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Jessica Schlosser, co-owner of Lizzi & Rocco's Natural Pet Market, says soon-to-be pet owners should match their lifestyles with the pet's temperament.

Apartment living isn’t usually spacious, and student schedules are chaotic, so if you’re looking into getting an animal in the future, there are a lot of details to consider. Although coming home to a wagging tail and four legs of unconditional love sounds great, it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into before heading to your local pet store or shelter.

Pet policies

Bringing along a pet to your new home might affect your deposit or monthly rent, which means it’s important to know the pet policy of your apartment complex or landlord. It’s also essential to learn which breeds are allowed in your complex, as many apartments have restrictions in place; so take those into consideration before adopting that Great Dane you’ve been dreaming about. To make all of this a little easier, The Central Missouri Humane Society provides a list of landlords’ pet policies across Columbia on its website.

Research breeds

If you’ve decided a dog is best, it’s time to start researching breeds. Jessica Schlosser, co-owner of Lizzi & Rocco’s Natural Pet Market, says the first thing to look out for is a breed that barks. Your neighbors aren’t going to be too thrilled if they hear yapping all day while you’re in class or at work.

Getting your dog enough exercise is one of the most important things you can do to keep it healthy and happy, Schlosser says. You should also know which breeds need extra exercise. High-energy breeds can do fine in a small space, but you need to be ready to take them on a few walks each day. If a dog has a lot of energy, and you don’t do something to expend it, the dog is likely to use that energy to be destructive in your apartment.

Buy, adopt or foster?

Yes, puppies are cute, but they also require a lot of time and commitment. Schlosser says she wouldn’t recommend students get a fur baby for apartment living. Many times, they don’t realize that getting a newborn animal often means a 10- to 15-year commitment.

Instead, she suggests students adopt a pet that’s 2 or 3 years old from a local shelter. Shelters get to know their animals’ personalities, and volunteers can help you pick one that would be an ideal fit for your living situation. It’s also important to find a pet that is compatible with your lifestyle. “Cats are way easier, especially with people who have really hectic schedules,” Schlosser says. “They’re kind of like a roommate that just kind of acknowledges that you’re there.” But if you’re set on a canine companion, shelter dogs are often older and can handle being left alone in an apartment for long periods of time. If you’re juggling classes, a job and other responsibilities, an older pet might be the way to go.

If you’re unsure about whether you want a pet, or you don’t want the long-term commitment, fostering is an option offered by local shelters. Unchained Melodies and Second Chance let you temporarily house a homeless dog or cat as it waits to be adopted. The animal’s food, toys, veterinary care and other necessities are paid for by the shelter. It’s a great way to have a dog without the years of responsibility. All you’re required to provide is a home and lots of love. 

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For energetic dogs, Schlosser says crating is a good habit to get into before letting them roam alone. 

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