Eileenanddogs: 2018 Pet Blogger Challenge

These are my responses to the questions from the Go Pet Friendly Pet Blogger Challenge. 

For those who may be visiting your blog for the first time, how long have you been blogging and what is your main topic?

I have been blogging since July 2012: five and a half years now. My focus is positive reinforcement-based dog training. I have an interesting niche because I am fairly well versed in behavior science (for a person without credentials in that field) but I am not a professional trainer. So one thing I do a lot is to analyze my own klutzy training errors (sometimes with video). Sort of a real life “Don’t do as I do.” I also write about misconceptions in dog training and produce some more technical articles about learning theory.

What was your proudest blogging moment of 2017?

sandy brown dog with black muzzle waiting on floor at vet officeI think it was being able to blog about the successes of my formerly feral dog Clara. Clara got a rough start in life with no human contact. She came to me at about 10 weeks of age. She accepted me as her family, but every other human was greeted with growling. With the help of a fabulous trainer and friend, we did slow motion catch-up socialization for six years. There were some long plateaus, and even some steps backwards. But I realized this year that Clara has become resilient. She is more relaxed at the vet than most “normal” dogs. She is confident in new locations. She is much more comfortable with people. She has always been fabulous at home; now I can share her with the world a little bit. I blogged about this in November.

A Milestone for Clara: Socialization Work Pays Off

Also, a post of mine on conditioning my dog to the sound of Velcro got picked up and purchased by Clean Run magazine. (That’s in addition to four articles I wrote directly for the magazine this year.

Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why? (Please include a link.)

It’s a tie between the post I wrote about my dog Summer and one where I defined a functional assessment in dog training. They are very different. The post about Summer was a tribute to my non-dramatic dog, my quiet dog, my alter ego. I wrote it before I knew she was sick. I published it after she died of canine hemangiosarcoma.

Unsung Summer

Changing gears a bit: my post about functional assessments may sound a bit dry, but actually it is a great help for people trying to find or assess a dog trainer. Putting it bluntly: hacks and one-size-fits-all trainers don’t do functional assessments. They don’t study the dog’s behavior, determine what is driving it, and design a plan with those things in mind. In the post, I explain the functional assessment and its purpose, and I teach readers how to recognize when a trainer is doing one.

What’s a Functional Assessment in Dog Training and Why You Should Care

In terms of your blog, how do you measure success?

Besides the usual—hits, shares, and comments—I feel that a post is a success if someone tells me that it changed the way they looked about something or helped them with their dog. I’m also very proud of my posts that are on the first page of Google, especially in the top spot.

In what ways has your blog changed during 2017?

I’d like to think that my writing has gotten tighter. When I first started blogging, I let my posts run as long as I felt like. I have always edited a lot, but in the past couple of years, I have started editing more for length. I don’t want to be one of those people who take advantage of the tolerance of their readers. I want to make things as pleasant and smooth and non-wandering as I can.

What was the biggest blogging challenge you overcame in 2017, and what did you learn that could help other bloggers?

When things get hard, what keeps you blogging? 

I hope I don’t sound like a jerk here, but things never get really hard for me when blogging. Some of the other writing and editing I do can get to be a chore sometimes. But blogging is dessert. I love it. I don’t have any problems thinking of things to write about—I have 100+ partially written posts in the works at any given time. Motivation isn’t a problem. Just carving out the time.

Looking forward to 2018, what are you hoping to accomplish on your blog this year?

I haven’t had a blockbuster post for a while. I like serious posts that bring something new to a subject. I have a couple in the works, including one on Herrnstein’s Matching Law. I’m excited about that. Yes, I’m a nerd.

In addition to what you’d like to accomplish, is here one specific skill you’d like to improve or master this year? 

I am working on setting up schema for my blog posts. It’s a way of adding coding to the posts that tells Google in a language it understands about the topic and technical aspects of the post. Posts with schema often appear in Google search results with a photo included and are presented in a more attractive way. I’m actually starting on my dog dementia blog and will get to Eileenanddogs.com a bit later.

Now it’s your turn! You have the attention of the pet blogging community – is there a question you’d like answered, or an aspect of your blog that you’d like input on? Share it here, and we’ll answer you in the comments!

I would love to talk to others who are working on schema and other SEO enhancements of their blogs, especially WordPress users. I have specific questions about how to edit the WordPress code directly after using a plugin to set up schema. If anyone can help me with that, please comment! I’ll be happy to offer some other kind of technical support in exchange.

Thank you to Go Pet Friendly for the 8th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge!

