit or accessory, she lets us meet it very slowly. We have a long courtship involving some coyness, lots of sniffing, and many treats. Before you know it, we’re fast friends!  But I guess not every dog has to like dressing up — what makes us most special is that we’re all different, right?

XO, Your Clothes Horse Bug

Well that’s all the space we have for this week, friends. My brains hurt from using all of their clevers! If I didn’t get to your question this week, I will do my best to get to it next week. If it’s about a behavioral problem though, all I can do is try to help your person find a good trainer, which is better than my advices anyway.

Please keep the questions coming by pee-mail at info [at] loveandaleash [dot] com. I can’t wait for your correspondences!

XO, Doodlebug the Very Clever Dog

Dear Doodlebug: a new blog feature

Last week my sweet, sweet brother the Chicken gave me the most glorious I-Am-Saved-A-Versary surprise — he gave promises of my very own regular block party blog party! I was like, Whoa Chickyou should not have have! (Even though in the realities, he really should have. Did you know that for a hundred bazillion years he has already had his own weekly block blog party? And if you knew, why didn’t anybody tell me??)

Dear Doodlebug

Probably it’s because I have so many clevers, but my sweet sweet brother decided to gift me my very own advices column! (For a minute I was most flummoxed — but only for a minute because after a minute it became so very clear). He thought that his ‘Bug (that’s me, by the ways) would be a good advices-giver since I am a Canine Good Citizen, I have much much dogtor-experiencement, I have played many many sports, I have passed his mandatory one-year trial of adoptedness, I enjoy a fine scotch, and I love to read. Boy am I well rounded (and I don’t mean fat!).


So starting next week, my interwebs family, I will be offering you my very best advices. As you can see, I am very well-read. So I can give you my best advices about all kinds of things — from dog things, to what to buy your dad for Texas Independence Day, to what is the most efficientest way to tie a butterfly knot, to which charity you should donate your green papers to. And here’s the best part: my advices will be absolutely FREE!

So please send your questions to my mama. You can leave them in comments on this block blog party, or you can she-mail them to my mama at info [at] loveandaleash [dot] com. Just make sure you put “Dear Doodlebug” in the subject lines so that we know that your mails are for me, ok?

See you and your burning questions next week!

XO, the ‘Bug

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