Humanisation of our Pets
Over lockdown, the British population has turned to pets for comfort. In fact there are 3.2m new pet owners. Of that 59% have been under the age of 35 years old and it has been predicted that by 2025, 1 in 3 pet owners will be millennials. 51% of the UK dog population weighs less than 10kg, with the most popular breeds being Yorkshire Terriers, Mini-Dachshunds and Chihuahuas.
In 2020, the Petcare market was £2.9bn in the UK. In comparison the UK baby & toddler market was £920m.
An interesting emerging statistic is that pet owners spend 26% more when they shop then non-pet owners. People spoil their pets just like you would a child. Children and pets are both bought ‘treats’ and are pampered with gifts.
Dogs & Cats are people’s children
There are strong everyday correlations between children and pets:
- Take your dog to the groomer and your child to the barber. Sniffe & Likkit are purveyors of fine pet care. A fantastic brand with dog gifts and grooming treats. Perfect gifts for your dog as well as gifts for your fellow pet owning friends. Biscuit, a beagle/basset and the Co-Founder of Pets Lets, loves the Paw Balm and The Give A Dog Cologne.
For a hound, that is quite something as she does not normally like pleasant smells! Sniffe & Likkit are a prime example of the rise of upmarket pet brands. This proves the point of how much people are spending on their pets. Pet owners are demanding more than ‘bog standard’ products for their cats and dogs.
- You see a growing number of dog ‘boutiques’ just like children clothes ‘boutiques’.
- There has been an increase in organic/ healthy dog & cat foods just like toddler foods.
- Just like there are child activities and babysitters, there are dog sitters, dog walkers and dog boarding homes when you are away from home.
- Go shopping for your dog or child. There are shops full of the latest pet and child accessories and toys. People cycle with their dogs just like a baby seat.
- When you go abroad, people will arrange a pet passport just like you would apply for a child’s passport.
- With many when they meet up with friends, the dog is doted on just like a child.
- The Dogs Trust slogan of a A Dog is for life mirrors that of a child. It is a big decision and not to be taken lightly. Both children and dogs are given up for adoption when people cannot cope.
- Having a dog in particular, is like having another child. Your children go to school and then your dog comes over to you and literally says ‘what about me’. I need a walk.
- With Millennials and Generation Z, many see having a pet as an introduction to having a child later. You are responsible for another ‘family member’, behaviour/ training, nutrition and their general welfare. It prepares people’s mindset for having children. You become more aware of what to anticipate.
- The final point which sums it up. 72% of pet owners refer to themselves as the pets Mum or Dad.
Why some pet owners opt for small breeds:
The number of small breeds in the UK is growing, particularly in towns and cities where it is more practical/ easier to get about with a small dog. Also, some people prefer smaller dogs and have less time in a busy world to walk them. They become like a child as pointed out earlier.
- With many people renting, landlords are more open to renting to people with pets if they have one small dog. A bigger dog or more than one pet reduces the amount of landlords who will say yes to pets.
- Easier to commute, go shopping with a small dog. The Londog which is a great source to find out about dog friendly London has listed the dog rules and regulations of the various department stores. With Selfridges on Oxford Street, for example, you are only allowed a dog if you carry it into the store. You are not going to get very far with your shopping carrying your basset hound or Labrador. That is why you see so many people with ‘pooch’ bags and you can spot a small head sticking out. Just like a toddler carrier.
- A small dog becomes so much like a child that they are carried about and treated like one. They are ‘spoilt’ with gifts and dressed up.
- Some dog owners find small dogs more appealing because there are worries about training. If you have grown up with Labradors, then you will be used to the breed and you find people through their lives can be breed ‘loyal’. A bigger dog can require more of your time to look after them which includes longer walks.
An Emerging Generation Pet / A Pawrent
- 3 in 10 people opt for pets over children. It can be a lifestyle choice and some people prefer to have a ‘furkid’
- Having a dog fits in more with some people lifestyles. You can still travel any time of the year. People like to go away on holiday; having a child means you are restricted to school holidays when the prices are artificially inflated. With a dog or cat, time of year does not matter. You have that flexibility.
