Monday, 21 July 2014

An introduction to needle felting

So to practise for a possible online TV show (nothing written in stone, dont get too excited) I decided to make a series of needle felting tutorials. Here is the first one, an introduction to the equipment needed to needle felt
I hope you all like it, if you are interested in trying felting I also included some links to some of the shops I use for my felting supplies

http://www.winghamwoolwork.co.uk/
www.mohairbearmakingsupplies.co.uk
http://www.worldofwool.co.uk/
http://www.glasseyesonline.com/

and of course please have a look at my Etsy Shop if you are interested in your own felted sculpture or my bookmark tutorial

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Etsy and Google SEO's - trying to improve the Shetland Pony Sculptures ranking

So for the past year in my Etsy shop I have been working really hard to learn Etsy SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
And I really feel that I have got quite a good grip on that, I can take an item, think of the important tag and get that item to the front page of the search every time I have tried it. I have tested my methods on my shop many times and on family and friends shops (If anyone would be interested I can do a tutorial on this, just request it in the comments)

That has been really great, my views are 5 times what they were a year ago and sales are way way better

But I was thinking
This is only really bringing in people who are already on Etsy
What we REALLY want is to hit that massive market of people searching for things on Google, that would help everyone with a shop as it gets Etsy known.

So I decided to focus on one easy tag and see if I could get it to the front page on google

My first thought was to try and optimise this item
Needle felted Shetland pony 
And to use the tag 'Needle Felted Shetland Pony'
So I went onto Google to see where my starting position was there and I hit a bit of an unexpected problem (in a good way) For that search that image comes up 2nd in google images and in the first 3 hits my horses in my shop are in two of them :D 
A fab problem, without trying on a specific term like that my wee pony is doing great :) 

So it seems SOME Etsy SEO does help a whole lot with Google SEO

Great start

OK so lets pick a wider search


So searching that I am quite amazed to see this listing is 2nd down on page two and it is on the first page of the images

So far so good :) It seems that Etsy SEO isnt quite so horrible for Google SEO - but still I am getting no clicks from Google so lets see if we can improve that position and get some traffic.


So here are my stats for this week
7 Views!! 
71 Favourites (I was involved in a hearts game) 
All views came from Etsy with the tags 'horse' or 'horse sculpture'

So lets see if we can improve that focusing on the tag 'Shetland Pony Sculpture'

First thing I have done you can see ^^ up there the line 'Shetland Pony Sculpture' is a click-able link

Horse Sculpture
Shetland Pony Sculpture
And on this image the Title and caption is 'Shetland Pony Sculpture' and its clickable back to my shop. I am just about to pop over to my shop and try and focus my tags for that search too.

This is where everyone else comes in, can you share my tag and link? and let me know where in the comments below and I will share what you want and try and help each other

The more we help each other to drive traffic to our shops the more traffic we drive to Etsy itself and that is good for all of us :)

Im off to share this everywhere I can :) I will let you know the results and what else I learn about Google SEO



Sunday, 13 July 2014

Why dosent the dog just move away?

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152936315227506
In a group I am in people are chatting about this video (sorry Im not sure how to put it up here so just click the link)

It is a confusing video, to start with it looks like the dog is really enjoying licking the baby, when the baby moves there are loads of signs from the dog that he is not wanting the baby there, leaning away, ears back, whale eye etc
But the argument most people use is that the dog must be happy because there is nothing stopping him moving away

This really got me thinking
I often say to Ben 'you can just move away' when a male dog gets a little over friendly with him, even if the other dog is on the lead Ben will not just move away, instead he will start giving out warnings. I try and step in before this point but sometimes Im not quick enough and he starts freezing, whale eye, lip wrinkles, growls and sometimes even a air snap

I actually dont think dogs see an option to move away - all their signs is to tell the other dog/animal to move away
The only time I can think of I have seen a dog move away is actually in fear (and even then only some dogs move away due to fear, many more try and make the other thing go away)
Its almost like moving away is an apology so the dog being 'wronged' is not going to say sorry, he is going to make the other dog (baby) do that

So please do not assume your dog is OK with something because they havent chose to move away - perhaps they dont see the option of actually moving away

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Why I am pledging to try and stop supporting abusive dog training methods

Hopefully the title should be a little shocking to those of you who have been following me for a while as I am loud and proud about my stance as a force free trainer.

