Eileenanddogs 2019 9th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge

Thank you to GoPetFriendly for another opportunity to learn about other pet blogs and to showcase my own. These are my answers to the 2019 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 started blogging in July of 2012. My main topic is dog training, with a humane, evidence-based approach. I talk about behavior science and I demonstrate things with my dogs. I do not train professionally, so I have the advantage of being able to write about my embarrassing mistakes without affecting my business! My wonderful dogs are Zani, an adorable mostly-black hound mix, and Clara, a tan mixed breed with a black muzzle and tail. Clara was born feral and came to me as a puppy. She and I have many stories to tell. Here’s one of the big ones: Socializing a Formerly Feral Dog.

What was your proudest blogging moment of 2018? My proudest blogging moment was when I retracted a post. That sounds pretty strange, I know. But a post I wrote about some behavior science terminology as used in the dog training world went awry. It was misinterpreted to be a criticism of the use of behavior science in dog training. It was meant to be the opposite of that. My point was that we should use behavior science more fully and accurately. But the post was shared by the very people I was arguing against because they thought it supported their position!

Buy a behavior science book. Older editions are cheap!

I’d like to say that the fault was theirs because they didn’t read carefully, but I gave it a provocative title, and of course, my writing wasn’t perfect. So I’ll take a good portion of the blame. I took it down after I saw that it was having a damaging effect on the training community. This was difficult because I had spent a lot of time on it and of course my ego and emotions were very invested. But I’m proud of my actions and also proud of the rewritten post: A Quadrant By Any Other Name Is Still a Cornerstone of Operant Learning.

What was the biggest blogging challenge you faced in 2018, and how did/will you tackle it? I retired from my day job in 2018, and am now a full-time writer/ editor/ mentor/ presenter. You’d think that would give me more time for my blog, right? Nope! I have lots more writing projects! So my challenge is a very common one: finding the time to write blog posts.

My blog does not generate income directly. I have always written purely for education and sharing information. But it’s the platform upon which I’ve built my reputation, so it supports the ways I do earn income as a writer.

I don’t really have a plan to tackle time management. I’ve always had a rule that I wouldn’t publish a post just for the sake of keeping a schedule. I post when I have something to say that I feel strongly about and can write clearly about. When I do feel that strongly, I make the time. That will probably continue to be my plan. My blog is still hands down my favorite place to write.

Which of your 2018 blog posts was your favorite and why? (Please include a link.) My favorite post was If My Criticism of Someone’s Comment on Facebook Was Punishment, Why Won’t She Shut Up?

This was a post that I had worked on intermittently for a long time. I have always been fascinated by the manner in which people argue and discuss on social media. (Even before social media, I read Usenet groups for entertainment and education.)

Dog trainers who use positive reinforcement are often attacked for being “punishing” when they disagree in a discussion. Sometimes, certainly, it’s all too true that they are being unpleasant or inappropriate. But they also get that accusation from people who disagree with them even when they are being perfectly polite. It’s a cheap shot. And also, technically, it’s usually not true. Punishment is about a decrease in behavior. But usually on Facebook, if someone doesn’t like your tone or your words, they post more to argue with you! I explain what is really happening in the post.

Which of your 2018 posts was most popular with your audience? Why do you think it did so well? My most popular post that I wrote in 2018 was  Doesn’t Intermittent Reinforcement Create a Stronger Behavior?  I have a lot of evergreen content, so this was only my 12th most popular post (or page) overall for 2018, but it was the most popular of my new posts.

I’m not sure why this post was so popular, except that it addressed a very common misconception and perhaps was shared a lot because of that. It’s one of my own favorites besides being my readers’ favorite! I’m also very proud that it was first published in Clean Run magazine in 2017.

Did you implement a new series, feature, or practice on your blog in 2018 that you’re enjoying? I guess it’s pretty common for bloggers to write about their animals’ medical conditions, but my dogs have had some pretty unusual ones. It’s become a recurring feature without my realizing it. I usually write about medical situations from a husbandry standpoint: how best to care for an animal with certain problems using humane and cooperative care.

