Young generations of Americans are less likely than previous generations to own a car or a home, less likely to be married and more likely to get divorced. Yet, the new generations, particularly the millennials, have a tremendous lead over the baby-boomers in one area: pet ownership. This new generation may be called the “dog-boomers.”
Three-fourths of Americans in their thirties own dogs, and half own cats. When you compare the millennials with the rest of them general population, you find out that only half of whom own dogs and around a third of whom own cats. This is a dramatic increase.
In recent years, more and more people, particularly the millennials have identified themselves as pet parents rather than pet owners. This description clearly indicates a shift in the way pets are perceived and their greater meaning to the millennials. Some individuals are even called Pets as “fur babies.”
Some of the pet parents, not only have the tendency to postpone having children, they even opt to not have children, and instead decide to have fur babies. Yet, since human are naturally and evolutionary have the deep impulse and desire to parent. Now, those nurturing instincts are directed toward dogs and cats, making people a “parent” to a pet.
There are many reasons why today, more than ever before, pets become poplar. Also, more individuals decide to have pets instead of children. Here are some of the main reasons:
First, more and more families have pets at their home today. The new generation becomes accustom to have a pet in their life as their grown. As such, many millennials have grown up with pets as a member of the family, so their relationship with them is very different than previous generations who grew up with a cat or a dog in the backyard of the neighborhood; occasionally they had a pet in the house.
The rise of the internet and social media and the drop in human interaction is a big reason for the increased relationship with pets over the past two decades. In many ways, individuals are physically more alone today. The reduced human connection creates a void for companionship that can be filled with the interaction with a pet. As such, the pets are filling an emotional emptiness, making them more important in our lives.
The desire for self-actualization and self-entitlement as individuals, rather than familial or tribal, as well as the want for a less parental responsibility is a greater motivator in the young generation as compare to the older generations.
The perspective of what constitutes a family, its size and its purpose has changed over the years, more so in recent years. For millennials a family is not just marriage and kids. You can be single, divorce, career-oriented individuals, a bolger or software developer that, takes their work with them, and travel the world. Individuals and families can enjoy a greater freedom, having a pet rather than the responsibility of a child. In other words, the need for greater freedom – keeping their independent lifestyles (to peruse your career, travel the word and have more free time) pushes individuals to have less children and more pets.
I had a client that once told me “My dogs are my family. They give me so much and don’t expect anything in return. They are greeting me at my door every time I come back home after work. They are happy to see me, and their liveliness lifts my spirit.” Animas have the natural nurturing instincts for protection and love. They provide a positive energy, unconditional friendship and devotion, which is very needed in at times alienated world.
Pets are often described as providing companionship, emotional support, security, or a sense of “home” or rootedness for “pet-parents”: but these aren’t traits that describe a child. A dog in many ways is cheaper than a baby (huge financial costs of parenting – education), provides unconditional love, and always be there to support you. Your child might be a different story. Yes, dogs need love and attention, but not constant monitoring like a child.
A pet, especially dogs, may also become a service animal. Individuals that being treated for an emotional disorder or disability may use the support or assistance of an animal to help alleviate your health and mental issue. It might be that in the future, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) will identify “replacement-baby syndrome” as a diagnosable epidemic and the solution will be a pet that fills the replacement child syndrome.