If You’re Thinking About Getting A Dog In College, Read This

The other day, I walked by two people conversing about having a dog in college. One said to the other, “I don’t think college students should have dogs.” If you were to ask me six months ago if I agree with that statement, I would have said yes. As a full-time college student, adding a dog to my plate would have never crossed my mind. However, this all changed in August when my boyfriend said, “Babe, I think I want to get a dog!” Before I knew it, he was on the way to the animal shelter to pick up Bella, a two-year-old, eleven-pound mutt, who has been the best little dog I could’ve asked for.  


If you’re thinking about getting a dog as a college student, here are some points to consider before making the commitment:

Can You Afford A Dog?

I would highly recommend adopting a dog from a shelter rather than buying from a breeder. Not only is it cheaper, but it’s better to advocate for dog adoption and stop the breeding business. Even though adopting is cheap, there are other expenses to consider. Bella wasn’t spayed when we got her, so we had to get that done which costs about $190. There are food costs, vaccine costs, buying toys, a bed, a crate, purchasing a dog tag with your name and number and paying to get them groomed every few weeks. More costs can come along, so if you aren’t financially ready, it’s better to wait on getting a dog rather than neglecting their health care needs.

How Much Time Can You Dedicate to Something Outside of School/Social Life?

Everything you do in your day will most likely take your dog into account. Typically, dogs go to the bathroom three to four times a day, need food and water refills, and play-time. Even low-key dogs, who might not care to play as much, enjoy the company of their owner. Bella is extremely low maintenance and well-trained, which is great, but an untrained dog needs a lot of patience while they get accustomed to their lifestyle with you. If you can’t spend a lot of time at home, a dog probably isn’t the right animal for you.


Do You Have the Indoor/Outdoor Space?

College living situations are usually in an apartment, dorm, or house with limited yard space. The small living quarters of most college students make getting a small dog the preferable choice. Most dogs need to run around and play, so it’s important to find them the space to do that. Tyler and I like to take Bella on walks around campus. People always ask to pet her when she walks by and she LOVES attention. When we are in the apartment, we throw her toys to fetch down the hallway or in the living room. Not all big or little dogs need a lot of space, but it’s important to be mindful of their personality and abilities so they don’t feel too restricted. 


Be Adaptable to Your Dog’s Personality

A lot of dogs who come home from the shelter for the first time are shy and timid. For the first week or two, Bella wouldn’t even bark or play with toys. It’s good to be aware of the adjustment period because once they are comfortable in their new home, their true personalities will begin to shine through. Adaptability is important; you don’t want to be caught off guard when you expected a shy dog who is actually hyper. 

Know Your Reason for Getting a Dog

Before getting a dog, it's important to know why you want one. Is it an impulse? It is for service purposes? Is it for company or just for fun? Whatever the reason is, make sure it’s a valid one. Dogs are living, breathing animals that require love, care and attention. It never hurts to wait until you are completely ready to take on the responsibility!


Adding Bella into my daily routine has become second nature at this point. She is such a fun little dog, and I love having her around. While I may not have expected to care for a dog of my own just yet, Bella has become a great addition to my life, and I wouldn’t want it any other way!



Edited by Sydney Keener