You’ve just taken your last exam and couldn’t feel more relieved that the stress of the school year is finally coming to an end. As you pull your car into the driveway and push all your post-exam what-ifs out of your head, you feel free from the responsibilities that tied you down to a set routine. You close your car door, and your phone buzzes. It’s your friend texting you to see if you want to go out tonight to celebrate the end of the year. You accept and swiftly open the door to your house, walk in and throw your backpack down in relief. Finally, you can relax and do what you want for a change — of course, not exactly, because you have pets to worry about.
As you sink into the couch and turn on the last episode of “Tiger King,” your heart skips a beat. You forgot to feed Willow, your four month old black lab, this morning and run upstairs to get her out of her kennel. You find her sitting on your bed, cowering suspiciously on top of one of your pillows. You pull her off the pillow she’s sitting on and feathers rip from a grapefruit sized hole and disperse across your room.
Upset at yourself for forgetting to lock her cage this morning, you sigh, relieved that she didn’t run away. Then you notice that your sheets are littered with garbage, urine and feces. Willow runs off with her tail between her legs, and you get to work cleaning her masterpiece. You thought you could handle the responsibility of pet ownership but, as you text your friend explaining why you won’t be able to make it out tonight, you regret biting off more than you could chew.
Taking care of your own well-being in college is tough enough, but some college students wish to take on even more responsibility by getting a college pet. Pets can be amazing companions but may also magnify the stress of college, tying you down with more restraints than you can handle.
Some pets require more work than others. Having a pet fish is generally not much responsibility. You have to feed them and clean their tank, but they don’t require training. Having a dog in college, on the other hand, takes up much more of your time and requires much more involvement.
Although more difficult to train animals require an immense emotional and physical investment, the relationships you can make with animals like dogs and cats are stronger and more rewarding. To determine what sort of pet you should get in college, you need to define your ideal pet and come to terms with the practical amount of care you can provide it.
If you don’t have the time to take care the pet, you shouldn’t get it, but if you believe you can take on the responsibility of owning a smarter, harder to train animal, you will not be let down by the amazing experience.
Dogs are intelligent and loving animals, but they require a large investment of time and energy to ensure they are trained properly. Anyone who has owned a dog knows it is not an easy task. If you are considering buying a dog, you will need to purchase a kennel or dog crate, food and water bowls, canned or dry food, a collar with an ID, a dog bed, shampoo and grooming products to keep the dog clean and healthy.
Even without the expense of vet trips, owning a dog can be very expensive. You will have to pay for the ownership of the dog, vet expenses, food, licensing and all the future carpets that will have to be replaced after your new friend chews them up.
Besides the financial obligations of ownership, you must also provide them with a lot of personal attention, especially while they are young. These obligations can discourage many from getting a dog, but if you have the time and energy to invest, then it is a worthwhile endeavor.
College is not the easiest time to own a dog, but if you believe you can do it, you should. If you are looking for dogs that can be trained complex behavior, you should consider getting an intelligent breed. Border collies, German shepherds, golden retrievers and poodles are considered some of the smarter breeds. If you are someone with less time available to train, then you should look at breeds that are less destructive and easy to deal with, like basset hounds, beagles and bulldogs.
Cats are solitary creatures and require less one-on-one attention than dogs, but they are still a large responsibility. To own a cat, you will need a cat carrier, food and water bowls, food, a cat bed, a collar with an ID tag, toys and a litter box. You will also have to pay for trips to the vet and medication.
Although cats require less attention than dogs, you still need to socialize them and get them used to different people and environments. Spending time with your cat is especially important during the first few months of adolescence. This crucial time period is known as the prime socialization period.
A few more daily responsibilities of cat ownership include cleaning out their litter box, grooming, training and providing them with enough social stimulation and toys to keep them entertained. Owning a cat may be considered easier than owning a dog, but it is not a simple task. If you wish to own a cat, Maine coons and Siamese cats make loyal, playful companions and are easy to train. The short hair of Siamese cats allows for less routine grooming and makes this breed very popular among cat lovers.
Birds are very intelligent pets and can be trained to complete problem solving and mimicking skills. Four legged pets need ample space to roam, but birds are perfectly suited for owners who have less space in their house or apartment. Having a pet bird is less expensive than owning a cat or dog, and takes up much less space, making birds an ideal pet for a college student with small living quarters.
The initial materials you will need to own a bird are food, a cage with a perch, water and food bowls, cage liners and toys. You will also need to care for the bird’s health by bringing it to the vet, but the veterinary expenses of birds are much lower than those of dogs or cats.
Two of the most popular pet birds are budgies and cockatiels. The budgie, a small parakeet, ranks just below dogs and cats as the most popular pet in the world. Budgies are a smart and charming companion and very inexpensive. Like other types of parakeets, they can be taught to mimic human speech.
Cockatiels are also relatively inexpensive and can live for up to thirty years. These birds require larger cages than a budgie, and it is recommended that you buy the less aggressive female, rather than having to deal with the moody nature of male cockatiels.
Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
Reptiles are air-breathing vertebrates that are usually covered by scales. This class of animals includes turtles, crocodiles, snakes and lizards. Although I have never been a fan of keeping reptiles as pets, many find them to be amazing companions that are easy to deal with.
A larger habitat is usually preferred for reptiles and it needs to be temperature-controlled between 70 and 80 degrees because of their cold blooded nature. You may also need a humidifier, to keep the pet’s habitat damp, and a light to provide the vitamins they typically receive from sunlight. A few of the most popular reptilian pets are bearded dragons, snakes and tortoises.
Amphibians are small vertebrates that need water or a moist environment to survive. These creatures will also need a habitat fitted toward their ideal temperature, humidity and light. Amphibians, like reptiles, make excellent pets for college aged kids because they do not require much work and are very resilient. Two good amphibious pets to think about getting are the Pacman frog and the Axolotl.
The Pacman frog is fairly large and doesn’t require much work; however you must make sure that their habitat’s temperature remains around 80 degrees Fahrenheit to keep them healthy. An Axolotl is a water dwelling amphibian that needs at least a 10-gallon aquarium to be comfortable. This carnivorous creature feeds on worms and prefers colder temperature and low amounts of light.
Similarly, fish are easy to take care of, but like reptiles and amphibians, they require a specialized habitat that fits their needs. You will need to first pick out an aquarium that is large enough for the fish you want. To keep the tank clean and the pH and temperature constant, you will need to purchase a filtration system, air pump, test kit, water heater, live rock, lighting, plants and gravel or sand. Although this seems like a lot, most of the work that goes into owning a fish is creating the habitat, and once completed, owning a fish is generally straightforward.
If you wish to buy a freshwater fish, a few popular options are rasboras and goldfish. If you want to put in a little more work and get a saltwater fish, you will need to purchase saltwater mix to create an ideal habitat. A few good saltwater fish to have as pets include tangs, a resilient and beautiful tropical fish and chalk bass, a durable fish that can thrive in less than optimal conditions. Tangs require a tank of at least 100 gallons, but chalk bass can survive in a much smaller environment.
Whatever pet you choose, make sure you will put in the time and energy necessary to keep your friend happy and healthy. Instead of providing an unfit home for the animal, wait until you have the maturity to properly care for your potential pet. You will be doing a courtesy to yourself and the animal you wish to adopt.
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