The physical and emotional benefits of dog ownership have been well documented in scientific and anecdotal research. From motivating people to be more active, to lowering risk of heart disease, to helping fight depression, dogs help people live longer and happier lives. But as busy young professionals (YPs), what can dog ownership teach us specifically, and how can it benefit our unique lifestyle? We’ve got these notable notes just for us:
Dogs have a time limit for how long they can be left alone. Whether we are working late at the office or are out and about on the scene, dogs create restrictions on how long we can be away from home. For YPs seeking that work/life balance, having to go home for the dog offers us a chance to step away from the hubbub, go for a walk, check in with ourselves, and perhaps call it a night.
Dogs also put restrictions on that common YP trait of youthful impulsiveness. Last-minute decisions and heat-of-the-moment choices become much more difficult when we have a pup to consider. This is not to say that the days of spontaneous trips and random fun are over with the addition of a dog, only that a little more prep and planning will be required, which in the end helps us better develop that essential skill of self control.
There is no way around it: dogs are expensive! For YPs learning the ropes of the financial world, dog ownership can help teach us not only how to save up for those inevitable expenditures, but also how to sacrifice some of our own wants for the needs of our furry friends. Researching pet insurance options, shopping around for vets and daycares, and creating that necessary “sick puppy” savings account are all useful endeavours that help teach us YPs about financial responsibility.
For YP couples or roommates, sharing ownership of a dog helps us learn how to work together. By divvying up the work, designating who does what when, we get great practice in the art of teamwork: “I’ll do the walking if you feed him and drive him to daycare,” or “You pay for food and I’ll cover the dog-walker,” or “This Friday I’ll come home right after work so that next week I can stay for Happy Hour,” etc. Sharing dog ownership fosters those sought-after skills of cooperation and support.
Prepping for bigger commitments
We don’t want to say specifically that being a dog owner prepares us for having kids (our parent-friends hate that), but it is true that pet ownership teaches us how to be responsible for another living creature, how to sacrifice our own wants and needs for another, and how to love and care for a dependent (including sleepless nights and cleaning up diarrhea!). Of course, this dependent can be tucked away into a comfy crate and left alone for periods of a time, but in general, dog ownership does prep us for some of life’s later commitments like caring for young, elderly, or less-abled dependents.
Lessons in selflessness
It’s quite common for us YPs to get overly involved with ourselves. This is a time when we must be laser focused on our goals and our future. But as we all know, being too focused on ourselves in this way can actually be counterproductive and even harmful (read: burnt out). So finally, owning a dog helps to keep things in perspective, and to keep life balanced, by requiring us to care for and about something other than our all-important selves.