A Year In Review – Puppy In Training 2012

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I wasn’t planning on writing a recap of the year, but after reading several other “Year In Review” blog posts I decided it would be a good idea to reflect back on the past years achievements and failures at PuppyInTraining.com.

I actually got off to a slow start in 2012 and didn’t really have much of a plan until I came across the second annual Pet Blogger Challenge.  If you haven’t heard of the Pet Blogger Challenge then go check out Amy’s post with instructions at the GoPetFriendly Blog.  It’s a great way to help you reflect and focus on your pet blogging goals for the new year.

So here’s our recap for the year!

Apache –Puppy In Training & Dublin –Working Guide Dog

Apache A Golden Retriever Puppy
Apache A Golden Retriever. Now training to be a service dog in the CST Prison Pup Program

It all started on my birthday about 1 month before the new year.  After all this is a blog that chronicles my journey raising guide dog puppies.  Apache came to the house on December 5th, 2011 and his training would make up the backbone of my blog posts for the first half and part of the second half of 2012.

I can’t mention my journey as a guide dog puppy raiser without letting you know that Dublin, my third guide dog puppy graduated in April 2012 and is now a working guide dog!  Check out Dublin’s entire video series Puppy In Training TV to see his journey from coming home as a 7 week old puppy, a visit to Disneyland, graduation, and many other adventures.

A Year About Building Relationships

Since I started blogging back in 2007 I’ve pretty much stayed within the confines of my blog.  I lurked and read a lot of other pet blogs, forums, and articles, but I rarely left a comment.  In 2012 I decided to branch out, become more active and meet some of the pet blogging community.  I joined the discussion and started commenting more on blogs and forums which led to the PetSmart/BlogPaws Build A Business Blog Contest.

We won!  Along with Snoopy’s Dog Blog!  I learned a lot about content marketing, social media, and SEO from the gurus at PetSmart.  Perhaps more important was getting the chance to work with Annette (Snoopy’s mum).  Talking to Annette and bouncing ideas off of her was one of my best experiences in 2012.  She definitely helped me become more involved in the pet blogging community.

One thing Annette told me she did was that she responded to every comment she received on her blog.  This sounded like a great way to not only acknowledge those who visit your blog, but also a way to continue the discussion.  Responding back to even the simplest of comments makes a blog seem like a warmer more comfortable place and hopefully encourage people to comment in the future.

Pet Blogging Conferences

I left the nest in 2012, hopped on a plane, and participated in 3 pet blogging conferences!

  • BlogPaws – I won free admission and accommodations to BlogPaws as a part of the Build A Business Blog Contest.  Learning more about blogging and meeting pet bloggers was an unforgettable experience.
  • Paw Print Blogger Summit– I was invited to the Paw Print Blogger Summit in Knoxville, TN where I had the opportunity to learn a little bit more about the PetSafe brand.  I was very impressed by the amount of time and money PetSafe and their employees give back to the community.
  • BarkWorld Expo – I flew out to Atlanta, GA for BarkWorld Expo.  Another great opportunity to meet up with pet bloggers and learn more about blogging from the gurus.  One thing that was slightly different about BarkWorld was the opportunity to meet brands in a speed dating format.

A Shift In My Pet Blogging

2012 was the first time I participated in Blog Hops.  Many moons ago we participated in Blog Carnivals…I’m guessing these were a pre-cursor to Blog Hops.  After hosting over a dozen of these carnivals I found that the majority of participants were spammy sites just looking for an extra link back to their blog with very little participation in the Carnivals.

After speaking with Annette from Snoopy’s Dog Blog I decided to give the Blog Hops a try.  Throughout most of 2012 I’ve been an active participant in the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop and the Monday Mischief Blog Hop.

I really like two things about Blog Hops.

  1. First, it adds some consistency to my blogging.  For the most part in 2012 Mondays have been my chance to talk about the past weeks adventures(mischief) and Wednesdays are a chance for me to share one of my favorite photos.
  2. Second, it’s interactive.  A good number of the bloggers who participate in the Linky will also visit and comment on your blog posts.  Any time I participate in a Linky I try to visit all the other blogs and leave a comment on their Blog Hop post.

