Thursday, August 2, 2012

How I Managed Owning A Dog In College

by Lauren Bailey

When I told my friends and family that I wanted to adopt a dog at the start of my senior year of college, I was met with wide eyes and a series of "are you sure?" looks. I understood where they were coming from. My friends who I told were, like me, struggling to get through 12 to 18 credit hours in order to graduate, staying up late writing papers and studying for exams, and spending the weekends out and about, floating the river and going to parties. My friends are the ones who gave me the "are you sure?" looks.

My parents on the other hand, gave me the wide eyed "you have to be kidding me" looks. And, I can't blame them either. My parents helped foot the bill to the liberal arts college I was about to graduate from and I'm sure all they were thinking was "can you afford this dog". At the ripe age of 21, I realized all of these looks and underlying messages were reasonable. But, I also knew that I wanted to get a dog. Here are the aspects of dog ownership and college life I considered before adopting my pup Nicky.

Photo by Mariana Figueroa

Scheduling is actually one of the reasons I decided I really wanted to get a puppy while I was still in school. While this may somewhat counterintuitive, there are many reasons a college schedule might lend itself well to raising a puppy. My senior year I lived off campus with a few housemates. I only went to campus for my classes and had the flexibility to spend the rest of my time at home. I realized that this scheduling pattern would actually work well for raising a puppy. I would have to attend two classes a day and have the ability to space those two classes out, so I only needed to be on campus for no more than two hours at a time. I could study and do homework at home while spending time with the puppy and only have to leave her for a maximum of two hour periods at a time.

One of the most important things to realize is that raising a puppy is a huge time commitment (particularly in those first few months of puppyhood). I didn't want to wait to get a puppy for after I graduated because I would hopefully find fulltime work at that point. Raising a puppy while working from nine to five every day is not something I wanted to do.


Money is another issue to consider when thinking about adopting a pup in college. This was one of my biggest concerns as a college senior wanting to adopt my first puppy. I was working as a student worker for my school and could continue working at that position until I found work after graduation. This eased some of the worry about finances after graduation. I would have student loan payments to think about, but those wouldn't kick in until six months after graduation day. I considered the cost of spaying, puppy immunizations, flea preventative, food, toys, and emergency vet costs.

My savings and the money I was earning from my part time job would be enough to raise the dog. I determined that these puppy costs were something I could handle and would not put me or my pup in any sort of hole. However, if you are considering adopting a puppy in college, finances are something you should consider carefully. With the job market being so difficult, adding to your financial responsibilities might not be the wisest choice in all cases.

Living Situation

This is another area that is extremely important to the happiness and wellbeing of your puppy. You should take a careful look at your living situation before you adopt a dog. As a college student, you likely have fairly limited living options. As I said before, my senior year, I lived in a condo with a few other housemates. The condo was close to campus (making my commute easy), had a small private backyard, and was near several nice parks to walk in. This was an ideal living situation for a puppy. I wanted to make sure that my puppy would have an outdoor space she could play, exercise, and be housetrained in. Because I only rented a room in this condo, I had to make sure that my housemates were alright with the idea of having a dog in the house. They agreed that they would share their living space with the pup.

I crated the puppy in my room while I was in class or out. The dog shared the entire condo's living space when I was home, but stayed in my room while I was away. I didn't want my housemates to feel like they had to assume responsibility for my dog when I wasn't home. Before adopting a puppy, it's important to consider things like an outdoor area, a sleeping area, where toys and beds will be kept, where water and food is given, and where you can walk and exercise your pup when you live in a shared living space.

Thinking about these aspects of owning a dog while still in college helped me create the best situation for both my pup and myself.

While owning a dog in college is not a good fit for everyone, it can work. 

Raising a puppy as a college senior taught me responsibility, guided me towards true adulthood, and provided me with the closest friend I made my four years away in school.


Lauren Bailey is a freelance blogger who loves writing about education, new technology, lifestyle and health. As an education writer, she researches and contributes to a guide to online colleges and welcomes comments and questions via email at

1 comment

  1. Loved your post. I rescued a pup on death row when I was a junior in college. With no real thought about how the heck I was going to manage it. (Went along to the local pound with some friends who DID have a plan and fell in love with my Bennie) It was, hands down, one of the best things I ever did for myself.