Many Australians consider their pets to be a part of the family with 78% of people considering owning pets as a substitute for having kids according to recent Pawshake research conducted by the pet sitting website Pawshake.

As a dog mum with no children, I guess that makes me one of those 78% as Darcy is certainly my little companion that provides me with the love, amusement and joy that I am sure many parents report as something their children provide them with. So yes, Darcy is my ‘little boy’. He even has the attitude of a cheeky little boy too at times that’s for sure!

The line between pet ownership and parenthood is blurring even further according to the Pawshake research, with people buying their pets seasonal presents and our phones being full of pet photos rather than family pictures. (Sorry Mum and Dad but there are definitely many more photos of Darcy on my phone).

People now greet their pets before anyone else when they get home and daydream about their pets when they are at work. Relationships come second when it comes to our pets with some owners ending relationships and friendships if their pet doesn’t like the other person, or if someone doesn’t like their pet.

It’s no surprise to me that more people these days are just having a four-legged baby to complete their family. At social gatherings I find it is rare for human baby photos to be shared around with most people I meet getting out their phones to show me pictures of their dog. In fact, I don’t even remember the last time someone showed me a picture of a human baby.

The Pawshake research also found that pets are increasingly being welcomed into our social environments as well, with more people choosing to visit or stay at pet friendly locations over places where pets aren’t welcomed, and pet-friendly cafes and pubs that offer drinking water, puppuccinos and treats.

It seems our love for pets is shifting the dynamics of our home life and our social environments. I know it certainly has with mine. Shall we delve a little deeper into the report findings?

Dating

Beware if you are in a new romance and their pet doesn’t take a liking to you! You might want to work harder at getting into the pet’s good books as 85% of pet owners say that they would end relationships and friendships if you and their pet don’t get along.

Long term partners aren’t safe either with less than 1% of people having pictures of their partners instead of their pets on their phones. In fact 74% of the photos on the phones of those surveyed are indeed of their pets and not their long-term partners. (Am I allowed to LOL at this one?)

People are choosing pets as their companions over having a significant other and are directing their love and attention towards their pets.

Family life

The modern family model doesn’t necessarily include having kids either with 78% of those interviewed regarding owning pets as a substitute for having kids.

93% also admitted that they always greet their pet first when they arrive home from work.

Work

A massive 96% of Australians would take a day off if their pet was sick or injured and 72% of Australians daydream about their pet at work. This shows that pets have a strong impact on productivity and stress at work.

Pet-friendly work spaces might have to become a priority in office planning too, with 72% of Australians saying they would choose a job based on being able to bring their pet to work. Fortunately here at Pooches HQ dogs are welcomed with open arms and the more the merrier!

Spoiling our pets

Given the amount of birthday pawty invitations Darcy receives, I’m not surprised by the Pawshake research results showing that 80% of pet owners buy their pet gifts and celebrate their birthdays with special treats, songs and home cooked meals. You only have to check out Instagram or Facebook to see the plethora of lavish birthday parties of our furry friends, custom made cakes and doggy gift bags.

While some people may roll their eyes at the lengths people go to these days to spoil their pets, I say why not celebrate our wonderful furry friends for all the unconditional love, support and sheer joy they bring to our lives?

I must admit I’m feeling a little bad now though that I am yet to actually remember and celebrate Darcy’s birthday, (he’s adopted so I tend to forget his birthday and just celebrate having him in my life every day), so watch out in February 2020 as Darcy may finally celebrate his birthday in style as he turns a grand old 7 years of age!


About the Author: Lara Shannon is co-Host of Pooches at Play and has completed a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour & Training with the National Dog Trainers Federation. Lara also runs her own dog walking, dog minding and dog training business in Melbourne’s Bayside area.