A fifth of dog owners wish they could speak the same language as their pup

Dogs have become much more than pets for Brits, according to brand new research* from natural dog food brand Harringtons.

More than two-thirds (67%) of owners say their dog is part of the family, while nearly a fifth (18%) consider them their best friend, and for one in 10 (11%) owners, a dog is more like a child.

The trend for humanising our pets perhaps isn’t surprising, as now more than half (53%) of the nation’s dogs have human names, like Phil, Bob or Mary, rather than traditional ‘dog’ names like Rover, Fluffy or Lucky.

The nation’s dog owners want nothing but the best for their pooch; when asked if they could grant one wish for their dog, owners agreed that constant happiness (29%) was what they would want most for them, along with endless green space (11%) and unlimited treats (10%).

One in five (19%) dog owners even wish they could speak the same language as their pets – which is no surprise given that more than two-fifths (42%) believe their dog has a similar personality to them and over a third (36%) say their dog is always with them.

The tell-tail signs of a dog’s happiness remain as canine as ever, though; dog owners ranked a wagging tail (71%), enjoying petting (49%), friendliness (46%) and showing their belly (40%) as the key indicators of their pup’s happiness.

Research also revealed where dogs are happiest and moodiest – to no surprise, dogs were most moody at the vets (20%), followed by when around other dogs (8%). At their happiest, Brits’ dogs are cuddling on the sofa (19%) or being played with (12%).

As dogs have come to be considered best friends or family members, rather than just pets, one in ten (9%) owners also wished for amazing dog food without the price tag. Deserving great nutrition as much as their human counterparts, quality food is the top priority for dog owners, surpassing dog walking routes (17%), their dog bed (7%) and toys (4%).

Hefty price tags are a deterring factor in feeding pooches wholesome nutrition. Only seven in 10 (70%) believe they are currently feeding their dog the best possible diet as the Cost of Living crisis continues to take its toll. More than half (54%) of owners admit that cost is the biggest barrier to feeding an optimum diet, while nearly a quarter (23%) believe their dog to be too much of a fussy eater to be fed better nutrition.

Pet owners are aware of what makes a good diet, though. Nearly half (47%) agree a high percentage of meat content indicates quality dog food, along with recipes containing freshly prepared meat ingredients (33%) and vegetables (31%).

Answering the nation’s need for high-quality nutrition for their pets and further humanisation of their dogs, Harringtons opened a first-of-its-kind Yorkshire Embassy for dogs in London. Channel 5’s The Yorkshire Vet, Peter Wright, granted dogs dual ‘gnash’-ionality alongside Ambassa-dog Yorkshire Terry, a straight-talking Yorkshire Terrier and star of Harringtons’ latest TV ad.

Along with an edible stamped passport, dogs enjoyed wholesome nutrition without the price tag attached as they enjoyed wet food-filled Yorkshire puddings with freshly prepared meat ingredients and vegetables in every bite.

Peter Wright, vet for Harringtons and star of Channel 5’s The Yorkshire Vet, said: “There’s a real trend for owners to ‘humanise’ their pets, loving them as they would a relative or friend – and even seeing them as part of the community. Owners want nothing but the best for their beloved dogs, with freshly prepared meat, vegetables and gravy (ideally with recognisable ingredients) in every bite seen as key to giving them a happy, healthy life.

“I want to reassure all pet owners, including those rightly worried about money, that quality pet nutrition needn’t cost the earth. Dogs deserve, and can enjoy, posh nosh at a proper price.”