But sadly I have just realised that I also support abusive training methods without meaning to.

Today on a facebook page someone asked why there are no videos or advice out there to help people in a force free way to deal with real world problems like aggression, food guarding, jumping up etc.

I think most of us to start with were thinking 'of course there are, there are thousands of videos out there'

and there are

But if you dont know to search for 'force free' ' positive' or even 'clicker' then when you search the vast majority of things that you will find will be fairly abusive methods.

This is because of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Something I have been looking at lots to try and improve my Etsy Shop
There are thousands and thousands of dog training articles and videos online, so when you search for one the search engine has to decide which are the most important and most relevant  to show you first.

Every search engine is different and they change their algorithms all the time but there are a several common things that are likely to make something rank higher.

(in no particular order)
1. How close the title matches the exact terms you searched for
2. How close the tags (metatags, labels) match the exact terms you searched for
3. How active the site is/how recently it was updated
4. How many people have viewed the page
5. How many inbound links are there to that page
6. How relevant to the subject is the website the inbound links come from
7. What terms are used on the inbound link
8. How many people 'liked' the page


1. - exact terms
If you just search for 'dog training' then there will be thousands of pages with that term in the title, most search engines will rate more highly a page that has the exact words in that order 'Dog Training' above another page that had them in a different order - for example 'Learn all about dog training' would rate way higher than 'Training for your dog'.  The position of where the words appear in the title can also make a difference 'Dog training advice' will rate differently than 'advice for dog training' not always higher tho

2. Tags
Very similar to the titles, the person making the page can add in tags for SEO, phrases tend to be better than single words - so 'Dog' and 'training' will be less effective than 'Dog training'

3. Activity - makes sense - you are less likely to want a site from 10 years ago that has not been updated since

4. People viewed - again this suggests an active popular place

5. Inbound links - this is you and me linking our friends to pages we like

6. Relevant inbound links - this means on some search engines they will rate more highly a dog trainers linking to a dog training page than a hairdresser

7. Terms on the inbound link. For me to link to my shop I can add the link to any word or group of words. Linking to the word Link would be less relevant than linking to a phrase like Needle Felted Custom Dog Sculptures   (yup shameless plugs)

8. In places like youtube and etsy things are rated higher the more people like them


So
We are all helping increase the SEO of abusive dog trainers every time we link to a video and go 'ewww this is so cruel and horrible'
and the more we have built up our profile and followers the 'better' our help will be in actually pushing that horrible page more to the top of a search

And very sadly it appears that every time we post something 'horrible' thousands of people click on it, comment on it and share it
But when something nice and positive is posted far far less people click on it or interact with it at all.

So we are giving extra help to the cruel training methods SEO.

I used to believe it was important to comment and share all these videos so the public could see it wasnt the only way to train.
Now I see by doing that I am making these things MORE into the public eye and pushing out all the wonderful positive things out there.

We need to stop giving these people free publicity.
Reward the positive videos and articles, share them, comment on them and create them ourselves
That way when someone looks for something on a particular problem they are more likely to find the positive solutions
Then if they try them they are less likely to have a problem dog and less likely to be tempted by the more abusive methods.

Lets be positive in getting rid of abusive training methods
Reward good articles and videos by helping peoples SEO, Watch, like, comment and share
Show alternatives to the abusive methods and ignore them, dont click on them, then slowly they will start to go away

Friday, 2 May 2014

Fuzzies on holiday











Some of my fuzzies escaped for a wee holiday. A lovely lady did a photoshoot of them. You can see more of them on my facebook page (feel free to like it and to share any of these amazing photographs) and some of these are on my Etsy shop. Please contact me if you would like a fuzzy made just for you

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Cesar Millan is the last chance for dogs - he saves them

I dont intend this as a 'bashing' post more a place to compile some information together to counter when someone comes to me with the line that Cesar Millan saves dogs.

It is actually quite difficult to get follow up news on any of the dogs featured in his show as all the owners are known to have to sign a non disclosure form so they cant speak about the show after it.