Zani is always game to train

This year I had two posts about Zani and her unusual injury: a spinal cord concussion. These were: A Dog with Spinal Cord Concussion: Zani’s Story Part 1 and A Dog with Spinal Cord Concussion: Zani’s Recovery on Video. I also wrote an emotionally challenging post called The Last Trip To the Vet: What If Your Pet’s Last Breath Is On the Operating Table?. That situation has happened to me twice, and in the post, I discuss how to prepare for this awful eventuality so it has a chance of being easier on your pet.

Zani has some more health issues, so stay tuned for more features about how we cope.

Zani moving well after her accident

As the social media landscape changes, how are you promoting your blog posts and connecting with new readers? I am not great at promotion. I generally post any new article on Facebook on both my personal page and my blog page (sometimes on separate days). I sometimes post in an appropriate Facebook group with permission, but I don’t overdo that. I don’t want to be that annoying person who only shows up to promote her stuff.

I also post on Twitter (just once for each article—I should do more), Google+ (a dying platform), and LinkedIn. I’ve had an Instagram account for quite a while and need to get into the habit of posting my blogs there! Since almost all my content is evergreen, now and then I pull out an older post that I think deserves some more love, rewrite it, and publish it as new. I make sure to use a 301 redirect from the URL of the old post to the new one so as not to lose any links or rankings.

Clara will always be my baby

Looking forward to 2019, if you accomplish only one thing through your blog, what do you hope it is? I always have the same goal. I want to share good information about dogs and behavior science and change the lives of dogs for the better.

What steps are you planning to take to ensure you reach your goal? Continue to research what interests me, observe my dogs, and share what I learn.

Now it’s your turn! How can we help? Is there an area where you could use some advice, or an aspect of your blog that you’d like input on? Share it here, and we’ll answer you in comments! I’d love to know how other self-hosting WordPress bloggers are dealing with Gutenberg, the new online editor.


Clara and her ball

Thank you for the Pet Blogger Challenge, Amy. I was glad to see that you are still moving forward with your plagiarism suit. (And sorry to see that you’ve got yet another site stealing your stuff!) I urge all readers to check out your posts on the plagiarism and to give to your fund. You are helping us all by defending copyright for the little guy.

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Copyright 2019 Eileen Anderson

32 thoughts on “Eileenanddogs 2019 9th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge

  1. It sounds like you know what you want to do and that is what you do. Many bloggers are successful posting when they feel like it, not on a regular schedule. As for the Gutenberg question, I was forced to install it, or I could not access my blog. Decided to try writing a post with it, but it was so incredibly different and weird, I gave up after about 5 minutes and installed the classic editor plug in. Seems to me if you work on a smaller screen, it is even more difficult because you can’t see much of what you are working on compared to with the classic editor.

    1. Oh wow, you had to! Thanks for the heads up on the screen issues. I keep hearing about the classic editor plugin. I guess I should install it in case I decide to go that way. Thanks for the comment!

  2. I havent switched over to the new WordPress update yet, but I use Divi sometimes which I hear is similar. I like how Divi gives more options for building different background collars, sections, table of contents, etc.

    1. I’ve used Divi, and BeTheme, which is similar, but kind of a cut-rate version. I do kind of like the row and column approach. I haven’t even scratched the surface with what they can do. I didn’t know about the Table of Contents in Divi though. Thanks for that! It will help on one of my blogs.

