People call dogs “man’s best friends” because of their loyal, kind, and giving nature. For college students, they can help us stay calm, focused, and bring a whole bunch of fun into our lives. Getting a dog while in college can be a challenge but well worth it when you think and plan ahead. In honor of National Puppy Day, here’s what you need to know about owning a dog in college.
You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s worth saying again: getting a dog is not a decision to be made lightly. Dogs are forever pets, not pets that you keep until you get tired of them. And with good love and care, some dogs can live upwards of 15 years or more. Now that’s a commitment!
Before you get a dog while in college, you have to think ahead to the future. If you plan on going into a career that demands a lot of you (such as med school or a high-pressure law firm), having an animal that needs lots of attention and exercise may not be for you right now. Living in a city where space is limited, especially dog-friendly space, can also be a challenge that could affect your decision.
You may also want to consider the sacrifices you might have to make, such as not staying overnight or needing to pay for someone to watch your dog if you go away on Spring Break. If you live near home (and your parents are all on board with your new pal), this may not be a huge deal.
Regardless of your situation, be sure to think your decision through. Once you’ve made up your mind, it’s time to find the perfect pup.
Finding Your Companion
Not every dog makes a good dog to have in college. Those cute, cuddly toy dogs can have a lot of health issues, while large dogs will, of course, need tons of exercise and outdoors time. When looking for the right breed for you, do your research. Find a dog that matches your personality, whether that be a couch potato, or the sporty and spunky type. In addition, be sure you check your apartment’s regulations on certain breeds to avoid any surprises.
With the logistics and your future considered, it’s time to find your newest friend. First and foremost, go rescued! Dogs in shelters or held through rescues are just as good as those you would purchase at a pet store or through a breeder. The only difference is they may need a second chance. In fact, the majority of dogs are not abandoned because they are “bad” but because their owners couldn’t care for them. Giving a dog a second chance at family and love can be one of the most rewarding things you can do.
Living With Your Pup
You’ve found your forever dog, and you two couldn’t be happier! But don’t just settle in, there’s work to do. Just like you, your dog needs an education with proper and professional training. Even if you adopt an older dog, they will need to learn how to communicate with you so that problems don’t arise later on.
In addition to training, be sure you plan your dog’s schedule around your classes as best as possible. For example, if you know you have a ton of morning classes, start getting up at least an hour early to handle your dog’s needs. If you have night classes, consider paying a dog walker to make sure they get their last walk of the night when you’re too busy.
There will also inevitably be vet visits. You’ll need to read up on your pet’s specific health needs, along with vaccinations. Don’t delay these as many dogs come down with deadly illnesses such as heartworm because their owner forgot a treatment or thought it wasn’t important enough to get.
Just like you, your dog will need lots of love and care. But together, you both can get through your college years with a friendship that will last a lifetime!