I live next door to my baby boomer parents and I am over at their place a lot for dinner (my mom is the best cook). While we tend to disagree on more and more things the older we both get, there is one passion that we have always shared and that is our love of dogs.
While we both spoil our dogs, we definitely have completely different ideas on what “spoiling” them means and since they’ve started reading my Angus Posts we’ve actually started to have disagreements about what is acceptable vs. what is unacceptable. A lot of the differences are due to the internet; the increase in available information regarding training/safety, online shopping, and social networking.
Now, I’m generalizing — there are exceptions to all of these, I’m sure. But, if I were to give you an overall observation of dog parenting behavior, these are the differences that come up between millennials and baby boomers:
1.Dog food and treats
Baby boomers are fine feeding their dogs Purina and giving their pups mass produced, low quality treats like Milk Bones.
Millennials are all about the small business, local, grain-free, or raw diet. And, if the treats come in a cute box each month, delivered to your door, even better!
2. Fashionable bespoke accessories
Millennials love dressing their dogs up in the most fashionable, bespoke clothing and accessories. Bow ties, hair ties, dog bags, and beds. They don’t mind spending money on their fur kids.
Baby boomers are more likely to buy cheaper, sensible dog gear for necessary occasions. A hoodie from PetSmart in the winter, maybe. A plastic crate for travel.
3. Leashes and muzzles
Baby boomers remain pretty old-school when it comes to leashes. They’re usually sporting a plain collar and leash. They still consider retractable leashes “fancy” (YIKES!).
Millennials are more educated. Usually sporting an adorable safety harness.
4. Car safety
Millennials are all about safety (combined with style) for their pups. It’s rare to see a millennial dog lover whose backseat isn’t equipped with a fancy dog booster seat with safety restraints.
Baby boomers are completely unphased going for a ride with their pup free to roam the front seat and able to stick his neck out the window for a good breeze.
5. Doggy Daycare and Doggy Vacay
Baby boomers didn’t think twice about leaving their dogs at home up to 8 hours a day to sleep while they worked.
Millennials wouldn’t dream of leaving their babies home alone for so long. That would feel like neglect! They have no issue spending money on doggie daycare and doggie vacations to ensure their pups are amused while they are at work and traveling.
6. Traditional Veterinary Care
Baby boomers are all about the traditional vet experience. They don’t question the potency of flea/tick medications for example, and they are more frugal in their approach to health care.
Millennials, on the other hand, are much more careful about the possible dangers of medications. However, they are more likely to spend a few grand on knee or hip surgery to fix a genetic defect to make their pups more comfortable long term.
7. Holistic Veterinarians
Millennials are more open to non-traditional therapies for their dogs – Aquadog, acupuncture, Chinese herbs etc.. to relieve pain from chronic conditions, such as arthritis.
Baby boomers are more likely to let their dogs tough it out or give them medication.
8. Reward based/positive reinforcement training
Baby boomers generally subscribe to “wolf pack”, dominance training methods.
Millennials favor science-based, force-free, positive-reinforcement training techniques.
9. Birthday Parties and Meet Ups
Millennial dog owners love throwing their fur kids a good birthday party. Themed parties, guest lists, invites, special locations, decorations, gourmet cakes, goodie bags; they treat their dogs like kids and are not afraid to admit it. Increasingly, couples are openly admitting that they don’t want to have children and that their dogs give them everything they need.
Baby boomers are cool with bumping into regulars at their local dog park. And extra bacon, food from the table and, snuggles is all their special pup needs on their birthday. They love their dogs but their dogs are not children. I mean, Com’on!
Baby boomers say, “What?”, “How?”, “Why?!?!”
Millennial dog owners create and spend hours curating Instagram accounts for their dogs, and then travel across countries to meet their new best friends. They also become brand ambassadors and, the very lucky can make their dogs Instagram accounts their primary income. This is by far the hardest one to explain to baby boomers.