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Who Let the Dogs Out?

More pet owners are integrating their pets into all areas of their lives


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We know how obsessed Millennials are with their “fur babies”—from pets with their own Instagram accounts to doggie daycares. Millennials are putting off marriage and children much longer than previous generations, and according to AdWeek, a study done by business solutions agency Gale, shows that almost half see having a pet as practice for having children later on.

In a digitally-focused era, people are becoming more isolated even as they experience more connectivity (some are even calling it the age of loneliness). Millennials are reporting high rates of anxiety and depression—something that can be combatted with pet ownership. It was also recently discovered that the love and bonding hormone, oxytocin, is released in both dogs and their owners when they gaze into each other’s eyes, just as it is human to human. Millennials, masters of the gig-economy, take their pets everywhere: to restaurants, shopping and traveling.

This presents unique challenges—and opportunities—for businesses and business owners. Employers competing to attract talent are looking for ways to make their offices pet-friendly in order to have a hiring edge. Half of women and nearly a third of men say "I love you" to their pet multiple times per day, and bringing them to the office can have huge benefits for employees and their productivity.

We’ve known for a long time that bringing a pet to work lowers stress levels, reduces blood pressure, encourages exercise and decreases loneliness. People who work at pet-friendly offices say bringing their pet to work is one of the most valuable benefits, according to Purina’s pets at work survey, and it’s seen as a top driver for better office morale, productivity and even retention. The survey found that 80 percent of workers at pet-friendly offices say having a pet at work would make them feel happier and more relaxed, and most importantly, employees in pet-friendly workplaces are twice as likely to be “very satisfied” with work compared to workers at offices where pets are not allowed (63 percent vs. 35 percent).

“Pets bring physical and emotional benefits to our lives and those same benefits also apply to the workplace and employees,” said Dr. Kurt Venator, DVM, PhD. “If you own a business, consider how becoming a pet-friendly workplace could change the culture of your organization.” (Wondering how to implement programs encouraging pets at work? Check out this Pets at Work Employee Toolkit.)

Likewise, savvy companies are targeting the crossover of pets being a bigger part of people’s lives. If almost half the up-and-coming population is willing to treat their pets like they would their children, it presents a huge potential boon for brands.

Customers are wanting customizable options for their pets, from food to boxes of toys and treats delivered to their doorstep from companies like BarkBox and SuperChewer. Using social-media to connect with their customer base in their native language, BARK, the parent company of BarkBox and SuperChewer, reaches more than 11 million people via social media channels and events.

Even companies that don’t have a direct connection to pets are forging relationships with pet companies to make their brands and events appeal to pet owners. Drivers of Subaru vehicles, for example, are well-known for being dog-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Their annual Winterfest is a lifestyle tour that visits multiple mountain cities, delivering attendees unique winter experiences. The events have always been dog-friendly, but this year, they’ve partnered with BARK to host the Super Chewer Outpost, a mobile, dog-centric area hosting demos, training sessions and giveaways. The space includes fire pits, dog play spaces and new toys. The Super Chewer Outpost will visit four cities on its tour, including Copper Mountain.

“Subaru knows its customers, and they know that more and more of them are including dogs in their lives,” said Meghan Knoll, General Manager of Super Chewer. “For the modern dog parent, dog happiness means more than just toys and treats at home – we want them with us on all of life’s adventures.”

About Dr. Kurt Venator, DVM, PhD: Dr. Venator has worked with Purina for more than 12 years, currently as Chief Veterinary Officer. He and his team travel the country sharing his expertise in small animal nutrition and veterinary medicine at clinics, schools and events around the country. 

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