So I’ve been running behind on my blog! I’m roughly eight posts behind, and this cute little creature is responsible for most of that:

MoMo, named so after her floopy ears - similar to the character from Avatar the Last Airbender - is a German Shepherd mix who we adopted at 10 months of age from SPCA in San Francisco. When she came to us, she had just been neutered and, unfortunately, was recovering from bullet wounds.

She’s incredibly sweet and gentle, and even in her harshest moments never really barks so much as makes an adorable whine. Unless you’re a squirrel. Then she’s quite viscious :)

Overall, it’s been quite a roller coaster. The hardest part is just getting into a routine. Like remembering to always always always turn off the Roomba’s pre-scheduled cleaning routine whenever an adult is not in the home.

No seriously. Don’t forget.

Or when we had to take her to the emergency room twice in one week because she ate unleavened pizza dough, which is one of the most dangerous foods a dog can eat.

However intense having cats can be - and it can be intense - having a dog is a lot more on a day to day basis. Below are the following lessons I’ve learned from having a dog for… four months :)

  • Routine is absolutely vital. You can’t be sure your dog is potty trained until you’ve had no accidents for six months. Six months is a long time. We’re already positive MoMo is potty trained, and we haven’t even had her that long yet! But be wary - surprises can always happen. Dogs don’t have weekends. You really have to get up at the same time every day, and go to bed at the same time every day. Dogs thrive on routines.

  • Exercise is your lifeblood. Almost every single behavior issue a dog has is due to under-exercise. Your dog needs exercise, and plenty of it. Especially if you have a big dog. MoMo has an incredible amount of energy, and walks just don’t do it for her. She needs to go to the dog park and play with other dogs, or play fetch. It has to be something where she’s moving a lot more than me or Ahana, who just don’t have the energy to keep up with her.

  • Go to dog training school. It’s not that you can’t learn to train your dog from watching YouTube videos - you can, and there’s a lot of great channels out there. But going to dog training school is about training you to more effectively communicate with your dog, so that you can teach them better. We went to San Bruno Dog Training, and in just three sessions it was amazing how much better MoMo started to behave.

  • Establish limits early. Expanding limits is always easier than putting new limits on later. No dog has the privilege of accessing the entire house from the get go. Don’t allow them on the couch or the bed. These are privileges that they unlock as they settle in and become well behaved.

I think while cats become an addition to your life, dogs tend to become a lifestyle. Since getting a dog there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t walked 25,000 steps. I wake up every single day at 7:30AM now, weekends or not, long weekends or not. And I tend to go to sleep much earlier. Dogs are incredibly social, and while cats get lonely, too, dogs have an overwhelming need to constantly be with you.

It’s easy to get frustrated, but it’s important to remember that everything you’re doing with your dog is learning to communicate. Dogs have been bread to listen to and obey humans, but they still have to learn you, and you have to learn them.