The Top 10 Colleges for Dog Lovers

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Miss your furry friend already? If you fear going away to college because you can’t bring your dog in your carry-on–fear not! While most colleges restrict dogs from campuses, classrooms and dorms, there are quite a few that have a special place in their heart for our favorite canine cuties. And it’s a good thing that unique colleges and universities like this exist because studies have shown that pet therapy can reduce stress and increase positive emotions. Read on to learn about campuses that prioritize paws in their policies.

Wear your love proudly while you’re at it:

10. Lehigh University

Lehigh University understands students want more time with their furry friends. Although most students can’t own dogs on campus, fraternities and sororities are allowed to have “one cat or one dog” per house. So if you want to bring your dog, you’re gonna have to go Greek. And be the chosen one. But before you get frustrated at the lack of on-campus options, know that there are over 240 dog-friendly apartments off campus. You’re practically doggy-paddling in supportive housing. Pun intended. And if you thought frat row wasn’t the best place to raise a dog, think again. Senior Emma Fried said that as a freshman, she knew a frat brother who raised and trained a shelter dog in his frat house. The result? “The dog was so well trained that everyone wanted to take care of it. The boys always fought over who got to sleep with the dog at night.” I sense a dog bromance.

9. University of Northern Colorado

When you think of Colorado, you might think of stoners and snowy mountains–but you should also think of dogs. Surrounding University of Northern Colorado’s campus are scenic nature trails and over 11 dog-friendly parks where you and your bestie can explore the great outdoors together. You can bring your prized pooch to this campus but space is very limited; dogs and cats are only allowed on the 2nd-4th floors in Lawrenson Hall. The University of Northern Colorado also demonstrates its dedication to animal welfare through its humane animal research policies. Although most schools have policies like this, this school takes it one step further in that they also have a checks and balances system to make sure that animals are being treated well.

8. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

University of Illinois is revered for its “work hard, play hard” mentality, but surprisingly, the school also has a soft spot for family pets. One dorm, Ashton Woods, allows not just one but two companion pets per room. And the school isn’t just friendly towards furry friends–it also welcomes more exotic animals. Carly Hendrickson, a recent graduate, explained, “I knew a girl in one of the dorms with an iguana and a 6 ft long boa constrictor. Crazy, but they allowed it.” Although the climate may not be ideal for a long dog walk when the winters reach a shivering 16 degrees Fahrenheit, if you can brave the cold there’s a 80-acre dog park near campus. And, if your future plans include saving a doggy’s life with your medical expertise, this school just might be for you. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign also offers a world-class grad school for veterinary medicine.

7. Lees-McRae College

Ever wondered what it might be like to take your dog to work? If you’re a teacher at Lees-McRae College, you can. The school not only allows dogs, but they “encourage” staff members to incorporate pets into their teaching lives. There’s also a ton of dog-friendly on-campus housing including Baldwin Hall, McMillan Hall, apartments and houses. If you’re still not convinced of the benefits pet policies can create for students, take it from junior Melissa Hooper. She said, “My dog is helping me become a responsible adult, too–I now have a budget plan, so that I can afford to buy his (and my) essentials. He’s great at meeting new people, sparks new conversations, and helps professors and fellow students feel more comfortable in classroom settings.” They even offer a Wildlife Rehabilitation concentration and a Wildlife Biology major that will help prepare you for vet school. Go Team Animal!

6. Washington & Jefferson College

Known for its dorm nicknamed “Pet House” (for its pet-friendly policies), Washington & Jefferson College has a campus that caters to both dogs and cats. Although only one dorm allows dogs, the school is quite small with a population of only about 1,500, so your odds of living in the Pet House are high. If you can’t stand the thought of being placed into a dorm that bans your dog, breathe a sigh of relief: There are many options for your barking bestie in off-campus housing. Washington & Jefferson College also boasts two different science education programs that incorporate animal care. And the Pennsylvanian climate is conducive to mid-winter potty breaks, with the lowest average temperature of 36 degrees Fahrenheit–which, come on, is only light jacket weather.

