SEATTLE — It’s probably no surprise that 94 percent of dog owners consider their pooches more than just a pet — but part of the family, according to a new survey. But would you let your dog dictate the success of your relationship? The same survey also finds that more than half of those owners might break up with their significant other if they thought their best friend didn’t like their partner.
Analysts at Rover.com, which touts itself as the nation’s largest network of 5-star dog sitters and walkers, released a report they’ve dubbed “The Truth About Dog People,” detailing a slew of characteristics about owners and their relationships with their beloved pets. The site used surveys of more than 2,000 adult dog owners in 2015 and 2016, along with a 2015 Harris poll, statistics from a 2011 Journal of Physical study, and most recently, results from a survey of 1,500 adult owners conducted last month.
Among the most surprising findings were those that indicated how influential a dog can be when it comes to dating. The report found that 54 percent of owners would actually consider ending a relationship if they felt like their dog didn’t approve of their love interest. What’s more, nearly two thirds of owners (65 percent) said they snap more photos of their pet than their significant other, and nearly half (47 percent) would rather leave their partner for a week than their pooch.
Of course, it’s possible single owners might make it clear right away just how important their pet is to them: a quarter of owners admit having their dog accompany them on a date!
“Dog people are deeply concerned about their dog’s feelings and well-being. And we’re seeing that reflected in everything from how people name their dog to what they feed them, and the type of pet care they prefer,” says Brandie Gonzales, pet lifestyle expert for Rover, in a company press release.
With dogs living in more than 54 million U.S. households, it makes sense that 3,000 people a day search “Does my dog love me?” on Google.
Of course, it’s clear that people love their dogs back. Fifty-six percent of owners say hello to their dogs first when they come home, instead of their partner or spouse. Twenty-nine percent of participants indicated they have more photos of their pet on social media than they do of themselves, friends, and family members. And nearly 80 percent would include their canine best friends in important photo opps, such as a marriage proposal or holiday cards, or a family vacation.
“Young Americans are less likely to be homeowners or parents than previous generations, but one category they lead in, is pet ownership. They shower their dogs with attention and splurge on expensive gifts because their dog is their best friend, and they want to be their dog’s best friend too,” says Gonzales.
It’s possible so many people own dogs because of the mental health benefits that come with the role. About three-quarters of participants agree that their dogs provide them uplift on down days. The researchers say that owning a dog boosts self-esteem and lowers stress, with 69 percent of participants seeing more leisure time and physical activity after getting a dog. More than half (51 percent) even sing to their dogs.
.There are lots of other stats from the report you can check out — but there’s no quester that dogs matter to their owners, perhaps more than ever before. Other recent studies have found that dogs provide better support for kids than their parents, and may reduce the risk of allergies and obesity in kids. If that’s not enough, another survey found that owning a dog can boost their owners’ sex appeal.