Why Do We Treat Dogs Like Our Children? Because They Are

Do you have your precious pup as your iPhone background? Would you rather spend hours gushing about your dog Gus than delving deep into politics? Are your parties for your pets more extravagant than the Real Housewives’ parties for their children? Turns out you’re not alone.

Kelton Research, a market research company, wanted to scientifically examine why we treat Fido as more than our friend but as a certified member of our family. They surveyed over 1,000 dog owners and found that a whopping 81% of those asked describe their dogs as members of their family, equal in status to biological children. We not only see our dogs as our children, but ourselves as their parents as a majority (54%) of Americans refer to themselves as pet “parents” rather than pet “owners”.

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We’ve all heard that we look like our dogs: Females with longer hair prefer dogs with long floppy ears; Obese people are more likely to raise plumper pets than their skinnier contemporaries. It turns out our love of pets is more than skin deep as more than 1/3 of dog owners even refer to their dachshunds as their “son” or “daughter”. Crazily enough, 10% of dog parents even celebrate Father’s and Mother’s Day. Hopefully their “children” will give better presents than the ones they leave on their morning walks.

Ever wonder why your parents have more pictures of their Pomeranian on their mantels than you and your siblings? The average pet parent has over 7 photographs of their beloved canine on display at all times. Remember your parents buying wallet-sized copies of your hideous elementary school pictures? Turns out that 71% of pet owners have at least one picture of their pup that they keep with them at all times.

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The love for our dogs transcends our mobile photo albums and infiltrates our daily conversations. Stuck in a disastrous first date with nothing to talk about? Simply gush about your furry child! Over 79% of people divulge that they talk more about their dogs than politics while 55% would rather talk about their pets than their human friends. Furthermore, 48% of people agree that they spend more time talking about their pets than their professions while, surprisingly, 57% of people surveyed confess that they spend more time discussing their pet-lives than their sex-lives.

The lines between our chihuahuas and children are becoming increasingly blurred. According to the survey, 81% of pet owners know and celebrate their dog’s birthday with the same fervor of suburban soccer moms. Surprisingly, 74% of those asked dished that they like to share a meal with their furry friend with dinner being the most popular. No doggy bags needed!

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So why have our pets turned us into perfectionist parents? Turns out it may be due to a void left by our own biological children. Young people in the United States and abroad would prefer to have a fur-baby instead of an actual baby due to financial reasons. Young people are not the only ones caught up in dog-fever however as baby boomers are blossoming into empty-nesters. While middle aged couples cannot replace their adult children with more biological ones, they can easily go to their neighborhood adoption center and pick up a pup in need of a family. As humans we have an instinct need to nurture and dogs give us the opportunity to do so without the full responsibility of raising a walking, talking human.

They say that dogs are a man’s best friend. Chances are whoever invented that quote never had a Fido to call their own as we all know, and feel, that dogs are much, much, more than that. They are a member of our family and since they can’t talk back or ask us who we are dating at every Thanksgiving dinner, they are more than likely to be our favorite family member.

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