The following is a guest post from Jemima Lopez. Jemima is a freelance blogger and writer who writes for Zen College Life, the directory of higher education, distance learning, and online degrees.
Owning a dog is a life changing experience. I grew up with dogs all my life and have fantasized about what breed of dog I would get once I lived on my own. So, when I moved away for college, I instantly started thinking about what kind of dog I would adopt and when I could do so. The plan had always been to adopt my miniature dachshund once I graduated from college and lived in a more permanent place. However, as things usually do, plans changed. When I was in my second semester of my senior year of college, renting a room in my friend’s condo (with a small yard), I adopted my miniature red dachshund. Owning a pet (as I would come to learn all the more clearly) is a serious responsibility and a wonderful experience to take on when you and your situation are ready. Before doing so, however, I took several important things into consideration.
Being a college student, one of the most important things to explore before you adopt your new best friend is your schedule. Do you have time for a pet? A new puppy requires a large time commitment. This can be challenging for a college student. If you find yourself rarely at home, always in class, at the library, on campus studying, at frat parties, or whatever else, a pet may not be conducive to your busy schedule. However, the college schedule does allow for a lot of flexibility which can be perfect for a new four legged friend. If you only have to be away from home for your classes and occasional other responsibilities on campus, getting a dog in college may be a good idea. After you graduate, you will likely work a strict nine to five job. This is not a good schedule to introduce a new dog to. So, if you think you can work your school schedule out so that your new addition will only be on his or her own for a few hours at a time, it may work very well. The flexibility of the college schedule may be just what you and your new pup need to learn the ropes. Just be sure to evaluate your time restraints and commitments carefully before adopting a pet.
Of course, money is another essential thing to consider before you get a dog (especially as a college student). As the cliché goes, most college students are depicted as being short of cash and living off of ramen noodles day in and day out. Whether this is actually the case or not, you need to explore your finances before adopting a dog in college. Dogs can be expensive and it is essential that you have enough money easily manage all of their needs. Take a look at your expenses, earnings, and savings to be sure that you have the means to support a dog. Dogs require food, toys, flea medication, heartworm medication, leashes, beds, vaccinations, health care, and more. Your pet doesn’t have to break the bank, but you do want to make sure that you will have enough money for any situation that might occur.
You should also carefully look into your living situation before you adopt your dog. Obviously, if you live in the dorms, you are probably not allowed to have a dog. If you live off campus, be sure that your home is pet friendly. This means you need to talk to the landlord or management if you live in an apartment or rental home. If you live with friends, you should absolutely discuss the idea of getting a dog with them. While your dog will be your own, he or she will be living in the same home as your roommates. Be sure that everyone involved is on board. Also, you should consider things like a yard, where your dog will go “out”, where they will stay when you are gone, and the size of your place and your potential dog. Be sure that you have a space that can be a happy and healthy living space for your pet. If you don’t have access to a private yard, be sure you consider how your pet will go “out” and where you can take them. Also, many rentals require pet rent or pet deposits. Be sure to factor this expense into your financial planning.
When I got my puppy in college, my flexible schedule and dog-friendly living situation proved to be a perfect set up. However, it was a major time commitment. I wasn’t able to stay out late with friends like I used to and I couldn’t go on spontaneous weekend trips as easily. These are all things you should consider before adopting a dog in college.