Jump to content

Pooches and PhDs


iPsych
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone! I know the topic of pets is kind of interspersed around other topics but I thought I'd start a board specifically for having pets in grad school.

 

Right now, I'm not sure where I'll be attending in the fall but ideally, I'm hoping to find a pet friendly apartment and get a small dog.  My family had a dog for 13 years until he passed away this summer and I really miss having something furry and happy to care for and come home to.  I'm thinking that if I spend the summer housebreaking, crate training and creating a feeding/walking routine that can be followed while I'm in school that when I start school in the fall, the dog will be used to spending time home alone (and behaving while doing so).

 

Has anyone else been thinking about doing/done something similar?  How many of you started grad school already having a pet that you brought with you?  What are your thoughts on pets (of any kind!) and grad school?

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We got a ~10 mo sheltie when I graduated undergrad, despite being a street rescue she was already potty trained by the time we got her from the fosters' and is too smart for her own good so things like crate training and basic leash manners were settled before the move. I'm not convinced the only reason it really works for us right now isn't that DH works from home and can give her the attention she needs. On weeks he's out of town I need a dog walker 1-2 times a day since I can be gone for a work day plus and evening class.
HOWEVER,

A friend got a 8 wo corgi right before she moved and it's been a nightmare for her. She didn't have support in potty training and without the proper timing (remember they can only hold their bladder for as months as they are old- so a 2 month old can hold it two hours) the dog is more or less trained two years later.


I would advise getting a young adult or older so you don't have the 2 hour concern. Also, crate train, it's not cruel at all if it's properly size (not greyhound sized crate for a chi and not chi sized for anything bigger, they only need to be able to stand up and turn around) and it's in general safer for you and them. Remember if you're gone for more than 8 hours you need a dog walker (my dog can hold it for 10 hours but I don't like her to for fear of a UTI or accident.) And the expense - we've talked about it the Lobby thread about pets, I think we spend 1500-2000 a year on our dog, and that's without spoiling her too badly and not counting pet rent or deposit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thanks for sharing greenepony! that was very helpful :) I definitely would want to adopt from a shelter and its unlikely that I would get a puppy for the very reasons you stated. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I got a puppy my first year of grad school, and holy moly was pottytraining during my first semester a gigantic mistake. Your strategy sounds way smarter. Buuuut I was in a relationship at the time, SO was unemployed, so it worked out okay. And my dog licked the tears off my face, so that was pretty great. The whole "having a dog" part is wonderful--it's great to come home after a terrible day and have the dog stoked to see me. Unfortunately, there are also a few issues I didn't think of when I got the dog.

 

Depending on how you can schedule things, having a dog in grad school can be great. I've been able to go home around lunchtime, and my roommate takes him out if something happens and I get stuck on campus for 12+ hours. Not knowing your schedule right now (teaching and seminars), I'd be cautious if you live alone and can't get someone to take the dog out. Scheduling conflicts that you can't control will come up, and it's pretty terrible to leave a dog by themselves for that long.

 

I will also say: it's way harder to find pet-friendly apartments in university towns, and they usually rip you off with a huge deposit or extra fee per month for the pet. (in addition to other vet/food/etc costs you'll incur).

 

I don't mean to sound so negative Nancy here--but if you're single/living alone with a dog your first year in a new place with the stress of a new program, things might be dicey.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

commcrazy: You're not being negative, you're being realistic! Which is really helpful :) Right now I'm not sure where I'll be living or if I'll have a roommate so I'm really glad that you brought up how having a roommate can be helpful for times when I end up not being home for 12 hours.  It's definitely something I'll have to think about! Since right now I have no idea about where I'm going or who I'll be living with (if anyone) I just want to have as much information to consider as possible so that when the time comes I can make an informed decision

 

lunarem: It could very easily become too demanding! I think it depends on the program as well.  For example, at one of the programs I applied to I learned about a student who managed to make it work! The dog is well behaved and their schedule allows them to meet the demands of having a dog.  At another program that I applied to I don't think it would be as easy to manage because practicum placements are usually a 35-60 minute drive away from campus which would mean I'd have limited time to stop in and check on the dog before heading to class all evening.  

