Bringing the Canine to Campus | LU Q&A

(above: Me and my 3-yr-old Shih-chon Adalae.)

Recently, I received this e-mail:
Dear Lovely Undergrad,
This fall I will be moving out of my parents house and into an apartment for my freshman year of college. I don't have a roommate yet, but regardless, my dog is coming with me! She's a 3 year old Yorkie (5 1/2 lbs.) and a sweetheart. I would really appreciate a post on how to help my dog in the transition from home to apartment, as well as all the things that I need to have for her (besides the bed, food, and water). I don't want to make her nervous or uncomfortable with all of the changes.
I'm sure I'm not the only one bringing my little baby with me to college!
Amelia & Fendi

Amelia, you're definitely not the only one bringing a pet with you to college this fall and I'm super glad you brought up this interesting topic for me to post about. :)

I, myself, have an adorable little white ball of fluff named Adalae. She's a three-year-old Shih-chon who is definitely the hardest thing to leave behind whenever I go to school. However, I know that having a pet at school just isn't an option for me. With going to class and work, I don't think Adalae would get the attention she deserves. Plus, she's much to happy at home with my parents and siblings... I think it's better for her to miss me for a few weeks at a time as opposed to missing the whole family.

For you dorm-dwellers, having a pet (unless it is a goldfish) is simply not an option. But for renters who are willing to hunt for a pet-friendly apartment, pay an extra pet deposit, and put in the necessary effort... bringing your dog to school can be not only fun but also comforting.

First of all, evaluate whether or not it is actually beneficial for your dog to come with you to college. As a college student, you're going to be busy with classes, homework, social activities, club meetings, sporting events, friends, and lots of new adventures. If you're a freshman, it may be wise for you to attend a semester without your furry friend just to see what college life is like and whether or not you can handle the added responsibility of a pet. Having a pet at school is a very serious commitment. Only bring your pooch if you can give it the time, affection, discipline, and attention it deserves.

If you've decided that bringing a pet isn't the best option or your housing doesn't allow for pets, there are ways to combat the loneliness you may feel. Keep in mind that you won't be away from your pet forever. You can see it on weekends and breaks that you travel home. If you talk to your family on the phone, have them put the phone to your pup's ear. He may bark for you or at least respond to your voice. And just as you bring lots of photos of friends and family, bring photos of your dog, too. If you still need your furry fix, volunteer to walk, groom, train, and play with pets at a local animal shelter.

If you've evaluated your responsibility and capacity for commitment and still want to bring your dog to school with you, now you need to keep in mind what your dog needs.

  • A comfy place to sleep at night. Whether it is a dog-bed, your bed, or a kennel... make sure your dog has a safe, cozy place to curl up each night and get some sleep.
  • If your dog can't be trusted to have the run of the apartment when you're away at class or other activities, it's best to invest in a kennel.
  • Food + water, of course.
  • Treats so that you can reinforce good behavior.
  • Toys... both old ones from home and new ones, too.
  • Dog waste bags. At home you may be used to taking your dog out to the back of the yard and leaving the mess there. But at college you have the responsibility of cleaning up after potty breaks. Chances are, even if your apartment complex is pet friendly, your landlord and fellow tenants will want your pooch's No.2 cleaned up. And if you take the dog on walks around other neighborhoods or on campus, it is our duty to clean up the poo there, too.
  • A reliable, comfortable collar and leash. A harness, too, if necessary.
  • Dog leash stake. These metal, spiral-ended stakes twist into the ground. Just attach your dog's leash to it and Fido can run around outside, attached to the stake, without you having to hold on to the leash. This is ideal if you have a backyard or if you take your pup to central campus and wanna spread out a blanket and study. But the stake is not a babysitter and you shouldn't leave your furry one unattended.
  • While not ever pet-owner supports or believes in the use of muzzles and shock collars, it is up to you to evaluate your pet and its need for one or the other.
  • Medications for things such as flea, heartworm, etc. You don't want to get all the way off to college and realize you left your pooch's medications miles away back home.
  • Depending on your dog's breed, you may need to have him/her groomed. Look up and check out local pet groomers ahead of time.
  • Get your dog up-to-date on shots so that it is one less thing you'll have to worry about.
  • Exercise and play. While you're away at class, your dog will probably be spending a lot of time lounging around the house. Be sure to give your dog physical activity and interaction with you. Depending on the breed's size, a jog around the neighborhood may be necessary or a frolic around the backyard may suffice.
  • Socialization. If your dog is used to a lot of family members at home, he or she may feel lonely at school. Be sure to make time for interaction with you and your friends. On the opposite end, your dog may not warm up to all the new people. So ease the pooch in gently so that its not socially overwhelmed.
  • Love and affection from you! Going off to college can be traumatic enough for students, let alone their furry little canines. Keep in mind that the changes can have emotional effects on your dog... and they can't exactly come right out and tell you. So no matter how caught up in schoolwork, new friends, and sport events you may get... take time to give your dog some lovin'. You're all they have.

Remember... bringing your dog to school is a serious commitment and major financial, social, time-consuming responsibility. Do what is best for your pooch. :)

Any of you have pets? Are you bring your furry friend to school or leaving the pooch at home? Ever had an pet-related experiences at college?



CollegiateDown said...

I leave my two cats and dog at home when I go to school. I live in a dorm, so I don't have a choice. I defintely make it a point to say good bye to them and and play with they as soon as I get back. And while I'm home I take my dog on extra walks.

Southern Soundwaves said...

I actually missed on on some good opportunities because I wanted to tote my shih tzu along. Eventually, I left him with my grandmother. She gives him the attention she deserves, but he is so excited when I see him. A lot of it depends on your lifestyle. Are you a partier? Do you stay out late? Come home early? I know my dog loves a good schedule. It's sometimes hard to keep one in college with classes, socializing, etc.