There's nothing a millennial can—or, more likely, can't—do that won't garner headlines. Whether it's that generation's dating outlook or their spending habits, every move a millennial makes will be analyzed.
Most recently, a survey conducted by SunTrust Mortgage asked millennials why they were buying their first home. While the majority of respondents said they wanted more living space or an opportunity to build equity, the third biggest reason, above marriage and the birth of a child, was to have better space or a yard for their dog.
It comes as no surprise, considering that "millennials are now the primary pet-owning demographic, at 35 percent of U.S. pet owners to baby boomers’ 32 percent," according to a report from the American Pet Products Association.
Additionally, a study from Olin College of Engineering found that, "Millennials are getting married later in life and are on pace to stay unmarried at rates higher than previous generations." Turns out they're having less babies, too.
While there are a plethora of theories as to why millennials are choosing pets over marriage and children, one of the driving forces is that dogs provide something that generation actively seeks out: unconditional positive regard, explained psychologist Dr. Stanley Coren.
"With unconditional positive regard, no matter what you do, you get the rewards, and that's what dogs give you," he said, adding that millennials want the therapeutic benefits that dogs can provide. While marriage and babies can be unpredictable, Coren said, dogs are a guaranteed social companion.
While not all millennial pet parents are turning into homeowners, Michael Sylvia of Terrier Real Estate in Boston said he has noticed a trend with first-floor condominiums that have a common or private yard. "I'm currently selling a first-floor unit with a common yard and the three parties that either made offers, or have been substantially interested in the condo, have all had dogs."
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