There are occasional "Auto Mode" shots that produce usable dng files. I've shot several hundred test files but I cannot determine ANY pattern.
Good to know, this may be different from the usual "raw doesn't work in auto mode" problem.
Please let us know if you see the problem in P mode.
Other things that might be relevant: shooting multiple shots in quick succession, or shooting quickly without waiting for the camera to focus.
Isn't Canon native raw a pain because it's CR2 format must be converted before being usable in Photoshop?
This depends on your preference and what software you have. In general, I would expect it to be easier to get good results with Canon raw, even if you do have to convert it. Software that understands Canon raw will have all the calibration and corrections Canon thinks should be applied. CHDK DNG often requires more work.