What Do You Do For Technical Difficulties?

I’m pretty techie, but these tech glitches in 2012 drive me nuts!  2011 was more of a challenge as I outgrew BlueHost shared hosting and had to move to a HostGator Virtual Private Server (VPS), but I ran into a number of issues in 2012.

  • I learned that it’s a good idea NOT to immediately click the update button when a new version of WordPress is released.  Give it a few days/weeks so that others can find the glitches and fix them.  Also, it gives plugin developers a chance to update plugins to be compliant with the new WP version.
  • VPS Dashboard is more intimidating then the cPanel Dashboard I was used to.
  • Server crashes.  I don’t know enough about managing a Virtual Private Server.  There was a stretch in October when my server was crashing several times a day.  Support said I was exceeding bandwidth limitations and said that upgrading was an option that might resolve the problem.  Other possible issues were plugins using too many resources and possible spammers bombarding my site.  Can I please just write and not have to worry about tech issues!?
  • Update WP design – sometimes design updates don’t go quite as planned.
  • Backup!  Backup!  Backup!  Not just your database, but also your files!
  • Google – they drive me nuts!!!  Early in the year I got a letter from Google stating that my site may have some unnatural links and  I noticed my PR went from 4 to N/A.  WTF!?  It didn’t effect traffic or anything, but it seemed like a black mark on my record.  So I sent a re-submission request to Google.  2 weeks late they responded that everything looked fine and everything went back to normal.
  • Google Algorithm – I get a lot of traffic from Google, but all of these Penguin and Panda updates over the past year make my traffic look like a roller coaster.  Seriously, sometimes the algo update makes my traffic go up and sometimes it goes down.  The good news is I’m currently entering one of those upswings!  In the past it’s been more of a steady climb with a tail off a the end of the year.

Seriously how do you handle tech problems?

Blog Statistics For 2012

2012 Stats
Google Analytics Stats 2012 – 174 Blog Posts

If you want to take a look at my past years stats then go back to my Pet Blogger Challenge 2012 Post.  It’s good to see my traffic increased by about 32% from last year.  I nearly averaged 100K Pageviews a month!  I guess 99K will have to do (it’s okay Wayne Gretzky #99 was one of my favorite hockey players).

That’s a quick look back at some of the happenings here on the Puppy In Training Blog.  Lots of great things happened in 2012 and I’m sure 2013 will be even better.

How did things go for you in 2012?  What was the number 1 goal you accomplished last year?  Tell us about it in the comment section below!

Top Picks For Our Puppies

    We Like: Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs - Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
    We Like: Mighty Paw Naturals Bully Sticks - All of our puppies love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Bully Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
    We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats - We use these as our high-value treats for our guide dog puppies.
    We Like: The Farmer's Dog - A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer's Dog.

Check out more of our favorites on our New Puppy Checklist.

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  1. Congrats on a great year! Good for you for expanding your comfort zone – it seems like it really paid off!! Cheers to an even better 2013!

    1. Thanks Julie! I’m glad I reflected on the year because I didn’t realized I got so much done. This year I think I need to work on organizing my time a little better.

  2. Well done on branching out and becoming more “social” on the blogging front! Its a big step!
    Our first guide-dog puppy, Volt, has been in training since mid-October 2012 (at The South African Guide-dogs Association) and is doing well. He’s super strong and super energetic and LOVES other dogs, but his trainer says so far so good. He’s supposed to graduate around April 2013- if all goes well- and when he does we will walk another SAGA pup.
    We also adopted a Labrador from SAGA who was born with pupils that don’t react to light and are fully dilated all the time. This meant there was no way he could go into any kind of service training and SAGA opened applications for adoption to their volunteers. We named him Riddick, after the Vin Diesel character, and he has crawled deep into my heart!

    1. Thanks! I have my fingers crossed for Volt. Dublin’s graduation last year was definitely one of our big highlights.

      Riddick is a great name for your dog! Will you be raising another guide dog this year? We’re looking into raising a Service Dog this year and hopefully that will start sometime withing the next few months.

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