As we enter our college years, we can do things that we have always wanted to do—whether that be getting a taste at working your dream job, cultivating new hobbies, or simply whatever it is your heart desires with your newfound independence. One such thing is to bring a furry friend into your home. You may be accustomed to growing up around pets, or perhaps you are looking into pet ownership for the first time. While owning a pet can bring a great sense of happiness and comfort, it can also bring some challenges. As someone who is the proud aunt of a 2-year-old Great Pyrenees and a kitten (my roommates are their proud mothers), here are three big pieces of advice to know before making the big decision, specifically in the context of dog ownership.
- Assess your living situation. You are probably living alongside roommates, who need to be fully on board with you bringing home a pet. It is imperative that you communicate with them beforehand to receive their consent, as well as to specify boundaries. Are your roommates interested in co-parenting, participating in the training, expenses, etc.? Are your roommates more of the hands-off, cool-aunt types? Somewhere in between? This needs to be established before the search even begins.
- Assess your lifestyle and time. If you are a full-time college student, you need to determine whether you have the environment, the lifestyle, and the time to take care of a dog. Do you have a backyard? Do you plan on getting a highly energetic dog that will need a backyard, or do you plan to carve time out of your day to take your dog on long walks? How much baby-proofing do you have to do around your home? Does your landlord approve of dogs, and if so, is there a pet fee? It is helpful to consider and jot down questions like these in your search process.
- Assess your budget. Things you need to take into account for taking care of your pet includes food, “accessories” for lack of a better term (leash, collar, bowls, poop bags), and healthcare (issues can happen unexpectedly!). Furthermore, depending on the degree of your training and how old your pet is on the day you bring them home, you may consider investing in some training (whether that be you training the dog yourself or taking your dog to a professional trainer). Areas of training may include going to the bathroom outside, following directions, walking on a leash, chewing on furniture, etc. The sooner you start as your dog gets acclimated to their new environment, the better!
Owning a dog can be a source of great relaxation, but the addition of your new roommate may take some getting used to. I recommend starting with fostering or dog sitting to see if you have the capacity for a dog. My niece Daphne has been one of the best things that has happened to me since being at Davis! She has brought my best friend such tremendous joy (and in turn, has made me very happy), and she has brought precious memories that I will cherish forever. With great responsibility, comes great happiness (and a Great Pyrenees).