“Either the dog goes, or I do!”

If you just said that to a millennial, you’ve probably made a serious tactical error.

Twelve percent of millennials have ended a romantic relationship because of a disagreement over their pet’s place in the relationship, according to a new study released this week by Trupanion, a companion animal health insurance provider.

Trupanion’s first annual TruPoll surveyed 1,250 pet owners in the U.S. and Canada about their dogs’ and cats’ influence on their lives, relationships, and buying habits. Their answers revealed significant differences on how much importance they put on their relationships with their pets based on the age, gender, and income of the pet owner.

And it’s not just millennials who put their pets ahead of their partners. Overall, 7% of all respondents said they’ve ended a romantic relationship because of a pet.

And no doubt about it, pets can be tough on living arrangements. Some pet owners will uproot their lives for the sake of their pets.

Seventeen percent of respondents said that they have moved specifically to live in a place that’s friendlier to pets. Again, millennials were more likely than other age groups to go through the upheaval of moving to find a place that accommodates their pet: a full 40% have moved in order to live in a more pet-friendly residence.

Sometimes they only need room for two: 24% of pet owners said they cancel social plans 1–3 times a month so they can spend more time with their pet.

Another survey on how pets affect romantic relationships back up Trupanion’s findings. An online survey of 1000 pets conducted last June by Woodstream reinforces how big a part pets can play in relationships. Of those pet owners, a pet’s bad behavior topped the list of pet-related deal breakers when a relationship went sour. About a third of men, and 41% of women, said they’d break up with someone who couldn’t control their pet. Noisiness, and dirtiness were cited as the top offensive traits.

Other deal breakers abound. Among the biggest relationship red flags: talking about your pet too much and letting them sleep in the bed.

There is good news on the partner/pet relationship front.

A more scientifically rigorous 2016 study published in the journal Anthrozoös on how pets influence romantic relationships suggested that pets have a predominantly positive effect, including better overall relationship quality. A possible reason: a pet might provide the opportunity for their owners to practice empathy, a crucial ability in the maintenance of good relationships.

Now more bad news. According to the Windstream survey, disagreements involving dogs are the biggest deal breaker: 45% of respondents blamed their pet-related breakups on the dog.

So when it comes down to ultimatums involving you and a dog, think twice. Because if you’re talking to a millennial, the odds are not with you. 

Photocredit (c) Kozorog


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