But there are some follow ups out there

Shadow



This is one of the first episodes I ever saw. It shows many examples of why I dont like Cesar Millan. Firstly he threads the lead through the handle so he effectively has a noose round Shadow. He ignores all Shadows good behaviour when he isnt shouting at the other dog and keeps taking him closer to get a reaction (this is called 'setting him up to fail' you can train without doing this) and even then the reaction is not impressive enough so he kicks him in the guts while tightening the lead at the same time, he then fights with shaddow until Shaddow 'gives up' (possibly due to lack of air) He is also causing the border collie lots of stress being barked at like this. Later he 'floods' Shaddow with dogs very close to him forcing him to put up with them - but when you look at the poor dog you can see he isnt in any way happy to be in that situation, he does not fear dogs any less he just fears Cesar Millan more.
Here is a follow up on Shadow, this is from the woman who originally fostered him and made the mistake of giving him to this family to adopt. First point is with her Shadow had no issues, they only arose from aggressive training methods. Shadow was NOT fixed with this show and the owner was talking of getting him put to sleep when the fosterer got her to hand him in, then after rehab he was again a loving dog

Cesar Millan did not save this dog, the dog didnt have any problems before, CM type training methods caused the issues and CM's attention did not fix the dog - the owner gave him up

Other links about this dog

JonBee



JonBee was a rescue who had had horrible wounds on his neck, he had NO ISSUES except that he did not like to be rolled on his back inside the house on the slippy wooden floor . JpnBee very much does not look calm or relaxed after being pinned to the floor - and there is no reason to have to pin a dog on the floor, if you need them to show their tummy for medical attention then teach them to roll over - its a fairly basic trick. There are conflicting reports about what happened to JonBee after this - possibly he was rehomed, possibly the owner was planning to rehome him anyway as he was rescuing and rehoming dogs, and I saw one report where he kept the dog
But CM's methods did not 'FIX' this dog, those methods created the problem in the first place

Jake




Again follow up on Jake is difficult to find, I have been told that it was mentioned in his book that Jake was put to sleep - if anyone knows if this is true or not can you let me know? 
Again this is very distressing to watch, the dog has had such little socalisation that he is basically a wild animal. Many many wild animals have been tamed with time and love and lots of food - never by pinning it to the floor till it gets tired of struggling. This method is only good for getting people bitten

Holly





Holly is NOT a bad dog at all, she has food guarding issues which is something trainers and behaviourists deal with every day of the week without anyone getting bitten 
 
In the above video you can see Holly has been taken away from her loving home and is living at Cesar Millans centre. I dont know what happened with her afterwards - but there was no reason for this, food guarding is a common issue and can be dealt with without anyone getting bitten

Duelling PitBulls



In this episode a couple who had no issues with their dogs fighting sent them away to residential training to help with their obedience. The dogs came back fighting. This in itself is a big worry and I would like to know what happened to the dogs with that other person. They then tried several punishment methods and resorted to Cesar Millan. He meets with them and agrees they have a problem - and then waits 1/2 a year before he takes one dog away to his centre to help them.
Sadly again his methods fail and the two are still fighting at the end - and so CM actually just offers them a different dog from his centre 
That is not fixing or saving dogs - just swapping a loved family pet for a strange dog???


Cotton 



The show leaves Cotton looking like he is 'fixed' but the sad truth is CM's methods dont work for everyone, they look 'easy' on the TV but even CM gets bitten sometimes. Cotton is an example that once the dog has a bite history they are difficult to rehome and once the cameras go away its not always possible to keep up what CM started 
Here we see in the end his owners have to resort to having his teeth filed down. This is very sad because it means the poor dog is still as scared and stressed as ever, he is not 'fixed' he just cant hurt people.

And Here we see even filing his teeth down did not of course 'fix' the problem 



Cesar Millan isnt the last chance for dogs, thousands of qualified behaviourist, dog trainers, rescuers and owners are helping dogs just as bad as the ones seen here, they are doing it quietly without getting bitten and without having a battle with dogs 
He is not the last chance, his methods are dangerous, stressful and should not be an option at all for any dog

Here is another good article by someone who had experience with him 


Thursday, 27 March 2014

Pets at Home to Stop Selling Cesar Millan Books

I opened my facebook this morning to the best news

**ANNOUNCEMENT**

Based on customer feedback, we're removing all Cesar Milan books from our stores and they will no longer make up part of our book range. The transition will take a few weeks, so you may still see these in some stores.


