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What to Know Before Getting a Dog in College

     If you are thinking about getting a dog as a college student, there is a lot to consider. Although having a furry friend living with you may sound great, it is a huge responsibility to take on — especially because for many, not only are you a full-time student, but also a member of clubs, volunteer organizations, and possibly employment opportunities. After adopting a dog myself, I realized there were a lot of things I didn’t think about beforehand, and therefore, I compiled a list of the most important considerations to plan for. 


     Living Space

     One of the first considerations you must take in deciding whether you should get a dog, or any pet in college is whether your living space will allow it. Most apartments and leasing agencies will have a statement in their contract about if they allow pets, size requirements, and fees that need to be paid in order to keep one. You should think about where you live: is the actual living space suitable for the dog you are looking at? Smaller dogs may be easier to live with in an apartment, and a house with a yard may work better for a bigger and more active pet. 


     Roommate Agreement

     If you live with other people, you need to make sure you have their consent before getting any pet. If they are comfortable living with a dog, it is important to plan out who’s responsibility the feeding/care of the pet will be. Most adoption agencies will require you to bring your roommates when you meet the dog you are considering adopting. If this is not a requirement upon adopting or buying the dog, it is a good idea to bring your roommates anyway. Having all members of the household meet the dog ensures that everyone is comfortable living with the new family member! 



     Having a dog is big time commitment. Normally a dog will have to go out to the bathroom every 4-5 hours at the least. Depending on the age and activity level, your dog may need to go out more frequently to run/play or go on walks. My dog, Vin, gets restless if he doesn’t go on a daily walk and run in the dog park. After looking at your class schedule, and when you will be gone for work or other activities, you should consider if you will be home enough to care for the dog. Although some dogs may be able to go longer without needing to go outside, it is important that you have enough space in your schedule to spend quality time with your pet. 



     The size of the dog will determine how much food you need to buy. Depending on your budget, you should look at different food options beforehand, to see what will be best for the age/breed/size of the dog you are looking for. Many veterinarians and adoption agencies recommend different brands of food. Dog food can get expensive, so it is important to do research to make sure you can provide the balanced diet your dog needs. Dog beds, toys, and vet bills can also be unexpected costs when first looking to get a dog. Making a monthly budget for food and extra supplies can help you save money while also ensuring you have enough to provide for your pet. 



     After you’ve planned for getting a dog, it’s time to decide where you’ll get your furry friend! If you are looking for a specific breed, a breeder may be an option to consider. However, located extremely close to Baylor Campus is the Waco Humane Society. When you adopt a pet from here, they come with their vaccinations, heartworm check, and depending on the gender they will spay/neuter free of charge. I adopted my dog, Vin, here and I definitely recommend the experience! 


     When looking for a new furry friend, the key to having a happy and healthy lifestyle together involves reflecting on your living arrangements, schedule, and budget. Once you feel prepared, bringing a pet home is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting and joyful experiences that kick starts a bond that will last a lifetime! 

Hannah Cotton is a sophomore Neuroscience major on the Pre-Medical track at Baylor University. She is from Wentzville, Missouri which is just west of St. Louis. When she is not at the library she can most likely be found out with friends or getting coffee. In her down time she enjoys binging Criminal Minds and reading murder mysteries.
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