June 2018


Welcome back to our Instagram 101 Series! Ever hear and wonder what people are talking about when you hear the term “stories” in relation to Instagram? Looking for a way to boost your Instagram account’s engagement? Have a fun photo or video that you want to share, but don’t necessarily want to post it to your main feed? If you’re looking for a fun way to share content, Instagram stories is exactly what you are looking for.

What are Instagram Stories?

Instagram created “stories” to directly compete with it’s visual sharing competitor, Snapchat. Instagram Stories are photos or short video clips that are posted on your account for 24 hours. After 24 hours, your story disappears from your account. You may have seen those circle icon at the top of your home screen. These are other people’s stories. As they upload, you will continue to see them at the top of your page. To watch someone’s story, simply click on the icon. Stories will continuously play and switch to the next user until you close out of the page.

Photo Credit: FonePaw

Why You Should Post Stories?

Stories are a great way to share content that you may not typically share on your mainstream feed. Often, stories are also used to share the “behind the scenes” of your daily adventures, promote products, promote blog posts or even used to alert followers when you put a new post up. There’s no wrong or right way to use stories, use them as you see fit for your account.

How to Post A Story

Posting your first story can often be daunting, but it’s actually just as easy as posting a photo or video onto your Instagram feed. Once you’ve posted a story or two, you’ll be a pro in no time!

To begin, open your Instagram account and make sure you are on the “home” tab, which is located in the bottom left hand corner and looks like a house icon.

Once you’re on your home page, click on the camera icon, which is located in the top left hand corner of your account. This will open the camera on your phone. Instagram allows you to have the option of taking a photo or video and uploading it or you can upload a photo or video from your phone’s gallery that you previously took.

To take a live photo or video, simply tap the large white button at the bottom of your screen for a photo or hold that white button to take a video. Instagram allows your story videos to be 15 seconds or less. If you choose to upload a photo or video that you have previously taken, simply tap the far left box. You will see your latest photo from your phone’s gallery here.

Once you’ve taken your photo or uploaded your content, click the “send to” button and then “share”, followed by “done”. Voila, you’ve created your first story! 🙂

Text, Stickers, Gifs & More!

While you can leave your story as is, but just as you write a caption for your main feed post, you will probably want to write a caption for your story to let your followers know what is going on in your story. Overlaying text on top of  your story is just as easy as posting. Once you’ve taken or selected your photo, tap the “Aa” icon in the upper right hand corner. Here, you will be able to type a short caption and choose your font. In addition to writing a short caption, you can also tag accounts. If you tag an account in your story, your story will automatically be sent to the account you tagged so that they are alerted to your story as well.

A fun way to spruce up the appearance of your stories is by adding stickers and/or gifs. Gifs are moving emojis that can really capture a follower’s attention and add a little humor to your story. Again, once you’ve taken or selected your photo, simply tap the smiling sticker icon in the upper right of your story.

Here, not only can you add emojis and gifs, but you can also add facts such as your location, the time and the temperature. By adding your location, you can attract new followers that are around your area. You can be as precise as adding the exact location of any stores you are at or keep it generic in only adding the city or town that you are in.

Check Your Stats!

Just as you may check your insights for your Instagram posts, checking the insights on your Instagram story may be just as helpful when you are planning your content and/or working with a brand.

To check your insights, when on your home page of Instagram, tap your own story icon. Once your video starts playing or your photo pops up, you should see “seen by” in the lower left hand corner. This is the number of people that have seen your story. Tap “seen by” and a new page opens up.

Here, you can see exactly which accounts have viewed your story. To see deeper insights, simply tap the graph bar icon which will break down your interactions and discovery. Use this insightful tool to help determine which of your stories are most successful.

You can compare stories to see which stories have higher views and engagement. For instance, you may have higher views if you add #cutedog to your story versus just adding #dog. Play around with your hashtags and see what works best for you and your account. However, be sure to check your insights near your stories 24 hour mark. Just as the stories disappear, so will your stories insights.

All in all, Instagram stories, while meant to be an additional feature of Instagram, actually pack a lot of punch. Use stories to your advantage, whether that be showcasing a product you’ve been asked to share, sneak peeks of upcoming posts, sharing of blog posts, behind the scenes, etc. Allow stories to be yet another creative outlet for you to share your visual images with all your friends and followers.