 

But like you, I want to get a pet soo badly.  I've always been more of a dog person than a cat person but I'm also thinking about looking at adopting a cat since they are much less maintenance and are still something to come home to

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't mean to sound so negative Nancy here--but if you're single/living alone with a dog your first year in a new place with the stress of a new program, things might be dicey.

I want to reinterate this: REALLY pay attention to those pet fee deposits.  Some are absolutely outrageous such as $300 non-refundable deposit along with a $300 refundable deposit and an extra $25 per month.  And yes, that is a real example.  Most places aren't like this so be sure to look around. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You could adopt a shelter dog who's already 2-3 years old, and then you perhaps would not have to housebreak it!  (Although you might have to teach it rules about your place specifically).  Also, you can't rely on any feeding/walking routine that you create over the summer because your schedule might be radically different, and it will likely change every semester.

Anyway, I have been dying to get a dog since I was a child, and especially through grad school.  None of my NYC apartments have allowed dogs though (you can find one, you just have to put in a little effort.  I would suspect it's easier in the Bronx or Queens, near Fordham and St. John's).  I actually just secured an apartment near my postdoc and made sure that it was a complex that allows dogs because I am determined to get one now.  (I also wanted a big dog, and luckily this complex's limit is 100 lbs. which is plenty big for me.)

 

The pet fee for my apartment in Postdoc City (which is nearby a large research university, for obvious reasons) is like the above - $300 initial deposit (non-refundable) plus $30/month extra rent.  However, in the small town to which I was moving, that was quite standard for all of the apartments that allowed dogs, so if you wanted a dog that's pretty much what you had to do.  In NYC most apartments that allow dogs also have additional pet fees and/or additional pet rent you must pay per month.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The towns that I may be moving to typically have a $250 deposit then an extra $25 per month for dogs (so it's unsurprising NYC is a bit more than that).

 

I'm happy you're finally getting the opportunity to get a dog!! They really are the greatest :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just as a note - the $300/$30 is in State College, PA, not here in NYC.  Here in NYC it varies depending on the building and landlord.

 

And thanks!  I am super excited about it!

Edited by juilletmercredi
Link to comment
Share on other sites

FYI- If you do share have a roommate, be considerate about asking them to let out your dog. I lived with roommates (a couple) that had a dog and they were frequently gone for 12-13 hours a day, meaning that I ended up letting their dog out into the yard a few times, playing with him in the afternoon, etc. They were kinda jerks and never thanked me for it. I later got a foster dog while living there and they actually got upset with me one day for saying I was going to go out for drinks and dinner straight from campus, so would be gone for 9+ hours and that they would need to come home around 5pm to let both dogs out. Not even joking. I seriously resented them for basically making me take care of their dog Monday-Friday when they were in class or at work or studying on campus.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Crate training is a must for any dog that will live inside. People tend to think of it as cruel (doggie jail!), but dogs like dens. We covered the dog crate with a blanket, stuck a pillow in it, and pretty much couldn't keep the dogs out of it. The crate thing helps when you have to let repair-people in, or you're dealing with behavior issues or potty training issues, and a variety of things.

Make sure that you learn the laws of the town. Some people like to chain the dog up in the yard while they're away and a significant number of places call that illegal. No dogs on chains without supervision.

Make sure that you have the money to spend on quality food, various accessories (good leashes, etc.), licensing, and vet care. IMOM does great work providing grants for vet bills, but they've only got so much money. Dogs are expensive when they get sick.

Even if you get a dog that's been well trained, go through an obedience class with it. Obedience classes are more about training owners than training the dog. AKC runs several really good programs, like basic obedience and canine good citizen. A well trained dog is a joy. A dog that trains you, instead? Not so much.

