Savannah offers some helpful tips on what to consider before getting a puppy while in college.

msj student holding golden retriever puppy.

Let’s be honest, when you first start college there are many things you want to do. Finally moving out of your parents’ house and tasting your own independence is an exciting experience for everyone. A very popular experience is the desire to get a puppy. After three years in college, I decided to finally get a fur baby, and the sweet boy can be a handful. Here are some tips I believe are helpful to consider before getting a puppy while in college.


1. How Much Time Do You Have?

Raising a puppy takes a lot of time and effort, which can be hard to find when in college. It is important to consider where the puppy will fit into your schedule and if you have the time to take breaks for check-ups. 

Make sure you have time in your day to take the pup out before you leave, as well as breaks during the day to take them out. Not only is it healthy to get them outside to release their energy, but it also helps to potty train.

Creating a schedule for your puppy within your own is very important as well. According to The Puppy Academy, if a puppy does not have a routine it can lead to unpredictable potty accidents, poor eating habits and even increased barking or nipping. 

Time management is important for the relationship you will develop with your puppy as well. Puppy owner Zoe Sanford found it was important to have more time to train and be with them in their early years. Making it a point to spend quality time with your pup can help you destress while giving them the affection they desire.


2. What Is Your Housing Like?

A very important thing to consider when getting a puppy is how your housing will be affected. If you’re a college student who lives on campus, there are many restrictions and hoops you must go through to allow it on campus. Even off campus living, there are some places that have a no pet policy.

Obviously if you are making your pup a service animal, they cannot be legally declined from schools or housing. Some housing companies that rule “no pets” allow a pet if it is a certified emotional support animal. It all depends on where you live. You are fully responsible for anything the puppy damages in the home like carpets or floorboards. However, each place is unique, which is why it is important to look at housing rules before purchasing your puppy.

Not only are housing rules important, but also making sure your house is pup friendly. Making sure roommates and others in the home are okay with having a puppy is key. It is their house too and they may not be willing to help, therefore it is always important to ask. Also consider where the puppy will be. Will it stay in the living room or in your bedroom? Set up a section of the house with their cage and food so that they have their own designated space. This allows them to have somewhere they feel safe if they ever get overwhelmed and want alone time. Your house is their home now too, so it is important to consider them. 


3. Do You Have the Money?

Let’s be honest, if you are like most college students, you’re broke. It is crucial to understand that puppies are expensive! This is not just a one-time payment, since you need a cage, food, toys, and money for vet bills. 

Try to set aside a monthly amount for your pup that includes food and then an emergency fund as well. According to The Dog Stop, dog owners spend an average of $50 on food a month. While it all depends on what kind and the sizing, prices generally range from $30-$75. 

Taking your pup to the vet is also considerably expensive. There is the need for puppy vaccinations and the additional stress if they need to be neutered/spayed. According to the American Kennel Club, the average cost for puppy vaccinations is anywhere from $75 to $100. These shots are required by most groomers and when they to go to the vet. While puppies are very expensive, they are worth it if you can manage. Sadly, if you don’t think you can financially support a puppy, it is best to wait until you can. 


4. Puppy Training

When it comes to training a puppy, there are two options: training yourself or going to classes. While training classes are beneficial, they tend to be expensive. According to a group class for training can range from $150-$300 per class. A common way to save money is train the puppy yourself. 

Training requires a lot of time and patience to do it “correctly”. Student Olivia Motsch shares that “not every day is going to be a great day with your puppy. There were times when Dusty (her pup) was so stubborn, and I felt like he was working against me. It’s just like having a kid, they don't know any better and you have to teach them to respect you.” 

You must be patient with yourself and them, setting time aside when they’re young to get them used to what you’re asking them to do. Simple commands like sit and shake won’t take as long as stay and that is okay. Remaining consistent with training and giving them rewards along the way will help your pup later in life. 


5. The Change in Your Social Life

A large aspect of college life is being social. Whether you’re going out to a sports game or just to a friend's house, how frequently you do this will change. Be prepared to cancel plans due to a sick puppy or to struggle finding someone to watch them. 

While you will be able to meet new people at a dog park or while you walk your dog, you unfortunately cannot take them everywhere. Just remember that while you’re out until 2 a.m.  they’re at home waiting for you. 

Getting a puppy is always an exciting adventure. Try to consider these tips before fully committing to a fur baby.