obsessed with dogs

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Barking at the door excitement

Welcome to day 3 of Bark Week, which happens to be Wordless Wednesday (which, as you know by now, I can never accomplish). If you need to catch up, day 1 was all about how to get your dog to stop barking on cue, and day 2 focused on demand barking.

Bark Week

For today’s installment, I wanted to share a video of a barking behavior that happened every single time we came home – and not just us, either, but anyone Cooper knows and loves who came through our back door got this “welcome.” (Poor Emmett.) We solved this behavior with one piece-of-cake adjustment, which I’ll share with you tomorrow, along with the steps we took – and what didn’t work.

When we come home from Maggie Marton on Vimeo.

(Incidentally, this is vastly different from what happens when a stranger comes to the front door. That I’ll tackle on Friday, along with giveaways of the best tool EVER!)

In the meantime, does your dog go bonkers when you come home? Does your dog bark out of EXCITEMENT? Is there door barking behavior that you’ve solved? If so, share your experience in the comments, pretty please!

Third Annual Pet Blogger Challenge

The Third Annual Pet Blogger Challenge is here! I love any opportunity for reflection, especially when it comes to goal setting and, ideally, goal achieving. This took me longer than I thought it would because I realized that I didn’t have a concrete plan or set of goals, so I’m glad to have this opportunity to be introspective and think through how I’m running this blog! So, here goes…

PBC

1. How long have you been blogging and provide a link to your post from last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge so we can refresh our memories.

I’ve been blogging since June 1, 2009. I missed the challenge in 2012 because it was the same time as one of my surgeries, but here’s a link to my 2011 challenge post.

2. What do you consider the most important goals you set out in last year’s post?

I actually hadn’t set any specific goals, which is odd for me because I’m a terribly goal-oriented person. My only stated goal was to start making enough money to cover the cost of hosting and registering the blog.

3. Have you made progress toward those goals, or have your goals changed over the past year?

I sold some sponsored posts, which covered the cost of hosting. Yay! However, all this introspection about goals has inspired me to actually create some concrete goals for 2013. I’m not sure what those will look like yet – traffic? income? engagement? – but I’m excited to have something to think about!

4. How often do you post?

Since the old cancer diagnosis, it’s been about once per week. Prior to that, it was three times per week. AHA! There’s a goal for 2013! Get back on a posting schedule!

5. Has your opinion of blogging on a schedule or as the spirit moves you changed?

I’m determined to be more scheduled in 2013, just to help keep myself on track. Since I write for a living, I spend almost all day every day on my computer. Having a set schedule will help me stay motivated and focused to get posts up regularly.

If you publish on a schedule, why? How strict are you about your publishing deadlines? What do you do for inspiration when it feels like you’ve covered every topic?

If you don’t publish on a schedule, why? How do you think your decision affects your audience? How do you know when a topic is “post-worthy?”

I haven’t been posting on a schedule, but, as I said, I want to change that.

 6. How much time do you spend writing your blog per week? How much time visiting other blogs? Share your  tips for staying on top of it all.

Honestly, over the past year I’ve spent very little time writing my blog. However, I spend a ton of time visiting other blogs. The only tip I have is to use Google Reader! It’s the only way I can track the ever-expanding list of blogs that I follow. The only thing is that it takes an extra step to visit the blog to leave a comment, which I’m terrible at doing. Another goal for 2013, perhaps?

7. How do you measure the success of a post and of your blog in general (comments, shares, traffic)? Do you look strictly at the numbers, or do you have a way of assessing the quality of those interactions?

I used to check my Google Analytics obsessively, but after a while I realized those traffic numbers were less important than engagement. Are people commenting? Are there discussions among readers? Those are the questions I’m using to determine success these days.

8. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one issue you’re having with your blog, what would it be?

How to get people to take that extra step to become subscribers, whether it’s via email, RSS, as a Google Reader subscription, and so on. When I look at my numbers, I have a lot of visitors who come by a couple times then disappear. I do that to other sites, too; unless I add the subscription when I first visit, I never remember to go back and check for new posts. How can I capture new folks and get them to subscribe? Is it as easy as adding a button to each post? Should I assume those who want to do and everyone else isn’t interested? I feel like this is something I need to work on for 2013 because I think this is a number that potential advertisers want to see!

9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2013?