Now I know a lot of people will be confused by this as to why it is a good thing and why there is such dislike for Cesar there are some useful links in the following pages

http://www.dogwelfarecampaign.org/
https://www.4pawsu.com/dogpsychology.htm

I know most people who follow his methods are not cruel to their dogs, they follow the principles in his training that are fairly common to all dog trainers, being consistent and making sure the dog has adequate exercise.
These things are fantastic

Then there is the middle ground of 'not so good but not in itself doing harm' where people hear that just about everything they dont like that their dog does is because he is dominant
and if the rank reduction methods are nothing more than stopping the dog get on the sofa or eating before them then its not really cruel - and to an extent it does work, not because suddenly the dog thinks you are 'Alpha' but because suddenly you are doing some kind of training with your dog, you are giving them some rules to follow

When it starts to become bad is when because you think your dog is dominant  and that is a 'bad thing' that must be stopped you start seeing your dog in a negative light
You assume he should magically 'know' how to walk nicely on a lead, keep off the sofa (that he was once allowed on) and worse still - not ever communicate wants, needs, likes and dislikes.
You are only now looking for the 'bad' in your dog so you can suppress it, you ignore the 20min when he is walking nicely on the lead to focus on the 30s when he lunged at the cat
You ignore the evening lying quietly on his bed to focus on the 2 barks at the door.
This is stressful for YOU to always see your dog in the negative, you are missing many opportunities to teach your dog the things you DO want them to do, and it is very stressful to the dog who suddenly sees you angry all the time and dosent understand why.
Again these methods do seem to 'work' this is because punishments suppress behaviour, they get depressed and give up trying to do things, the most dangerous of these things is punishing a dog for growling. It seems to make total sense - the dog must be challenging you by growling - so you punish it, eventually the dog gives up growling
The problem here is you have dealt with the communication NOT the actual problem
Growling is the dog telling you he really dosent like something, it is a warning
If you punish the warning it will go away - but the dog still dosent like the thing he was warning you about
Now he dosent have the option to communicate, you think he is 'fixed' and keep putting him in the situation that is very stressful for him.
So the best side of that method is he is very stressed - the worst thing is that some dogs will reach their breaking point and knowing growling dosent work then they will move right to the attack - without any warning.

If you see the communication as  'good' and help your dog to like the thing then the growling will go away
 






Monday, 24 March 2014

How I built my Centaur


 I thought some of you might like to see some stages in one of my latest sculptures

The Centaur

I started building a base out of pipe cleaner then creating the shape of the horses body and a start of the mans torso in core wool



 Making a face worried me as I havent really done many human(ish) faces before so I decided to work on this next. I gave him blue glass eyes

Then I worked on his torso
If Im making a man I might as well have a man with a 6 pack :) it was fun trying to figure how muscles would work on a body like this



 Hands were freaking me out so I chickend out and added the colour to his body and spent a very long time making sure he was very firmly felted and balanced on his 3 hooves (it was tough to get him to stand up well)
Finally I built up the guts to try the hands - the scale is so tiny and I wanted his hands to look realistic with 4 fingers and a thumb on each hand

I am quite happy with how they worked out - I came up with a cheety method, I will make a tutorial of that soon













I then worked on his rustic wooden spear and added his hair


The hair looked very wrong to me so adding a little grey brought him more to life (and people say he looks a little like Billy Connely now)





Then a little tidying up and my project that has taken the longest time to date was ready for his photoshoot

I am quite happy how he turned out - not 100% happy, I never am :) but he is similar to the guy I saw in my mind before I started

He is up for sale in my needle felting shop

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Recall - can you see what they are thinking about?







Just for a bit of fun I thought I would shoot of a few photos right at the moment I called my dogs from a down stay
It seems pretty clear that the instant Ben is called all he thinks about is grub :D and Mia seems to be trying to check out what he is eating 

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