Beginning college is an exciting time for students, but leaving behind home, family, friends, and furry companions can be difficult. Many universities allow students to have fish tanks, small caged animals, or even cats, which you may find roaming designated dormitories at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Although colleges have historically been reluctant to welcome pups on campus, that trend is changing. College-bound students looking to bring Fido to school may want to give consideration to this list of colleges and universities that have opened their doors to canine dormers.
Posted by Lauren Barker
Dogs aren’t just pets at Eckerd College, they’re classmates! Eckerd College has been welcoming pets since 1973, and today boasts 16 pet residence halls. Furry friends are part of campus life, and good boys and girls might get their picture posted on the Eckerd Pets of Instagram page. Every October, the college hosts a blessing of the pets, and each spring, the class of outgoing pets is honored with a graduation ceremony complete with a diploma presented by the college president. Visiting pups also are permitted on campus as long as a Visiting Pet Registration Form is filled out a week in advance.
Your pooch will love playing in the on-campus pet park, but St. Petersburg is also home to Fort De Soto Dog Beach, one of BringFido’s Best Gulf Coast Dog Beaches, and many dog runs, including five-bone rated North Shore Dog Park. Fido will have plenty of space to run and play when he’s not studying.
To attend Eckerd, dogs must be at least one year old and weigh no more than 40 pounds. They are required to have lived with the student or the student’s family for at least 10 months prior to moving onto campus. The cost to register a pet is $175.
Faculty and staff at Lees-McRae College are encouraged to bring their four-legged friends to work, and students are permitted to have family pets in select on-campus residences. Many professors even allow students to bring their furry friends to class. Before the academic year begins, the college holds an open house for students attending with pets, and during the visit, Fido can pick up a Lees-McRae doggy T-shirt, collar, or toy from the bookstore to show his school spirit.
The college is nestled in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and is surrounded by many pet-friendly trails and places to explore. The location plays a large part in the college’s mission to be a steward of the planet and all its animals. The May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on campus admits more than 1,500 injured and orphaned wildlife species each year. Students work at the center to rehabilitate animals and return them to the wild.
Banner Elk is also home to many dog-friendly businesses. Students can bring Fido to study over a cup of coffee at Banner Elk Cafe or meet friends for dinner on the patio of Sorrento’s Italian Bistro, both located on the edge of campus. Just a 20-minute drive south is Grandfather Mountain, home to 11 dog-friendly hiking trails and spectacular views.
Students in their second year or later are welcome to bring dogs up to 40 pounds, and the registration fee is $250 per semester.
Stop by the president’s office at Stephens College and pick up a treat for Fido. The campus has been welcoming pets for more than 10 years and is so pet friendly they even provide doggy daycare services for students' pets. Throughout the year, the college holds several dog-friendly events, including a pet Halloween costume party and pet graduation.
If you don’t already have a furry friend to bring from home, Stephens College has partnered with a local no-kill animal shelter to allow you to foster pets in dorms. In addition to the college’s typical curriculum, students can pick up new skills by caring for, training, and nurturing animals back to health so they can be adopted. There’s even a chance for a scholarship award for those who foster.
College-bound canines will love the town of Columbia as well. There are dog-friendly hiking trails and a beachside park at Stephens Lake, and an off-leash 200-acre park and hiking trails at Grindstone Nature Area. Restaurants like Shakespeare’s Pizza Downtown and Main Squeeze provide dog-friendly patio seating for dinner with friends.
To attend Stephens College, dogs must be at least six months old and registered with the city of Columbia. The fee to have a pet on campus is $210 per pet, per year.
Stetson University opened its doors to dogs in 2010, allowing them to reside in three on-campus residences. In 2017, a local Eagle Scout built Stetson Dog Park, adjacent to the pet-friendly University Village Apartments. The park, accessible only to students and faculty, provides plenty of grass and shade for dogs to run and play.
Dogs will feel at home in DeLand, which is just 30 minutes east of Daytona Beach. The town boasts many pet-friendly restaurant patios and pet boutiques like Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming and Gurrs & Purrs. Students who want to put down their books and get active with their pups should head to Hontoon Island State Park, a dog-friendly island accessed by ferry or private boat.
Dogs up to 50 pounds are welcome to live on campus. They must be at least one year old and have lived with the student or student’s family for one year prior to move in. The registration fee for a dog is $50 per semester.
