Read This Before You Get a Dog

By Claire Hansen
Blog Content Contributor

Don’t get me wrong, the number of precious pups around this town give me dog envy, too, but when you’re in college, there are a few extra factors to be addressed before making the decision to adopt a companion. Too often do young people spontaneously bring home a pet that they are not prepared to own. It’s important to know exactly what having a dog should really entail. After all, they are living, breathing creatures that need to be properly cared for just like you would care for yourself. So, here are some things to consider before starting your search.

Dogs need exercise and interaction.

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Want the perks of having a dog without any of the responsibility? Get a roommate who has a dog. You get all of the cuddles but none of the liability. This is my roommate’s dog, Meilo. Photo by Claire Hansen.

Many of us college students live very busy lives and are away from home for most of the day. They also tend to live in small living spaces like apartments that don’t have their own backyard where a dog could roam free. If this sounds familiar to you, perhaps consider lower-maintenance pets like fish or birds. A dog won’t live a very happy or fulfilling life being kept inside by itself all day, especially if it’s locked in a kennel. Just like humans, dogs need regular exercise and a chance to interact with other people and dogs. Simply taking them out for a few minutes to use the bathroom at various intervals of the day is not enough. Depending on the size and type of dog, they should get at least 30 minutes (but more like 60) of walking or play time a day — not including bathroom trips.

A typical college lifestyle is not ideal for a dog.

Most dogs absolutely love people and attention, but a loud party with lots of action and a high risk for broken glass or spilled substances is no place for a furry friend. Many canines often feel uneasy in high-stimulation environments and the possibilities for disaster are endless. It’s important to always consider things from the dog’s point of view, too, when thinking of adopting one.

Don’t get a dog for the wrong reasons.

College is seen as a time to have fun and live it up. That being said, I have come across too many dog owners in my four years living in San Marcos that adopted their dog primarily for the added attention they’d receive from potential love interests. Those dogs usually end up being poorly cared for and forgotten about whenever they’re not being used as a prop. No matter who you are or what your situation is, make sure your reasons for getting a dog are not selfish ones. It’s easy to see a breeder standing on the corner with a batch of adorable puppies and only consider how cute they’d look on our Instagram feed. This leads to impulse buys by people who don’t know what they’re getting themselves into and before they know it, they now have another life on their hands that they have no idea how to care for. The dog then lives a sad, confusing life of eating unidentifiable objects and never knowing who its true owner is. Before deciding to get a dog, it’s important to consider every area of your life that they will affect.

Get your dog from a safe, respectable source.

I guess this is somewhat of a personal opinion, but I believe one should always try to rescue a dog first before turning to breeders or seedy pet stores. Stop by some local shelters like the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter or PAWS in Kyle if you decide you want a furry friend and make sure you check out our Adopt, Don’t Shop posts, too!

My goal here wasn’t to deter you from fulfilling your dreams of becoming a dog owner. There are endless benefits to having a dog that make the work part of it so worthwhile. It’s just crucial to make sure you can do the work required to maintain a happy and healthy life for your pet before getting one.

Featured illustration by Claire Hansen.

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