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Pomeranians and Professors: The Pros and Cons of Dogs on College Campuses

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Figo explores the pros and cons of dog-friendly campus programs and provides some talking points if you want to make your university more pet-friendly.

man on college campus with dog

Dogs are among the most popular pets in the world. Humans domesticated them a long time ago and they are still our favorite companions. So much so that many companies now allow dogs in the office, and educational institutions are introducing dogs on campus.

Hoping to make the case for a pet-friendly dorm? Let's explore the pros and cons of having dogs on college campuses.

Pro: they may help students and staff de-stress

Perhaps the biggest benefit of keeping dogs on campus is that they can help both students and staff members decompress.

Education can be a demanding field to study or work in, so having a way to decrease stress is absolutely necessary. A dog on campus can help students, educators, and other staff members get their daily dose of serotonin and go on with their day with more optimism and energy.

Con: they require a lot of time and attention

The biggest downside to keeping a dog on campus is that he or she will require a lot of care.

Pet parents know - dogs are not low-maintenance companions. And while they fill our homes with joy, it's equally important to ensure they're cared for properly as well.

Institutions need to find the right people to take care of the dog’s needs. It is very important to train the dog as well as provide them with structure, proper nutrition, affection, and daily exercise.

The solution to this problem is for your campus to team up with a rescue or local organization of therapy dogs, as UC Berkley did for years in partnership with The Animal Rescue Foundation. That way, the majority of the care is not the responsibility of the campus, and bonus - it can help place adoptable dogs in loving homes!

Pro: they can be therapeutic

Among students and staff members, there can be a lot of individuals who are struggling emotionally.

Whether due to adjustment to campus life or sudden independence and a lack of community leaving attendees feeling low, while it isn’t always noticeable on the surface, many are seeking social connections. When there are dogs on campus, students may feel less lonely. For some people, this is a form of therapy.

In fact, historically dogs have been brought to campuses for this very purpose. The Dogs on Campus project is just one of many that have sought to connect struggling university members with some soulful sidekicks.

And with numerous studies showing that dogs can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in their caretakers, this initiative certainly makes sense from a therapeutic perspective.

Con: they can create additional expenses

As mentioned earlier, dogs require a lot of time and attention. They also undoubtedly can create additional expenses for the institution and/or student caretakers.

As stated above, this con may be completely eliminated by partnering with a local shelter or rescue. While the university may have to pay a small fee, the organizations bringing dogs to campus are fully responsible for any food and boarding expenses.

Pro: they can encourage students to be more active

Dogs are innately active creatures. It's what many pet parents love about them! Even small dogs may run around a lot, but big dogs in particular require a lot of physical activity on a daily basis.

When students and staff members are exposed to these energetic souls, they may be encouraged to move around more. Playing, walking, and running all encourage physical exercise indirectly which can positively influence campus health.

Con: they may provoke allergic reactions in students

Some students and staff may need to avoid campus pets because they can trigger allergic reactions. Not everyone will be able to spend time with campus dogs due to allergies.

Others may even have a phobia of dogs! These are all factors that must be considered when trying to petition to bring pets on campus.

Pro: they can prepare students for becoming future pet parents

Some students who never had any pets before may have their first caretaking experience with campus dogs! By spending time with these college pups, they can prepare for getting their own pets in the future.

Plus, if a university teams up with a rescue or local shelter, its students may just meet their future dog or cat companion.

Con: they may cause damage on campus

Unfortunately, big dogs can be so active that they have the potential to cause damage. This doesn’t mean that institutions should completely avoid dogs, but educators need to be ready for any potential damage.

One easy solution is to create a designated area for campus dogs. Whether it's a pen outside that's staffed by volunteers (during certain hours only, to avoid any discomfort for the pups), or a "puppy room" like the one established by the University of Minnesota. That way, any widespread damage will be prevented and volunteers can easily keep an eye on any curious canines.

Pro: can help students focus

Dogs can be a great resource for students who are struggling during tough study periods. Pets and cuddles from a pup are the ultimate comfort after pulling all-nighters. If you or your peers are struggling with coursework, the following resources can also help:

Writing Services – Students can check reviews of writing services at Best Writers Online to find academic writers who can help them with assignments, internships, and more.

Writing Tools – Writing tools like Grammarly and Hemingway Editor can help students check their papers before submitting them or just hire a proofreader, resume writer, or professional author at writing company Trust My Paper.

Study Guidance – By having a study guidance office at your institution, you can ensure that students can seek out counselors who can give them advice on their study progress.

Wrapping Up

At the end of the day, whether a college or university decides to begin a dog-friendly campus program will largely depend on a variety of factors. Educational institutions should carefully consider their own abilities before deciding to bring dogs on campus. If proper care is taken, it can be a beneficial relationship for students and rescue groups alike!

For a full list of pet-friendly campuses, take a look here.

Frank Hamilton is a blogger and translator from Manchester. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing, and self-education. He also loves traveling and speaks Spanish, French, German, and English. Meet him on Facebook and Twitter.

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