What every college kid should consider before getting a dog


Collegian | Tri Duong

Mochi, an Australian Shepherd and Husky mix plays with balls at Spring Canyon Dog Park May 3.

Ivy Secrest, Life and Culture Director

Missing the family pet is among the most prominent growing pains experienced by college kids. According to Washington State University, 75% of first-year students experienced some level of pet-separation anxiety.

This ache in your heart for a fuzzy friend may lead you to the nearest rescue or pet store to purchase yourself a cute puppy to cart home. If you find yourself in that position, there’s a lot to consider beyond how cute their little nose and paws are. Pets are a huge responsibility, so before leaping in, evaluate your ability to commit.



The cost of your new friend will vary depending on the type of dog you get and where you get them from. Sites like Rover can help you get a better understanding of the cost range, but you can expect to spend hundreds of dollars on first-time costs like vaccines, adoption fees and puppy gear. Rabies vaccines in the state of Colorado are mandatory, and even if you do the bare minimum for your pup, you’ll likely need to prepare for spaying or neutering costs as well.

Mochi winks toward the camera at Spring Canyon Dog Park May 3. (Collegian | Tri Duong)

Free Time

Your lifestyle will impact the health of your buddy. If you don’t have a lot of free time to get your friend proper play time and exercise, you should seriously consider a lower-maintenance pet. You also need to be free to feed them, take them to doctor’s appointments, walk them, socialize them with other dogs and clean up after them. No puppy is without accidents, and as the pet parent, it is your job to take care of that.

Arthur, a gift from Susan Norris, the artist, and Diggs Brown, founder of the Veterans Plaza at Spring Canyon Dog Park May 3. (Collegian | Tri Duong)


Not every dog is for everyone. If you’re super active, you may consider a husky or herd dog; if you like to hike but also love your downtime, consider a labrador or golden retriever. If you’re relatively inactive, look at smaller dogs that get tired quickly.

These pups can’t help the characteristics that were bred into them, and while you may want to pick one over the other based on aesthetic, you’ll be much better off if you don’t attempt to fight nature. Consider rescuing a dog as well often the pup’s personality is well-known by workers at the animal shelter, and they can help you find your perfect match.

Mochi plays with balls at Spring Canyon Dog Park May 3. (Collegian | Tri Duong)


You can definitely have a dog in an apartment, but you may want to consider what parks and trails are nearby. If you have a yard, you’ll need to make sure your new buddy can’t slip out of the gates. Considering the space you have access to is vital in considering what kind of dog you should get and if you should get one at all. Your pet deserves to live a happy life, and outdoor time for dogs is the minimum requirement for joy.


Not everyone stays in their college town over the summer, and if you plan on heading home, you need to secure transport for your dog. You may even want to consider post-college plans. Even if a dog feels like a great idea now, you are committing to that animal for the rest of its life, meaning it’ll be joining you in all of those adventures. If you feel like you’d be better off solo, don’t half-commit to a dog. On the other hand, if you’re down to commit and it feels doable, all dogs deserve a happy home.

Puppy love is magical, but if you truly want a dog in your life, remember the responsibility. Missing pets at home is no reason to be rash, but a truly loved and cared-for college pet has the ability to change your college experience.

If you feel confident about cost, free time, breed, location and your future plans, consider filling that puppy-shaped hole in your heart with a likely enthusiastic new buddy.

Reach Ivy Secrest at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @IvySecrest.