Last year around this time I made one of the biggest decisions of my college life thus far and got a dog. Little did I know this would be one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in college, but at the same time one of the most rewarding decisions. Here are a few things I wish someone would have told me to consider before taking on the role as a hardworking full-time student and dog mom.
1. Really think: Do you even have time for this kind of commitment?
So I am sure you have already thought about this one if you are considering getting a dog. Time is by far the biggest obstacle you will face especially at first. Get ready for no more between class library breaks, sleepovers and partying straight through the night because you have a living creature depending on you. The amount of time you spend with your dog directly affects his/her quality of life. I saw an extremely corny but true quote on twitter “He might only be one part of your life, but for your dog, you are his whole life”. Let that corny quote sink in because it’s true. If you’re not willing to dedicate a majority of your free time to the little guy you’re probably not ready to have him. Which is totally fine -you’re in college and this is your time to be selfish.
2. Do you have the money to support a dog?
When it comes to finances I’m not just talking the basic stuff like food, toys and treats. You should have at least $300 saved up in case of an emergency, especially if you’re getting a puppy. For example, Ohio State Emergency Veterinary Clinic won’t even consider looking at your dog until you’ve put down an immediate payment of 60% of the highest provided estimate for care. Meaning if the emergency visit is going to be $400 expect to put down $240 right then and there. As a broke college student that lives off frozen meals and can barely afford tide pods to do your clothes this may set you back a bit financially. On top of having this emergency money, you’re also going to need money for the basics which will be around $130-$150. That is just to get you started of course with a leash and collar, crate, food, toys and grooming supplies. After that on average expect to pay about $60 a month for food, treats and new toys if your dog is an aggressive chewer.
3. Are you even allowed to have pets where you live?
This is a huge one especially because most of us in college rent apartments or houses. Most big landlords don’t allow pets or add on a special pet rent. If your apartment does not allow pets, don’t be that person that goes and gets a fake ESA letter on some bogus website. Most landlords have great lawyers that can see right through those letters, and if you decide to purchase one of these letters, you’re adding to the headache of those who actually have ESA’s and have to go through this rigorous process. Then there are the landlords that actually allow you to have pets. Most of these landlords have hidden fees or extra pet rent. Hidden fees can includes charges such as having to get rid of tick and flees even if your dog didn’t have them, just so the landlord can be sure. You also may have to get the carpets steam cleaned. There is no getting around this, especially if they ask for receipts. Another thing to consider is pet rent which usually falls around an extra $100 a month and sometimes more if it is a “luxury” apartment. To save you some time and trouble OSU has already gotten a list going of rental properties that allow pets.
4. Do you have the support of your friends and family?
Maybe one of the most important to consider. Seeing as how you can’t be with the dog 24/7 or may need to go somewhere for the weekend, you should probably have a support group behind you. There have been multiple times when I have had to leave my pup with my boyfriend. Without the option of him watching the dog for me, I would have been screwed and missed out on a lot. With this being said. you also need to make sure it’s absolutely okay with all of your roommates. If one of them seems on the fence about it, you probably shouldn’t do it. You also need to make sure it’s okay with your family – I cannot stress this enough. Yes, you may be on your own and paying your own rent. Nevertheless, you should check with your parents. Here is a list of a few questions you should ask yourself and your parents before getting the dog.
- What are you going to do with the dogs during breaks?
- If you can take the dog home, will your parents be okay with it?
- When you want to have late nights with your best friends from high school, will your parents be fine with taking care of the dog?
- Are they going to be okay with the mess that comes with a dog in the home?
If you have considered all of the above and still think you are ready to get a dog, more power to you. There are a few extra steps you can take like joining the OSU Oval Dogs GroupMe or joining the pet club at PetSmart. It will help socialize your dog and keep their energy in check. You have a lot of work cut out for you. It’s worth it though. Raising my own little pup has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had thus far.