Pros, cons: having a dog in college

Karsyn Lemmons

Going to college and leaving your friends and family is hard, but leaving your dog(s) can be even harder.

While pursuing a degree, it can be tempting to get a dog to fill the void in your heart. While the addition of a furry friend sounds like a great idea on the surface, it’s important to evaluate whether or not your lifestyle is suitable for a pet.

Pro: Research shows dogs improve your wellbeing

Countless studies link pet ownership to a drop in anxious and depressive tendencies as well as a rise in a person’s overall happiness. One study from The American Heart Association suggested that the simple motion of petting a dog helps lower blood pressure, lower stress and increase relaxation hormones.

Neuroscience senior Jackie Harle owns two shih tzus and sees the benefits of being a student dog owner in her everyday life.

“They help me to relax,” Harle said. “They can sense when I’m stressed. They calm me and they’re a good brain break after I’ve been studying.”

Con: Dogs can be bundles of expenses

Puppers need things just like people. Food, vaccines, chew toys, collars, grooming and vet trips, etc., not to mention most apartment complexes charge a “pet deposit” and monthly “pet rent.” Dogs can also get sick or hurt, too. And when they get sick, vet bills can cost hundreds of dollars. For a college student budgeting from paycheck to paycheck, these expenses can be overwhelming.

Pro: Dogs get you out in the world

Simply put, dogs give you a reason to get out of your home, get social and explore all the different parts of Austin. Plus, if you’re walking or running with your dog, it can help keep you fit. It’s recommended adults should exercise 2 ½ hours per week, and by taking a dog on a walk every day, it’s easier to achieve that goal.

Con: You may have to adjust your lifestyle to own a dog

Yes, dogs can be fantastic companions, but they can also be destructive. Left to their own devices, your pup could tear up the floors, the furniture and your favorite shoes. Training and raising a happy and well-behaved dog is a long commitment — a task not to be
taken lightly.

Geography senior Chris Depalatis doesn’t live with a dog because his apartment complex does not allow for it.

“I’d feel bad keeping a dog in an apartment,” Depalatis said. “And you have to keep up with it. It’s work.”

If you’re ready to welcome a new dog into your home, there are tons of animal shelters around Austin that are eager to help you find the perfect match. If you’re not quite ready but miss seeing furry faces on a regular basis, most of those same shelters are happily accepting volunteers year round. That way you can get by until you go home to see Muffin for the winter holiday break.