Puppies are just about the cutest thing in the world and they turn into lovely companions as they grow. Whether a person gets a pet at any time in their life is entirely up to them, but others will always have opinions. Specifically, people tend to have concerns with getting a dog in college. Here is a comprehensive list of things to ask yourself when considering getting a puppy during college. I used these questions to make this same decision for myself, regardless of what others thought.
- Do you have the time?
This question is different depending on the age of the dog you are looking to get. If you really want a puppy, you should not be gone for more than 3-4 hours consecutively during the day (unless you have a friend who will take your puppy out). Puppies have to use the bathroom constantly. I think college is a great time to get a puppy because you can change your schedule for the semester to account for bathroom breaks, while with a full-time job this can be more difficult. Leave time for yourself in between classes to run home to let them use the bathroom. For an adult dog, they can hold their bladder much longer and this is not as much of a problem.
- Are you prepared to be tired?
Every dog is different, but all puppies take time and effort to raise. Expect to go to bed late and wake up early every day because a puppy can only hold their bladder at night for so long (about 4-6 hours depending on dog size and breed). No matter how tired you are, if your puppy needs you to take them out or get their energy out, that is your responsibility as their new mama. If you are used to having a lot of time and energy to go out with friends and that is a super important part of your life, remember that that may take a pause for a few weeks or months while your puppy matures.
- How badly do you want a puppy?
Raising a puppy is a ton of work. They are literally babies and have needs just like them. It is not all play and cute cuddling; they will cry at 3am, they will pee on the floor, they will bite you and your furniture, and you will need to train them. You truly need to be dedicated in order to enjoy the experience. For reference, college is a ton of work and if you are doing a major you are not passionate about, college is going to be a lot harder for you. This is a commitment, but if you want a puppy badly enough then I guarantee you all the tiredness and frustration will be worth it.
- Are you making this decision based on your thoughts only?
Make sure you are not influenced by others here. This is a huge decision and you should not get a dog because your roommate thinks it will be cute, or not get a dog because your friend thinks it’s a bad idea. Whether you ask others for their thoughts or not, if someone finds out you are considering getting a dog they will share their opinions on it with you. You should not take “advice” from them too seriously. Instead, really sit with yourself and find out what you want.
- Are you ready for a (hopefully) 10+ year commitment?
Puppyhood does not last forever, both thankfully and unfortunately, and your puppy will grow up to be an adult dog. Hopefully, this dog will be a part of your life for many many years. Make sure you remember this when looking at puppies. Be prepared to have to move states with your dog or to a new city. Imagine this dog as a new addition to your family and everyday life for a significant amount of time.
Getting a puppy is entirely up to you and should be a decision you think through yourself. These questions can hopefully help you process your thoughts and make the decision easier. If you feel mature enough and have looked over these questions, then do not let being in college stop you. People are busy their entire lives, there is no “perfect” time to get a dog. I have a tiny Labrador puppy at the moment as a junior in college and it is lovely. It is far from all sunshine and rainbows, but it is worth it if you have the time and really want one. There is nothing better than feeling sad and having a sleeping puppy to hold, but on the other hand, you can already be annoyed by school and have a puppy decide it is time to bite all the furniture. Both are equal parts of raising a puppy, and just because it is hard does not mean you should not do it. I am so happy to have her and hope you find space for a dog in your life if that is right for you.