Finally, you can't take muttly to conferences. Pre-plan pet sitting. You can check into doggy day care businesses, as well. Every semester I seem to have one day where I can't come home for about 14 hours. Dunno why, but it always works out that way. If I had a dog and no guy to be my doggy-daddy (that sounds weird), I'd take used a doggy day care for my long day. Or some other dog sitter. Large cities have dog walkers. The best business ever has been the yard cleaning industry. Once a week (or more often, depending on yard and dog needs) they clean the mess. Heaven! And not cheap.

I have snakes. I keep them in natural vivs, so I have to spend more of my energy taking care of their plants and soil than I do caring for them. I feed them two or three times a month (depending on season), and spend an aggravating couple of hours every month or so unwinding several feet of shed skin from plants, branches, and whatnot. But, I can leave the house for a few weeks without doing anything more than letting my non-phobic neighbor have a key and instructions on how to use the propane heater should the electricity fail for more than a day during the winter. I have a terrestrial, temperate species, so they spend most of their time snoozing in the dirt. And snake really are cuddly. They're just not the warm kind of cuddly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My husband and I adopted a three year old rescue mutt three years ago, and he's a part of the family. He was already potty trained, which was a huge relief, but like danielewrite writes, we still had to train him to know his name, see us as the alpha, come, and other important commands. However, potty training is a huge time suck, so just focusing on obedience training was much more manageable. We adopted him in the summer, so I was able to spend time with him before I started teaching. Now that I'm a grad student, nothing much has changed in his lifestyle-- other than the cross country move! You'll want to get a dog sitter you trust early on. Meet them. Bring your dog. Get references. We moved clear across the country to a location where we had no friends or family to depend on for dog care, so we did tons of research before we settled on a dog sitter we adore.

 

One great thing about having a dog in grad school is that dogs force you to get dressed, leave the house, and see the sun on a daily basis, no matter how intense your workload. 

 

Also, always adopt! Rescue and shelter dogs are the best. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

FYI- If you do share have a roommate, be considerate about asking them to let out your dog. I lived with roommates (a couple) that had a dog and they were frequently gone for 12-13 hours a day, meaning that I ended up letting their dog out into the yard a few times, playing with him in the afternoon, etc. They were kinda jerks and never thanked me for it. I later got a foster dog while living there and they actually got upset with me one day for saying I was going to go out for drinks and dinner straight from campus, so would be gone for 9+ hours and that they would need to come home around 5pm to let both dogs out. Not even joking. I seriously resented them for basically making me take care of their dog Monday-Friday when they were in class or at work or studying on campus.

 

That sounds awful! I would (like to think that I'd) definitely be more considerate of my roommates time! 

 

danielewrites and proflorax, obedience training class is a great idea! it's definitely something i'll look into if I decide that getting a dog is feasible with respect to both time and money

 

thanks to everyone for your responses! everyone's input has been so helpful :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We really liked going through Dogvacay to find a sitter. We went with the highest rated sitter in the area (one of the most expensive too) and while they cost slightly less than the big dog daycare sites, my dog is one of 2-3 visitor dogs at the time, stays in the home (can even sleep in their bed), and gets along great with the sitters' oldest dog (they have two toy poodles only slightly smaller than my barely-in-standard Sheltie.)

 

For obedience training, aim for the Canine Good Citizen test sites (STAR puppy if they're under 9 mo I think). Sites that have CGC as a goal usually have pretty decent training standards. There is also certifications the trainers can go for but I'm not as familiar with those. AKC allows "all american" designation for the Permanent Alternative Listing so mixes or unknowns can test and compete in most non conformation sports (dogs that look like a specific breed can be designated a certain breed through PAL.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had been planing on getting a dog as a graduation present for myself for the last two years (I use to do competitive obedience and agility and really missed having a dog). Planning ahead though is key for sure. If grad. students can manage having kids you can manage a dog easily. I graduated in December and got my golden retriever puppy Summer (now 5.5 months old) and did exactly what you said... I crate trained from day one, established a regular exercise routine, and attend many obedience classes. Since I have competed for several years in obedience I do most of the training on my own but take her to classes for the sake of being socialized with other dogs/people and having that second opinion about any potential concerns I might have with the trainer. I take her for a 10-15 min bike ride in the morning after breakfast and then she is pretty tired and just sleeps in her crate while I run errands or go to work in the lab. When I have to be out of the house for an extended period of time I just take her to the dog park for an hour or so in the evening and so she can get all the crazy out. A tired dog is a well behaved dog :) 

