Active Dogs And College Living 101: How To Manage Them Both
Having a dog by your side can be a very rewarding and incredible experience. However, if you’re a college student taking care of an active dog, that’s a whole different story.
If you have a Golden Retriever or a trained Husky, then you’re most likely alright leaving them at home for a few hours at a time while you’re in class. However, if you have an active dog, such as an Australian Shepherd or a Russell Terrier, leaving them by themselves for a few hours might not sit well with them.
There are different types of students: Those who commute and leave their dog with a sitter/family, and those who keep their dogs in their dorms while they go off to learn in class. What college dog owners may not realize is that active dogs get very bored very quickly.
Much like humans, their patience runs thin, and if the owners aren’t there to pay attention, that’s when destruction begins. You may come back one day, to ripped up pillows, the toilet paper half eaten, and the classic excuse of “My dog ate my homework” might just become a reality.
Maintaining Stress Levels
Juggling college and maintaining a close relationship with your furry friend is hard, but possible if you follow the right steps to avoid chaos. Step one is to purchase a crate. Although it may be hard cooping your best friend up at first, it’s the best thing that will ensure their safety, as well as ensure that your stress levels remain low.
College can be stressful enough with the amount of homework professors pack onto you. Having that piece of mind that your dog is safe and sound in their crate, unable to destroy everything in sight, will help you better focus on your studies.
It might get extremely hard at times, and on occasions, you may need to stay in class longer than usual for extra study sessions or presentations. In cases like these, it’s best to coordinate with your roommate or a reliable friend to walk your dog if you have multiple classes in a day.
Step two is to keep playtime consistent every day with your friendly pup. If a dog doesn’t get rid of their excess energy, they become a distraction for when you need to study, and they’ll constantly try to gain your attention, by barking, tugging on an article of your clothing, or even jumping on you and scratching you.
Class time is a must, but once classes are over, it’s good to rid your mind of class stress and take a short break. Within this break, you can take a nice hike with your dog around campus, or even on a trail if the weather/environment permits it. By doing this, your dog gets worn out, and you get a break from the stress of college.
Occasionally, you’ll want to focus entirely on your best friend, rather than what your professors assigned for homework. Taking a day to leave your studies up to someone else will greatly increase the bond between you two. It’s always best to find the perfect balance of time to spend with your dog, as well as focus on your studies.
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Keep your dog occupied when you know that you won’t be able to provide an ample amount of time focusing on them. Nylabones are an effective and safe way for your dog to be distracted while you need to study in the library or work on a project with some friends. You can also provide yummy treats to reward them if they remained calm when you needed them to be.
One example of what you can give to your dog is: A little bit of peanut butter spread into a Kong toy. You can freeze it and give it to them as either a reward or a distraction. It will work either way, but freezing it will ensure that they’re busy for much longer. You can also throw a bit of their kibble into the Kong, so that it will be a fun game for them to play when they try to paw the kibble out.
Another example of fun treats to give your dog would be pieces of carrots. Dogs love to crunch on things, and the crunchiness of the carrots will satisfy their need to chew and destroy things, while also making for a nutritious snack.
Another way to maintain an equal balance of paying attention to your dog, while living the life of a college student, is by setting a rigid schedule of when your dog gets to go on a walk. Active dogs tend to be fussier, and they believe that they can bark twenty times a day and you’ll take them on a walk. Of course, with a full schedule of classes, that may not be possible, and your dog might be agitated, like a child throwing a temper tantrum.
However, you have to realize that you’re the dog owner, and you’re essentially the alpha male. As bossy as active dogs tend to get, if they notice that you’re setting a schedule as to what time they can go out and get their exercise, they’ll tend to adapt to your schedule.
While taking them out twice a day isn’t probable, you can choose which time of the day you’ll be able to take them on a long walk, and which times of the day they have to go on a quick walk and go back inside after they’re done doing their business. The maximum amount of hours that a dog can hold their bladder for is roughly eight hours, and that’s only if there’s an emergency and you can’t walk them beforehand. However, it’s best to walk your dog every 3-5 hours for safekeeping.
The good thing about college is that you get to make your own schedule, for the most part, meaning that you won’t be stuck in the typical eight hour middle/high school routine, and you won’t have to worry about taking the school bus and exceeding the amount of time that your dog is left in the cage for.
Creating your own schedule allows for some leeway between classes, which leads to frequent walks for Lassie, and the development of a walking/eating schedule. Puppies up to five months should eat at least three times a day, while dogs over five months should eat twice a day. Dogs are much like a company: The more organized everything is, and the more a schedule is planned in advance, the smoother things will run (even for the most active dogs).