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Feb 7, 2017
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Hello everyone, I wondered if anyone could shed light on their experience with time management while studying clinical psychology at the doctorate level. Specifically, I am curious what the dog owner's experience has been. How many hours a week do you find that you are working, and are you able to be home enough to take care of a dog? I understand that this varies program to program.
 
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RejectClinical

10+ Year Member
Jan 22, 2009
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I think it really depends. Some professors really don't care where you are during the week, which allowed a lot of my friends to spend time (working) with their dog. Other professors will expect you to be in lab 9-5 and on some Saturdays. Still other labs will let you bring the dog to lab (albeit not on days when there are participants). You'll still be working quite a few hours, but being with your dog and having the ability to take them out for bathroom breaks is nice. If you're interviewing, I'd get a feel for lab culture (particularly in terms of where you are expected to physically be during the week). I'd also ask what the requirements are outside of lab. If you're at a school that has a ton of class requirements and/or clinical hour requirements, that will certainly limit the time you're with your dog.

With all of that said, I think having a dog that isn't super active is probably a good recommendation. Dog breeds that are more likely to enjoy lazing around are probably going to be better given the number of hours you'll work.
 
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Nov 10, 2016
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MD/PhD Student
Not a dog, but I had a baby between semesters. I've had others in my program get puppys/dogs. Grad school is busy, but I've found that by maintaining work/life boundaries allows for you to have a healthy personal life. Id plan for at least 40 hrs a week. Pre-baby I worked anywhere from 8-12 hrs a day. Post-baby, usually 8 hrs a day but I don't socialize as much during the day. Get in early, get my work done and get out by 4. Like you said, it's all going to vary by program and personal situations, but in my experience I would think it is manageable.


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psychmht88

5+ Year Member
Jan 10, 2012
34
7
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Psychology Student
I'm in a counseling psych program and also have a dog. It's been doable for me, my program does not have a specific lab so I don't have a typical 9 to 5 job. I usually have gaps in my schedule where I can go home and let my dog out. I think it'll be really variable depending on the program.
 
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PSYDNEUROGUY

2+ Year Member
Jul 28, 2016
63
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Psychology Student
Hello everyone, I wondered if anyone could shed light on their experience with time management while studying clinical psychology at the doctorate level. Specifically, I am curious what the dog owner's experience has been. How many hours a week do you find that you are working, and are you able to be home enough to take care of a dog? I understand that this varies program to program.
My husband and I have a dog, both of us are doctoral students (he is in a Pharm.D. program). He works for a hospital while attending classes, I attend classes, see clients in our university clinic and do research. Between us both, we manage to raise our dog just fine. I actually rescued our dog from a pound back when I was in the first semester of my master's program as a Christmas gift to both of us. During our Winter break I crate trained her so that if she needs to, she can be crated up to 8 hours. Typically, my classes go from 1:00-8:30PM during the week, so I am there in mornings with her. My husband comes home typically around mid afternoon, so she gets time out of the crate before he goes to work. All in all, we make sure she is comfortable, balance out her crate time with time at the park on days we don't have too much going on. Obviously when we are home she is lounging around the apartment, she sleeps with us too.

Having a dog, shouldn't be a deal breaker for you to go onto doctoral studies. One of the things you learn being a pet parent that also can translate into you developing as a graduate student and eventual clinician, is time management; knowing what should be done at certain times, know when to have "you time," etc.

Hope this helps.
 
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Dec 4, 2014
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If you already have a dog, don't let it be a dealbreaker. You can make it work, even if you have to pay a dogwalker some days. Tons of people make it work in all kinds of programs, just takes some juggling and maybe a little sacrifice on your part. If you don't have a dog now and are considering getting one, think ahead to the fact that you will likely have to move a few times in the next few years, and who knows where you will match up for internship (and then where you'll end up for postdoc/first job after that). Some cities have breed restrictions (which I think are stupid); some cities have crazy expensive cost of living and some apartments have crazy expensive pet deposits/monthly fees along with size or breed restrictions, and sometimes you'll be traveling (e.g., for internship interviews you might be gone for weeks at a time; will you be flying or driving over the holidays and will you want to board/find a dog sitter or take your dog with you?) so if you haven't adopted one already, I'd consider the size and energy level to increase future flexibility in living/travel arrangements. My husband and I discussed getting a dog during first year, but went with (more) cats instead for those reasons. I'm all for having a dog (or cat or bunny or something furry and cuddly) during grad school - definitely helps the stress level. You can make a dog work if you really want to.
 
