So you Want to Have a Dog at College?

Posted on July 25, 2017

If you are reading this post, you have made the amazing decision of getting a dog/puppy. Good for you! Having a dog is one of the most life changing and worthwhile experiences you will ever have. You may now be considering if you can bring your dog to live with you while you are in college.

I’m here to tell you that it is perfectly possible to have your puppy with you at college, and I highly recommend it! However, there is some planning on your end that needs to be done before you head on down to your local shelter and bring home your new best friend.

In this post, I will outline the steps I took in order to bring my dog to college with me.

1. Appropriate Housing

Finding housing is one of the biggest and most important steps when considering owning a dog in college. Despite the fact that most off campus houses are run down and old, most landlords will still not want dogs on their property. For this reason, it’s important to start looking for housing immediately in order to secure a spot for you and your furry friend.

I decided at the end of my sophomore year that I wanted to have a dog with me at college. At that time it was already too late to find housing for the following September. I began house/apartment hunting for places that allowed dogs the beginning of my junior year for my senior year. I highlight dogs here because a lot of places will allow cats or small animals, but not always dogs.

As soon as I found an apartment that fit my needs I put myself on their waiting list for the upcoming school year. To put into perspective how soon you should be doing this – I put myself on that waiting list at the end of Septemeber and I was already 3rd on the waiting list. That was only 2 weeks into the school year, one full year before even living there!

Don’t wait too long. Jump on housing ASAP.

2. Figure out Your Finances

If you found housing, that’s great! You are ready to move onto the next step which is to figure out if you can actually afford a dog. Assuming you are planning a year in advance like I did, you have a little time to figure this part out and save some money ahead of time.

It’s important to know that you should not just consider expenses for your dog into this equation, but also expenses for yourself. If you are like me this will be your first time living off campus, so you need to ask yourself the following questions.

  • Are you planning on buying your own groceries or being on a school meal plan?
  • Are you planning on buying a parking pass and driving to school every day or will you be using the school bus route?
  • Are you planning on staying in every weekend or do you want to go out and party with your friends?

These questions may seem irrelevant, but if you are planning on buying groceries for yourself then you need to consider how much that will cost per week. If you are driving to school you will need to know how much you will spend on gas per month. If you plan on going out every weekend, you should budget how much you think you will spend. Every penny counts!

I’m not here to discourage you from the idea of having a dog in college, but to help you understand the realities of it. Living off campus can sometimes be more expensive than living on campus. So it’s good to make sure you have your finances in order so you can see if you can afford a dog.

Here’s an example of what I spent on average per month while at school. This calculation does not include rent, which was already paid for at the beginning of the year:

Paycheck per month: + $440

Groceries                   -$160-250
Gas                            -$30
Dog Food                  -$65
Dog Toys                   -$10-15
Pet Miscellaneous     -$45-50

Total = $310-410

As you can see, living off campus can be expensive and a dog can cost you anywhere between $100-150 per month. This is on the higher end of what you would spend per month and this does not cover instances where your dog may need to go to the vet.

(Note: This price may also vary depending on the size of your dog. My calculation was for a large dog, so if you are planning on owning a smaller dog it will be cheaper).

You could be left with anywhere between $130-30 at the end of each month to spend on yourself.

It might seem like a lot, but it goes pretty quickly (aka BOOZE MONEY).

3. Roommate Hunting

Maybe you already have roommates – your one step ahead! – and they are all totally down with having a dog. But, if you are like me and need to interview some it is important to ask your future housemates if they mind having a dog in the house. It may surprise you, myself included, but sometimes some people just don’t like dogs.

(Note: I’m assuming that you followed along with the first step and jumped on housing and are therefore in charge of finding roommates).

I always started off my roommate interview process with asking for their name, what year they were in, what they were studying, and if they liked dogs. If they said yes, great! If they said no, next. I never ran into the problem where someone said they didn’t like dogs, but it’s important to ask – just in case.

If you don’t plan on having roommates you don’t need to worry about this step. However, I will say that having a roommate will work to your advantage. If you are running late coming home and you know your roommate is already there, you could ask them to let your dog out for you. Or if you were as lucky as me to have an amazing roommate who loved hanging out with your dog, you could give them permission to let your dog out when they get home. I’m sure your dog would appreciate the added company.

It’s an overall win win situation.

4. Plan Out Your Schedule

It’s coming close to the end of the year and you feel like you have everything figured out. There is one last thing you need to check before making the final step to adopting your future dog.

In college, you have the wonderful option of planning out your academic schedule for the upcoming semester. This is where you will make or break your decision to get a dog while in school. For me, I was lucky enough to have a schedule where I had work 7 A.M-11 A.M; Class 11:15 A.M-12:10/12:30 P.M; a break in order to go home and hang out with my dog until 2:00 P.M; then finally class 2:30-3:45 P.M.

I went to work at the same time every morning Mon-Thurs and got home at the same time every afternoon Mon-Thurs. Plus I usually had some time in the middle of the day to go home and check on my dog. Consistency is key. A dog needs a consistent environment, which can be hard to manage at school, but definitely not impossible.

Not everyone will have an easy time making a consistent schedule. Take my boyfriend for instance. He would have never been able to have a dog in college even if he planned for one because he had an extremely erratic schedule. Not to mention the amount of homework he had to do each night.

Having a dog is meant to be fun, but it’s a lot of work and you should always make sure you have time available to take care of them.

I hope this post helps you in your quest to have a dog in college. This isn’t everything that you need to consider, but it is a list of the things I thought were most important when conducting your planning!!

Don’t let planning scare you! Having a dog in college is very much worth it and is totally possible!

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What do you guys think? Comment below with any thoughts or questions!

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