If your situation allows, adopting a dog as a college student can be a very rewarding experience. This is especially true given new research showing how dogs benefit stressed out college students. But becoming a dog owner while attempting to get a degree can also be challenging, so here are a few things you must consider beforehand.
Having a dog is expensive. According to a number of sources, buying a puppy and caring for him in the first year of his life will cost you up to $5,270. Of course, you can choose to adopt a puppy or even an adult dog, which will reduce the initial cost. But you still need money for the living expenses and basic things for your Fido.
Buying a dog. Purchasing a pet from a breeder will probably cost you more than $1000. Adopting a dog comes with an adoption fee, which is different depending on the shelter and your location. However, the adoption fee usually ranges from $50 to $100.
Initial expenses. You will have to buy food and supplies for the pet, like a dog crate, kibble and treats, and food/water bowls, a collar, a leash, toys, and more. The cost of these things will depend on the quality, but you can count on spending at least $150.
Ongoing expenses. Food and regular vet checkups will require at least $200 for a year. Add grooming for some breeds, unexpected vet visits, training, vaccinations, and so on. You will certainly need a budget of at least $500 for a year for dog's well-being needs.
Your Living Arrangements
If you are living in a dorm, you need to check what are the rules about pets on your campus. Even though most colleges in the US are not pet-friendly, that is starting to change and you might be able to bring a dog into your dorm. However, just because you can get a pet into the dorm doesn’t mean you should. You need to consider how much space you can provide for this canine.
If you live in an apartment, check with your landlord if you are allowed to have a dog. Even if your lease says that it is pet-friendly, confirm this with the landlord if there are any restrictions when it comes to breed or size of the dog. If you have roommates, make sure that they agree with you getting a dog.
Your Social Life and Time
Having a dog is a responsibility that will take a lot of your time. The dog must get enough exercise and needs play time as well. Since you probably have classes during the day, that means dedicating yourself to your pooch in the evenings. Are you prepared to put your dog in front of your social life and miss parties, going out or weekend trips?
Caring for a puppy will require even more time. Puppies need to be taken for a walk more often for their bathroom breaks. Adult dogs can wait for 8 hours before they need to do their business, but young puppies can’t hold for longer than 2 hours. Also, puppies require training and that can sometimes last longer than you expect, even months in some cases.
College is a stressful time for many students, but your dog won’t care about your finals or projects. You need to be prepared to take your dog out for a walk even if you don’t feel like doing it.
Consider emergency vet visits. Do you have a way to transport your dog to the vet in case something goes wrong? Public transport may not allow dogs or there may not be enough time to wait for it; if you don’t have a car, you need to make other arrangements. Always have a plan in place on how to get your pet to the vet quickly.
Traveling and Breaks
Students often love being spontaneous and traveling a lot. If you want to do it, you must find a reliable person that will take care of your pet in this case. Other situations, like internship assignments for example, also require a caretaker.
However, if you plan to travel quite a bit during your school breaks or want to study abroad, hold off on getting a dog. Having one plan is not enough, things often can and will go wrong. Have multiple backup plans and options when you leave your pooch in someone’s care for a long time.
All things considered, if you still want to adopt a canine and you're positive none of the above will become an issue, you have to choose the best breed for you and your college life. This depends on many factors, such as your living situation and your budget, but if you are free to choose any breed, here are some tips to consider your lifestyle and what breed suits you based on the breed’s personality, level of maintenance required and size.