The Pros and Cons of Getting a Dog in College

Hi, I’m Sara! I’m a junior Rhetoric & Composition major at the University of Texas at Austin. My passion for writing has always stemmed from being able to tell a story and help them to unfold. My hobbies include reading, hiking, riding horses, and playing with my dog Benji.

When I first told my friends and family that I’d bought a dog online, they were less than thrilled. Aside from the fact that I bought him online, they also brought up all the common objections to young adults getting dogs: how would I pay for it? What if he chewed up the entire apartment? Or, as one of my sisters asked, panicked, who would let him out if I wanted to tailgate all day?
Although these are all valid concerns, they were also easily surmountable. Getting a dog is beneficial for stress relief, companionship, and overall happiness, which holds true for college students. In fact, since college can be a transition period from moving away from your parents to starting a life of your own in a new city, young adults may benefit most from the companionship dogs offer.
Firstly, the comfort of petting, walking, and playing with a dog can significantly reduce stress. Therapy dogs are often used to calm patients in hospitals, mental health facilities, and nursing homes. In fact, many universities bring therapy dogs to campus for students to reduce stress during finals week! Few would argue that coming home to a wagging tail and a happy bark is a huge mood booster.
Getting a dog also opens up many recreational opportunities. Socializing the dog can be a social opportunity for owners as well. Many pet stores offer classes where pups and their owners meet weekly to work on basic skills: sit, stay, and manners with other dogs. These sessions, led by a professional dog trainer, not only increase the dog’s manners, but also give the pet owners a chance to exchange tips, share stories, and ultimately build friendships.
The necessity of walking and socializing the dog also gives owners the opportunity to explore places they wouldn’t have otherwise. For example, I was always interested in hiking, but never took advantage of Austin’s scenic trails before I had the excuse of improving my dog’s manners on the leash. Places like dog parks can also be a relaxing atmosphere to unwind and chat with other pet lovers while the dogs play.
Training and bonding with a dog is also a hugely rewarding experience. Watching a mischievous little puppy turn grow a dog with good manners is a continuous source of delight, and companionship can ease the stresses of college.
However, although getting a puppy has many benefits, there are also several factors to consider. Budget, for example, needs to be worked out prior to committing to a dog. The costs of buying his or her flea, tick, and heartworm medications, getting vaccines, and buying supplies can really add up. Crates, for example, can get pricey.
Keep in mind that with a dog, a bit of savings for “surprise” costs is also necessary. When my dog got an ear infection, the costs of the procedure to remove hair from his ears, sedatives for that process, and aftercare added up to several hundred.
Time available to care for the dog must also be considered. Some experts recommend new puppy owners take a few weeks off work to make sure the puppy is adjusted, and spend time with it. Aside from that, dogs need to be exercised daily and let out at regular intervals—they’re probably not the best commitment for the college student who doesn’t spend much time at their apartment.
Overall, as long as factors like time and budget are carefully weighed, getting a dog can be a fantastic addition to a college student’s life. They’re study companions, hiking buddies, and stress busters.

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