Perks of Having a Dog in College

Staff Writer, Mary Mills' dog posing for a photo

Have you ever considered owning a dog in college? The benefits a college student can gain from owning a dog is well worth the responsibilities that come along with them.
Dogs offer the motivational support needed for some students’ emotional and physical well-being, as well as the lessons learned from the responsibility of caring for another living thing.
College can be a lonely time for many, especially those students who relocate to a different state or city to attend school.
Making friends is not always easy nor does it happen as quickly as we sometimes anticipate. Dogs on the other hand offer a form of companionship like no other. A dog will also be there for you any time of day, not just one specific time.
Natalie Cafiero, junior at the University of South Carolina, adores having her two dogs by her side in college.
“While sometimes it can be a stress to own two dogs, it’s so nice for me to know that when I go home I have sweet and loving dogs there that love me unconditionally. They relieve my stress, keep me from being lonely, and keep me happy. I think anyone that’s capable of having a dog, should,” said Cafiero.  
Recently, psychologists at Miami University and Saint Louis University conducted three experiments on the benefits of pet ownership. Subsequently, the American Psychological Association published the results.
The studies showed that pet owners had improved well-being in various areas, including the following: better self-esteem, more physically fit, less lonely, more conscientious and less preoccupied, more extroverted, and less fearful. It has been proven that petting your dog, playing with your dog, or simply watching your dog can reduce a person’s stress each day.

Depression, anxiety and PTSD are all commonly treated with therapy dogs, as they offer silent support to the humans that suffer from these conditions. Even if you don’t have a certified emotional support or therapy dog, your untrained pet will still provide you with all of these benefits, perhaps in a less well-behaved and controlled fashion.
Dogs desire to go outside for walks, trips to the park, and interaction with other people and animals. As their companion, you can benefit from engaging in these activities too by staying active.
One of the best solutions to decreasing anxiety is exercising. That is one reason why having a dog and simply taking a long walk with them once a day will help reduce stress.
If stress affects the brain, it will most likely carry over the same impact to the rest of the body. Therefore if a person’s body feels better, so will their mind.  Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. Another benefit is that exercise will also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
Williams, a junior at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has benefited from having her dog with her in college.
“My experience having a dog in college has been wonderful! Marley is the biggest stress reliever and companion,” said Williams. “She also forces me to get outside and get exercise after a long day of classes which is also refreshing.”
Offering kindness and support everyday with a simple wag of a tail, dogs can transform moods and help motivate you to live your best life.