Your Guide To Owning A Dog In College

So you did it, you’re finally moving out of your parent’s house and going to college. It’s the first step towards becoming a real adult, and the first time you will ever truly have freedom. Maybe, you don’t want to enter college alone though. This could be the perfect time to finally get the dog you’ve wanted since you were little. 

Maybe you’ve had a dog your whole life and would go crazy without your daily dose of dog cuddles. Either way, owning a dog is a huge responsibility, especially when you’re going away to college. This is your guide to successfully owning a dog when moving away for college.

Your Guide To Owning A Dog In College. Boston Terrier Society.
This could be you writing a paper.

The Benefits Of Owning A Dog In College

Owning a dog in college can be a great way to feel more at home. College classes can be stressful, and you may not know anyone at your new school. Adopting a dog gives you a sense of family every time you come home. You also won’t have to say goodbye to your pet when you go on holiday as he will go right along with you to meet your parents. 

Companion For Life

Even after you graduate college, you will have your dog by your side. To top it all off, having a pet in college can be a great way to start conversations with other students when going for a walk.

Sense Of Purpose And Responsibility

A dog will also give you a sense of responsibility other than trying to make it to class on time. A dog has to be walked on time, fed on time, and can cause trouble if left alone for long periods. 

Become Thrifty

Dog’s will also cause you to spend your money more wisely to pay for food, toys, and vet visits. If you get a puppy, then you will have a lot of training to do, which can be a rewarding experience.

The Negatives Of Owning A Dog In College

Not everything with dogs will be sunshine and rainbows. Dog’s are great companions, but they can also be a challenge. Dog’s even when adopted from a shelter will need plenty of training. Some dogs will take a lot longer to train. This means you will be cleaning up a lot of accidents. 

Dogs Must Be Taken Care Of No Matter The Situation

You should also keep in mind that even if the weather is bad or you have a final coming up you still need to walk your dog. Walking your dog can get stressful when your dog needs to go out at the exact moment you’ve sat down to take a timed quiz online. 

You May Need To Get A Job To Cover Costs

A part-time job may also be necessary to have to help cover your dog’s expenses. Keep in mind dogs do get sick, this means you may be hit with a vet bill you weren’t expecting.

Damage Control

Dogs, especially puppies, can be quite destructive. You can come home to find your comforter in shreds or even find that your puppy has dug a hole in the carpet. Damage to your apartment can cause some expensive repairs that may not always fit into your budget. 

Moving Can Be Hard

Also, you will want to keep in mind that it will be harder to move, you will only be allowed to stay in a pet-friendly apartment. If you get certain breeds like a pit bull, the search for a new place can become even harder, stick with Boston Terriers and you will be just fine. For a student who needs to commute to school, this can cause a lot of issues. 

Travel Issues

Finally, remember that it’s harder to go on spring break trip or go on trips at all when you own a dog. You either need to bring them with you or pay the money to board them.

Planning on traveling with your dog? Check out my travel articles:

What To Think About Before Choosing Your Dog

You will need to do plenty of research before you commit to buying a dog while in college. Think about what types of dogs you would want to own. 

  • Do you want to get a puppy or an adult dog that already knows basic commands? 
  • What kind of places do you want to adopt your dog from? 
  • How much dog can you afford? A Bullmastiff will eat more food than a Boston Terrier, costing you more in monthly food bills.
  • Do you want a low energy or high energy dog?
  • Do you want a small dog or a big dog?
  • What kind of dog is authorized at your current apartment or college dorm?


Choosing to buy a puppy? You’re going to be paying hundreds of dollars. Even if you get a free puppy, then you will still need to take on vet bills. A puppy will need to be spayed/neutered, have several rounds of puppy shots, and may even need to be dewormed. 

If you buy a purebred puppy from a breeder, you’re going to pay a hefty price for some popular dog breeds like huskies or bulldogs.