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Mar 24, 2014
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Dogs, as are humans, are intensely social animals and thus require a significant amount of attention and social interaction for healthy neurological development. My wife and I didn't believe that we could provide a dog, especially a younger one, what it needed when she was working full time and I was in the doctoral program. For us, cats were a better choice and we always have had at least two so that they can keep each other company when we aren't around.
 
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szymk1sm

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Jan 31, 2011
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I have had two dogs throughout graduate school. I rescued both of them prior to returning to school, so they were already used to my crazy work schedule (used to work FT at a hospital, then PT at a bar/restaurant). It's definitely challenging at times, but for me, so rewarding!

I probably work 50-60 hour weeks. Mine are both crate trained and are in their crates maybe 8-10 (sometimes 12) hours/day, depending on my schedule. Often times, I come home and they're both passed out, snuggled in their blankets, and don't realize I'm there. Since I am gone so long, I try to make the time we do have together worthwhile -- walks, snuggles, belly rubs, etc. Weekends I try to do longer walks/runs and work at home, if possible.

I tend to adjust my social schedule around them. For example, if the plan is happy hour, I aim for 5 pm drinks so I can be home by 7 pm. If the social activities start at 7 pm, I try to leave school around 4/4:30 pm, so I can feed them and walk them before I leave again.

I was able to drive them back to my parent's house for the holidays this year and my parents watched them while I did 3 weeks of internship travel. That helped out a lot! I have a lab mate who watches them when I go away for short trips and I board them at the vet when I go away for longer trips and/or my lab mate can't watch them. I know things like that are not always possible, but finding a person who loves animals but can't currently have them or trading off dog-sitting with another dog owner can help you out immensely when it comes to money!

Overall, my dogs have been great stress relievers and I don't think they've altered my graduate school experience.

The only downside is the cost. Having two means double the food costs, double the vet bills, double the boarding costs, etc. And you have to plan for the unexpected. One of my dogs scratched his cornea last year, which required surgery and several vet visits before it healed. That was ~$1000 I wasn't planning to spend, but **** happens! I do not have health insurance for my dogs, but others might -- that's another $25+/month and something to consider.

Also, I agree with above posters that you should really take the time to investigate dog breeds. While all dogs are adorable, their energy levels can really affect your overall well-being. Personally, I love boxers.....I think they're the cutest dogs; however, I will never own a boxer b/c I do not have the same energy level. Running with my dogs on a Sat/Sun works well for me. Running with my dogs every day, maybe twice a day, does not. I personally chose smaller dogs b/c of apt living and b/c they're a little spazzy sometimes, but are mostly lazy -- either laying with me on the couch or laying outside in the sun.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do! You could always volunteer at your local shelter walking the dogs to get your dog fix if you're not yet ready to adopt/rescue. :)
 
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ellenew

2+ Year Member
Nov 13, 2016
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Hi there! I have two dogs and a cat and am in my last year of graduate training (PhD). I chose to live close to where I am most of the time so I can go home during long days and let them outside. Some people in my program choose to take their pups to a doggy daycare facility for one day per week when they are gone for 10+ hours.

Edited to say that having pets in grad school has greatly helped my stress level. Seeing my furbabies at the end of a long day is so rewarding and snuggling at night is wonderful. Several fellow students have dogs and we take all of them to the dog park all the time.
 
