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I love my dog. Like, love love him. But there are some things that I wish I knew about raising a puppy as a busy college student who lives in a townhome before jumping in head-first with my eyes closed.

When my roommates and I were considering taking in the 100-pound “puppy” that is our dog Leo, last year, I was hesitant. I wondered how we were going to take care of him, how we were going to split the costs of food and supplies (a bed, medicine, toys, etc.) and how it would change our home dynamic. Eventually, they were able to convince me that it was a good idea. Fast forward a year and one month, and Leo is my best friend. Every time I come home to him is like the first day we met. But I am not afraid to admit that he is a major pain in my behind. I’ve listed below some of the things that I wish I was aware of before adopting my pup. Not a day goes by that I regret being Leo’s human, but I know that I would have benefited from hearing these things:

Do you have enough space for your pet to live comfortably?

My roommate and I live in a townhome with two floors, so Leo has space to roam around. Like I mentioned above, he is a big dog. Had we been in an apartment instead of a townhome or a house, I fear that he would feel crammed. However, we do not have a backyard. In order for Leo to stretch his legs and get exercise, we take him to a local park. Without this time to run around and play outside, he would be confined to the tiny patch of mulched grass outside our back door, which is not enough space to explore. Before taking in your new pet, consider whether they will feel physically comfortable in your home.

How will your pet react to his/her new environment?

This is one thing that my roommates and I did not anticipate before adopting Leo. For a month straight, he would bark at monstrous volumes when it was bedtime. The transition to his new home was difficult, but it was important to us that he got comfortable sleeping downstairs to avoid separation anxiety from brewing. This month of Bedtime Hell was torture for all involved parties, including our neighbor with who we share a wall. We even wrote her a note apologizing for the disturbance. Eventually, Leo settled into his home. It took long nights of coaxing him to sleep and sneaking upstairs when his eyes were closed, but he now goes to sleep without a fuss, and we do not have to worry about him feeling anxious when we are not around 24/7. Be prepared for how your pet will react to his/her new environment. Be aware that he/she may feel stressed and scared, and understand how to best help him/her adjust!

Can you really afford to care for your pet?

Fortunately, this has never been an issue for us. However, financially caring for your pet includes more than buying the monthly 50-pound bag of food (!). Does your pet need a kennel? A bed? A harness and leash? Two of the unexpected payments for us so far have been dog training services and a monthly arthritis medication. Being a pet parent comes with more financial responsibilities than the obvious ones. And if you’re like me, you also have to budget in the basket of toys that you buy for your pet during every trip to Target.

I wouldn’t dream of changing my decision to adopt Leo as my dog son. He is the reason that I laugh (and sometimes want to pull my hair out) every morning and every night. Though I was hesitant before, I know I made the right decision. Knowing the above answers simply would have prepared me to better care for Leo in his early stages in our home.

Haley Sakuma is a senior at University of Missouri-Kansas City studying communications with an emphasis in journalism and interpersonal communication. She is one of the Campus Correspondents for the UMKC chapter of Her Campus, and her favorite articles to write are blog-style with a personal touch of humor.
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