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Hi,
I've been meaning to get a dog for the past year now (besides wanting it for my whole life :)). And I just have some questions and I really need your help.
I am finishing high school and starting college in a year. I wish for a rough collie and I check all the requirements it needs to be happy. My question is will the Rough collie be okay with being alone for 5-6 hours a day? I have school then. Of course my parents will help me take care of him, but for that time he will be alone. I will not get a young puppy, but about a year old dog, because I know that taking care of a puppy is to much to handle right now. I know that dogs need attention and I will give it to him all the time I am home, I just don't know if 5-6 hours is too much for him to be alone.
Also I have a kind pet rabbit at home as well. Will the rough collie have problems with her?
But for the final question, how much does your life change- in terms of social freedom, when you get a dog?

I will really appreciate all the help I can get. If it is not clear as day I am completely new to this situation and am scared s***less.
Thank you.
 

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I suggest you wait until you finish college.

A dog will consume much time and resources that you will need to support your studies. Example: when you are walking/playing with the dog, you will not be able to study or have a social life.

If you live away from home, you will find many rental homes either prohibit pets or require substantial security deposit.
 

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I'm with Knute. Why not wait until you're in a situation where you can offer a dog a proper home yourself without putting so much on your parents? When I did rescue, I had quite a few calls from parents wanting to turn in a dog their kids had relied on them for "help" with and later abandoned with them. I'm sure no one ever intended or believed things would work out like that when they first got the dog.
 

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I would also suggest you wait until getting through college. I don't know where you are, but some colleges even require you to stay in dorms for X years. The first few year of a dog's life is so formative, you'll want to be there for it. Not to say that dogs can't learn to love and trust a person later in life (or else animal shelters wouldn't work, and they do), but it will definitely feel different if you get to raise a puppy through it's first year and beyond. I got my first puppy about 2 years before I started college. At the time my college required 3 yrs dorming on campus, no dogs allowed. It was so hard to leave my dog with my family but I did and it all was fine. And then I moved off campus the last year and had my dog with me. But I am so glad I got a puppy much before college, or I would have waited until after. I studied abroad a lot and I couldn't see my dog outside of holidays the first three years of college. I mean, if this dog will be a family dog and your parents are okay with that, there's no problem. But if this will be YOUR dog, you will be glad to have it and be fully able to devote your time to it in the beginning especially.

Dogs can definitely learn to live peacefully with rabbits but it depends on the dog's breed and breeder, how well you manage your puppy and your rabbit (ie, not just leaving them alone together and hoping they get used to each other), and training. Rough collies tend to be pretty gentle to other animals but I am definitely stereotyping when I say that. And careful separation and introductions with any dog and small animal are important.

Being left alone and social life... It depends! Plenty of dogs are fine being left 5 or even 8 hours or more if they have good genes (ie, not genetically anxious) and proper training to accept this kind of routine. However, puppies don't pop out of the womb ready for that and they will likely need to potty every 2-3 waking hours when you first get one. Same for being left alone as you go do other things. I am speaking VERY loosely here as every dog is truly different. But I think the average companion dog, that is a healthy adult, would do well with 2 hours of exercise and/or mental stimulation a day followed with some independent enrichment, and 3-5 potty breaks throughout the day. Plenty of dogs get by with less than that and plenty get more. But gain, I am speaking generally. Though if you are thinking "how much time a day do I need to devote to having a dog" those could be pretty okay guidelines. However, a puppy is going to need WAY more the first few months of life. At 8-16 weeks a puppy will feel like a full time job since you will hopefully be doing as much socialization as possible - what you do during that age range will permanently affect your puppy's temperament as it matures. Then around 5-10 months the puppy is an adolescent and most people have the hardest time then because of the dog's newfound strength, ultra social nature (or fear, depending on genetics), endless energy, and hormones. If you make it easily past the 1 or 1.5 year mark, everything becomes a lot more consistent and you will look back seeing how it was all worth it.
 
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