Dogs are a favorite writing topic of mine. I think I’ve written well over five dozen articles about dogs, on everything from health tips to activities for dogs to funny canine stories. I’ve always had a dog in my life, so I feel like I know a lot about them. But knowing dogs and knowing them well enough to write about them are, well, different animals, and it’s taken me some years to realize—and follow—the rules of dog writing.
Here's what I've learned about writing about dogs, although these rules are applicable to pretty much any writing field:
Don’t pretend to be an expert. Unless you have a degree or actual training in veterinary care, don’t assert expert opinions without verifying them. Instead, seek out a real expert, who can corroborate facts and impart sound advice for your articles and stories. Keep in mind that useful quotes from experts can enhance your writing and sales potential.
Personal stories are a hard sell. Just because I think my dogs are pretty special doesn’t mean anyone else will. Personal stories are fun to write, but most belong in a personal journal. There are a few exceptions, like those written specifically for back-of-book sections of magazines. You’re better off writing about issues that appeal to the dog community in general.
Find a new angle. Popular dog topics include breed information, health advice, dog equipment, training tips, vacationing with dogs, and more. Most dog topics have been covered over and over, but there’s always a different way to approach an idea—an undiscovered tangent or a fresh perspective. Find that new angle; that’s what readers (and editors) want.
Stay current. Like human society, the dog world is ever-changing. What might have been the answer to a canine health concern last year could be totally different this year. If you want your writing to be credible and trustworthy, it’s imperative that your research and information are up to date. Make the effort to dig up the most current, reputable material you can find.
Become familiar with the lingo. There are many ways to refer to a dog besides the word “dog,” including canine, pooch, pup, furry companion, and four-legged friend. Further, many dog people don’t like it when a dog is called “it” rather than “she” or “he.” Read up on dog lingo and the rules associated with it, and get comfortable writing—and sounding—like a dog writer.
Writing about dogs is an exciting field that has endless possibilities for ideas and opportunities. But knowing the rules of dog writing can make all the difference to your success—and sales.