  3. Hi! Your dogs are so cute! 💖 I’ve been seeing the word “evergreen” a lot on this hop and now I know what it means, so thank you for that nugget of information. I’m still learning the lingo! Enjoy 2019. 😊

    1. Thanks! And that’s the great thing about being a dog blogger. So much of it is evergreen!

  4. I’d never read the one about online arguments. That’s really interesting. The one thing I can say about trolls: if you don’t respond, they won’t keep responding. It takes two to tango. I have been a troll twice in my life. Both were times when someone responded to a comment I made with totally unnecessary ad hominem attacks and told me to “shut up” and the like, and both were times when I was waiting on something and had time to engage. My goal: see how many times I could get them to respond back. I wasn’t nasty, I just kept correcting their grammar and generally being an irritating twat. I think on both occasions I got the discussion up to 40 or 50 comments. Then I got busy again (not to mention I was getting bored by that time) and I admitted to them that I was trolling them and ended it there. It’s probably not a very healthy thing to do, and I am not a habitual troll by any means. But it was fun for a while. What would have made it not fun was if they had ignored me, as this would have completely wrecked my goal of seeing how many times I could get them to respond. So the moral: don’t feed the trolls. If you don’t respond, they don’t get to have any fun.

    1. That was an interesting experiment! I agree with you about trolls.

      The ones that are hard for me are quite earnest in their responses. They don’t have that dissociated/”I just want to stir things up behavior.” But no matter how earnest someone is, I don’t have the stamina for it if the conversation isn’t teaching me or them anything. I do hit-and-runs quite a lot on social media, especially if it’s about an article I wrote. I do think it’s good blogger behavior to respond to discussions about something we wrote, if asked. But I also know that I already gave it my best shot in the article. So I’ll respond for a bit, then head for the hills.

      Thanks for the comment, and for liking so many of my posts. I notice!


  5. Hi Eileen – I hope everyone follows the link you included and reads and donates to Amy’s copyright infringement case – oh my golly!! That is just awful. I got SO angry reading about what happened to her that I immediately donated to their gofundme account. And I’m not even a blogger nor do I post anything online that could be copied – but the audacity of that company/website to steal so many of her posts made me furious.
    I did notice that the link takes you to an update that was posted in Dec of 2017 – do you know if there are any newer updates?
    Thank you!
    ~ gayle

    1. Gayle,
      Thanks for joining me in recognizing this terrible injustice and thanks for donating to Amy’s fund! Amy has a comment in the queue and hopes to have an update soon. But also: she has another infringement going on!

      I think the post I linked to from December 2017 and this one are the latest. I hope for an update, too!


  6. My solution to Gutenberg? I shut it off – I use the classic editor lol. I don’t have a good enough handle on all this stuff as it is to take on that major a change 😀

    1. Why thank you! And write that blog!

      Just saw you on Instagram. Jimmy is such a fine looking man! Following back!


  7. Thank you so much for joining the Challenge, Eileen, and for your support of my infringement case. Things move so slowly in the legal system, but I’m hoping to have an update on that soon!

    I’m sorry that Zani’s had a rough year. I hope 2019 is better to her.

    I haven’t switched to Gutenberg yet, but knowing that the classic editor plug-in is available does relieve some of my stress about the upgrade. I’m planning to get on YouTube and watch some tutorials on how it works before jumping in.

    Wishing you all the best in the new year!

    1. Thanks, Amy! Really hoping for happy news with your infringement case! (Or is it cases? I hope not. I hope the second one has resolved.)

      Thank you, as always, for the Challenge. Yours is one of only two blog parties I do every year.


  8. Congratulations on retiring from your day job! How awesome! How am I tackling Gutenberg? Avoidance. I haven’t updated yet. I was working at Starbucks the other day and someone asked me if I knew WordPress. I’ve been working with WordPress for over 13 years so I said yes, what can I help you with. They brought up the Gutenberg editor and I was totally lost and now I’m terrified to update especially with all the horror stories circulating around.

    1. Thank you! And yeah….that’s kind of what I’m doing about Gutenberg. I am familiar with two contemporary editors that might help with switching to Gutenberg, but then I keep reading it’s not going to be stable anytime soon…. Good luck, and thanks for the comment!

  9. I’m excited to learn of your blog and dive into your content! I love reading about dog behavior and science-based training.

    Regarding my self-hosted WordPress site – I became so frustrated with the editor in WordPress, I switched to Elementor, and I love it. I forget which WordPress template I use, but it’s one that was recommended as compatible with Elementor.

