Most small dog owners like pet more than friends

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' star Lisa Vanderpump and dog Giggy arrive at the 22nd annual Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California. (REUTERS)

They really are man's best friend.

In a new survey, more than half of respondents said their small dog is more important to them than their friends.

As well, 80% allow their small dog on the furniture and 60% give their dog gifts on holidays, the Leger Marketing survey found.

The survey also found 78% include their dog in everyday tasks, like running errands or meeting with their not-as-important friends. When it comes to vacation, 53% said they plan their getaways around places they can bring their pets, and consider airlines that allow their dogs to travel in a carrier on board a flight.

And if you don't get along with your partner's little dog, you'd better change your mind because nearly half of respondents - 48% - said they would break up with a potential mate if the person and dog didn't get along. Another 40% said they would avoid inviting friends and family over if they didn't like Fido.

But animal behaviour therapist and trainer Lisa Marshall said treating little dogs like humans can be harmful for the animal.  

"One of the most common issues I see with dog owners is they don't properly train their small dogs and tend to humanize their pets and treat them like playmates. They feel their small dog doesn't need the same training as large dogs, mainly because of its size," Marshall said in a release.

"Small dogs need to be trained and treated like dogs, not people. Shockingly enough, only one-third of small dog owners have taken their dog to training classes - a number that draws a correlation between widespread misconceptions that 'yappy dog personality' can't be adjusted."

The online survey was conducted Jan. 11 to 20 with a sample of 505 Canadians who are small dog owners. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.

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