lessons from the dog park applied to my blog, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom

Lessons From the Dog Park Applied to My Blog … Changes A Comin’

Blogging is Just Like the Dog Park

It’s been nearly a year since I started my blog and as good a time as any to reflect and learn from this year of “drinking from a fire hydrant.”  I started my blog with a few goals in mind:

  • Learn about social media
  • Read a lot of children’s literature
  • Create a marketable brand

Half way through my year of blogging, my kids won out and we acquired a puppy and many hours were spent at the dog park.  As I reflect on my year of blogging, I realize that everything I know is from the dog park, or something like that, and I can and should apply this to my blog. Sounds plausible, doesn’t it?  Don’t you love it when all your worlds converge?

Lesson 1:  When you wander off, you need to be called back.

At KidLitCon 2010, I met the three women of the Merry Sisters of Fate, a critique and short story blogging group composed of New York Times #1 best selling YA author Maggie Stiefvater, YA newly published author of The Replacement, Brenna Yovanoff, and soon to be published YA author Tessa Gratton.  They were a seriously fun group and clearly push each other in their writing while having a blast.

I have my “crit” group, the CoffeeShopBloggers:  The S.O.S. for SEO, which went through several iterations before finally stablizing as group of three, each with an active blog, who push each other to blog better.  While we all have different goals for what our blogs are supposed to do, we are crazy-intense about learning to blog and to do it well.  We read each others blog posts, share SEO strategies, and serve as eyes that see the forest not just the trees.

So when I “wandered” off in search of a high value treat (let’s call that crack cocaine, a.k.a. traffic to my site — very similar, in fact, as both chase a high that must then be exceeded), they called me back and chewed me out.  No more “phoning it home.”  No more schizophrenic multiple posts a day akin to throwing shit against the wall to see what sticks.  They demanded order (i.e. editorial calendar), thoughtfulness, more of myself, and a lot more careful editing of posts (note that I am now re-editing all past posts to the tune of 20 a day).  They were right as usual.  Expect to see major changes by the soon, starting with less typos!

Lesson 2:  You Never Know Who Will Show Up.

There is just one dog park in my town that is officially off-leash and when we go at the same time of day, we tend to run into the same dogs.  See the picture above?  The Golden is mine (Wally) and the Corgi is Stubbles.  They are great friends.

My girls love to come to the dog park with me and have their own set of favorite dogs they like to play; they tend towards small dogs and the puppies. Stubbles is one of their favs.   Wally  has his own set of dog friends and when he sees a  dog he especially likes, they will  run to each other like in a scene from a movie.

This is the same for blogging in that I don’t know who shows up every day to my blog.  I can see a report on traffic but I don’t know who you are unless you leave me a comment.  And Google Analytics tells me that most of my traffic is new visitors.  I have my issues with Google Analytics but I feel like I hardly know ye!  I wonder, “Are you are here,  maybe by accident or for a particular post, but like a one night stand, we don’t meet up ever again.  Or call.  Or instant message.  Or even text.  Is this it for us?”  That is very sad for me.

At the dog park, I can solve this problem by turning up at the same time, same place.  For my blog, it’s called an Editorial Calendar.  Expect to see some consistency of features and I hope to get you, the reader, to participate in some of my new weekly features:

Monday:  Caught in the Act … of Reading

Please send me photos of your children reading and I’ll post them. If you want to include the book they are reading and if they’d recommend it to their friends and the age group, I’ll add that.  If they are upside down or in a tree house and yet still reading, I’ll DEFINITELY choose you!

Friday Find

I’m not exactly sure what the find will be but it will likely be something helpful, educational or just plain cool!

Teach Me Tuesday

Let’s learn together about topics of interest.  I will likely cover topics in education and parenting.  I’m still a little nervous about this cyber bullying problem so expect to see more on bullying.


I would love to create quirky lists with you.  The first one I propose is (and I’ll start it but I’ll need your help) is:

Top 100:  Boys in Children’s Literature That You’d Want Your Daughter To Date

And then let’s hope that life imitates art!  (And do you think putting this in color will help?  Testing… just testing!)

Lesson 3:  High Value Treats Work!

I will try to create posts jointly, with you, the reader.  I am hoping that your children might be interested in being featured in Caught In the Act …  of Reading where I will post, every Monday starting when I get some pictures, of kids reading.  This theme will switch to Caught In the Act … of Studying and … of Sharing, etc.  You get the picture!  But I am hoping that I’ll actually get pictures from you.  My email address is:  PragmaticMom.com@gmail.com.  Please send photos!

Lesson 4:  A Trainer is a Godsend.

