by Katelyn Schutz, CPDT

The Perfect Pet for You: the College Grad!

So you’ve just graduated college, and you’re out in the real world. Perhaps you have your first place all on your own, and you’d like a companion pet to come home to. But how will you pick the perfect pet for your lifestyle? Let these tips help guide you match the right pet for you!

The smartest decision I ever made after college was to adopt my rescue Springer Spaniel, Brogan. He enriched my life so much more, and he was a loyal, unwavering cohort during all my quarter-life crises. However, there are many pros and cons to owning a dog all on your own.

Dogs are high maintenance. They require a lot of consistent care, and this can be rather demanding for one person to do entirely. If you’ve just graduated college, the future is limitless before you, and this new potential could lead to many changes in your future. Especially when trying to balance a new work and social life, it may be too challenging for you to provide a dog with the constant care and attention it needs. Really assess what your daily schedule is like before getting a dog, to see if you can commit to that higher level of care. Remember if you need help, Wisconsin Pet Care provides professional dog walking services for you during your busiest of times!

Puppy vs. Dog. Being that this is the probably the “prime time” of your life, a puppy may be a perfect match for your active lifestyle. Daily walks and socializing activities could be your forte, making a puppy are wonderful companion. Conversely, puppies require a lot more work, so they may not match a more demanding schedule. Hiring a professional dog walker is a must in this case! Or consider a lower maintenance adult dog, perhaps from a rescue who is already known to be house-trained and isn’t full of excessive puppy energy.

Sadly, there are many “breed restrictions” for dog owners, so do your homework and research thoroughly on what type of pet may be best in this situation. Thankfully, Wisconsin Pet Care does not believe in these restrictions, and we are happy to provide professional pet sitting, no matter the size, shape, or color!

A feline friend may be the perfect match for your busy lifestyle. I always appreciated my easy cat during this time of my life, as I didn’t have to worry about rushing home to “let the cat out” and could instead go out with my new colleagues after work. Though cats still require daily exercise and attention, their lower maintenance care could be very appealing to those who live life on the move. They are smaller animals that don’t require too much space, which could be convenient for those in apartment living or sharing space with roommates.

Small animals can also make easy, fun, and inexpensive pets for someone in their early 20s. Consider an “ordinary” small animal instead of an “exotic” pet (ie: a guinea pig, instead of a sugar glider). Exotics are notoriously higher maintenance and often having special habitats with challenging upkeep. An exotic pet could be a time-consuming, financial burden on a recent college grad. When I had sugar gliders, it was always a challenge to move with them, since their enclosure took up so much space. Their specialized care made it challenging to be away from home long. I sure wish Wisconsin Pet Care had been around back then to help me with professional pet sitting!

Please consider that at this time of your life, you may need to move… and frequently. I personally moved 4 times between the ages of 22-26, before we finally bought our first home. A job, a relationship, or an opportunity may come up that requires you to pack your bags. It’s important to pick a pet that is highly resilient to change, and that can easily travel with you. No matter if you rent or own, Wisconsin Pet Care is happy to come in and provide professional in-home pet sitting services!

Be proactive during times of change. Plan ahead whenever possible, and make arrangements for your pets. If you’re moving, consider adding calming pheromone therapy to your cat and dog to ease them during the transition. On moving day, it may be best to make arrangements for your pets to be somewhere neutral, so no one slips out the door while you’re moving boxes and furniture. Hire a professional pet sitter or dog walker to keep your pet feeling relaxed, well-exercised, and loved during these times of stress.

Don’t forget — if you are renting, you may be required to pay more each month in order to have your pets. It’s always wise to have renters or home owners insurance cover your pet as well. Plan ahead, and put money aside for extra expenses. Perhaps put a certain percentage of every paycheck into a “pet fund”, in case of emergencies or unforeseen vet visits.

Of course, every pet is an individual, so these guidelines will go on a case by case basis. Not all old pets act old, and not all animals follow their typical breed standards. Assess each pet individually, and decide what pet is best for your lifestyle. Let these starting points lead you to your perfect pet!