If you get an adult dog, you will need to be prepared for time adjusting to a new setting. Shelter dogs are an excellent choice for anyone looking for an adult dog that already has basic training. Still, the adjustment period can be rough, and dogs tend to chew on things when their stressed and have more accidents. 

Will you need to crate?

You will also need to decide if you need to crate your dog when you’re not at home. Or will you have roommates who will help take care of the dog while you’re away?


Finally, think of what type of lifestyle you live, are you incredibly active? Some dog breeds will need long periods of exercise time each day. You will want to ask about the exercise needs before committing to a pet.

Can My Dog Stay In A Dorm?

The general answer to this question is a solid NO. Unless your dog is a registered service animal, most colleges will evict you from your room if they find you are secretly harboring a pet. Likewise, most dorm rooms are shared so your dog would be close to your roommate. 

Dorm rooms are also tiny and don’t give dogs an adequate amount of room to move around even if they are a small breed. If you want to keep a dog while at college then you will most certainly need to live in either an apartment complex or rent a house.

Picking Dog-Friendly Housing

The biggest hurdle many animal lovers have to overcome when moving is finding housing that will allow or can adequately accommodate their pets. If you don’t own a car, then you’re going to be relying on commuting. If you can get an apartment within walking distance to your campus, then getting to class on time will be a breeze. 

Sadly, you may find that obtaining an apartment near your college that allows pets might be hard. Most college students don’t own dogs or cats because landlords don’t allow them. If you want a medium to large dog, you may find that even many of the pet-friendly apartments have strict weight limits. Make sure you pick an apartment with an excellent place to walk your dog.

Pet Fees and Deposits

When you do manage to find an apartment that allows pets, you need to be prepared for a hefty pet deposit. Plus, most apartments charge an addition no refundable fee each month for every pet you own. When I lived in an apartment, the cost was an extra $20.00 on my rent each month.

Pet deposits can be refunded when you leave the apartment complex as long as your pet hasn’t torn anything up. If they do cause damage to the apartment, you will lose your deposit. Deposits can be anywhere from $100 to upwards of $500 plus.

Roommates & Pets

If you’re planning to have roommates to help make rent cheaper, then you will need to inform them about your pet. If you don’t let your roommates know you are bringing a dog home, then arguments can quickly arise. You could even be rooming with someone who is severely allergic to dogs. 

Other roommates may simply not want to deal with the noise or mess a dog can bring. This can cause your roommates to move out or create a very hostile environment for the duration of your stay at the apartment. 

Create Groundrules

If your roommates are ok with the new addition, then you need to set some ground rules. Make sure you make clear what types of interactions are ok with your dog. For example, you may not want your dog fed table scraps or your dog around strangers. 

If you trust your roommate, you may even be able to enlist them for help walking your dog if you plan to stay out late one night. Make sure that all conversations involving your dog are clear so that no boundaries are crossed.

College Campus & Pets 

You may be so proud of your dog that you immediately want to take him for a walk on campus to show him off to your peers. Make sure to check your campus rules to see if pets are allowed to visit first. Many colleges won’t allow pets or will only allow them in designated areas. This rule is likely because of allergies or potential issues that could pop-up from having an animal on campus. 

You should only take your dog on campus around large groups of people once they are well-trained. It is common for untrained or misbehaving dogs to be asked to leave. Unless your dog is a service animal, though, don’t expect your pet to be able to come with you to class or enter any college-owned facilities.

Final thoughts…

Owning a dog while in college is possible. However, there are some hurdles you’ll need to consider. You will probably need to find an apartment off-campus. Also, you’ll need to find out if your roommates will be ok with you getting a dog. And more importantly, you will need to crunch the numbers to see if you can not only buy a dog but afford the ongoing monthly bills required to keep a dog healthy and happy.

Donnie Gardner

Donnie Gardner is the owner of the Boston Terrier Society. He has been raising Bella the Boston since 2010. He resides in Kansas with his wife, daughter, and Bella. His favorite activities are hanging out with family, traveling, running (but has bad knees), and reading non-fiction books.

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