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calimich

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Nov 22, 2013
356
433
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Echoing others. We had a dog and two cats through most of my doctoral program. They were great sources of joy, comfort, and distraction from the grind of doc work. Of course there was some stress with occasional sickness, dog up at 6am on weekends ready to play, cats pawing face demanding to be fed, etc...but we'd do it all over again. In fact, our dog turned 10 while I was in school and we hosted a doggie birthday party. Other students and neighbors brought their pooches and my partner made meatball cupcakes topped with crunched dog biscuits -- they were a hit.
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Apr 11, 2012
474
312
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Almost all of the students in my program have pets, most dogs but some cats. This is a relatively small town, and most people live within a 10-15 min drive, plus can rent a house with a yard. Seems to work just fine! That said, very few students in my own graduate program had dogs, probably because that was a big city, most students didn't have cars and students tended to live a 20-30 min bus or train ride away from campus....it's much more difficult to "run home" and take a dog out when you live far away from campus and are at the mercy of public transportation.
 
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Dec 4, 2014
832
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I have had two dogs throughout graduate school. I rescued both of them prior to returning to school, so they were already used to my crazy work schedule (used to work FT at a hospital, then PT at a bar/restaurant). It's definitely challenging at times, but for me, so rewarding!

I probably work 50-60 hour weeks. Mine are both crate trained and are in their crates maybe 8-10 (sometimes 12) hours/day, depending on my schedule. Often times, I come home and they're both passed out, snuggled in their blankets, and don't realize I'm there. Since I am gone so long, I try to make the time we do have together worthwhile -- walks, snuggles, belly rubs, etc. Weekends I try to do longer walks/runs and work at home, if possible.

I tend to adjust my social schedule around them. For example, if the plan is happy hour, I aim for 5 pm drinks so I can be home by 7 pm. If the social activities start at 7 pm, I try to leave school around 4/4:30 pm, so I can feed them and walk them before I leave again.

I was able to drive them back to my parent's house for the holidays this year and my parents watched them while I did 3 weeks of internship travel. That helped out a lot! I have a lab mate who watches them when I go away for short trips and I board them at the vet when I go away for longer trips and/or my lab mate can't watch them. I know things like that are not always possible, but finding a person who loves animals but can't currently have them or trading off dog-sitting with another dog owner can help you out immensely when it comes to money!

Overall, my dogs have been great stress relievers and I don't think they've altered my graduate school experience.

The only downside is the cost. Having two means double the food costs, double the vet bills, double the boarding costs, etc. And you have to plan for the unexpected. One of my dogs scratched his cornea last year, which required surgery and several vet visits before it healed. That was ~$1000 I wasn't planning to spend, but **** happens! I do not have health insurance for my dogs, but others might -- that's another $25+/month and something to consider.

Also, I agree with above posters that you should really take the time to investigate dog breeds. While all dogs are adorable, their energy levels can really affect your overall well-being. Personally, I love boxers.....I think they're the cutest dogs; however, I will never own a boxer b/c I do not have the same energy level. Running with my dogs on a Sat/Sun works well for me. Running with my dogs every day, maybe twice a day, does not. I personally chose smaller dogs b/c of apt living and b/c they're a little spazzy sometimes, but are mostly lazy -- either laying with me on the couch or laying outside in the sun.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do! You could always volunteer at your local shelter walking the dogs to get your dog fix if you're not yet ready to adopt/rescue. :)
Volunteering is a great suggestion! Or fostering - there was a couple in my program that would foster every once in a while, either just for the weekend, or a few months at a time- they had a lot of fun doing it!
 

researchgirl

10+ Year Member
Feb 6, 2009
285
178
Status
Psychologist
I got a dog during graduate school. Most of my classmates had dogs, cats, or both based on personal preferences. I'm sure it varies, but in my program it was very easy to work from home part of the time. I routinely worked 1/2 days from home or took long lunches to go home and walk her. About 95% of the work I did on the weekend was done at home. Although I worked >50-60 hour/week routinely, the flexibility made having a dog very easy, and she was great for my mental health.
 
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