    1. Thanks! I hope you enjoy it!
      I use Divi on the site of a company I work for and use BeTheme (kind of a cheap knockoff of Divi/Elementor, etc.) on another blog of my own. But this blog is just sitting here in limbo. I need to decide something pretty soon. Glad to learn about Elementor!

  10. Wow, that must have been stressful on many levels retracting that post – but good for you. I agree with you about not posting a post just to stick with a schedule. I definitely feel the same way.

    In terms of Guttenberg, I took the easy way out and installed the classic editor plug in

    1. Thank you! It was hard. Regarding posting schedules: in 2018 I took a really great course from Ahrefs and they said, hands down, quality is better than quantity in the blogging world. And they had data, as usual. I found that very affirming! And luckily, as pet bloggers, so much of our content is evergreen.

  11. I enjoyed reading your answers, Eileen, and that (and your encouragement) prompted me to join in too. Thank you!

    I’m sorry about Zani’s health issues and hope 2019 will be better. In terms of posts, your post on the last trip to the vet was a very thoughtful one that I think will have helped many people. Also, I love the way so much of your content is evergreen. I’m a huge fan of your blog and love your posts.

    I repost links on Twitter all the time (and occasionally on Facebook). I don’t think anyone minds and sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of an older post that you loved at the time.

    1. Thank you, Zazie, and I’m so glad you joined in! Also thanks for your kind words about the last trip to the vet post. I actually wrote that one a year before I published it. It was just after I lost Summer. But I needed to wait a good while before putting it up.

      Thank you for your kind words, and I always appreciate your tweets. I should tweet more. I have used a scheduling program at times, but then I feel badly when I’m not there to answer and participate in what others post. Social media is endless! But without it I wouldn’t have met you and other fantastic friends.

  12. Hi Eileen. Wow you have so much great content! My Maggie is reactive. I struggle with it because its my first time having a dog like her. Never have I ever had to try to figure this out in a dog. I’ve worked with trainers but I have either not found the right one or stubbornly want to figure this out myself.

    I’m a WHY and HOW person. WHY is she behaving. How can I understand the situation? How can I read her better? How can I read the other dogs better. How can I help her.

    I share our journey on Instagram. I follow some Fb trainer groups but I’m not a trainer and no intention of being one I just want to help her.

    Anyway – I’m going to bookmark your site and probably pin a lot from it as I read =)

    1. Hi Hannah! Went and found you on IG. So maybe I am your 125,001st follower! I don’t know why I never ran into you before.

      Thanks for your kinds words and I will be following your journey. You ask great questions, which means you’ll always have something interesting to say.

  13. So nice to “meet” you through the blog hop. I don’t think I’ve come across your blog before but I’ll be sure to check it out now. I went to college for wildlife biology and am very interested in animal behavior, so am totally science based when it comes to training my pups. My youngest boy has been quite the challenge as he is reactive and has fear issues, but he’s come SO, so far using positive based training methods. It sounds like we have similar challenges when it comes to blogging. As for Gutenberg, like others have already mentioned, I use a classic editor plug in. I tried to play nice with Gutenberg at first but just wasn’t a fan. I hope you have an awesome 2019! http://www.pawprintpetblog.com

  14. Well done on your gracious admission of withdrawing a post. To find it used by the very people you fight against is unbelievable.

    I wish some of my neighbours had access to you (do you clone yourself 😉 !!) There are so many reactive dogs and no one has any idea you can train them GRRrr

  15. I think it is great that you can write when you feel you have something to share about training and that you aren’t afraid to say what doesn’t work. I have only recently found people fighting on social media and it is ridiculously entertaining. I never participate in such discussions. LOL! Happy 2019!

  16. Yay! Retirement. That’s wonderful. I love how you like to dissect behavior and theory – it’s really interesting. I find I can go down the rabbit hole of trying to figure out which quadrant something goes into – and then I realize that what matters is if I am making progress with the dog in a respectful, kind, non-intimidating way.

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