PET owners take more than three months on average to get to grips with a new puppy or kitten, research has revealed.

But 78 per cent now regard their arrival as their new best friend, according to a study of 2,000 UK adults who had bought a puppy or kitten over the past 12 months.

In the early days of welcoming their new pet, more than half of puppy and kitten owners (58 per cent) struggled with their furry friend so much that they worried whether they had made the right decision, and one in five argued with their family or partner due to the stress.

Despite the hard work involved, an overwhelming majority (87 per cent) said welcoming a new puppy or kitten into their home was one of the best decisions they’d made – and they are so happy they did so.

Six in 10 even said they sometimes prefer spending time with their puppy or kitten over their partner.

The research was carried out by pet care specialists, Pets at Home, which offers new puppy and kitten owners free access to expert advice and tailored offers during their pet’s first year through its VIP Puppy & Kitten Club.

Karen Heskin, Head of Pets at Pets at Home, said: “When it comes to welcoming a new puppy or kitten into the family, there’s a lot to love and a lot to learn.

“While we know it’s one of the most rewarding experiences people can have, taking care of a puppy or kitten doesn’t come without its challenges.

"From the day they come into our lives, to their first birthday and beyond, there are bound to be ups and downs, and it’s essential that pets and their owners have the right support throughout – ensuring both they and their pets are healthy, happy, and able to enjoy the amazing moments that becoming a new puppy or kitten owner can bring.

“Having somewhere to turn for reassurance and expert practical advice is key, whether that’s guidance on training, help with choosing the right food, or getting to grips with vaccinations.

"That’s why we set up our VIP Puppy & Kitten club, to give owners support and encouragement every step of the way.”

The research also revealed two thirds (65 per cent) of pet owners had underestimated the cost of their puppy or kitten during the pandemic, while more than half (54 per cent) found house-training their pet harder than they expected.

And 46 per cent of the parents surveyed said the first six months with their new pet was even more difficult than the first year with their baby, with 13 per cent also confirming their new puppy or kitten had difficulties with sleeping.

A third (35 per cent) reported scratched furniture, chewed shoes or slippers (33 per cent), and wee stains on rugs or carpets (32 per cent).

And a quarter (26 per cent) found their new pet had been in the garden digging up the grass or plants.

Despite these teething issues, 85 per cent say the arrival of their new pet has positively impacted their mental health.

Nine in 10 (88 per cent) have loved the way they have bonded with their new pet, and they now feel like part of the family.

Karen Heskin added: “Training your new puppy or kitten is no easy task, and we’d encourage all new pet owners to seek as much help and guidance as they need – it really can make a difference.

"For example, for puppies who might be struggling with sleeping, it’s important that they exercise their brain as well as their body.

"So, while out on a walk, try letting them stop to sniff new smells – it stimulates their mind which can help them sleep better at night.

“With the right support, the rewards of welcoming your new canine companion or feline friend into the home are boundless."

Top 10 most anxious moments for new pet owners in the first 12 months

First time leaving their pet for a few hours

Meeting other animals

First night’s sleep

First trip to the vets

Knowing how much to feed them

First time away for a night

Understanding how much exercise they should be getting

Trying to work at home whilst caring for them

Organising pet sitters

First groom

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