5. University of Washington, Seattle

Although many people might be put off by Seattle’s reputation for rain, University of Washington students have another claim to fame: their dogs. Not shocking considering that UW’s mascot is a husky and their students are also referred to as ‘dawgs.’ On-campus housing apartments including Windermere, Viewridge, Laurelhurst and Sandpoint all encourage students to have dogs (and dawgs). If partying in the dorms during the week is driving you nuts, the climate for off-campus dog ownership is awesome, boasting 198 pet-friendly apartments. In addition, if you want some time outdoors with your canine companion, there are at least 14 unleashed dog parks and countless other dog-friendly parks in Seattle. University of Washington also offers one of the few pre-veterinary program for undergrads.

4. Stetson University

There’s something to be said for a university that explicitly mentions chinchillas in its list of accepted pets. Along with chinchillas and rats, Stetson University permits dogs in Nemec Hall, Stetson Cove and University Village Apartments. The lovely Florida weather is the perfect climate for breaking out those tennis shoes and taking your dog on a much-needed run. And for those who want to make a career out of helping sick dogs, Stetson University offers a pre-health program which helps prepare students for veterinarian school.

3. Principia College

Principia College in Elsah, Illinois is a great campus for your pup. Their pet policy states that dogs are allowed in all on-campus housing, so you don’t have to worry about getting into the right dorm to bring your dog. Another huge bonus is that unlike most of the other campuses on this list, Principia College doesn’t make students get a permit or a license for their pets. Cross that off your list of annoying things to do. Not only are dogs allowed in on-campus housing, but they are also allowed to roam the campus free (sans leashes). Um, can you say dog heaven? Principia College shows its animal support by offering several animal-centered courses including strangely/weirdly specific topics like “Sea Turtle Biology,” “Ornithology” (bird studies) and “Herpetology” (amphibian studies).

2. Eckerd College

Located in St. Petersburg, Florida, Eckerd College’s weather is absolutely fabulous for taking a between-the-classes stroll with your doggie. As long as your dog is less than 40 pounds and can be caged, eight out of their 12 residential housing locations allow dogs. There are also a total of 241 off-campus apartments that welcome dogs, so if you feel like you need some space from that dorm life, your dog can still come with you. For animal people like me, leaving a beloved family pet at home when you leave for college is one of, if not the most difficult thing you can do. My dog Snickers is the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night, and I couldn’t be anymore thankful that I still have that opportunity,” said senior Hunter Ballack. (P.S. For those of you whose interest in animals also covers those of the aquatic variety, Eckerd College has a stellar marine science program.)

1. Stephens College

Stephens College in Columbia, MO takes the cake as the most dog-friendly school with two-thirds of on-campus dorms allowing dogs. With five dog parks and dog-welcoming off-campus housing available for upperclassmen, Columbia is the perfect place for a canine lover. One of the dorms has a puppy daycare center and they’ve even created a foster program for rescue and shelter dogs and cats. And get this: school officials even help place these pets with prospective students on campus. This ultra-supportive environment for pets has helped countless students. As junior Maggie Johns said, “There is no describing the relief [my dog] provides, jumping around like a kangaroo to say hello after springing out of his crate at max speed. It brings a smile to my face every time. I love that Stephens understands that college is tough and having your pets nearby to snuggle with makes not only the transition easier, but helps daily stresses melt away.

*Note: Keep in mind that every university has a cap on how large the dog is allowed to be and what breeds are allowed to be kept on campus. In most cases, there is a weight restriction that ranges from 40-50 lbs. Dog breeds that are often banned include German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and other breeds that are often considered to be aggressive.

*Updated on Nov 17, 2015 to correct the number of students attending Washington & Jefferson College.

*Updated on Nov 18, 2015 to correct the Wildlife Rehabilitation concentration details at Lees-McRae.

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Chelsea is a senior at the UW-Madison, majoring in Creative Writing and Sociology. In her free time, she enjoys petting strangers' dogs, making a mean fish fry, and riding her bike (until it was inevitably stolen). When she graduates, she hopes to adopt several German Shepherds and become a starving writer in New York City.

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