Medical students and doctors at work are becoming aware of the fact that having a dog in school can help alleviate stress and improve productivity.
More than anything, studies have proven that working with dogs allows medical students to get away from their computers and focus on more important things, such as human-animal interaction.
This is proving to be a significant change for many students who claim these interactions made all the difference in their lives.
One thing that you must take into consideration is how your personality and the personality of the dog you’re going to choose will work together.
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Some things you must consider for having a dog at medical school:
1. Consider your lifestyle whilst at medical school.
Dogs have long been known as man’s best friend, and are a big part of many people’s lives. However, students at medical school often have busy lifestyles, with odd hours that can sometimes be stressful.
If you are in this position, it is important to consider the commitments that being a dog owner brings.
Dogs require constant attention and exercise; something which can be difficult when your time is fragmented between studying and socialising.
Many dogs also become depressed or anxious if they are alone for too long without adequate affection or stimulation; this can lead to destructive behaviour and even the destruction of furniture.
2. Dogs need exercise.
Some students are surprised to discover that they must walk their dogs each day, and are not able to neglect their pets in favour of studying for a large part of the day.
While this level of activity is fine for some dogs, many dogs will become stressed if left alone for extended periods of time and will begin to exhibit destructive behaviour.
3. Consider getting a pet while you are on placement.
If you are on placement, it is likely that you will be staying in a rental property that does not allow pets.
However, the time you spend on placement should give you plenty of time to think about whether a pet would fit into your lifestyle and whether you will get enough time with them.
Many students get very attached to their pets and find it hard to part with them at the end of their placement.
While this is understandable, having a pet while on placement can interfere with your day-to-day activities; for this reason, many schools recommend that students do not bring their pets with them if they are placed at another medical school or hospital.
4. Dogs get lonely.
Many dogs can become nervous and anxious if they are left alone for long periods of time; this can lead to destructive behaviour which makes it difficult for students to study at home.
It is therefore important to make sure that you have a plan for taking care of your dog when you are not able to be home.
If this means some degree of boarding for your pet, ensure that the facility is reputable and regularly checks in with the owners about their pets’ welfare.
5. Dogs mess up the house.
Owning a dog means being responsible for their bodily functions, something which may come as a bit of a shock to students who have grown up with pets, but have never had any responsibility for them.
For the majority of students, this is not a problem; however, for those who have animals that are particularly messy or attempt to live in their bedroom, it can be very difficult to keep things tidy and clean.
Consider how much time you spend cleaning up after your dog when you encounter accidents.
6. Give them appropriate toys.
Many dogs will become bored if they are not physically or mentally stimulated every day.
When there is nothing for them to do, they will often begin to become destructive and destructive behaviour can impact the other students living in the house.
If you cannot provide this level of stimulation, consider getting a dog walker or a pet sitter to regularly take care of your pet while you are at medical school.
7. Make sure they have a vet that will care for them.
Once again, many students will not realise how much time and attention is required to take care of a pet.
While many people can survive without their pet, if your pet becomes ill or injured you may need to sacrifice your studies in order to take them to the vet.
Likewise, it is also important that you make sure your dog has medical and veterinary benefits while they are with you; this prevents you from being faced with large veterinary bills when the time comes that your student loan is no longer sufficient for the cost of treatment.
8. Make sure your pet is up to date on vaccinations.
Most dogs are required to be vaccinated against certain diseases, and make sure that your pet is up to date on their vaccinations before bringing them home with you.
Most veterinary practices will send reminders for returning students’ pets after they have failed to have their vaccinations updated; make sure your dog is up-to-date before heading home in the middle of term or leaving on holiday at the end of the academic year.
This can often be done through the vet during regular check-ups, but consider checking with your vet in advance if you are not sure whether he/she can provide this service.
9. Train them properly.
While some dogs will be fine with you simply taking them for walks, others will require a higher level of training in order to socialise with other students and to understand commands such as “Sit” and “Stay”.
Dogs are often bred for particular purposes, such as hunting or herding, which can make it difficult to train them to behave properly in a group.
It is important to remember that every dog is different; whether they are particularly well suited for the task at hand or not, training them can take a lot of time and effort.
Consider how much time you are able to spend training your dog if you are considering getting one while at medical school.
10. Find your dog a collar and name tag.
If you are going to keep your dog indoors, then it is important that you teach him/her how to behave when other people are around.
Make sure they are wearing a collar with their name and phone number attached; this will ensure that if your dog ever gets out, then he/she can be returned to you quickly.
Try not to keep the same name tag on the collar for long periods of time, as this can make it difficult for people to read the contact details at a distance.
11. Pet insurance.
Many students who get a dog while studying at medical school have the spend large sums of money on unnecessary hospital bills.
To help prevent this, consider getting pet insurance. This will cover the costs of surgery and vet care if your pet becomes ill, or if they are injured, has an accident or is attacked by another animal.
12. Dog licence fees.
If you live in an apartment, flat or house shared with other people, you are likely to have to pay for dog licences each year; this is due to legislation preventing noisy dogs from being left outside during normal business hours, which could disturb tenants during their studies.
It is important that you check with your landlord before bringing your dog into an apartment, as some landlords may not allow pets.
13. Ask yourself; can I have a pet while studying?
While each student has to ask themselves whether a pet will fit into their lifestyle, it is also important that you consider whether the pet will fit in with everyone else’s in the household.
Smaller dogs are typically more popular than large ones, as they are less likely to outgrow their welcome when the time comes to stay in student accommodation or move on from medical school altogether.
Additionally, think about your roommates. While you may be happy to have a large dog in your room, will others in the household be as comfortable with it?
The more unkempt or quiet the dog is, the more likely it is that other students will find them a nuisance.
14. Consider keeping your pet outside during normal business hours.
Many people worry about their pets being loud; if this is a problem, talk to your landlord about keeping your dog outside during normal business hours.
This can still give you time to have a walk with him/her before heading off to lectures or work and will also ensure that they don’t disturb neighbouring buildings throughout the day while you are away at school.
15. Consider adopting a rescue pet.
If you have fallen in love with a particular animal, it is worth considering adopting one from your local rescue centre.
Many strays or unwanted pets end up in shelters, and these shelter animals can make excellent pets; they are often well socialised and trained when they come into the centre, and the time they have spent in the shelter has also naturally reduced their stress levels when being adopted by students.
If you want to adopt a pet, then consider calling your local rescue centre first to see if anything is available; you will find that many shelters keep lists of potential owners for their animals on their websites, which is also generally how new homes are found.
The above includes all the steps to be taken before you bring your puppy into medical school.
Many of these steps can be taken at home, although it is important that you discuss them with the staff at medical school before doing so – most especially if young children are living in your house or you may have other animals living in with them.
The last thing you want to do is upset the staff at medical school by taking your puppy in before they give you permission and inadvertently upsetting the other residents at your medical school.
Good luck! I hope it all goes well for you with your puppy in medical school.