Books and barks: Do they mix?

A dog chewing pages out of a book. CREDIT: KATE OTTERBEIN
Dogs take a lot of time and energy, especially when they are young.

It’s no doubt that dogs are excellent companions. They provide many different benefits, like comfort when you’re down, an exercise buddy, a cuddle partner and more. But what if you’re a student? Are dogs hard to manage whilst studying?

Kelly Pollard is a dog training professional with Bark Busters in London, Ont. She says that each dog has unique training needs, whether you’re dealing with a puppy that needs to be taught not to bite, or if you have a rescue and you are trying to correct behavioural struggles.

“My biggest piece of advice I can give is that dog training takes time and effort!” Pollard said. “Some breeds are higher energy than others, some breeds are better at being alone than others, and most rescue dogs come with some behavioural issues.”

Wilma. Women Driving Women. Save up to $4.75 per ride! Image of a women in the backseat of a vehicle.

If you’re looking at getting a puppy, know they are no different than a baby. Pollard said each month that puppy grows, in many ways, is the equivalent of one year of childhood.

“A two-month-old pup is like a two-year-old child. It can learn, but only at the rate of a two-year-old child. It has the attention span of a two-year-old child, and the need for entertainment.”

This can be tricky to manage while also balancing classes and homework. It takes time for the dog, puppy or rescue, to get used to being alone in their new surroundings. Pollard said while you are home is when you should get the dog used to a crated area. If it’s a puppy who is not yet house-trained, they need a separate area from where they sleep where a pee-pad is put, so they have the freedom to use it. When it comes to working on separation, put them in their area, and then leave the room for a couple of hours to see how they manage.

“If you can’t take the time required, if most of your day is taken up with classes, homework, studying, socializing, etcetera, then this is not the time to get a dog,” Pollard advised.

Before you leave your dog for any period of time, Pollard recommended exercising them well before. This will make them more tired and relaxed and they will likely be better behaved when left alone. This trick can also be used when you’re present but consumed by your studies. Exercise the dog beforehand, and then Pollard said to provide them with something to chew on that’s safe to consume. Chewing gives dogs a serotonin boost, making them happy and calm.

Does Pollard believe that it’s possible to balance college and being a puppy-parent?

“Honestly, I think that it is a very challenging proposition and it will depend on the student’s abilities to organize their time and how much time they actually have,” she said. “Dogs are social animals, so they can’t be expected to only have our attention for a couple of hours a day. Other options, like doggie daycare, can certainly help with keeping your dog entertained and exercised while you’re gone, but that costs money.”

It’s not necessarily a question to ask if school life and puppy life mix, but rather asking if you have the time that dog deserves. Owning a dog takes a lot of time, energy, and money, so do your research and decide what is best for you and your potential dog before making a decision.