Washington & Jefferson College
Presidential pups are welcome in three pet-friendly residence halls, and in the on-campus housing for live-in staff at Washington & Jefferson College. Students can walk Fido in a large green space featuring waste bag dispensers, located just outside the pet-friendly residences. During finals week at the end of each semester, the college’s U. Grant Miller Library hosts “Paws for a Study Break,” and Canine “counselors” are brought in to relieve stress and lift spirits. The event has become a tradition for students and staff.
For an off-campus meal, students can take their furry friends to nearby Buford’s Kitchen or Kopper Kettle where pups can enjoy “Paws on the Patio” every Friday night. Washington & Jefferson College is just 30 minutes south of Pittsburgh, home to many dog-friendly attractions like the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden and dog boutiques like One Haute Dog.
Dogs up to 40 pounds and at least a year and a half old are welcome in Washington & Jefferson College's Pet House residences. Pets must have lived with the student at least six months prior to applying. The registration fee is $50 per pet.
Johnson & Wales University Providence
Johnson & Wales University Providence students might be known as the Wildcats, but felines aren’t the only furry faces allowed on campus. Dogs are welcome on select floors of three residence halls, and each one features a designated pet relief area with waste bag dispensers. For students who don’t have a pup or are unable to bring the family pet to school, the university’s “Paws to Destress” event allows students to interact with therapy dogs during finals week, so everyone has the chance to benefit from tail wags and puppy snuggles.
The capital city of Rhode Island is home to many pet-friendly restaurants and attractions. When students need a caffeine fix to get through exams, they can take their pups to Coffee Exchange for a cup of Joe. But if studying requires an all-nighter, The Bar at AS220 is open late for a midnight snack break on the pet-friendly patio. Of course, there are plenty of options for free time as well. Shop for new reading material with Fido at Books on the Square or catch a flick at Rustic Tri View Drive In, where dogs are always welcome.
Johnson & Wales University accepts dogs up to 40 pounds who are at least a year old, and there is a required $250 cleaning fee per academic year.
Clarion University in northwestern Pennsylvania has been welcoming four-legged companions on campus since 2019 with the hopes of making college life feel a little more like home. Students with pets are assigned to designated housing and sections of buildings. The university hosts pet-friendly events throughout the school year, like “Pets and Popcorn with the President” where students can show off their furry roommates during a chat with the university’s president, Dr. Dale.
Dogs up to 40 lbs, at least one year old, and a member of the student’s family for at least six months are welcome. There is a $200 pet fee for each academic year.
Lyon College allows dogs in one designated pet-friendly residence hall that houses up to 20 students and their furry friends. Campus canines and their humans are welcomed with an encouraging letter from the college’s Presidential Pet, Wendy, who also serves as the Dean of Pets and Director of Pet Life. Dogs can even get their own education at Pet Obedience Classes. Two- and four-legged scholars will have a great time at Schram Memorial Bark Park, centrally located on campus, and each October, the college hosts a Blessing of the Pets. Visiting pets are also allowed on campus and in the dog park, but not inside standard residence halls.
Batesville is located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains and on the White River, providing many opportunities for great outdoor experiences with Fido. When it’s time to hit the books, cram over a hand-crafted espresso on the dog-friendly patio of The Pinto Coffee and Comida.
Lyon College welcomes dogs up to 50 pounds who are at least a year old. Pups must have lived with the student or student’s family for 10 months prior to move-in, and the fee for a pet on campus is $50 per semester.
University of Northern Colorado
Located between the Rocky Mountains and Colorado’s high plains, the University of Northern Colorado is the perfect place for a studious, yet adventure-seeking pup. The university welcomes pets on three floors of Lawrenson Hall and in all single rooms of Belford Hall. Waste stations are scattered near the pet-friendly dorms, and there are plenty of places to walk a leashed pup throughout campus. Students without their own pets who still want to experience the joys of a furry friend on campus can apply to be a roommate of a student with a four-legged companion.
Students can take active canines to run off leash at Rover’s Run Dog Park or for a stroll along the Poudre River Trail in Greely, or visit nearby Fort Collins for additional pet-friendly activities. The excitement of Denver and the Colorado Rockies are also within a two-hour drive.
Dogs up to 40 lbs and at least six months old are welcome on campus. There is a $100 housing fee, but no additional pet fee is charged unless damages occur or excessive cleaning is required.
Are You Ready to Bring Fido to College?
Before making the decision to bring a dog to college, students should consider the amount of free time they’ll have, the cost of caring for a dog, and the age and activity level of the pet.
There are some overall rules to keep in mind, too. Make sure Fido is up to date on all vaccinations and spayed or neutered. Pups should be house-trained, quiet and well behaved around other people and canines, and always kept on leash when outside of dorm rooms. Of course, students should always pick up after their dogs on campus.