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Eileenanddogs: 2018 Pet Blogger Challenge

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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