nws.dogsafety5.js.7.11.16

Jackson, a Sheltie, pants at Tails 'N Trails Dog Park on July 11, 2016. He played with his two younger siblings during their stay at the park.

Finding a fur-ever friend in college can be a great experience for students, but learning how to take care of them can be rough.

Here are a few things to keep in mind for potential student dog owners.

Dogs have three stages of life: puppy, adult and elder.

Veterinarian Derrick Nelson suggested students adopt adult dogs instead of puppies.

While puppies can be seen as adorable, Nelson said they can be a lot of work and expensive.

Nelson said the puppy stage is one of the most intensive stages in a dog’s life when it comes to training.

There are many different styles for training a dog, including using a kennel or a cage.

Kennel training should be done during the puppy stage, Nelson said. It helps speed up potty and house training, Nelson said.

Kennels are meant to be a den for dogs, veterinarian Christina Minton said. She said dogs who are kennel trained won’t use the restroom where they sleep.

Social work senior Jenny Ba said owners shouldn’t use a kennel as negative reinforcement for dogs if they do something wrong. She said her dog, Sophia, loved her kennel at first, but grew to despise it when Ba used it to reprimand her.

Nelson said the amount of time dogs should be left in a kennel depends on their age. For puppies, it’s around six to eight hours, which can work with a busy student’s schedule.

Business management junior Maggie Borton said she kennel trains for her and her boyfriend’s dog, Maverick. She said it helps simplify their lives, because they can have him in the kennel during the day and let him out to play at night.

Adult dogs can be left alone in a kennel for six to eight hours, Minton said. She said an owner can get away with leaving them alone longer if they are well-trained.

When dogs aren’t being watched, they should be in their kennels, Minton said. She said that it’s not cruel, but provides them with a safe space.

Another thing to keep in mind for puppies is to ensure they get proper vaccinations.

Minton and Nelson said after the dog turns seven weeks old, puppies should get booster shots every couple of weeks.

It’s important for puppies to stay indoors until they are fully vaccinated to avoid exposure to parasites and diseases, Minton said. She said at 12 weeks, puppies are able to get rabies vaccines and be dewormed, which is important for preventing congenital complications before puppies reach adulthood.

After a dog reaches adulthood, they are relatively easier to handle, as owners can be mostly concerned with the upkeep of vaccinations, Nelson said. For senior dogs, it can require more responsibility to help prevent or treat developing medical issues that come with old age.

Ba said at first when she got Sophia as a puppy, it was a little difficult, because she wasn’t trained.

The hardest part for Ba was potty training. Ba potty trained Sophia by providing treats whenever she used the restroom outside.

“Having a puppy is time consuming,” Ba said.

When dogs are puppies, they need bonding time with their owners, Ba said. She said she was able to provide that for Sophia, because she adopted her when she had online classes.

Ba said her mom and boyfriend helped her watch Sophia. Not having others help take care of a dog during school hours can be hard, she said.

For Borton, adopting Maverick last semester was perfect timing, because it lined up with her work schedule and she had extra money to adopt. She said if she didn’t have time to care for Maverick, then she wouldn’t have adopted him.

Borton said adopting Maverick was also made easier by her dog squad, a group of friends who also have dogs that play together. She said it’s a good thing to have support and to also socialize puppies at a young age.

“Our schedules were made with Maverick in mind,” Borton said.

Borton said making a schedule also helped them find time to spend with Maverick.

“It’s essential to spend time with them,” Ba said.

Owners should take their dog’s outside a minimum of three to four hours a day for exercise, Nelson said.

Minton recommended making a list of what students want in a dog and to set realistic expectations before adopting.

Students should also consider the time required, the dog’s size, pet deposits and whether a neighbor would mind barking dogs, Minton said.

Borton said having a dog in college reduces the stresses of school.

“It’s so nice to come home and love on an animal that loves you back,” Borton said.

@madalyncoopUTA

features-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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