The money we spent on a dog trainer was truly money well spent because we had no idea what we were doing.  Now our puppy comes when called (high value treats were the key here!), sits, lies down, and waits on command.  He still tugs on the lease and jumps up on people when he’s really excited but he hasn’t had an accident, knock wood, in the house in months!

A blogger needs professional guidance as well.  I went to my first blogging conference last month for bloggers passionate about children’s literature and it was money well spent.  Turns out that everyone in the room cared about children’s literature but also about creating content that was USEFUL.  As most of the attendees were professional writers, it goes without saying that their stuff was well written and typo free!  I will strive for less typos.  We started a swear jar with mom and dad putting in a buck for every bad word.  How about you help me with my typos and if you leave a comment with a typo/error to correct, I’ll send you a book?  Just include the age of your child and/or his or her approximate reading level to match it up for you.

Thank you to all my readers this past year. And thank you to the dogs that help socialize my dog.  I appreciate you coming to my site and hope that I will see you again soon!

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Melissa Gulley

    Ok – flippin amazing post! I am sending you pictures this weekend, can wait to catch my kids in the act. Usually in a position that I could not sustain for more than a second with out needing back/neck surgery. These are amazing ideas, can’t wait to follow!!!

  2. Terrific post. Thanks for sharing your learning with us (the collective, less-anonymous “us”). I started a blog, related to knitting & life, earlier this year and haven’t found my groove yet. I’m going to take your tips to heart.

    Part of my blog “discipline” (used very loosely) is keeping my camera close at hand. I’ll try to catch my kids in the act of reading – could’ve sent you a good one of my 15-year old son reading while waiting in the Children’s Hospital ER last Friday night, but alas, no camera (and only a relatively minor injury).

    You and I met at Down Under Yoga. I did some promotion and marketing for the opening of the new studio and am now working on marketing some of their new classes, especially for high schoolers and early morning offerings.

    • It is nice to see you again virtually. Thanks so much for coming to my blog and for offering pictures for my new feature. I am loving Down Under Yoga and will get the word out about the new classes. Thanks for your kind words also!

  3. I love dog parks. There was only one off-leash dog park back when I lived in the city, and I was lucky enough to live right across the street from it. I can clearly recognize what you’re talking about here.

    I happened to hit Coffee Shop Bloggers on a search this morning and I love it. Seriously, you are part of it? That is beyond cool. It is such an awesome idea to have a close-knit group to challenge each other.

    I’m really excited to see what happens, and I also wish you the very best of luck. Can’t wait!

    • Thank you for your kind comment! Yes, Capability:Mom.com and I run the CoffeeShopBloggers.com blog but we are assisted with content from DesignTrackMind.com and GreenCollarEconomy.com.

      There IS something magical about dog parks that I had no idea about until I got a dog. I should have taken my kids to dog parks years ago just to play with other people’s dogs and received dog advice on what kind of dog to get. Thank you for your good wishes! I hope to see you around here soon!

  4. Great post and I love the new format – so much fun! I love hearing about KidLit as I have yet to attend my first blogging conference – now maybe I will actually go to one! Many thanks for the share

  5. IsaaksofSalem

    Just read the blog for the first time, good SEO for this post and use of twitter.

    One typo (and I am not good at spotting them)
    “He still tugs on the lease and jumps up on people ….”

    Good luck!

  6. The “Caught in the Act” idea is fantastic! I love to find my kids fully engaged in a book. It warms my heart to see them truly enjoy the act of reading.

    I will send you a recent photo I took of my six-year-old reading Magic Treehouse: Haunted Castle on Hallows Eve. He had just returned home from school wearing a cute Halloween hat which he had crafted in art class. When he saw that I had purchased the book for him, he grabbed it and dove onto the couch to devour it. He looked so cute in his hat, that I had to sneak a photo of him. To my surprise, the click of the camera did not disturb him. It must have been an excellent read because he stayed there and finished the entire book within the hour.

    • Thank so you much MomsGoneGlobal.com! I just received your photo and I’ll put it up for Monday! I’m so excited 1) to actually get photos and 2) that your son is so excited to read!

  7. Liz Padula

    Nice post – your blog enticed me to reach out and meet up, so that is pretty cool. Just finished reading together tonight, Little Princess, just fantastic. A new favorite, more old-school recommendations wanted for my girl who loves the old-world style of books. I am finding it fun to read many that I had forgotten or never read myself!

    • It was so nice to meet you in real life. Thanks for reading my post! I will work on old-school Top 10 list for your daughter! Also, check out The Ordinary Princess, All-of-A-Kind-Family, Betsy-Tacy series, and The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. That should hold you until my list is done!

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