There are now 17 million pet-owning homes in the UK, with more than 3 million households having acquired a new dog during the pandemic. What has driven this recent dog boom?
At the beginning of 2020, when the pandemic sent the UK into lockdown, we faced the consequences of being trapped in our homes with limited access to the outside world - either daily exercise or the weekly shop, unless you were an ‘essential worker’. This led to more than 10% of the population choosing to take the first time leap into owning a dog. This is why…
Working from home
Pre-pandemic, there were many people who would have loved to have a dog, but couldn’t reasonably commit as work responsibilities took precedence. Finding themselves working from home for the foreseeable future, the possibility of having a dog had suddenly opened up.
Some people were isolated from their friends and family overnight - whether they were old, vulnerable, living remotely or just living alone - and were in desperate need of companionship. With no way of meeting with any people, a dog was a great alternative to human contact.
Similar to above, many people did not react well to being stuck at home for months for the first time, and the nation saw a spike in mental health issues; humans are sociable creatures and are not designed to be trapped inside and isolated. For years, studies have conclusively shown that pets are hugely beneficial to our mental and emotional wellbeing, so many households opted to get a dog to lift their mood and give them a set routine that involved going out on walks without breaking the rules.
If you were a parent of small children during the lockdowns, you probably reached a point where you were out of ideas to keep your kids occupied and content. Maybe they had always asked for a dog and you kept saying ‘no’, but you were ready to cave and add 4 little paws to the family just to keep the children happy. If this sounds familiar, you’re in good company, as nearly 60% of those who bought a pet for the first time in lockdown had children at home.
Although the pandemic had a primary role to play in the rising number of dogs in the UK, Millennials and now Gen Z (ages 10-40) have been contributing to this number since before the lockdowns started.
PMFA released statistics for 2021 that show this age group make up two-thirds (59%) of new pet owners, with many even opting to have pets instead of children (a topic for another day)! 1 in every 4 millennials - roughly 3 million - are pet owners, making them the largest pet-owning demographic in the UK.