The Supposedly Planned Child: Owning a Dog in IV

Very few things can compare to the happiness that a dog can bring into our lives. If you’ve ever had a dog, you understand what it means when people talk about the unconditional love that a dog offers. The wagging tails and dopey smiles bring a sense of warmth and comfort into our lives that is hard to replicate. For many of us, with the stress of school and life in general, having that loving companion to come home to sounds like the perfect solution. However, for a college student living in Isla Vista, there are many things that can be overlooked.

It is easy to underestimate the responsibility of having a dog. There are so many people that walk through the streets of IV with a dog that it’s easy to think to yourself that dog owning can’t be that hard. Personally, I like to compare having a dog to having a baby. Perhaps that is just the crazy dog mom in me, but hear me out. Just like a child, you have to make sure your dog is well fed, receives the right amount of exercise, gets enough attention everyday, and receives the proper training. So let’s break it down.

As much as every furry companion would love a bite of your deliciously crispy bacon, that is one of the last things you should be feeding them. Dogs require a proper diet that consists of healthy treats and well rounded kibble or canine food. This means you have to do your research to determine what foods would be the best option for your dog. Here's a tip: anything cooked with oil or salt is definitely a no go for dogs. Some foods that are perfectly safe for humans can cause serious health problems for dogs. For example, macadamia nuts, garlic and onions are considered poisonous for dogs. So double check if it is safe for your dog before you try to sneak them a bite of your Woodstocks.

Just like how humans require exercise, so do dogs. Depending on the age and breed of your dog, they may require more or less exercise. However, all dogs require time to play, run, and exert all the energy that they save up throughout the day. This exercise should be in addition to walks, taken at least twice a day, to handle their business. The walks are crucial in making sure your house stays clean and your dog gets to use the potty in the proper venue. However, walks are simply not enough for them to be who they are: dogs. And, if they do not have the proper outlet to exert their energy, often times they end up causing trouble in the house instead. This can include destroying pillows into a million pieces, chewing through your favorite pair of Vans, or eating just about anything they can get their paws on.

Next, consider how you would feel if someone were to tell you they left their child at home for 13 hours alone. The same concept in that scenario should be applied to a dog. A dog’s world will revolve around you. Once you bring them into your home, you are what will get them through the day. They require attention in order to remain sane (much like us humans do). For us, we can get our dose of attention from our friends or family. However, dogs depend on their owners in order to provide attention, love, and care. This is a huge point that I cannot stress enough. Make sure your schedule and your life can handle the addition of a dog. As much as you would love to have unlimited doggy therapy, is it a reasonable responsibility to add to your daily life?

Last and certainly not least: training. Training a dog can be tedious and at times frustrating. This can be as simple as training your dog to sit or lay down, or as tricky as potty training. All tricks help discipline your dog to be more manageable, and some tricks are crucial in ensuring the safety of your dog. Teaching a dog to drop what they have in their mouth on command can be a life saver when they find a way to get into your pantry. In addition, having a well potty trained dog will save you from cleaning up ungodly messes. But, just like most things in life, it all takes time and practice. A dog needs constant reinforcements and repetition to perfect and retain the tricks and training that you teach them. Much like other components of having a dog, this takes a huge portion of your time and effort.

If you’ve carefully considered your options and you feel like you are capable of taking on the responsibility of bringing a furry companion into your home, I cannot congratulate you enough. Nothing beats the happiness that I feel when I come home from a long day of school and am greeted by my own dog. But, if you feel as though you cannot bring home a dog and provide it with the care that they require, consider other rewarding alternatives instead. Animal shelters are usually more than willing to take on volunteers to walk or spend time with the loving dogs that are there. Rover, Wag, and other dog walking and sitting services are a great way to make some extra money and get that doggy therapy that you need. In the end, you know yourself the best so just consider your capabilities before you sign on for more responsibility in your already busy life.

All images via Giphy​