Have any Instagram stories tricks to share? What makes your Instagram stories pop? Let us know in the comments below or share your thoughts with us in an Instagram story of your own. Don’t forget to tag our Instagram account @mybenebone so we see your story.

Just about all of us have seen Disney’s 101 Dalmatians and/or photos of dalmatians sitting proudly atop of a firetruck lending a helping paw. Sure, you may think you know dalmatians, but did you know how friendly, confident and intelligent Dalmatians truly are? One family in Houston, Texas is not only educating fellow dog owners about Dalmatians, but they are also a growing and popular Instagram account: @jackson_the_dalmatian. In this Fan Feature, you’ll get to know more about this beautiful dog breed and we also have Jackson’s Mom, Julie, sharing some of her photography tips!

If you’ve been following Jackson and his brothers, Heath and Bennett over the years, you know Jackson is the star of this handsome trio. If you are new to Jackson’s Instagram account, let us introduce you to the family: Jackson, who is now 3 years old, has lived with his Dad in Texas from the start of his puppy days. Jackson’s brother, Heath is a 4 year old Weimaraner that lived with their Mom, Julie, in Ohio until they moved down to Texas and married Jackson’s Dad.

After they were settled into their new home, Jackson and Heath welcomed a baby brother, Bennett, now a 1 year old Dalmatian.

While it was brotherly love from the start for Jackson and Heath, adding Bennett to the mix was a bit of a transition period for Heath. It took Heath about a month to adjust to having another younger brother in the house. At times throughout the adjustment period, whenever Heath would become agitated with Bennett, Jackson would recognize Heath’s irritability and interject himself in between Heath and Bennett. Yes, Jackson physically inserted himself in between Heath and Bennett! Julie believes that Jackson would do this to not only shield Bennett, but to also signal to Heath to calm down.

When we asked Julie why she decided to start an Instagram account for her dog, Julie said that initially it was set up to keep in touch with Jackson and share his puppy photos while she was still in Ohio and Jackson was in Texas. It was a way for Julie to stay connected to Jackson despite being thousands of miles apart. Instagram also provided Julie with a way to share Jackson’s puppy and growth photos with her family and friends. And while Julie had no plans on becoming Instafamous, she is continuously delighted to watch as Jackson’s following has grown to over 50,000 followers!

Instagram fame is not what keeps Julie motivated to post adorable photos of Jackson and his brothers. According to Julie, the most rewarding part of Instagram has been the connections she’s made with fellow pet parents. Instagram has allowed her to meet dog lovers both internationally and domestically that she would not have met otherwise. Julie and Jackson have also used Instagram as a way to meet local dogs within their Houston community. Setting up local play dates within your community is a great way to socialize your dog and make new friends.

Jackson and his brothers certainly reap the benefits of Julie working from home, as their typical day includes lots of time with Mom, going for walks, playing fetch and swimming in their pool.

And since Julie works from home, she is able to use the natural daylight, which she says is key for Jackson’s fantastic photos. It also helps that Jackson is a natural in front of the camera. Whenever Julie pulls out her phone or the camera, Jackson seems to naturally pose. It also helps that Jackson is highly treat motivated and knows that picture time equals treat time!

But, while Jackson is the ham of the family, Heath and Bennett are a bit camera shy, which is why they aren’t regulars on Jackson’s Instagram account. Since it can be a bit of a challenge to get all 3 boys to cooperate, Julie sprinkles in Heath and Bennett’s appearances occasionally.

For any newbie dog accounts or pet parents looking to take photos of their dog, Julie says that natural light is best to help showcase your dog’s eyes. For Jackson, much of his personality and expression is captured in his eyes. Another helpful hint from Julie is to have lots of treats and squeaky toys on hand to help grab your dog’s attention during photo time.