I had to set this aside and think about it for a little while, but I think I came up with three main goals for the year… Next up: Developing the strategies to achieve each one of these guys!

  • Subscribers: I haven’t pushed subscriptions (reader or email) more than once or twice, but I want to get those numbers up.
  • Income: I want to maintain my previous goal of earning enough via sponsored posts or advertising to cover the cost of monthly hosting and annual domain registration.
  • Posting: I will post a minimum of three times per week. Wordless Wednesday counts, right?

Thanks to GoPetFriendly.com for hosting the Pet Blogger Challenge again this year! I love the opportunity to think through all these questions, and I can’t wait to read (and comment on!) everyone else’s challenge responses.

A handful of highlights from BlogPaws

1. Seeing Tillman, the world’s fastest skateboarding dog, in person! From where I was standing, I couldn’t get a clear shot of him, but here’s his tour bus!

2. Meeting Zoey from Stick It to Canine Cancer. She is gorgeous, her mama is wonderful, and with a different outfit every day, she was the star of BlogPaws!

3. Learning about all the new pet products that are coming out – it just goes to show how dedicated we all are to our animals.

4. Meeting blogger friends, new and old, in person. I met a wonderful bunch of people, got to know others better, and spent time catching up with old BlogPaws friends. I can’t wait until 2013!

5. And, finally, seeing Emmett’s face as I unpacked my BlogPaws swag bag. He knows there’s something in there for him! :)

Cooper’s BlogPaws journey

A week ago today, Cooper and I left Indy for our trip to BlogPaws. I tried to prepare him as much as possible, but honestly… I had no idea what to expect from him. It was his first real trip away from home and away from Emmett and Lucas. It was his first time going to doggy day care, staying in a hotel, and meeting that many people and pets all at once.

For the most part, he blew me away!

Some of the highlights:

He met Big Ant from Rescue Ink! I was super excited, and Cooper behaved impeccably. Big Ant was impressed that the little guy made the whole trip without getting car sick. I was happy about that, too!

I was too excited to get out my camera, so this photo credit belongs to ThisOneWildLife.com! Thank you!

He aced doggy day care! The pet sitter told me that Cooper was the official greeter, running to the door to welcome every new dog. He played with Max and Remy (couldn’t get a pic! They were running too fast!)

He played with Oliver.

He played with his new best friend in the whole world, Stella. This pic was the best I could do because those two would not pause their wrestling or running for even one second!

He met Ernie. How handsome is this guy?!

And he even got to hang out with Carol Bryant and Dexter! Lucky boy!

Cooper didn’t get to meet Finnegan, but I did!! What a sweet, wonderful boy!

And every night, after meeting and greeting, Cooper went back to the hotel room to do this:

Or this:

While he excelled at day care and did an amazing job wandering around the hotel with me greeting new and old friends, there are a few things we need to work on. I’m really happy we had this experience, though, because in our day-to-day I may not have discovered some of his… quirks.

Cooper does not like to be surprised. Not. One. Bit.

The few times he had trouble, it happened when someone came around a corner and he wasn’t expecting it. He put his fur up, tucked his tail, and barked his little head off. In a few instances, it took the person giving him treats to calm him down. A couple times, though, I ended up having to walk him away because he got too freaked out to settle down enough to take food. I felt really bad because everyone had the best intentions, but it was just too much for him. On top of that, he is super typical in that he dislikes an unfamiliar person coming at him with an outstretched hand reaching for his head. I’m used to going everywhere with Emmett who will let a perfect stranger come up and use his face as a pillow, so I did a bad job managing a few greetings… but Cooper let me know. Loudly.

So we need to practice his reactions with the element of surprise (any ideas on how to stage this???), and I want to start building up a super happy positive association with allowing strangers to pat him. This was only a very small percentage of his encounters, but I don’t want that small amount to spiral into a negative association with bumping into people in unexpected places.

That being said, Cooper amazed me. I asked so much of him over the course of five days. We drove about 1,200 miles, he met dozens and dozens of people, he played with a whole bunch of new dogs in an unfamiliar place, and he did it with a whole lot of smiles!

Good boy, Cooper!

Bring your vet to BlogPaws

Did you know that if you invite your vet to BlogPaws, you will both get heaps of discounts?

If anyone from the practice registers with your Special 20% Discount Code:

  • you get in FREE (or a refund) AND
  • your vet gets a 20% discount off the Vet Track!