- Other people feel that pets offer you that unconditional love. Every time you walk through the door, they welcome you home. It does not matter whether it has been for a couple of hours or minutes, they are happy to see you. Unlike some would argue, children or teenagers, who would rather been anywhere else than with their parents.
- This interesting article from The Huffington Post discusses why some people opt for pets over children.
- Pets are cheaper than children. They are more grateful.
Renting with Pets/ Children
- Renting with children is far easier than looking for a pet friendly rental in the UK. No landlord or estate agent will question the number of children you have or ask for school references pertaining to their behaviour. You do not ask if the children are messy or cause damage and ask for a previous landlord reference. Yet being a dog owner and a father, I can categorically say that the children make more of a mess and are inclined to cause more damage.
- By capping deposits, the Government has made it harder to rent with pets. According to the latest statistics, only 7% of landlords are pet friendly. Others will consider pets, but if they get a better offer from non-pet owners, you will mostly lose out. This article from This is Money refers to landlords charging extra pet rents.
- The UK Government recently brought in guidelines to help pet owners looking to rent. However, these are merely suggestive and not enforced by law, so many landlords have continued to say no to renting with dogs or cats.
- Unless renting with pets is legally enforced, then nothing will change. You even come across dog owners, who sympathise, yet their own rental properties are non-pet friendly.
- Anna Webb is a well known Broadcaster, Nutrition and Behaviour expert. Anna contributes to TV and Radio nationally including BBC Radio London's 'The Barking Hour'. Like many of us we support Jasmine’s law which is a bill in UK Parliament at the moment, which is about enforcing your right to rent with a pet. Just like in many European countries, it should not be a ‘big deal’ to rent with a pet.
- Too many landlords feel that pets damage properties. So do children with dirty hands on the walls, paint on the carpet and create damage with gatherings/ parties or vape stained walls.
- As pets are people’s children, they too, should be in the same category. You would not move home without your child or pet.
Pets and mental healthWith lockdown, it has been tough for people. They have not been able to see their close family and friends. People have lost loved ones, lost their jobs and need some comfort in their lives. That is why people have turned to adopting pets. They bring comfort and joy to households. Over the first lockdown, people walked their dogs to get exercise and see the outside world.
How do pets help mental health?
- Walking your dog offers a from of exercise and gets you outside come rain or shine.
- Having a pet gives structure to your day because you are responsible for another.
- They give you self-confidence as they have unwavering loyalty and are there for you.
- They help reduce stress and anxiety. Stroking a dog or cat is good for your mental health.
- By going outside walking the dog, you meet new people and make friends.
- This article by Mental Health Foundation sums up the benefits and also gives more useful tips and advice.
Choosing the right petBefore adopting a pet, there are points you should consider such as size of a dog and breed.
- How active are you?
- Are you away from home a lot?
- How much time will you have for your pet?
- Financial concerns. Everything from rising pet adoption costs, vet bills and accessories.
As a nation we are very much ‘pet lovers’. Renting with pets in the UK is such an issue because it is ‘head’ versus ‘heart’. Landlords have investments to protect and the UK Government ‘sits on the fence’ when it comes to enforcing pet friendly rental guidelines. You cannot make suggestions to landlords; they will do what suits them best.
I am the founder of Pets Lets, which came about because I have witnessed, working in the property sector, how UK landlords say no to pets. Pets Lets is a UK pet friendly property portal which also has a relocation service. If you cannot find a property on the portal, pet owners can email us for help.
We have also set up a Pets & Property Tips Facebook Group to offer professional advise to pet owners looking to rent with their pets in the UK. Cafes, pubs, shops including department stores are pet friendly. Renting with your dog is the main issue.
Unfortunately, landlords are more open to a small dog or renting to someone with a cat. More than one dog or larger breeds put off landlords.
Coming out of lockdown, everyone wants outside space. They have had enough of being ‘locked up’ and during that time not having had a balcony or garden. Now there is a ‘rush’ to change that. So, when you are looking for a garden or balcony with your pet friendly rental, bear in mind you will be up against non-pet owners.