Think Twice Before Getting a Dog in College

The desire to get a dog is a big one for many college students. After all, who doesn’t want a furry companion to come home to after a boring day of lectures? Maybe you spotted a girl from your sorority showing off an adorable toy Chihuahua around campus and thought a small dog would be fun and easy to manage. Or maybe you just want to do your part to provide a good home to a shelter dog. Whatever reason you have for wanting to own a dog, it’s important to take the time to consider what dog ownership means in terms of your finances and personal time as a college student.

Dogs are expensive.

College students, who often have little disposable income to begin with, should carefully consider the day-to-day and long-term costs associated with having a dog before bringing one home, according to a Fox Business article. Costs for food, bedding, toys, carriers, and grooming can stack up, and even small dogs may need basic obedience training to address any behavioral problems. After all, the tiniest Yorkie can quickly become a nuisance if it constantly barks or attacks the ankles of your roommates.

Alongside these typical expenses are costs associated with your pet’s health, such as routine vet care, vaccinations, and flea and tick medication. The minimum annual cost of dog ownership is $580 for a small dog, $695 for a medium dog, and $875 for a large dog, according to the ASPCA. That’s not including the one-time costs you take on in the very first year which bring the bill to $1,314, $1,580, and $1,843, respectively. Remember that these are just the minimum costs for standard humane treatment of your pooch. It’s common for dog owners to spend much more than this, especially if their dog faces unexpected health problems.

Beyond these costs are those brought on by the constraints of college life. The apartment or home you’re leasing may require a hefty pet deposit and may tack on a non-refundable monthly fee to your rent if you own a dog. These costs could become even greater if your dog chews walls or rented furniture or stains the carpet. Many dorms and apartments do not allow dogs at all.

Dogs are time-consuming.

Dogs require a major commitment of your time as well as your finances, and for some college students, this means a complete lifestyle change. If your day consists of getting up at the crack of dawn for athletics practice, a full day of classes, jetting off to work, hanging out with friends, and then coming home to hit the books, and your weekends are packed with parties and social events, this is doing your dog a great disservice. Dogs must be exercised regularly to maintain their health and may become distressed if they do not receive enough attention. In fact, some dogs act out by destroying their owner’s furniture when they do not receive enough exercise, attention, or mental stimulation. Think hard about the time it will take to exercise, train, care for, and play with your dog before bringing a dog home. If you truly don’t have the time or money to devote to a dog, consider volunteering at a local animal shelter until you have reached a point in your life where dog ownership is more realistic.

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