When you go off to college, there’s a tidal wave of emotions that come with leaving your home. Excitement that you are finally leaving and gaining some independence; apprehension when wondering if you’ll make friends or even how to make friends; hesitating when deciding the major that’s right for you; enthusiasm when shopping for the belongings for your dorm room. Going to college is as wonderful as it is scary.
However, after you’ve been away from your family for a while, there’s a good chance that you’ll get a little homesick. I know that I definitely did. I missed more than just the human part of my family. I realized that having dogs in my home was something I took for granted. During the second semester of my freshman year, I went home as often as I could. That’s when I decided that during my second year in college, I wanted to live with a dog.
DECIDING IF YOU SHOULD GET A DOG
Because I was going home so often, I knew that I would put the time into taking care of a dog. As most parents have said when their kid begs them for a pet, “Taking care of a dog is a lot of responsibility,” and this is especially true if you get a new dog. You need to carve time from your day to exercise, train, potty, feed, and play with your dog. When you are also taking classes, going to club activities, working, and trying to hang out with friends, balancing all of that with getting enough sleep is nearly impossible. Owning a dog is like being in a committed relationship. You go on dates (walks), you spend a lot of time together (training and sleeping), maybe get into an argument now and then (somebody decided to eat the trash), but you are irrevocably loved. And that is what makes it worth owning a dog in college.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Making the decision to get a dog is kind of like going off to college – exciting and scary. There are a couple of things to keep in mind before making the final jump. Dogs, especially young dogs, need training. They will need to be housebroken, to learn to stay in a kennel while you are gone for classes and activities, and also learn to stay quiet. Teaching your dog not to bark is a big deal, especially since most apartments don’t tolerate noisy dogs. Another thing to consider is how much dogs cost. The initial price of a dog may not be too high, but think of everything else that you need to provide for them: food, toys, bones, vaccines, spay/neuter, kennels, collars, leashes… the list goes on and on.
Whew! That kind of throws a damper on things, doesn’t it? Getting a dog brings a huge amount of joy, but it is critical to remember that you are in charge of caring and providing for this lovely creature.
DECIDING WHAT KIND OF DOG TO GET
If you’ve decided you’re definitely going to own a dog in college, you might also want to consider what kind of dog you are going to get. The most important thing to determine when buying a companion is to find a dog that suits your lifestyle. If you are a very active person, then getting a dog that could go on runs and go hiking with you is important. If you are a relatively inactive person, then find a dog satisfied with sleeping next to you and keeping you company. It would be no fun if your dog flopped down during a run because he didn’t want to run anymore. Just like how it would throw a wrench in your day if while you’re writing a paper, your dog is zooming around your apartment. All dogs need exercise and training to some extent, but it differs depending on the individual – just like people. Take the time to research different breeds’ characteristics. If you’re looking at rescuing a dog, then make sure you talk about the dog’s normal routine with the workers at the shelter.
When you’re in college, there are going to be days you simply don’t have time to exercise your dog. There will be days you are running late, or your dog makes a big mess and you don’t have time to clean up. When it comes to these kinds of things, relying on the people around you is key. If your roommate is just as invested in your dog as you are, they won’t mind helping out and sharing the responsibility. Parents are also very helpful – in general and with dogs. During finals and midterms, I would visit home to drop off my dog for my parents to take care of so I could focus on my studies. Incorporating hanging out with both friends and your dog at the same time helps. Instead of sitting and talking, take your dog on a walk with friends to chat.
Owning a dog in college is incredibly rewarding, and it’s great to have such a big fluffy stress reliever at home! But fear not, even if you don’t have the time, energy, or money to afford a dog in college, you can still be around dogs! If you need some fluffy stress relief, you can volunteer at a humane society on a regular basis. Or, if you just want that once-in-a-blue-moon sort of visit, you can visit a local dog park.
How many of you want(ed) to own a dog in college? Did you own a dog in college? Let us know what you think in the comments down below!
*All photos credited to @endeavorsofego
Erika Newcomb is a full-time college student with a passion for pooches! She’s been training dogs for over 13 years and has been teaching agility classes for the last 3 years. As part of the behind-the-scenes support for @endeavorsofego, she can often be found brainstorming photo ideas and playing with Ego.