Dogs are a great source of companionship and love. Not only is great to see their wagging tails and smiling faces every day, but they also provide a lot of mental health benefits. Owning a dog can help reduce depression and anxiety by lowering stress and blood pressure while increasing our serotonin levels. These perks of dog ownership can mean that a dog would be the perfect companion for a college student. However, there is a lot to think about before you take your dog to college.
Where will you live?
Many college students are required to live on campus in the dorms for their first year of college. If this is the case, even if you choose a dog-friendly college, it may not be feasible to bring your dog.
If your dog is a service animal, the rules will be different, and your animal is allowed to be anywhere you need them to be. If your dog is an emotional support animal (ESA), some colleges may allow you to bring them, but an ESA does not have the same protections as a service animal and will not likely be able to attend classes with you, or accompany you to other campus destinations. An ESA may have a hard time adjusting to the small quarters of a dorm, so consider their surroundings as well.
If you won’t be living in a dorm and your housing allows pets, it makes more sense to bring your dog. Just be mindful of the surroundings for your dog.
Can you afford to keep a dog?
Full-time students often have a hard time maintaining full-time employment. Being a student is time-consuming, so many students choose not to work or to work part-time.
This can mean limited funds, which can limit the amount of care you can provide for your pet. Though you may only be considering their monthly food costs, you must also think about the possibility of emergency care and veterinary appointments.
There are ways to save money when you’re a student. Budgeting, using student discounts when you can, and buying used books can help you save money. If you can put away some money to care for your pet, it’ll be easier to justify bringing them with you to college.
Will you have time?
If you have classes during the day, work in the evening, and do homework at night, when will you have time to spend with your dog?
Maybe you’ll have weekends, or perhaps you’ll have to work over the weekend. Perhaps you’ll have breaks throughout the day, but you might need to eat or cram for a test during those breaks.
Your dog needs companionship, exercise, and enrichment. If you can’t provide that, then bringing your dog to college isn’t a responsible choice.
These basic needs help to keep your dog healthy and happy, and it’s OK if you can’t provide that level of right now. It just means that it’s not the right time to bring your dog to college.
Some students have fewer classes, attend part-time, or don’t work while they attend school. In that case, they have more time to play with their dogs and offer enriching experiences and companionship.
If this is the case for you, you likely have the bandwidth to keep a dog happy and healthy while going to college.
Can you keep your dog safe?
Household safety, annual checkups, updated tags and shots, and a healthy diet are a few aspects that are important in keeping your dog safe. This means your home will need to have a fence to keep them from running away, you’ll need to be diligent about their health needs, and you’ll need to keep them in a healthy weight range.
Some college students may find this to be difficult if they have roommates or aren’t home with their pet often. If you aren’t sure you can keep your dog safe, it may be best to leave the dog home with your family.
There are changes you can make to keep your dog safe. For one, using lockers is a great way to get clean and organized, but it’s also an excellent option for storing dangerous chemicals away from your dog.
Put annual appointment reminders in your phone’s calendar years in advance, so you remember to call to schedule vet appointments.
Get a whiteboard and write down your dog’s diet and food restrictions in a public place where your roommates can read them. This can help protect your pup.
Do you travel a lot?
Being a young college student is an exciting time. You’ll have independence, opportunities for adventure, chances to make new friends and try new experiences. With all of that going on, you may find it hard to find time for your dog or know what to do with your pet when you travel.
Many travel plans don’t include pets, and it’s often not fair to bring your pup along for them to stay in a hotel room alone for a weekend. There are arrangements you can make that can make travel easier.
Boarding them, getting a pet sitter, having a friend or family member watch them, or bringing them along for a pet-friendly vacation also can work. If you travel a lot, be prepared to make a plan for your dog’s care.
If you can’t make those arrangements, then it might not be a good idea to take your dog to college.
A friend to alleviate stress
College is stressful; there’s no doubt about that. Having your dog there can relieve that stress, and that’s a significant reason to bring your dog to college.
For many people, bringing your dog to a pet-friendly college is a feasible decision. For others, however, doing so might not be the best idea.
Not only should you consider what is best for you, but you also should think of what is best for your dog. Small spaces, a lack of attention, and an absence of basic needs are not great for your dog, so make sure you can care for your dog and keep him healthy and happy.
If, however, you are confident you can take care of your dog while you’re at college, your pup can be the perfect companion as you navigate university life.