You may have heard of people who let their dogs sleep in their beds, take them to the pub with them for a drink and even treat them exactly the same as any other member of the family. For some pet owners, this is a way of life, while others might switch between roles depending on how they feel on any given day.

Gone are the days when a family’s dog was seen as a working animal – there, but not really belonging. Now, homes across Britain are being filled with furry friends who are pampered, well-fed and even dressed up.

But what’s it really like to live with a pet? Take a look at the following accounts from people who have – both good and bad – and see what you think…

Family member or freeloader?

Being a dog owner is one of the best things in the world. Our black lab Patches is now 10 years old, but when he arrived as a six-week-old puppy it wasn’t quite so blissful.

At first I was nervous about having him in the house because I didn’t want to mess up my new pristine carpets or scratch my wooden floors. I hadn’t realised that puppies are actually very clean, and even though Patches made a mess in his bed it was just puppy wee, not the sort of thing you wouldn’t be able to cope with.

I was also worried about training him, but you soon learn how to live with dogs if you’ve never had one before. Patches had his routine from day one, as did I – he wanted to be let out first thing in the morning and needed to go outside before we went to bed. He’s been a great addition to the family and has always been happy to see us returning from work or a weekend away.

But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been a few problems along the way. One of his main issues was that he was very difficult to catch if he escaped from the garden or house, and could easily have been hit by a car or taken by someone who mistook him for a stray.

I always had an issue with Patches jumping up on visitors too – especially guests who had never been to our house before. He often did it even when we asked him not to, and would quickly get a telling off.

But the worst thing was the destruction he caused when he started teething – I went out one day to find that all of my hanging baskets were on the floor with soil everywhere. It turned out that he had chewed them to bits while I was upstairs getting ready for work.

Having said that, perhaps the most important thing about owning a pet is how it can affect you as much as your other half – if one of us isn’t around, the other takes on all of the responsibility and treats them like their own child. It’s incredible to think that something so small can be such a huge part of your life.