For more information – including how to get your discount code – visit the Bring Your Vet to BlogPaws page. 

Note: The Vet Track is limited to only 50 veterinarians!

Adopt the Internet Day is coming!

Petfinder Adopt-the-Internet DayAre you participating?

What are your dog-friendly weekend plans?

I love the weekend! It’s the perfect blank canvas. You can choose be be lazy and snuggle, get things done around the house, go on adventures, take a trip, all without having to worry about work, work, work! And this is a big weekend: Halloween is upon us. Fall is definitely in the air. And, at least around here, it’s supposed to be clear skies Saturday and Sunday!

Last year's costumes: Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf in grandma's clothing!

This weekend is an anomaly for us. We’re heading a couple hours out of town for a wedding celebration, a brunch, a trip to Ikea, and we have a big surprise in store for Sunday. I can’t wait to tell you guys all about that on Monday… stay tuned for the news! Then Sunday we’ll prep the boys for the onslaught of trick-or-treaters. Overall, a great but busy weekend.

So what about you? What are you up to with your dogs this weekend?

Community Question: Dogs in costume?

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you have a fun weekend ahead of you! I’m volunteering at my shelter’s low-cost vaccination clinic tonight, then I plan to spend the rest of the weekend relaxing around the house and playing with Emmett and Lucas. Sounds like a perfect weekend to me!

So I have a question for everyone:

Do you dress your dogs up for Halloween? And, if so, what does your dog wear?

Okay, I guess that’s two questions! But you all are a creative bunch of dog lovers, so I can’t wait to hear your costume ideas!

Last year, Lucas went as Little Red Riding Hood, and Emmett was the wolf in grandma’s clothing:

Getting their costumes on...

I’m stumped for this year’s costume, though!

What does your dog wear? (If you have a link to a pic on FB or your blog, please include it in the comments!! I looooove pics of dogs in costume!)

Friday link love

Yay! It's the weekend!

While at BlogPaws, I had the pleasure of meeting many bloggers I’ve admired from afar for a long time. It was wonderful to finally put faces to URLs and Twitter handles. I also discovered several new blogs. Over the next month or so, as I sort through my notes and business cards, I’ll pass along some of my new discoveries!

To get started, though, here are a few blogs I bookmarked immediately after BlogPaws:

  1. FIDO Friendly Blog: Love the magazine, love the blog!!
  2. Pet News and Views: With a medley of newsworthy and provocative topics, this blog always ends up with great discussions in the comments!
  3. The Tiniest Tiger’s Conservation Cub Club: Before BlogPaws, I didn’t read many (any?) cat blogs. I’ve discovered a few to share, but this one rises to the top because it’s so focused on conservation.
  4. Woof Report: This is a free weekly email (there’s a cat version, too!) that I signed up for the day I got back! The site also hosts a vibrant online community.

Next up, I’m so excited to spend time this weekend checking out everyone’s Facebook pages and Twitter profiles.

What about you? What are your must-read blogs?

Community Question: Has your dog ever “hunted”?

This is a vole:

Aw! I'm cute and tiny!

And these are vole murderers:

Who? Us?

Sigh.

I had just had a conversation with a co-worker about how I was so happy the boys had never killed a small animal. At least not intentionally. Once, Lucas accidentally killed a vole by pawing at it. It must’ve died of internal injuries. That incident earned him the nickname Lenny (“I just wanted to petted it, George.”)

Then John and I went to my parents’ house, their house with the giant fenced in yard, wildlife, a pond – basically doggy heaven. We left the boys in my parents’ care and went to a concert. The next morning my mom told us that the boys had dug a GIANT hole in the yard to get at a tiny little vole. Which they killed, apparently by smashing, not biting. Odd. Anyway, my dad told them to “leave it” and they did. He scooped it up and tossed it out.

Even though it wasn’t a tooth-related killing, I was still sort of sad. I think of them as such gentle giants, and I know it’s just instinct. They’re hunters, right? But still.

So this week’s question:

Has your dog ever killed a small animal?? If so, how did you feel about it? If not, how do you think you’d react if he/she did?

By the way, thank you to everyone who took my survey last week! If you haven’t yet and want to weigh in on the content, I’m going to leave it open for a few more days.

Vole image from Martin Pettitt