New dog parent study explores challenges dog parents face as return to office approachesNEW YORK, September 28, 2021 – The Original BARK Company (NYSE: BARK) (“BARK”), the company behind BarkBox, today revealed findings from a new survey of American dog parents on how their relationships with their dogs have grown, as well as their feelings about returning to the office and what barriers exist when it comes to bringing their dogs to the office. According to the American Pet Products Association, consumers spent $103.6 billion on pets in the U.S. in 2020, due in large part to the pandemic’s stay-at-home orders and increase in dog adoptions across the country. BARK’s survey speaks to dog parents across the U.S., determining the main stressors about returning to the office and identifying how employers can help with the transition.
Dog and dog parent relationships strengthened during the pandemic
- Seven in 10 (70%) dog parents report that their relationship with their dogs grew stronger due to the pandemic. This is significantly more than those who say the same about their relationships with their spouses (49%), their kids (39%), their friends (31%), or their parents (28%).
- Women are significantly more likely than men to report they leaned on their dog for emotional support (36% vs. 26%) and spent more time with their dog (50% vs. 41%) this past year than ever before.
- Men are more likely than women to report that they grew closer to their spouse during the pandemic (52% vs 45%), and equal numbers of men and women assert their relationship with their dog grew stronger (71% and 70%).
- About 1 in 3 dog parents report that they relied on their dog over the last year to keep them company (33%) and for emotional support (30%) more than they ever have.
- Dog parents say that they grew closer to their dogs because of the pandemic (73% who returned to work, 70% of those still working from home and 69% of those who never worked from home).
Dog parents are skeptical about returning to the office with and without their dog
About Seven in 10 (71%) dog parents who are still working from home believe they will miss their dog. This is significantly more than those who report they will miss their spouse (42%) or children (39%) when they return to the workplace.
- About 3 in 4 (72%) dog parents who have already returned to work miss their dog while they are back at the office. This is greater than those who miss the savings from not commuting (37%), their partner (39%), or children (35%).
- About 1 in 3 (32%) dog parents believe that they would be happier and less stressed at work if they had their dog with them, and 28% feel that their life would be more convenient if they had this option.
- About 1 in 4 (24%) dog parents who’ve returned to the office check their dog camera during working hours.
- One in 5 (20%) dog parents shared that they’d be more productive at work if they had their dog with them.
Dog parents are more likely to want benefits for their dogs than their children and seek workplaces that are dog-friendly
- Nearly 4 in 5 (78%) dog parents report that their current employer has not made any adjustments to their workplace policies on bringing dogs to work. Among this group, 2 in 3 maintain that dogs have never been and are still not permitted. Only 10% say their office has updated its policies to allow pets in the wake of the pandemic.
- 42% of dog parents believe that employers should offer dog benefits as part of the employee benefit package (vs. 37% who feel the same about benefits for children), such as bringing dogs to the office (28% vs. 15% who want to bring children to the office) and an almost equal amount who want doggy daycare (28%) and childcare (29%) at or near the office.
- Only 2 in 5 dog parents who are permitted to bring their pup to work say that their employer supplies the basics like food and water (45%) and treats (42%). Around 1 in 3 (34%) report that their employer currently offers dog walking services (38%) and even fewer report there is a dog-proofed environment, clear of exposed wires, toxic products, or open food (32%), toys (33%), or relief zones in or near the office (25%).
- About 1 in 3 dog parents that are permitted to bring their dog to work and have reported at least one instance in which they felt uncomfortable doing so admit they’d feel more at ease if their employer supplied a designated indoor area for play (37%), a dog-proof environment (31%), or even treats (36%).