And yet despite all the love that Jackson receives, there can still be misconceptions about this breed. In the past, Dalmatians have had a reputation of being high strung, untrainable and not the best with kids. However, Julie says that she has never seen any of these qualities in her Dalmatians and that they are nothing but “confident, intelligent and outgoing”. A big part of Jackson’s outgoing personality is, in part, due to Julie socializing Jackson as much as possible with not only other dogs, but other people as well. Julie and her husband take Jackson to as many pet-friendly places as possible. So far, Jackson’s favorite so far seems to be the beach. Galveston Island to be specific.

Sure, Jackson has a lot of energy, but with the right amount of exercise and stimulation, Julie says it’s not unheard of for Jackson to nap the rest of the day away.

So next time you see a Dalmatian, look past all the spots and preconceived notions. These dogs are just as fun and loving as any other breed. Don’t take our word for it, give Jackson and his brothers a follow on their Instagram account to keep up with their adventures. This summer is sure to be packed with swimming and road trips. But, no wet grass. That is where Jackson draws the line! 😉


It’s that time of year! Time to dust off those hiking boots and hit the trails.

Photo Credit: @fen_the_aussie

Since we sadly cannot take our furry best friend to workout at the gym with us, we’ve seen an increase in dog owners taking their dogs out for a hike with them. Not every hike has to be miles long, a daily hike can be just as effective and fun. If the thought of exercising with your best friend isn’t intuitive enough, imagine all the beautiful photo opportunities you can take of your dog.

In anticipation of, Fen the Aussie, one of our favorite hiking friend’s big upcoming hiking trip, we rounded up some photos of other hiking dogs to showcase the wonderful time that these dogs and their owners have had on their hikes. And, if you have been inspired to hike with your dog, you can read Fen and his Dad Ryan’s helpful hike preparation tips here.

Photo Credit: @fen_the_aussie

We would love to see your hiking photos with your dog! Tag your hiking photos to any of our Twitter, Instagram or Facebook accounts with #benebone and you may see your hiking photo featured on our feed. Happy hiking! 🙂

Featured image:

Photo Credit: @mapletales

With winter finally behind us and spring weather in full effect, many dog parents have dusted off their dog’s leashes and started hitting the pavement. While it’s great to take daily walks within your neighborhood or local dog park, have you ever considered taking a long, multi-day hike with your dog? Hiking with your dog not only provides you both with great daily exercise, but your journey with your dog will grow your bond even more than you ever expected. Maybe a long hike is something you’ve considered but not really sure what to expect or how to prepare? Look no further, we’ve got guest blogger Ryan of @fen_the_aussie here to help you prepare for your next big adventure.

Ryan and his Aussie, Fen, have been hiking together for quite some time now, but their upcoming June adventure will be their longest hike to date. Ryan and Fen will be heading to New Hampshire to hike The Presidential Traverse Trail, which totals 20 miles in length and 9,000 ft. elevation gain! Obviously, this is not small feat and not a trail for amateurs but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aspire to take a hike like Ryan and Fen.

How to Prep For Your Hike

Before you set out on your adventure, you need to prep both yourself and your dog for your great adventure. It is important to clearly assess if your dog is physically fit for your desired hike. Depending on your location, you may want to plan your hike for early June or September to avoid the summer heat. It is helpful to know your dog’s tolerance and ability to handle warm days outdoors. For instance, Fen does not like hot summer days due to his thick coat and black fur. On the other hand, some dogs do great in summer heat and are eager to hike.

Much like any sporting or physical event, you will need to train before tackling such a long hike. Don’t let the word “training” discourage you. Training for a long hike is both fun for you and your dog. Much like a runner trains for a marathon by running shorter distances and building up to a marathon distance, you and your dog should take shorter hikes to build up to the multi-mile and multi-day hike. If you and/or your dog have not hiked in the past, you may want to consider using this season as your training season and take your big hike next year. I have been training Fen to build his cardio in anticipation of our big hike for about a year now. Endurance training for your dog should not be rushed, as they cannot communicate with us to tell us when they are feeling ill. Dogs are so loyal and want to please their owners so much that they will often push their bodies past their limit. While you can certainly take long walks around your neighborhood, but putting in time on a trail with a full backpack is going to do wonders for conditioning your body.

