‘Lonely young people seeking friendship in their dogs’

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YOUNG people are seeking solace in their canines for companionship because they are lonely, it’s been claimed.

According to research carried out by pet brand, Eukanuba, 46 per cent of young dog owners cite companionship and friendship as their top reasons for getting a pet.

And when asked about the highlights of owning a pet dog, 55 per cent said it is the companionship they offer, while for 60 per cent said it’s the unconditional love they provide.

Eukanuba says that the latest findings indicate that the “always on smartphone generation (born between 1996-2016) are suffering from a crisis of stress and social isolation – despite the fact this demographic has grown up constantly connected.”

The average age of the first-time dog owner in the UK is now 18-years-old, it was revealed.

The pet manufacturer said: “In addition, by the age of 16, a huge 90 per cent of ‘Generation Z’ dog owners are wholly responsible for their own pet dog, unlike their parents’ generation, where for over half, the dog was still the family pet and responsibility of their parents at this age.”

The study also revealed that 84 per cent of young people feel their dog provides vital emotional support to help them face every day stress and pressures. While 49 per cent say their favourite thing about their dog is that they make them laugh.

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Forty per cent of dog owners said they treated their pet like a family member, while 31 per cent considered their canine to be their best friend.

The benefits of having a pet were also confirmed with 23 per cent saying their overall wellbeing and happiness had improved since getting a dog with their fitness, mental wellbeing and physical health seeing the biggest improvement.

Sixty-nine per cent felt their relationships with friends and family benefited as a result of bringing a dog into their life while 39 per cent said their confidence had been boosted.

Kellie Ceccarelli, Eukanuba’s veterinary external relations manager, said: “The survey results not only show that dog ownership is important to Britain’s youth, but also just how disconnected many young adults feel.

She added: “At Eukanuba, we’re passionate about helping owners of every age to live life well together with their dogs. While caring for a dog is a responsibility that should only be taken on by those who have the time and patience, the results highlight how powerful the connection between humans and dogs truly is, and how beneficial this relationship can be for positive mental health.”

Roxy Carr, 17, from Bournemouth, who is a Eukanuba ambassador, said: “I’ve always been a dog lover, but I was inspired to get my own after seeing the close relationship of Britain’s Got Talent winners, Ashleigh Butler and her dog, Pudsey. After spending a summer persuading my parents to let me get my own pup, I finally found Poppy. She’s my best friend. We do everything together and even compete in agility competitions all over the UK!”

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