Tips and tricks on how to prepare for getting a dog while in college


Hunter Clark

Weezii on Sept. 11 at Willow Glen park in Santa Barbara, Calif. Weezii is one and a half years old.

Hunter Clark, Staff Writer

Our love story has a modern beginning; we met online. 

From the breeder’s photos, it was hard to tell if what I was looking at was even a dog. His wrinkled face, batlike ears, stout body, and twisted tail looked more pig-like than a descendant of wolves. He was perfect and, after withdrawing a small fortune and a short road trip, Weezii was mine. 

But, even after years of wanting a dog, I was not fully prepared for just how much my life was about to change. Here are some things you might want to consider before getting a dog in college. 


The first thing you should be asking yourself is if you are allowed to have pets. Finding an affordable place to live in Santa Barbara as a college student is hard enough; a dog is not going to make things any easier. 

If your landlord does allow roommates with four legs, be sure to research breeds suitable for your current living situation and future ones. 

Before you go scouring local animal shelter websites, consider the people you live with. Is anyone allergic? Who’s going to be looking after them when you are in class or at work? What about vacations? Everyone in the house should be on the same page about the dog and its needs.


Dogs are expensive. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that on average dogs cost around $1,400 annually and more than twice that amount in the first year of ownership. 

If you go the adoption route rather than surrendering to breeders’ exorbitant prices, you could still be paying thousands of dollars a year for your companions’ food, toys, bedding, and emergency vet bills. That’s a lot of money for a college student on a tight budget. 

Weezii running on Sept. 11 at Willow Glen park in Santa Barbara, Calif. Clark first got Weezii on Oct. 2, 2021.
Weezii running on Sept. Willow Glen park in Santa Barbara, Calif. Clark first got Weezii on Oct. 2, 2021.

Time Commitment 

Taking care of a dog is a major time commitment, and you are in it for the long haul. Your schedule should be able to handle multiple walks a day, bathroom breaks, regular meal times, bonding, playing, and training. 

If you decide to get a puppy they are going to need even more supervision over the course of your first year together. During the first few months of owning Weezii I could not sleep for more than a couple of hours before his next bathroom break. 

Dogs thrive with routine, and habitual behavior translates well for dogs as they adjust to their environments. It is important to look ahead and decide if you can handle a routine for the entirety of your furry friend’s lifetime. A lot can happen in 10-15 years!

Prepare for the hard times

The first few months of owning Weezii was a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Loss of sleep and a more rigid schedule had me feeling overwhelmed and unsupported. I was not prepared for my life to change so much. I questioned whether I had done the right thing, and many times I thought I would need to find Weezii a new home. I had a bad case of the puppy blues.

Over time these feelings passed and things got a lot better. Now I can’t imagine my life without him. Owning a dog in college comes with sacrifices, but it is a small price to pay for unconditional love and a lifelong friendship.