Are Millennials really Picking Pets over People? Taking a Closer Look at Dog Ownership in Emerging Adulthood


  • Taryn M. Graham
  • Katrina J. Milaney
  • Cindy L. Adams
  • Melanie J. Rock



This paper draws on the work of Bourdieu to understand how experiences with dog ownership become embodied and how these experiences influence young people’s development as they leave home and learn to mobilize any capital to which they have access. Our results show that dogs can provide everyday routine during a stage in life when young people often experience instability. Additionally, dogs may help to shift the focus beyond self, thereby influencing how, and with whom, millennials spend their time. Nonetheless, balancing dog ownership with education, work, dating, social life, and other obligations could become challenging. Overall, this paper highlights that young people’s access to resources, including housing, may influence their capacities to experience all the benefits that pet ownership purports to offer. Dog ownership has numerous implications for healthy development among millennials, yet greater support may be needed to facilitate smoother transitions.