Millennial dog ownership soars as young couples seek to hone parental skills

More than two million young couples are getting a puppy to prepare them from having a baby.

New research from online pet retailer, Paws.com reveals that the majority of millennials (67%) believe looking after a dog is good practice for parenthood.

Nearly a third (32%) of young pet parents regard their dog as their son or daughter and 62% admit they love them as much as their family.

As a result, today’s generation of pups are reaping the rewards of doting first-time ‘paw-rents’, with half receiving Christmas and birthday presents, 44% enjoying birthday celebrations and nearly one in five (16%) getting their own bedroom.

A further 37% are even allowed to sleep in their owner’s bed.

With 74% of young adults agreeing that looking after a puppy can be just as demanding as looking after a baby, many first-time dog owners share similar experiences to new parents.

In the first year of getting a pup, nearly half (48%) would check on them during the night, over a third (34%) took time off work to look after them and a similar number dropped the off at a pup school daily.

Proud young dog owners have also been guilty of ‘sharenting’ – the act of oversharing news and pictures of kids online. 39% say they posted pictures of their pup on social media every day during the first year of getting them, following the example of many celebrity couples documenting their paw-renting journey.

Aside from the joys of becoming a dog owner, nearly a third (31%) also admit that looking after their pup was harder than expected and close to a quarter (23%) googled concerns up to five times a day to help them know what to do.

According to these anxious millennials, the top three puppy pains include potty training (47%), obedience training (41%) and knowing the right foods to choose (35%).

The research also shows a shift in priorities, with young adults today far more likely to own a dog before starting a family compared to their parents (46% vs 27%).

In line with this, companies are starting to offer workplace perks that suit their new generation’s needs, with 34% of 22-35 year olds working in a dog friendly office.

Nearly a quarter (24%) say their company offers pet-ernity leave (paid leave to look after new pets).

While millennials are using dog ownership as an opportunity to trial run starting a family, other factors leading them to choose puppies over babies include: it’s less expensive to have a dog than a child (27%), it won’t impact career progression (26%) and it would be easier to manage if splitting up with a partner (13%).

Stephanie Wenban, Vet and Wellbeing Ambassador at Paws.com, said: “Dogs bring so much joy to our lives and it’s great to see young people taking their pet parenting roles so seriously. However, we understand how hard it can be, particularly in those early days, from knowing how to potty train your pup to making sure you’re meeting all their nutritional needs. Our new course is a great way to ease pet parent stress and provides expert advice to help you do the best by your pup.”

To help new pet parents, Paws.com is launching a free puppy parenting course. for a first look you can visit www.paws.com/learn.