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Copyright 2018 Eileen Anderson

22 thoughts on “Eileenanddogs: 2018 Pet Blogger Challenge

  1. I’m not on WordPress, so I can’t help with your question. However, I read your post on functional assessments and dog trainers. I’m kind of nerdy, so this “drier” post was interesting, especially as I recalled conversations with our pups’ trainer about different behaviors. While she talks to me about the behavior and training plan, she always sends it in a follow-up email, which I appreciate. I hope others can help with your WordPress SEO enhancements. Cheers!

    1. Hey, thanks, Irene! A fellow nerd! Thanks so much for your interest in the FA post. Sounds like you’ve got a really good trainer. I am mega-impressed with your shiny new blog with such nice content. Will be commenting over there.

  2. I’m trying to learn more about training and I will be heading to the ClickerExpo in Southern California in a couple weeks. I really enjoyed your post on Functional Assessments in Dog Training. I get a lot of questions through email and they’re difficult to answer with such an incomplete picture. As you said: “A lot of dog training advice you get on the Internet won’t help.” Years ago I attended BlogWorld and attended a session about microdata and schema.org. Unfortunately, I never setup schemas for my blog. I’d definitely be interested if you wrote something about setting up schemas for pet blogs. All the best to you in 2018!

    1. Jealous that you are going to ClickerExpo. One of these years! Thanks for your kind words about the Functional Assessments piece. I really should write some tech stuff for the blog. I do a lot of it and would love to save some other people the time I spend figuring things out! I will say I tried the major schema plugins for WordPress and the best for me was WP SEO Structured Data Schema. I’m using it successfully on my other blogs. Thanks again for the comment.

  3. Happy 2018! I love what you said about blogging being dessert. I agree, I have tons of ideas, too, but time is always the issue.

    I am looking forward to reading your post about Clara. I don’t have any experience with feral dogs, but I lived with a deaf feral cat for 16 years and it was quite a journey.

    I unfortunately don’t have any experience with schema but wish you luck with it! Good luck also with your new site on dog dementia!

    1. Ferals are so fascinating, aren’t they? I had a feral cat as well, but it was back before I had much experience with training or acclimating an animal. Arabella had a good life, but I could give her a better one now.

      I just had a lovely time perusing your blog. Thanks for the comment!

  4. I find that geeky people who delve deep into technical subjects without a formal degree write amazing posts. You haven’t had the humanity of your writing drummed out of you in grad school. Sounds like you’re hitting a real niche.

    You could probably find people in the BlogPaws SLC group on FB who have done or are doing schema.

    1. Ha-ha! I did get it driven (partly) out of me in grad school but luckily in a different subject! Thanks for the encouragement!

  5. Hi Eileen, I love that you’re writing posts about getting to the reason for the behavior, versus trying to fit all dogs into that cookie cutter mold that they are doing x because of y. Not all people behave one way for the same reason, why should dogs?

    As for Schema, I’m sorry, I do not know what that is, and with my SEO skills, I’m kind of afraid to know. 🙂

    1. Good point, Jodi!

      SEO gets more and more complex the more I look at it. Eek! I look forward to visiting your blog. Thanks for the comment!

  6. Thanks so much for participating the the Challenge, Eileen, and I’m so sorry to hear that you lost Summer this year. Congratulations on all the progress you’ve made with Clara, and good luck with schema. I’m adding it to my list of things to look into!

  7. I always welcome reading the more technical training posts because I don’t feel like you had to leave anything out to post them. When I’m half-way through reading a post I often think of a question. In most instances, by the time I’ve read to the end of your posts, you’ve answered all the questions I thought up!

  8. Oooh, that’s very clever, using Google like that! Good luck with it! And what you’ve done for Clara is nothing short of amazing. You should be proud! <3

  9. We are new to your blog. Our blog is heavy on photos but we tell a story in each post using the photos. Like you, long posts seem to be easy and one of our goals is to shorten them up a bit too. We’ve never heard of schema and google. Not being at all talented in coding, that won’t happen with us, but good luck to you! SEO is always tough for us too. We love the writing and photos part, the technical part is where we struggle. Nice to meet another blogger who doesn’t suffer from writer’s block 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment! As I am sure you have found out, the most important thing in SEO is putting out good content. Everything else is just gravy. Congrats on keeping the good info coming!

  10. I PAWsitively love these hops. I keep running into such great blogs with amazing information! We are returning to the beginning as we look to rescue another furry family member and your blog and information will be incredibly helpful!
    I also had never heard of Schema but I am also a WordPress user so I’m adding it to my learning list for the year.

    1. Hey, thanks for the comment! I hope my blog is helpful when you get your new addition. I’m so sorry for your loss of your dear dog this year. I’ll be reading more on your blog. Take care!

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