Dogs are (wo)man’s best friend. Studies even show that they scientifically make us happier. Spending time with your dog causes a 300 percent increase in oxytocin (the ‘love’ hormone that reduces blood pressure and anxiety). However, owning a dog in college can be tricky because of your schedule, lack of income and other factors. So how do you know if you’re ready to adopt a new pup? Read the following guide to help you decide if you can make the leap into dog ownership.
Pros of Owning a Dog in College
There are many benefits to having a dog, the list could go on forever. For the sake of TL;DR, we’ll highlight the most important pros.
✅ Enhances Mental Health
Anxiety and depression are on the rise among college students, based on recent reports. Owning a dog in college can have many positive effects for students struggling with mental health issues and illness. According to a survey conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, 62 percent of millennials and 72 percent of generation X experienced mental health improvements with pet ownership.
✅ Encourages More Physical Activity
When you own a dog, you need to take it out on walks throughout the day. Knowing that your pal needs to go out each morning is great motivation to get out of bed and start your day on an active note. A recent study from the University of Liverpool proves that dog owners meet weekly exercise targets more so than non-dog owners.
✅ Offers Constant Companionship
No one will be more happy to see you every night than your dog. After you’ve had a rough day, there’s nothing like coming home to the unconditional love (and excitement) of your furry friend.
✅ Helps You Meet New People
When you walk your dog, more people will stop to pet them and chat, rather than if you were just out on your own. If you’re a new college student looking to make friends, your dog can be an excellent ice breaker. Meet-cute in a dog park? Why not!
✅ More Instagram Opportunities
We live in the age when we do everything “for the ‘gram”—owning a dog is no different. When you have a cutie pooch, the photo ops are endless.
The Unfortunate Cons of Dog Ownership
Owning a dog in college isn’t all sunshine and rainbows; it comes with responsibilities and commitments, here are few to consider.
❌ Dogs are Expensive
The costs associated with a dog seriously add up (food, vet bills, boarding, toys). The ASPCA estimates that annual pet care costs range from $737 – $1040, depending on the size of the dog. On a tight college budget, this can be difficult to afford.
❌ Limits Your Travel
Spring break? Spontaneous long weekend? Studying abroad? The typical get-up-and-go college student mentality is more difficult to maintain when you have to consider your dog in your plans. If you don’t have a nearby friend or relative willing to help out, the cost of boarding a dog ranges from $25-45/night, and more for upscale options.
❌ Being a Dog Parent is a Big Time Commitment
Beyond travel, the day-to-day time commitment of owning a dog is substantial. Dogs need to go out during the day, get a certain amount of walks and require attention and love. This can be tough to manage with classes, activities and part-time jobs/internships.
❌ Can Restrict Housing Options
Not all housing allows residents to have dogs, so owning a dog in college might limit your living options. EPOCH is pet-friendly and allows residents to live with their furry friends!
How to Know If You’re Ready for a Dog
If you feel like you’re ready to become a dog owner, ask yourself the following questions before you visit your local shelter.
❓Can you afford the costs?
Look at your budget, savings, income, and overall financials to see if you can afford the cost of having a dog. If you already live on a shoe-string budget, you might want to wait.
❓What’s your school schedule like?
Depending on your major or program, what do the next few years have in store? Even if you’re a freshman or sophomore, consider every year of your undergrad. Will your classes leave time for breaks to go home and walk your dog? Do you have to take long lectures? Are you thinking about going to grad school? Take the time to really consider your five- and ten-year plans, because a dog will be with you for a while. You might even want to talk to students ahead of you in your program to get a sense of their time commitments.
❓Do you want to study abroad?
If the answer is yes, you should wait to get a dog, six-plus months is a long time to have someone watch your pup, even your parents.
❓What are your summer plans?
Are you dreaming of an internship in a big city? Odds are a sublet-apartment in DC, Atlanta, or NYC will not let you have a dog. If you want summer adventures, a pet might not be the best partner.
❓Is your housing pet-friendly?
Even if you have a pet-friendly apartment, will your dog be happy there? You don’t want to adopt a German Shepherd and keep him in a studio apartment with no yard. Take the time to think about the well-being and happiness of a dog. Do you have enough space? Access to parks and walking trails?
Adopting a Dog in College
Luckily, EPOCH apartments are not only dog-friendly and spacious, but we’ll also have two on-site dog parks on our property, as well as walking trails and direct access to Lake Hartwell.
Remember, no matter where you live and what your circumstances are, things change, and owning a dog can be a decade-long commitment. Take your time to ensure you’re ready for the responsibility!