The idea of raising a dog in college can seem great. After a hard day of classes and extracurriculars, who doesn’t want to come home to a furry friends wagging its tail - completely overjoyed to see you just walk through the door. But just because you love dogs doesn’t necessarily mean that you can handle raising one in college. If you’re considering bringing a canine to school (or just like dog puns), read these tips to see if you can make it paw-sible.
The Pros of Having A Dog On Campus
If you’ve grown up with a dog, you know that there are many benefits to raising one.
A dog can be your best friend. Everyone’s heard a dog be referred to as “man’s best friend,” and that phrase is no lie. Dogs are one of the friendliest pets and can be very loving companions for their owners. According to a survey by the American College Health Association, 64% of college students said they felt “very lonely” during the school year. Students who may be lonely or struggle with making friends can especially benefit from having a dog. If you’re looking for a special friend or roommate, a dog will always be there to hear you rant about life or cuddle up next to on the couch.
A dog can help you make other friends. If meeting new people is hard for you, your dog can be an excellent conversation topic. Who doesn’t like to talk about dogs? And there’s even evidence to suggest that dogs help develop trust and friendship between strangers (AKA pre-friends). Talking about your dog can be a perfect opportunity to meet other dog lovers and find people to hang out with. You can even try to see if there are other dog owners on campus that you can connect with and have puppy playdates with!
A dog can help you de-stress and improve your mental health. With 41% of students suffering with anxiety and 36% suffering from depression, it’s reasonable for students to find ways to improve their mental health. And doggos are statistically known to lower anxiety and depression levels, as well as increase dopamine and oxytocin. Why else do you think your school’s administrators bring dogs on campus during exam week? Having your own dog is like experiencing that week every day of the year, which can be pretty great. A dog is sure to give you a mental health boost and help you when life gets ruff.
A dog can encourage you to get more exercise. Finding time to work out in college is next to impossible. Luckily, dogs need regular exercise and require daily walks or jogs. That’s plenty of chances for you to get up from your desk or couch to be active and stay in shape!
A dog can make you smile. Picture this. You had an 8:00 a.m., you had two back-to-back classes, you left your lunch at home, and you think you failed a test you had been studying weeks for. But when you open up the door to your apartment, your dog charges you with happy “hello” barks and warm, drool dripping from her smile. In that small moment, your mood has done an instant 180 and you’ve somehow managed to forget about the awful morning you endured because your dog is so happy to see you. That’s the ulti-mutt greeting.
The Cons of Having A Dog On Campus
Though the idea of owning a dog in college sounds perfect, it’s not always going to be smiles and snuggles with your pooch. Here’s what you need to look out for if you have a dog at school.
A dog can be expensive. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (ASPCA), the first-year total cost of raising a medium-sized dog can be up to $1,779. But depending on your dog’s size, breed, and needs, a dog’s lifetime cost can be anywhere from $17,650 to $93,520 - basically the same cost as a semester or two of college. That’s a lot of money. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know any college students that can afford that. Daily and medical expenses can really add up, even if students don’t realize how expensive they can be. Because dogs are a financial burden, it’s important that students are prepared to take on the huge responsibility.
A dog can be a big time commitment. A dog isn’t like a class that loads you with homework that you can drop and forget about. A dog is a major, permanent responsibility that requires plenty of attention and lasts forever. Dogs are called “fur babies” for a reason. They need playtime, exercise, food and more time to be let out and go to the bathroom. It’s recommended that dogs are given 3 to 5 good walks per day, which can take a lot of time from your other daily activities like going to class, participating in clubs, spending time with friends, and working. Sometimes these needs can make a dog create more stress in your life rather than helping you relieve other stressors.
A dog can restrict your living options. Most universities offer pet-friendly living arrangements, but not all living spaces welcome dogs. And if they do, some places require you to pay an extra fee for a pet. This can restrict where you live, which isn’t always beneficial for college students looking for specific houses and apartments.
A dog can limit your social life. You’re a college kid; you like to party and have a good time! But unfortunately, dogs can’t raise the woof with you. Sometimes you might have to say no to fun plans or spontaneous activities so you can spend time with your dog who you haven’t spent much time with all day. Sadly, dogs don’t always work best with crazy, busy lives that college kids live. And before you start planning out your next spring break trip, remember that you’ll either need to find a dog sitter/kennel or bring the pup along for the ride.
A dog can damage your living space. College might finally be the time you can use the “my dog ate my homework” excuse! But if your dog is eating your homework, what else might he be chewing up? It’s possible that your dog might destroy your house or apartment, if he isn’t properly trained and he’s home alone all day. So make sure to dog-proof your living space and make sure your hound doesn’t chew up you dorm room!
What Else To Consider
So you’ve weighed the pros and cons of raising a dog at college, but I bet you’re still unsure about your final decision. Here are some questions to ask yourself before deciding to raise a dog on campus:
- Does my school even allow dogs?
- Do I have space for a dog?
- Do I have roommates? What would they think?
- Do I have time for a dog?
- Do have time to train my dog?
- Is there a vet nearby?
- Can I afford a dog?
- Do I plan to travel? Go on spring break? Study abroad?
- Will I be able to fit exercise with my dog into my schedule?
- What kind of dog best fits my lifestyle?
- What will my life be like in 5 or 10 years?
- Do I have anyone to help me care for it?
And of course, the most important question: am I prepared to have a dog?
It’s important that you seriously evaluate this question and make the best decision for you and the dog. Yes, I bet you really want a dog, but is now the right time? If you have the resources to raise a dog, then that’s amazing, but if not, don’t get a dog if you both will suffer. You will have the rest of your life to have a dog in your life.
If you don’t think adopting a dog in college is right for you, don’t worry. Im paw-sitive there are still many other ways you can interact with dogs on campus besides during exam week. Another option besides owning a pet is to get involved with urban gardening.
Alternatives To Dog Ownership In College
There are many ways for dog lovers to make furry friends in college! Here are some of the opportunities you might have near your university:
- Walk or dog sit pets in the area — they can be your friends’ dogs, your teachers’ dogs, or your neighbors’ dogs
- Volunteer at a local animal shelter
- Get a job at a pet store
- Foster a dog
- Find a pet friendly study spot
- Join a dog lovers club at school (if there isn’t already one, start one yourself! You’re sure to get multiple participants)
- Become a service dog trainer
Maybe for the time being, it’s better to wait on a pet. You can still prepare for a dog for when you’re out of college. In the meantime you can dream about the type of dog you want and cover your laptop in these funny dog stickers.
Whether you decide to welcome a furry friend into your apartment/dorm or not, good luck to you and have a paw-fect year!