Dogs and College Students?

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

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Always my angel.
Barked: Sun Nov 4, '07 10:47pm PST 
I've noticed there are quite a few Dogsters on here who are college or university students getting their undergraduate or post-graduate educations. Some live with their dogs, and some are waiting until after graduation to get a dog (or be reunited with their own). Myself, I'm one of the latter group - it's never really occurred to me that I might be able to handle both school and pet ownership. Lately it's getting harder and harder to live without a dog, though, and as my course load gets lighter the closer I get to graduation, I'm intrigued.

Anyway, I just wanted to get some opinions. What do you guys think about owning a dog while you're still in school? What's it like for those of you who are doing it? Would those of you in rescue adopt to a responsible college student? What advice or considerations would you bring up for a college student looking to own a dog? I'm not saying I'm going to run out and get a dog now - I'm still planning on waiting - but I do think it's an interesting topic for discussion. Thoughts?

Edited by author Sun Nov 4, '07 10:48pm PST

Kiona CGC

The Prettiest- Princess

Barked: Mon Nov 5, '07 1:07am PST 
I got Kiona when I was 19 going on 20, and an undergrad. I have now gone through getting an MA with her (and add on Indy and the foster dogs), and now am in law school with her.

BOL, I have almost never NOT been a student while I have had her!

My take on it is this.

MOST college age people are NOT ready for the responsibility of owning a dog. I tried to continue to go to parties and stay out all night after I got Kiona, and realized right away I could not do those things anymore. I chose to stop doing them, many of my friends didn't.

I do not know why I was different, I certainly was not particularly mature or responsible, BUT - I had grown up with animals and my parents were excellent owners, and taught me how to take care of animals properly. I also worked at a vet my junior and senior years, and moved in with a responsible dog owner (who was 25) when I went to college, who I lived with for a year, seeing how a college age person properly cares for animal, before I got Kiona.

All of those things were instrumental in making me a good dog owner. And, I am a dog person. I would rather hang out with my dogs than anyone else, so that made it easy for me to forgo late night parties.

I also was madly, and am still madly, in love with Kiona, and only wanted her to feel safe and secure at all times. So, I may have been immature and kidlike in some parts of my life, but not in the dog owning parts.

So, I think some people have the mentality and the life experiences to be excellent dog owners at a young age.

As for balancing? For me, it was never hard. I worked through my undergrad and grad years too, so careful time management was a must. I study at HOME, I never study at the library, even though the library may be more effective because then at least I with my dogs.

Also, for me, getting out on walks and going to the dog park were very healthy, mind clearing activities that I enjoyed too, so taking time for Kiona's benefit helped me too.

Long story short, I think if you think you can do it, and are ready to make sacrifices, you can do it. YOU know how much you can give. I am the type of student to sort of breeze through things so I have never felt like studying is the overwhelming burden. I will admit law school is the most difficult thing I have ever done but THANK GOD I have Kiona out here, she keeps me sane and gets me out of the house.

I think many college age students should not have dogs but I also think many older folks should not have dogs, either.

As for rescues, I know our rescue will not adopt out to college age students, end of story. We got burned one too many times. I fully agree with that policy, only because my first independent foster was a husky a college friend "could not deal with anymore".

Every rescue is different, though, but most are leery, and understandably so.

Hope this helps!

A Doggie Scholar
Barked: Mon Nov 5, '07 1:33am PST 
I got Snowy shortly after I got my masters degree, but decided to return to school for a phD almost immediately thereafter. I do not regret (not for a single moment) my decision to get a dog. In fact, I think having Snowy around is helping me a lot more than not. He helps me wind down and relax. When I have to work on campus during after hours, I take him, and he makes me feel a lot more secure and safe (as funny as it sounds).

I must tell you though that I'm in the minority. A lot of people in my group are dog lovers, but they can't "afford" their time to get a dog. It's also not easy juggling your schedule so that you can attend to your dog while getting your things done at the same time. Forget late night parties... fortunately, I've already been there & done that, so I don't miss the party scene.

I've worked hard to make sure that Snowy is well behaved and people friendly. This training has helped tremendously, because people let me bring my dog to school. My colleagues welcome him when he hangs out at our student office (they welcome the occasional dog-fix), and the staff at school love him too. The fact that I can bring him to school helps me with my schedule too, because I can spend some of my busiest days taking care of him and doing work at the same time.

The most difficult "hump" for us was that our college town is a bit crowded and rather short on housing, which means that the landlords are typically very strict. It was almost impossible for us to find an apartment that is pet friendly... so we moved a bit far from campus, and I drive to school. But hey, living far from campus has its benefits too.. for one, you don't hear drunken frat parties through the night.

Edited by author Mon Nov 5, '07 1:36am PST


Loki Barks- Alot

Time to- playyyyyy!!!
Barked: Mon Nov 5, '07 5:55am PST 
I'm 20, a college student, but also married (I don't know if this makes any difference, but it's to a military member. I'm still young to be married, I know.).

Honestly, I don't really consider myself a "normal" college student in the sense that I live an hour and a half away from school, only take two days of classes, and am home every day by 5:30 at the latest.

