Five years ago today I published my first blog post.
It included this training blooper movie I made, still one of my favorites. If you’d just like a smile today, stop right here and check out the video.
When I set out to be a blogger, the main thing I knew was that I had something to say. A lot of things to say. The problem was that I was in a strange position to be saying them. I am not a professional trainer, and it’s pretty safe to say that I never will be. I caught the training bug, though. I started thinking about this stuff and couldn’t stop.
What I am is a writer. Maybe born to be, and certainly nurtured to be. Most important: that’s how I naturally express myself now, however it happened. And it turns out that this is now the main place I do it. I love it here. I am privileged to write and edit professionally for organizations and individuals, and my book was a labor of love. But for “dessert” I always come back and write on my blog.
It’s partly my friend Marge’s fault that I started the blog. She kept telling me to do it. I made various arguments against it. One was the “I’m not a professional trainer” argument. Also, I remember telling her, “I’m reactive. I don’t come up with stuff creatively. I just write about stuff that I read that ticks me off.” She said, “That’s OK!”
Turns out it was.
I have indeed written a lot of reactive posts. This is the first one, I think. “But What If Your Dog Runs Out Into Traffic?”
Five years later I would write it differently, including that it wouldn’t be so long. I can answer that silly question much more succinctly now!
Another thing you can notice in the “Traffic” post is that I didn’t know the term, “management” when I wrote it. Management means steps we take to put humane limits on our dogs’ behavior that aren’t intended to train behaviors. Like grabbing the dog if he runs into traffic, grin. Although better management methods usually involve more planning.
My favorite “reactive” post (and there are a lot of them!) is this one:
This post won me recognition with a Freshly Pressed award (now called Discover) from WordPress.com. In investigating it I learned a lot of interesting and positive stuff and was pleased to be able to share it.
Body Language Posts
But it turns out that not all my posts are reacting to things people say that I disagree with. With three dogs I can film and comment on lots of interesting dog behavior, besides the stuff we do when training.
My favorite is this one:
The technical definition of resource guarding behaviors mostly includes overtly aggressive or threatening behaviors. But I’ve learned from my teacher and through observation that many dogs are expressing mild guarding behaviors a lot of the time. The ways that dogs “pull their punches” are fascinating to me. When you think about it, it’s a very good survival trait when dogs can work things out without overt aggression. I’m not forgiving my very bossy dog, Clara, though. She is a master at this, but I intervene a lot since she is quite capable of making my other dogs miserable through these “nonaggressive” but still obnoxious behaviors. (There’s a classic at 1:13 in the blooper video above.)
My body language post that got the most attention was this one:
This post was put together with photos (actually video stills) of poor Clara at a particularly scary vet visit. This post got picked up and sent viral by an extremely popular NSFW page that was outside the dog training community. They may have posted it as a joke, but that’s OK with me. The post is still naturally popular within the training community, and I let trainers and other educators use the photos for educational presentations and other good causes.
Here’s the story of how Clara came into my life as a feral puppy.
When I started the blog, I had had Clara for almost a year and I figured I would be writing about and presenting lots of videos about her socialization.
But I found that her socialization sessions were too challenging for me to be carrying around a video camera, and a lot of the process would have been very boring to view anyway. I did finally compile a video of her progress and posted about it.
She has come a long, long way. But at home, she’s just a regular dog. So you see a lot more of “regular dog” Clara than “amazing progress for a feral puppy with many strikes against her” Clara.
Most Popular Posts
I have published 272 posts in five years including this one, and have 163 in the oven.
My five most popular posts of all time are as follows:
|Does Your Dog REALLY Want to be Petted?||203,408 views|
|Ringing the Bell to Go Out: Avoid These 4 Common Errors!||102,642 views|
|The Secret to Quick Non-Crumbly Homemade Dog Treats||90,560 views|
|Before You Share That “Cute” Dog and Baby Picture…||42,759 views|
|Operant Learning Illustrated by Examples||38,237 views|
I have no idea why the ringing the bell one got so popular. This year it’s actually ahead of the petting post. The irony is that I never successfully taught my dogs to ring the bell to go out. To ring it, sure. But I never successfully completed the training. They all have their separate ways to ask, though, and none of them is obnoxious. And I can sure tell you what some of the mistakes with the bell-ringing thing are!
Books, Webinars, Magazines, and Mentorships
I’ve had a lot of other great projects going on during these five years. I’ve written a book on canine cognitive dysfunction, and it won a Maxwell Award for 2016. Remember Me? Loving and Caring for a Dog with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is available in paperback, hardcover, and all major electronic formats.
I co-produced a book with Marge Rogers out of my series of blog posts based on her puppy-raising videos. Lessons for My Puppy is available as an iBook and PDF, and it’s free!
I thank the Pet Professional Guild for believing in me early on and hiring me to do two different webinars, one on thresholds in dog training and the other on canine cognitive dysfunction.
And this seems like a nice time to announce that—if I understand the schedule correctly—I will have articles in the next five issues of Clean Run magazine!
Finally, the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants came up with this great idea of a writing mentorship and invited me to be the mentor! I had a blast with my writing mentees and auditors for eight weeks starting in January of this year. I’m pleased to announce that the next writing mentorship is scheduled to start on January 14, 2018. I will do another one in 2018 if I can schedule it, but I can’t promise. So if you are interested in a working mentee spot, it would be wise to sign up soon for January.
To My Readers
Thank you. It’s an amazing time to be a writer, in this era where one can get instant feedback after hitting a blue “Publish” button. It’s a little scary at times, but you kind and curious people keep me going. I love the thoughtful comments, the kindly criticism, even the pointed criticism when it’s on the mark. I love the building of community and making new friends.
Thanks for reading and responding.
In memory of my friend Anne Springer, who passed away recently, here is her blog post on how to pick a dog trainer. The best on the subject I have ever read. Coincidentally, she published it on this date in 2013. Miss you, Anne.
Copyright 2017 Eileen Anderson