 

I recently just accepted my offer into a Ph.D. program at UNL and I feel confident that Summer will be totally fine by the time I start. By the way, I also found an apartment that contains a dog park on site, so maybe you can find one too... they are becoming increasingly popular :)

 

Pets are natural stress relievers and antidepressants and that is something almost every grad. student is going to need! So I think having a dog is a great idea as long as you can time manage just a little. If you get a puppy the first 4 months are the hardest so definitely make sure you have those first 2 months to devote a lot of time to him/her... else wise adopting an adult dog is better since they typically are already trained, aren't teething, and don't have as much energy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I feel like I'm the odd one out, haha! I have four pet dogs and two pet turtles, but the dogs technically belong to my parents. Instead of spending money on room and board, I decided to live with my parents during my undergraduate years. 

 

The turtles are all mine. I've been on my own before (studying abroad in Australia), but I feel like this time around with a greater coursework load in grad school and relocating to the middle of nowhere I need some sort of social support. I can't take any of the dogs because my parents are really attached to them; I'd feel guilty taking them away from this nice environment. They'll be better off here with such a nice yard and warm weather! 

 

I currently live in a nice warm area and my turtles love to sun bask on hot days, but I'm now moving to a cold state. I was originally thinking of re-homing my turtles, but I decided against it because I would like some sort of pet to distract me / keep my stress levels down when times get tough. I plan on purchasing a larger tank, a high-quality heater, and a nice basking rock to make them comfortable. I'm also going to buy turtle food in bulk just in case I can't find a pet store around me. I'll order the rest online if need be. 

 

Turtles are much less of a commitment in my opinion because yes I do need to feed them, monitor their health, etc. but don't require the amount of play as a dog would. That and my schedule might be irregular. It's comforting knowing that if I can't make it home in time that my turtles will be fine and will be warm, fed (auto feeder), etc. I would love to own a dog, but I don't feel comfortable doing so until I see what my schedule is like. For now, I'm happy with my turtles. :) 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

I'm signing a lease today for a house with a fenced-in yard, which has motivated me to want to get a dog sooner that I had planned. My roommate will also have a dog, so I think we'll be able to help each other out. I wasn't planning on getting one until after my first semester when I'm settled and know what my schedule will be like, but where I work there are dogs used for research that will be up for adoption soon. There is one I have grown really attached to and I think would be perfect for me, and I think it would be pretty cool to "rescue" a research dog. The only thing is he is not housebroken, and I don't know how difficult it will be to housebreak an adult dog that has never lived in a home (he turns 2 next month). He's also a little older than I'd like (eeeee puppies!), but I think it's wiser to get a dog that is past his puppy stage. Someone talk me out of this if it's a bad idea.... 

Housebreaking an adult dog *can* be easier than a puppy - depending on the train-ability. Bonus, you don't have to get up every few hours because they have a larger bladder. Definitely crate train with a properly sized crate, most dogs will not mess in their den (crate) and that will help with housebreaking- stick with a schedule though. Two is still young for most breeds, barely into adulthood. Just make sure your roomie (and your lease) is up for a second dog and that you will work together.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't mean to be debby downer, and obviously everyone is different etc., but I would ask you to also consider your dogs. While walking them is obviously important, do you think it good for a dog to be alone most of the day? Even if you manage to sneak away every 8 hours or so to let them out, how much time will you actually be able to spend with your dog, and how much will he be alone in your apartment? I personally don't think it very dog-friendly to have them be on their own for hours on end, all day every day. Just my $.02, don't mean to offend anyone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like IRToni, I would ask everyone to please consider very, very carefully before getting a dog while in grad school. Unless one person is at home full-time, I think having a dog should ideally be a team activity in which multiple family/house members take care of it. If you are taking care of the dog alone and have a full-time job (and grad school usually is a full time job), then frankly I doubt that you'll have enough time to give the dog the attention and exercise that it needs, especially if you're living in a house or apartment without a yard. As has been mentioned by others, training a puppy also takes a lot of time and patience that you may not have when you're just starting grad school, so I would absolutely advise against embarking on that particular adventure until you have a whole lot of free time on your hands to devote to your new "baby."