In advance of your hike, it is a good idea to have a wellness exam of your dog with your Veterinarian. Even if you believe your dog is in good health, it is idea to double check heart rate levels and your dog’s general health. This is also a good time to get a copy of your dog’s vaccinations to keep on hand during your hike. Typically, your Veterinarian’s office can print out your dog’s vaccine record on 1 sheet of paper, so this will not add any additional weight or take up extra room in your backpack.

Personally, I have Fen groomed a couple of weeks in advance of our hike. If your dog has long hair, you may want to consider having your groomer give your dog a shorter than normal haircut to help keep him cool during your hike. Ask your groomer to pay close attention to your dog’s paws and nails. Since your dog will be hiking for miles, you want to make sure your dog’s nails are cut with caution and any excess fur trimmed tightly to the pads of your dog’s paws.

What to Pack vs. What Not to Pack

Okay, Dog Moms and Dads, this isn’t like packing for your Florida vacation. You will be carrying everything you bring, so less is more! Yup, that means you won’t be able to bring your dog’s closet full of clothes, however, the views you come across will be so breathtaking that you won’t even miss all those outfits.

The basic items that you must take on your backpacking trip are: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, pillow, sleeping mat, camp stove, fuel, water filtration and food. The other items that are extremely important that you should pack are: rain gear, first aid kit, fire starter, flashlight and GPS/compass. Once you’ve packed and determined the weight of your necessary items, you can decide if you have any ability to pack unnecessary items, such as: your camera, tripod or camp chair. Keep in mind that the more hikers going with you,, the more weight that can be distributed between each hiker, which in turn, will possibly allow you to pack those non-essential items.

The basic dog supplies needed for Fen are: collar, leash, backpack, boots, food/water bowl, food, grooming comb and nail clippers. However, keep in mind that each dog is different and may require different items. Your dog may require special medications or your dog may wear a harness as opposed to a collar when hiking. Nothing is set in stone, but having the food and water basics are the most essential.

To pack for your actual hike, you should lay your items out in advance, weigh and test how reasonable it is to take all your items. Too heavy of a backpack will put extreme stress on your body. Ideally, you should take some smaller pre-hikes with your full backpack to not only get an idea of what you can safely carry weight wise, but this is also a great way to pre-condition your body for your long hike. This goes for your dog too! If you are planning to put a small backpack on your dog, you will need to test the weight of the backpack on smaller hikes with your dog. As we all know, dogs cannot tell us when enough is enough, so it’s important to be mindful of their body language. Pay close attention to heavy panting, any discomfort in walking and if your dog often stops on your walks with his backpack.

Where to Hike?

It is highly recommended to have your hike mapped out in advance. This will help you to stay on path and of course, help you avoid getting lost! If you are unsure of which path to take, there are many resources available to you. I like to use the site All Trails to map out my hikes. This site details trails by their length and elevation level so that you know what to expect on your hike and there are no surprises. Other helpful resources are hiking and backpacking magazines and of course, Instagram accounts. A simple Instagram search of #hiking can provide you with fellow hiking accounts and you can see where others have hiked near you.

Photo Credit: @watson_the_adventure_dog
Photo Credit: @fourleaf
Photo Credit: @breeze.e.bear

Once you’ve decided on your trail of choice, you will need to make sure that dogs are permitted on the trail and inquire about any required hiking/camping permits. Yes, some trails do require a permit before you set off on your hike.

How to Feed Your Dog During Your Hike

If your dog eats a dry kibble, this will not be difficult for you. Simply portion your dog’s daily meals and put them into ziploc bags. Fen is on a raw diet, which poses a problem, as I cannot bring a cooler to keep his food cold. During our hike, I will feed Fen dehydrated raw food. I will portion Fen’s meals and place each meal into a ziploc bag just as if it were dry kibble. However, 30 minutes before feeding Fen, I will pour some cold water into the ziploc bag to rehydrate his food before pouring it into the bowl for him.

I hope we have piqued your interest in considering a multi-day backpacking hike with your dog. Not only is it a great opportunity to get out, get some exercise and see some beautiful landscape, but it is also a great bonding opportunity for you and your dog. As long as you plan and train ahead of time, you can have a great time and build memories that will last a lifetime.

We would love to see your hiking photos and hear any hiking tips you may have. Please leave them in the comments below or share your photos to any of our social media channels: Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #benebone.