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Adulting Other

Pets on Campus: 3 Rules for Keeping Pets at College

July 1, 2020

For young adults living alone for the first time, college can feel like the perfect time to finally adopt that lizard they weren’t allowed to have growing up; for those who grew up with animals, missing the family dog might feel like a black hole that desperately needs filling. Keeping a pet at college can be wonderful for both the owner, who’s gained a cute friend guaranteed not to copy their physics homework and the pet, who can enjoy companionship and a loving home. In any instance, before getting a pet you need to check with your residence and understand their pet policies. Assuming they do, college living also presents unique logistical challenges that students should take into account before adopting a furry, scaly, or feathery friend.  

  1. Respect your roommates. Since most college students live with other people, sharing a room, apartment, or house, they should take those other people into account when adopting a pet, and take their pet into account when searching for roommates. Dogs and cats, who roam the whole house or apartment and interact with all occupants, absolutely need the buy-in of all roommates if they’re going to enter a living space. Enclosure pets that stay in the owner’s room, like hamsters, lizards, or fish, only need enthusiastic buy-in from the folks living in said room, but everyone in the house should be aware of the animal – especially one that might sneak out of their cage and into other living areas. By making sure their roommates are ok with their pets before they move in, students will both protect their relationship with their roommates and ensure they’re living in an environment that’s good for their animal.     
  2. Respect your limits. College students are often busy, strapped for cash, and uncertain of their future, and pets, for all that they bring joy and companionship into someone’s life, can exacerbate these things. Students looking to get a pet should consider their own limits – on time, funds, travel, living space – before adopting a pet. Even seemingly low-maintenance pets, like cats or gerbils, can be expensive to provide for and have a need for attention and emotional energy from their owners. Animals are wonderful companions, but they’re also a responsibility, and college students should know how many things a pet could add to their already lengthy to-do list before adopting. 
  3. Respect your pet. This is the most important rule of pet ownership, in college or anywhere. While it’s understandable that college students experiencing independence for the first time might be desperate for an animal companion, the college lifestyle is not always good for an animal. For example, busy people living in small apartments should not adopt puppies who need attention all day and room to run – no matter how many cute girls walking said puppy attracts. Nor should people who move at least once a year invest in keeping chickens. The most important thing a prospective pet owner should consider is whether they are in a place to properly care for their pet – not just love, but care for. College students may love their dogs, but if they don’t have time to walk them every day, they’re not able to care for them. It’s a key distinction, and anyone looking to adopt a pet needs to be honest with themselves about their answer. 

Keeping a pet in college can be both incredibly rewarding and incredibly difficult. Of course, those struggling with the logistical challenges of pet ownership shouldn’t resign themselves to a life without animal companionship; some colleges bring “stress animals” to campus to help students relax during exams, and any town will need pet sitters and animal shelter volunteers. Everyone has room for animals in their life, if not their apartment. 

Health Other

Can Pets Improve Student Mental Health?

September 12, 2019

If you’re a student living away from home for the first time, it can be hard and sometimes lonely adjusting to your new life. More and more students are facing mental health challenges, but what if you could take a familiar friend from home with you?

The likelihood is, if you’re living in student accommodations, you might not be allowed to keep larger pets such as cats or dogs. However, many landlords will let you keep smaller animals such as fish, hamsters or even guinea pigs. 

Taking a pet with you to university or college not only makes the transition easier for you, but pets have also been proven to improve students mental health too. 

Here are three myths that we have busted and scientifically proven, relating to pets and mental health.  

Myth #1: Pets Can’t Reduce Anxiety

Having a pet can help to reduce your anxiety and stress levels, even a pet as tiny as the popular Guppy fish can help alleviate stress. 

A study carried out in the 80’s found that simply watching fish swimming in an aquarium can reduce anxiety levels by up to 12%. 

A second study conducted much more recently by the University of Exeter and Plymouth University found that watching fish ‘led to noticeable reductions in participants blood pressure and heart rate.’

Large animals can also help to reduce stress. This study, carried out in an educational environment found that just ten minutes of petting a cat or dog can reduce anxiety levels. 

If you’re feeling anxious at starting new classes, taking exams or even making new friends at your school, having a pet can really help to reduce anxiety and make student life as fun as it’s supposed to be for you. 

Myth #2: Pets Can’t Help Depression

Students that own a pet are less likely to suffer from depression than those who don’t. Larger animals such as dogs encourage their owners to get out and exercise and get some fresh air. 

Fresh air and walks are now being recommended by some doctors for people who have depression symptoms. 

Having a pet can help you connect with people from special interest groups, such as Fishkeeping Groups, Dog Groups or even Reptile Groups. 

Pets are very empathetic, and offer a lot of emotional support, especially since they can’t actually talk back! They just sit and listen, offering a really soothing presence. 

Even pets that are as tiny as crickets can help to alleviate depression symptoms. 

Myth #3: Having a Pet Will Make Me More Isolated and Lonely

Sometimes people think that if you have a dog or small pet which you need to take care of that you’ll be more isolated. This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Firstly, having a companion living with you can make you feel less lonely. It’s someone to talk to when no-one else is around and is just generally nice company. 

Pets not only become great friends but can also encourage you to get out and meet other like-minded people who share the same pet or interests.

If your studies, being away from home and exams are causing you stress, or even depression, why not consider welcoming a new pet into your life?

If you can’t have any kind of pet in your dorm room, you should think about volunteering at a local animal shelter, or maybe becoming a local dog walker so you can interact with animals daily! There are also different ways to get your animal fix when you are on-campus–just keep an eye out for those stress-relieving events.

BIO: Robert Woods is an avid fish keeper and advocate for all things fish related, including the many mental health benefits which can be derived from keeping fish.

Health Other

How to Fulfill Your Dog Fix On-Campus

July 30, 2019

It can be difficult saying goodbye to your childhood dog when leaving for college. When you are moved into a dorm room you may feel a longing to spend time with a furry friend. As a college student, there are a few different ways that you can go about finding some canine companions on campus.

Hang out in outside common areas or a local park

Although you may not have a dog on campus, there are probably many students and professors on campus who do. If you spend time outside in common areas on campus, you are likely to see dogs being walked or playing with their owners. It is important to always ask the owner before petting the dog and to also make sure it is not a service animal. If you do not see many dogs on campus you can also check out a local park. 

Keep an ear out for any therapy dog events on campus

Many universities are now hosting programs where therapy dogs are brought in to help relieve stress around midterms and finals. Universities such as Kent State, Seattle University, Tufts University, and New York University hold events that provide students the chance to destress with therapy dogs. These programs have been successful and are becoming increasingly popular on college campuses. 

Volunteer at a local dog shelter

A great way to get your dog fix and also do some good is volunteering at your local dog shelter. Animal shelters are always looking for new volunteers and it’s likely that there is one near your campus. You can search for opportunities near you and check to see if your school provides opportunities to volunteer (you might even get class credit). 

Skype with your dog back home

This may seem a little silly, but Skype and Facetime are great ways to connect with family and friends so why not skype with your dog? Next time you are talking to your family, have them grab the dog and have a little face to face time with your favorite pooch. 

Dogs can bring so much joy to your day and there is no need to have a dogless college experience. If you are missing your dog back home, follow these tips from GradGuard to brighten your day and de-stress.