 

Here in Germany, a dog is considered to be a member of your family, and most people typically take their dogs out for a walk a minimum of three times a day if they live in an apartment, some even more often. If you wouldn't leave your child at home alone all day, then it's understood that you also wouldn't leave your dog at home alone all day. I have never heard of a dog here being "crate-trained," and my dog in the US was also not crate-trained beyond showing her how to get in and out for trips to the vet. All dogs need exercise, even small ones, and most of them need lots of it, and they also need stimulation or they tend to develop nervous habits like chewing or licking themselves or other objects. 

 

I believe that an experienced dog owner with a well-trained dog should be able to strike a compromise between grad school time and doggie time, but I honestly wouldn't recommend dog ownership as a new thing to begin with when you also starting a (potentially stressful) period of graduate studies.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have never heard of a dog here being "crate-trained," and my dog in the US was also not crate-trained beyond showing her how to get in and out for trips to the vet.

How much a dog uses the crate depends on the dog. Mine is currently sprawled out in her living room crate, taking a nap and checking up on me. She's happy hanging out on the couch but she's also very happy in her own space in one of her crates. Crate training is certainly not cruel if the dog has plenty of time with their people and it is properly sized- it can be safer in an emergency (first responders can easily locate her and transport her, she can't hide under a bed), easier for house breaking, and can be a safe place (if a dog gets overwhelmed with visitors, they have their own space.) I believe I have mentioned numerous times that I crate my dog when no one is home, but she also gets plenty of exercise. Not including the short walks around meal times, she's done a half marathon this week, even just walking in the evening.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I believe that an experienced dog owner with a well-trained dog should be able to strike a compromise between grad school time and doggie time, but I honestly wouldn't recommend dog ownership as a new thing to begin with when you also starting a (potentially stressful) period of graduate studies.

 

I agree: both having a dog and going to grad school are two huge commitments that are hard enough to adjust to by themselves, let alone together.

 

Obviously before getting a dog I'd want to have a good idea of what my schedule would look like week to week to make sure I can commit to having one. I think waiting until second semester/second year to see how you adjust to grad school then deciding on whether or not to get a dog is a good idea!

 

However, I've had a dog in the past (for 14 years) and once he was housebroken and "crate trained" (it was more like a big penned off area of our basement) he was perfectly fine being home for hours while I went to school and my parents went to work. He was a small dog so maybe that made a difference.  Also, all dogs have different personalities so we were lucky he was a good dog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

GreenePony, when I hear people use the phrase "crate-training" I assume they define it as training the dog to spend long periods of time shut in the crate (up to many hours). If the dog is being let out periodically from the crate (after at most 2 hours), then I don't have any problems with it, and I consider it an absolutely valid "private place" for a dog that likes that kind of space. However, most people I hear talking about crate training literally mean shutting up their dog for hours on end, which is something that causes me worry. Sorry if I wasn't clear ;)

Edited by maelia8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd like to add one more consideration to the mix. Lots of people are (rightfully) talking about the now, but I also want to remind all prospective dog parents to think about the future. We work in a field that requires lots of moving, and often with little or no choice on our behalf. I believe adopting a pet is a lifetime commitment, so before bringing Fido home, ask yourself if you're willing to bring your puppy with you wherever you go. If your post-doc is in San Francisco and it's hard to find affordable pet-friendly housing, are you gonna do what it takes to find a pet-friendly living space or will you give the dog up? If you win a Fulbright, will you bring Fido with you, do you have family who can foster while you are away, or will Fido end up in a shelter? Imagine your life in ten years: do you see an older Buster sitting on your lap? If not, I'd say look into fostering for a local shelter or dogsitting for your friends. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.