Getting a dog to keep you company during the semester may seem like a great idea, but it’s probably a lot bigger of a responsibility than you anticipate. The summer before my first semester at FSU, I was talking to my parents about getting an Emotional Support Animal to live in the dorm with me. They were immediately on board and super supportive so I thought “how hard could it be?” Within the next couple weeks, I got a teacup Maltese puppy and realized she is a much bigger handful than I had expected. Here are some things to consider, as well as tips, for getting a dog while in college:
1. Consider an adult dog over a puppy
I know, puppies are so cute and completely irresistible, but they’re also crazy energetic, must be potty trained, and go through teething. Adult dogs are usually calmer and have been potty trained already, which might make your life a little easier. If you really want to get a puppy, make sure you realize that potty training is a slow process and can take a few months, but they do eventually learn. Teething can also be a big issue with puppies, so make sure they have plenty of toys to chew on and I recommend using Bitter YUCK! No Chew Dog Sprayon furniture items you are worried about your puppy destroying.
2. Think about the size of the dog
You really want to consider carefully what size dog to get in comparison to where you will be living during college and afterwards. I opted for a small dog because I knew I would be living in a dorm for my first year and apartments for the rest of my time at FSU. Bigger dogs can also live in apartments just fine, but they will need a certain amount of exercise to stay healthy, so make sure to take your dog out on Landis and let them run around!
3. Plan your schedule around when they need to go to the bathroom
You will have to factor in an extra 10-15 minutes into your schedule every time you know you’ll have to take them out to go to the bathroom. I take my dog out around 4 times a day, but when she was potty training, I had to take her out every 2 hours. It’s a bigger time commitment than it seems because you have to make sure you’re available to take your dog out when they need to go.
4. Take them out to socialize as often as possible
My puppy absolutely loves people and is happily adored by all the residents in my hall. It can be very boring for them if they’re kept cooped up in a dorm or apartment, so take them outside for walks around campus. It will allow them to interact with people and get a change of surroundings.
5. Dogs are expensive
I was unprepared for how much dogs actually cost. Breeders and animal shelters will have varying adoption fees, but the real kicker is maintenance costs. Puppies require a series of shots and vet visits during their first few months, and then they’ll need yearly shots and monthly heartworm and flea medicine. You must also factor in how much their food, treats, toys, and bedding will cost you. I learned about all of this the hard way, so take into consideration your financial status before you take on the responsibility of owning a dog.
All in all, dogs are wonderful companions to have with you on your journey at FSU, but they are also a commitment that must not be taken lightly. They can be time consuming, destructive, and expensive, but they are also extremely loving and can fill you with so much joy. I love having my dog with me at FSU but learn from my mistakes and carefully consider this decision before you go ahead and buy a puppy.