Holiday break is just around the corner, and many of us are rushing to finish finals or work deadlines before the end of the year. The holiday season is full of traditions, travel, and time spent with loved ones — especially time with family members you may rarely visit. But, you may surprised by who people are looking more forward to spending time with. According to a new study, nearly 50 percent of people are more excited to see their dog than to see family over the holidays.
The survey was released by BarkBox on Nov. 29, and conducted by the consultant firm Kelton Global. After polling over 1,000 people in the United States, the survey discovered that 43 percent of American adults are more pumped to spend time with their pups than their own flesh and blood. That statistic jumped to over 50 percent for millennials, singles, and people who live in cities. The survey also revealed nine in ten Americans include their dogs in holiday traditions like family photoshoots or receiving stocking stuffers, and 80 percent of surveyors said they’d be buying their furry friend a gift.
“Here at BarkBox we are a bunch of crazy dog people so it wasn't a surprise that so many people other than us involve their dogs in their holiday traditions,” Stacie Grissom, the Head of Content at BarkBox, tell Bustle. “Dogs are more a part of the family than ever before, and that's reflected in everything from holiday traditions to our business of spoiling our pups.”
Millennials were even more intense about their pets: One in six polled they have coordinated a matching outfit with their dog during holiday celebrations, which is hilarious and relatable AF. “Millennials are a driving force behind today’s dog parent trends — constantly sharing their pup on social media and considering them an important part of the family [...] Millennials have made dogs an integral part of the holiday season,” says Grissom. A study done earlier this year revealed 44 percent of millennials see their fur babies as “starter children,” so it is no surprise that the holiday season somewhat revolves around fur babies for millennials. Basically, Americans are certifiably obsessed with their dogs, and the holiday season makes young pet parents more infatuated than usual.
Moreover, BarkBox’s poll showed that not only are dogs treated like family, but they help people cope with the stressors of the holiday season — especially arguments or difficulties with human family members. 85 percent of pollers said they rely on spending time with their pup for some relief from the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Additionally, 40 percent have taken their dog on a walk or played with them to escape tense situations with family. The survey adds to the abundance of research that proves owning a pet is therapeutic, and good for both your physical and mental wellbeing. A 2009 study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior revealed that simply playing or looking at your dog causes oxytocin to be released in your brain — aka, “the love hormone” that is also released during sex and childbirth. Additionally, 30 percent of people reported grieving for over six months after the loss of a pet, and 12 percent were severely affected by grief after the death of their pet.
Nowadays, owning a dog is like owning a child for many people, and Barkbox’s reflects that change among a huge percentage of people, especially millennials. If you’re more excited to spend time with your furry friend over the break, now you know you’re not alone.