College life can be stressful. What better stress reliever is there than a furry friend excitedly waiting for you at the end of a long day? While it’s tempting to run out to a pet shelter and bring home the first adorable puppy you see, being a dog mom or dad might require a little more time, energy and money than you think.
Does your current housing allow it? Will your future housing allow it? Make sure your current and future dorm, apartment, house or fraternity house will be a suitable living arrangement for your pet. Note that Penn State dorms (including White Course Apartments) only permits service animals and fish. If your current or future housing allows dogs, consider your future dog’s size, personality, energy levels and barking tendencies to see if he or she is a right fit for your home. If you’re living in an apartment and seriously considering owning a pup, check out Dogster’s list of the 10 best apartment dogs.
Deciding if you want to get a dog can be difficult, especially if you live with roommates. To avoid any awkward situations, be sure to be considerate of your present or future roommates by having a talk to see if they would be okay with living with a dog. A roommate could also be allergic or just not fond of the idea of your dog barking at 3 a.m., so know that owning a dog could limit your roommate options.
Can you afford to own a dog? According to an article from USA Today, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (ASPCA) estimates that the first year of dog ownership can cost anywhere from $1,314 for smaller dogs up to $1,843 for larger breeds. After the first year, ASPCA notes that the annual cost subsides to $580 for smaller dogs to $875 for big breeds. When looking to get a dog, make sure your wallet can afford the necessities like food, medicine, vet expenses, accessories, training and all the other pricy expenses that come along with owning a pet.
According to Pawshake, you should allot one to two hours per day to provide special attention to your dog. Whether it’s going on a walk, playing, training or cuddling, dogs need play time, daily exercise, food and attention — so make sure you can actually balance that with work, classes and your social life.
During your first two to three months of ownership, your dog shouldn’t be left alone at all. Even after these first few months, going out for the night and staying out until morning may not work without a dog sitter. Dogs are also a lifelong commitment, so take time to seriously consider how a furry friend will fit into life after college. The last thing you or your dog wants is for you to take him or her back to the shelter.
Have plans to study abroad? If so, it’s important to consider if your pup can fit into that plan. Can you take your dog with you? If so, will your host family or apartment complex allow pets? If not, would your family or close friends take care of your dog? Could you bear leaving your dog at home for a full semester? When it comes to deciding if getting a dog is right for you, make sure to think of your study abroad or travel plans in advance.