Should You Bring Your Dog with You to College?

Zeus & Steph Atlanta, GA

Heading off to college can be a huge step in life. A new world of opportunities opens up before you, but just as many new fears and responsibilities appear overhead. While an exciting time, it can also be one of high stress and worry, as you scramble to meet the demands and deadlines now placed upon your shoulders. Among the many thoughts you may have as you prepare to make your move to this new stage, one rarely comes up. “Should I get a pet?” While the idea of juggling another thing to manage may seem off-putting to some, and should not be taken lightly, for those that have the maturity to handle rearing a pet, there are very real gains to be had from dog ownership that can make the confusing chaos of the college transition easier to handle; plus, there are more ways than ever to help a busy college student with the responsibilities of taking care of a companion of their own.

A major plus of pet ownership in any life condition is the stress relief that dogs bring. While you may need to invest in considerable effort into caring for a dog, the stress relief payoff of having a true companion by your side that a dog provides is well documented. This is truer than ever during the college experience; the many pressures that university foists onto incoming students cannot be understated. A cheery face and wagging tail to greet you after a long day of classwork and labs can truly make a huge difference in your quality of life; studies show that college students who have prolonged contact with dogs have a much more positive mood on average than those who don’t. Beyond the animal itself, there are supplementary reasons that owning a dog can be a positive experience for a college student. Scholastic life is often very sedentary; dogs are, categorically, not. Owning a dog forces people to move around in a variety of ways, from taking your companion for a walk to a quick game of fetch, or even just a wrestling with a chew toy for a 5-minute study break. Research shows that people who are not active suffer more strongly from depression and anxiety, and the average college student may sorely need some motivation to leave the books behind and get active; a dog provides you with ample opportunities for such activities.

Despite the very real pros, there are some unfortunate realities of life that you must consider when deciding if owning a dog in college is right for you. Housing is of course a major consideration. A great majority of college dorms will not allow you to keep uncaged pets in university dorm rooms, so if you decide on or are required to be participating in campus living, your options for a pet of any kind may be limited. Beyond that, the college experience requires a great deal more responsibility than high school ever demanded; as you make the transition from school student to member of the workforce, the demands of your workload and the personal responsibility for it increase as well. Even with all the positives of owning a dog, you may find that you can’t handle the demands of caring for pet while also balancing your workload and social life. You will need to make a judgement call about how much you can handle; when you own an animal, their life is completely in your hands, so one must be fully prepared to shoulder the load.

Fortunately, there are now many tools and services to help you take care of a dog if you feel you are responsible enough to handle it. Pet care apps such as HotSpawts offer a wide range of services to help you take care of your canine companion, such as dog walking, dog sitting, and doggie day care. If your dog needs to be groomed or given a bath, mobile dog groomers can bring their grooming vans to you, saving you time. Even with these tools, owning a pet while balancing collegiate life can be tough. But, if you know that you can rise to that challenge, the rewards are well worth it.

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