I spend most my time with Loki. He's by my side the entire time I'm at home, and I've spent countless hours trying to figure out his food "intolerance" for kibbles and other dry food (he's on raw now). When my husband's away in the field for a week or so at a time, I'm Loki's only caretaker.

Before I got married, and during my first two years at college, I would have never considered getting a dog, much less a puppy to keep at college housing. Especially not with my unpredictable schedule as well. Now, I eat at home every night and have lots of room in my house and a fenced yard for Loki to run around in.

Barked: Mon Nov 5, '07 8:40am PST 
I'm in college and I really haven't found it a problem to have Finley. I'm also really lucky that there is a dog daycare not too far away from me that Finley goes to while I'm in class. The dog daycare is a lifesaver!

Angel Puppy
Barked: Mon Nov 5, '07 8:58am PST 
I'm currently a grad student, work full time, new mom AND I still have time for my two "girls".
I have to admit I never advertised that I was in school in addition to working when I adopted them. I didn't see how it was pertinent. It does make scheduling a bit problematic on occasion, but I'm also married so it's not hard for me to say something like "Honey, can you get home early and run around with the dogs? I have to do and cant get home till late" And the problem is solved.
I also do virtual learning and telework a few days a week so it helps a lot. Dogs mostly want to just be near you and this arrangement makes it easy. I can do web conferences and the like while playing fetch or type reports with a dog snuggling into my leg.

Rudy sin- barreras
Barked: Mon Nov 5, '07 9:23am PST 
It takes more dedication to make time for a dog, but yes, if you put the work into it then you can do it.

Originally when I transferred down to TX from SD, I lived in dorms and could not have my dog. My parents then got too attached to Rudy and pretty much said that when I was able to have a dog, I could adopt and they would keep him. Fast forward to two months before I got my own place and they sprung it on me that I could have Rudy (after I was all set with a rescue doggy). I'm glad for it, of course. I do work part time as well (even though I'm quitting tomorrow wink) so you have to get creative with time management, ie: walks at 11pm.

However, I am not your typical college student. I rarely go to bars, never to clubs, I dont "party," whatever. I still have fun, but nothing that a having a dog really interferes with.

And yes, the toughest part will probably be the financial aspect but my parents always said if worse comes to worse, they would help (ie: emergency vet stuff). That helps a great deal to know that and hopefully you have a support system as well smile

Big Dog, Tiny- Body
Barked: Mon Nov 5, '07 10:15am PST 
As a rescue worker, we evaluate college students on a case by case basis. They did not adopt to college students 99% of the time before I was hired. Being a college student myself, I wanted to see if it was possibly to be a responsible dog owner and a student at the same time. After doing a long term foster, I decided that I could have a dog with my schedule.

Try fostering! It helps you get into the mindset of what haing a dog is like, and how much you will have to change your schedule. Also, having a backup as far as money goes is good. I know I can handle rountine stuff, and most emergencies, but that there might be times that I might not have the money for an emergency surgery, ect. Care credit is a great option if you don't have a person willing to loan you money in an emergency.

Partying, drinking, all that fun stuff, VERY hard to do if you have a dog.

I think that if you are commited to having a dog and taking care of it (now and 10 years down the road), then give it a try.

I have found (now having 2 dogs and my bf having one), that getting them in the summer helps, that just planning on a pet deposit saves you from unexpected suprises, and making sure there is an emergency plan for the dog if something happens to you all help to relieve stress!

Good luck!

Rudy sin- barreras
Barked: Mon Nov 5, '07 2:50pm PST 
psh, you can still drink! Just not "out." My dog likes staying at the Mister's house when we are going to have some beers there. Just make sure the people you are around arent stupid and try to 'get the dog drunk.' Fortunately I've never surrounded myself with that type.
Herky (May- 17, 2007 - June 8,

Sweet Angel Pup,- Gone too Soon :(
Barked: Mon Nov 5, '07 3:30pm PST 
I am a grad student and have both Kinnick and Herky. Right now I am only in class maximum of 6 hours a day, and on those days my husband usually comes home to let them out over his lunch break from work. There are some definite challenges to balancing college and dogs. As others have said, participating in the social scene is definitely limited by being a responsible dog owner. But as others have said, I was never much of a partier anyway. Housing can be a challenge, but I am fortunate to live in a town that is fairly dog-friendly. I live in a townhouse complex that even converted the old tennis courts into a dog park! snoopy I also have the advantage of having a fellow classmate and very close friend and her husband living only 4 doors down. They also have 2 dogs, and we have exchanged house keys so that in an emergency we could let each other's dogs out.

Something that is nice about going to college while owing dogs is the flexibility. When we first got Herky, it was over the summer after I had graduated undergrad and before starting grad school. I was quitting my job before grad school and moving a few states away, so I made this coincide with Herky's arrival. I was able to spend almost everyday with Herky until he was about 4 months old, and this really helped with the potty-training and bonding.

My take: do your research, know it is a long-term committment, and have a support system or emergency plan, but college and dogs are definitely do-able!
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