Maybe you miss your family dog. Maybe you never had a dog at home, but you want a dog now. For whatever reason, you might start thinking that you should get a dog. A dog could keep you company, help you make friends, encourage you to exercise or even (according to a 2016 study) improve your mental health. A so-called “fur baby” could bring some much-needed variety to your social media aesthetic, help you score a date or even make you feel like a grown-up. It might seem like a good idea to get a dog, but doing so will cost you money, take up your time, limit your living options and restrict your freedom.
According to the ASPCA, a medium-sized dog costs about $1,800 in the first year and about $900 for every year thereafter. With some dogs living over ten years, you could spend up to $10,000 on its care.
A dog needs time and attention for feeding, walking, exercising and playing. Veterinarians note that, at minimum, a dog needs three 20-minute walks a day. That means that a dog will take up at least an hour of your time, every single day, for a decade.
If you live in a dorm, the only pet you can have is a fish. If you live in an apartment, there’s a good chance your complex prohibits large pets. If you can have a pet, you probably have to pay fees to the apartment complex. So getting a dog can make it a lot harder to find somewhere to live. And even if you figure that out, you probably still have to find someone to live with. Plenty of people are allergic to dogs or afraid of dogs or simply don’t like dogs. So getting a dog could make it hard to find a room and even harder to find a roommate. Of course, there are plenty of pet owners who get around these barriers, but these barriers are worth considering nonetheless.
Plenty of students get to college and are thrilled with the freedom of living on their own terms. You can stay out late on the Square, go to New Orleans for the weekend or study abroad for a semester. You can easily do all these things and many more, unless you have a dog. When you’re responsible for another living being, you are less able to live life on your own terms and at your own whim.
Sometimes a student gets a dog and things go fine, much to the benefit of both the student and the dog. But sometimes a student gets a dog and things go terribly. If you want to get a dog, stop and think about the burdens of dog ownership. If you know someone who wants to get a dog, tell them to stop and think. When students ignore these factors and rashly decide to get one, they sometimes end up returning, neglecting or abandoning their dogs. The well-being of a living thing is on the line. Take a moment to put things in perspective and ask yourself if you are actually able and willing to undertake the responsibility of a living thing besides yourself.