Three in ten couples are putting off parenting and getting a pet instead, a study has found.
Couples in Britain are delaying parenthood and choosing to raise a pet before they become parents.
The most popular pet young couples are nurturing their parenting skills on are dogs.
And more than a third of those who choose to raise man’s best friend said the reason for this was they “wanted a proper companion that stayed with them 24/7”.
The study of 2,000 Brits was commissioned by Blue Cross to highlight the part pets play in our lives and raise awareness of the huge responsibility pet ownership brings.
Hannah Wiltshire, Rehoming and Advice Manager at Blue Cross, said: “This is Generation Pet. Pets are seen as a part of the family, so much so that people are choosing to get them before or instead of having kids.
“Taking on a new pet is a massive responsibility that costs time and money – so not too dissimilar to having children.
“Such is the time and commitment needed that for many animal lovers it’s often the first thing they think about when settling down together and starting a family.
“Owning a pet can give people an insight into the amount of responsibility caring for a dependent , so it’s not surprising that some animal lovers end up seeing a pet as a trial run for a family.
“But make sure your family can care for that pet well into its future, even when the patter of tiny feet come along.”
The most popular breed of dog Brits are choosing to develop their abilities to be responsible on were Labradors.
They also look to practice their parenting skills on Golden Retrievers and Cocker Spaniels before having their first child.
Cats were also popular pets, but worryingly almost one in five mistakenly believed they were perfect because they “wanted something easy to look after.”
Over 60 per cent of Brits agreed that getting a dog or other pet before having children gets you into the right mind-set of being a parent.
Many believe they will have more patience and half of respondents think it will allow them to take responsibility more seriously.
Those who did choose to look after a pet before becoming a parent proved these theories right as they felt they became more responsible after owning a pet.
And more than a quarter said they loved looking after their pet together so they knew having a child would be a good idea.
Although almost one in ten said the practice run made them realise they weren’t with the right person to be having children with so they looked after the pet by themselves.
It has been previously reported that many Brits are postponing parenthood until their 30s, and 70 per cent of survey respondents have agreed that putting off parenting and getting a pet instead is becoming more popular amongst young couples.
According to the research owning a pet before having a child has proved successful for many families as over half now feel excited at the prospect of having a child in the future.
Hannah added: “Blue Cross rehomes thousands of pets every year.
“Caring for a pet can fulfil maternal and paternal instincts, both for those who don’t want or can’t have children, or for those who perhaps want to have kids later in life.
“However there are lots of important things to consider when taking on a pet and Blue Cross is there to help.”
To find out more about rehoming a Blue Cross pet or for advice on pet care, visit www.bluecross.org.uk.