How Household Pets Can Increase Academic Success for Students

Cute dog
Angel Garcia standing in the snow

This piece was written by communication intern Angel Garcia. Angel Garcia will graduate from BC and transfer out to a 4 year university where he will continue his education and get his Masters in Sociology. His goal for the future is to work along side social services to be a resource for children and families who need stable homes. He loves to soak in as much information he can get, help people as much as he can, and read too much Stephen King books! 

There are moments as a student when it feels like school work has become overwhelming. The stress of looming deadlines, the anxiety of wondering “did I do this assignment right?,” and worst of all the ever annoying brain fog that’s preventing focus and concentration. 

As a student, I understand ALL of these scenarios- I go through them myself. There are days when I want to pull my hair out when I’m sitting at my desk and I can’t focus on the assignment that’s in front of me. Sometimes I grab a power snack and put on a pot of coffee in hopes of boosting my energy to concentrate. With my snack and coffee in hand, I go back to my desk, set them down, slap myself on the cheeks with my hands and hype myself up that I can do this. I sit down, crack my knuckles…. and I still can’t focus. 

It’s frustrating. I want to pull my hair out, but at that moment I feel the cold, wet touch of my fur baby’s nose, almost as if she can sense my stress. I sit on the floor, let her come on my lap, and I scratch her behind the ears, give her some belly rubs and vent to her how school shouldn’t be this hard. After a few moments I set her off my lap and get back to my desk and miraculously it’s almost as if the barrier in my mind was lifted, and I can focus and complete my assignments!

How did my pet help sharpen my focus? With a little bit of research, I discovered incredible benefits of having a housepet and how they boost mental health and the mood of their owners. 

In “Science Says Your Pet Is Good for Your Mental Health” Mandy Oaklander states, “Animals of many types can help calm stress, fear and anxiety in young children, the elderly and everyone in between.” 

Although there are a variety of pets that can benefit overall mental health, I focused more on dogs because I’m a dog father and am a little biased (sorry cat owners). From my understanding, after a little bit of research, and reading the results of a controlled study done with students and dogs, I now understand that pets have a positive impact on a student’s overall well-being by increasing happiness, concentration, and reducing stress which can impact the way a student applies themselves to their academic work.

I promise this isn’t one giant advertisement to go out and get a dog. It’s just an encouragement to let a student know that if they do have a pet at home and if they are feeling the negative effect of college student life…giving your fur baby some love can help. You never know, it can really make a difference when students need that extra boost of concentration to complete that extremely important assignment.

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