Pet Peeves
If you consider your pets a part of the family, you certainly aren’t alone. Americans today are spending more on Fido and Fifi than ever before, and growing population of young people even say they see their pets as more than just furry companions – they see them as children. With the rise of doggy daycare facilities, pet friendly establishments, and even social media accounts for famous cats, dogs, and everything in between, it’s no surprise the advent of the “fur-child” is making mainstream news. But not all pet behaviors are as cute and cuddly as the creatures themselves, and some animal owners could be taking their affection too far. For a closer look at the dirtier side of the pet-obsession, we asked over 1,000 people to chime in on some of the most annoying behaviors a pet owner can exhibit. We asked men and women of all ages to weigh in on the worst habits of fur-parents, how they feel as pet-owners themselves, and if they really prefer the company of their cats or dogs over the company of other people. Read on to see what they had to say.

Bad Behaviors

The most objectionable pet owner actions, both overall and broken down by generation. More than 2 in 3 households across the country (an estimated 85 million families) owns a pet today. An increase over previous years, just because most families have dogs or cats of their own doesn’t mean everyone agrees on the proper pet protocols. Of the most frustrating pet behaviors, a majority of Americans (regardless of age) agreed to let your pet whine or bark all day was the absolute worst. Nearly 95 percent of baby boomers, 89 percent of Gen X Americans, and 81 parent of millennials agreed – pet parents who let their furry friends make too much noise throughout the day were in the wrong. Most people agreed that taking advantage of special accommodations for service or emotional support animals was wrong – but millennials were slightly less convinced. To-date there’s no national registry for legitimate service animals, and fraudulent behavior could be hurting people with real disabilities in need of their assistance. People fake their pet’s “service” status for everything from free flights with their furry (and sometimes feathered) friends, to not having to pay additional pet rent at their apartments. While nearly 93 percent of baby boomers said designating a pet as a service animal without a legitimate need was a poor behavior, only 88 percent of Gen Xers and 77 percent of millennials agreed.

Throw Them a Bone

The un-acceptability of pet owner actions, ranked by cat owners vs dog owners. There are plenty of differences between “dog people” and “cat people,” even if we can’t all agree on which furry friends make the best companions. Some studies suggest cat owners are more likely to be creative types than dog owners, and that dog owners make more money. And while having a kitty cat at home might mean you’re more likely to curl up with a good book at night, dog parents are more likely to have a passion for sports, dancing, and travel. Whatever draws us to one type of animal or another, have a dog or a cat at home might change the way you see aggravating pet behaviors. Both sets of pet owners largely agreed leaving an animal at home to whine or bark all day was wrong, and that spaying or neutering their animals was a positive action. Cat owners might be more comfortable with public displays of affection towards other animals. Compared to dog owners, cat-parents were more okay with people walking their pets in strollers, allowing pets into their beds, and letting them jump up on the furniture. They were also less comfortable purchasing from a pet mill, and felt more strongly against designating a pet as a service animal without a legitimate need.

The Company You Keep

The companionship preference of each generation, as well as how much men and women like and dislike dogs and cats. If passing up an invitation to go out at night to stay inside and binge-watch Netflix with your pets sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Studies have shown some people genuinely feel more empathy towards dogs than they do to other people. Perhaps more importantly, some people believe they can build a more meaningful connection with their four-legged companions because they’re able to communicate so much without speaking. When asked who they preferred to spend their time with, people or their pets, baby boomers and Gen X respondents nearly tied between picking people and picking dogs. For millennials, the choice was more clear. Nearly 41 percent of young Americans admitted they’d rather spend time with their dogs, compared to 32 percent who picked other people, and 22 percent who opted for their cats instead. Women prefer the company of animals or total solitude to the company of other people.

Ruff Stuff

The best and worst pet-related things people have witnessed. Interacting with animals can motivate and inspire us as people – but a poorly behaved pet can leave more aggravated than not. In their own words, we asked people to describe some of the best pet interactions they’d ever had, and some of the worst. One man wrote to us about how impressed he was that a dog owner would wrap her pet up with a jacket and booties before heading out into the snow to help keep them warm during the colder months, and another man remarked at how impressed he was to see a pet owner diffuse the tension between two dogs. Still, not all of their stories were as warm and fuzzy. One woman described seeing a man driving with a dog in the bed of a pickup truck. With no restraints to keep him safe, she witnessed the driver stop short in his vehicle causing the dog to be dislodged from the truck and nearly hit by oncoming traffic. Other pet owners admitted to judging their fellow fur-parents when their dogs act out in public, showing a lack of discipline and dedication from the owner.

Part of The Family

Whether you’re a dog person or a bigger fan of cats, for most people pets are family. That doesn’t necessarily mean dressing up in matching sweaters or pushing your pups around in a baby carriage, but it does generally mean wanting the best for them. If you can’t help looking at other pet owners with the slightest tinge of judgment, don’t feel bad. Most Americans agreed people who let their pets bark too much, go without baths, or wrongly used them as service animals were out of line. And if you’ve ever gotten the impression that a friend is happier with their pets than other people, try not to take it too personally. And if you’d rather spend time with your furry friends than think about the laundry-list of things that need to get done around the house, Porch has you covered. Check out our checklist of thing you need to do when you bring a pet home. Our Home Assistant in your 24/7 personal support team for all your home improvement needs. Want to install a new doggy door, or need to repair those hardwood floors after too many scratches? Porch’s Home Assistant will connect you to the perfect professional for the job using our Porch Services pros or a friend from our Porch Pro Network. Get back to what really matters, and let Porch handle the rest. Visit us online today at to learn more.

Methodology and Limitations

We collected 1000 people’s responses from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk on their experiences with pet owners, if they have ever owned pets (and if so, what types) and had them rate how unacceptable or acceptable a list of actions towards pets were. None of the actions shown to respondents included behavior that could be considered abusive towards animals. Of those surveyed, we had 111 Baby Boomers, 276 Gen X’ers, 589 Millennials, and 24 respondents who did not fall in those generational categories.


Fair Use

Think you know someone who maybe loves their pets a little too much? Feel free to share this study with your audience for any noncommercial use. Just play fair and include a link back to this page so your readers can fetch all our findings in one place.

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