There are many ideas of what it’s like to own a dog in college, but what people do not consider is it’s almost like having a dog any other time of your life. The only difference is you are not 5 years old and your mother is not going to be there if the dog makes a mess. You actually have to take responsibility. So is it a good idea?
I believe if you get a dog that is on your level of responsibility and you can grow up some and not always put yourself first, then a dog is perfectly okay to have in college.
Here are a few notes I’ve taken on having a dog:
Shelter or no shelter? Let’s be honest, I could have chosen a purebred puppy that would have been the star of the apartment complex, but I wanted the dog to have a purpose. I do not bird hunt or do sporting events with dogs; therefore, a purebred is not necessary. I chose a shelter dog to give an animal a second chance. Also, shelter dogs come spayed/neutered, micro-chipped, and with first year shots for a reasonable price.
Choosing your dog is a big decision. Be honest with yourself about how much time, money, and energy you will have to put into this life-long decision. Rose is almost 3 years old, 50lbs, and fully house trained. She can go out for 30 minutes and stay in the house for up to 6 hours and not touch one thing. I take her out 3 times day and she is super calm in the house.
Be aware of maintenance, because while the dog maybe be free or cheap, the bills are not. Shots, flea and tick treatment, food, brushes, baths, beds, apartment fees, and more. These are usually a one-time fee or once a year fee, but be sure to have monthly income and money put back for your dog. Be aware a puppy may need more training or supplies while a mature dog is already set in their ways and is usually at a lower difficulty level.
Dogs are wonderful to keep you active and happy. Rose loves going outside and it makes me laugh when she catches every fly in the house, but there are moments when I want to lock her up and call it a day. Be aware that your emotions will fluctuate, but this is a commitment. Your dog’s actions generally reflect the owner.
Be prepared for hair EVERYWHERE unless you get a no shed dog. In that case, you will most likely fork out a good amount of money for grooming. If you do have a hairy dog, I put my comforter and sheets in the dryer before bedtime to get the hair off and I have carry a lent roller everywhere.
Find the simple things your dog enjoys to keep their attention. You do not need obnoxious toys or endless amounts of treats. Rose enjoys ice cubes, a good squeaky tire, the lake, and a car ride. Rose wants to be with us and that is where she is the happiest. She is not a dog that wants to be around dogs nonstop. She would rather hang out with the humans and she will be just fine. We do not force her to go to the dog park and make friends with all the dogs. It’s not realistic for her. She has her select few dog friends, but she keeps her small circle close.If you’re in college, make sure your dog is roommate friendly. You must be aware of how the people you are living with will feel about having a dog in the apartment. Most people do not care as long as there are not too many animals or if your dog is not messy. Though, some people do not like animals and you must respect this if you are living with them. If you live with someone who is not pet-friendly, talk to them and choose a dog that is quiet and low-maintenance.
One last thing to consider, in college we like to travel. Spring break, summer, weekend, or a random Tuesday night. It does not matter. We are free spirits and your spirit will not be broken if you get a dog. You CAN take your dog with you lots of places! I took my dog on a 7 hour road trip to Alabama for a week and a 6 hour road tip for the summer to Kentucky! Taking your dog can be fun and enjoyable. It forces you to get out and explore and to spend extra time with your fury companion. Just be sure to accommodate for the travels and make sure your dog is comfortable with long distance before. On the other hand, I understand when you just need a break. In this case, leave your dog with a family member or friend who knows your dog. If this is not possible, find a safe and comfortable boarder. Talk with the owner and explain your animal. Be prepared to spend around 20 dollars a night and pack your dog’s favorite items.
On the last note, having a dog is well worth it. I feel I saved her life and gave her a second chance. She helped me to understand how not all dogs are the same and induced my love for exploring unfamiliar places. She high fives, rolls over, and whines constantly. She loves to cuddle and will always be there after a long day. Sometimes, she makes the day even longer, but I’ve learned how to get over how I feel and put her well-being first. She’s a mess, but a wonderful addition to my life.