NEW JERSEY -- New Jersey residents lead the nation in holiday gift spending on their dogs, according to a new survey by TheNosePrint.com, a pet-focused website. 

The poll asked 3,000 Americans about their dog-related holiday habits, including whether their dog is involved in gift-giving, stocking-stuffing, Christmas sweater-wearing, and other holiday traditions. TheNosePrint.com's Santa Dog Index determined that 71% of U.S. dog owners will give their pet a gift this holiday season. New Jersey tops the list of spending on holiday gifts for dogs.

1. New Jersey:  $30.01 (average spend per dog. The national average is $23.10.)
2. New York:  $29.55
3. Pennsylvania:  $28.75
4. Utah:  $27.75
5. Georgia:  $27.04

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“They’re simply a part of the family, and everyone deserves to be remembered around the holidays,” said Maryann Makosiej of Clark. Her dogs, Klein and Lex, will get nylabones or squeaky toys for Christmas. Klein will be thrilled with his own new toy, but his “brother,” an 8-month old golden/Labrador mix will be “more content with stealing Klein's toy than playing with his own.”

Clark’s dogs are dexterous, too.  Nancy Morris has a 13-year-old cocker spaniel named Daisy. “She [Daisy] gets several presents she unwraps herself then rummages through the pile of wrapping paper looking for more goodies,” Morris said.  Like Makosiej’s dogs, Daisy is part of the family and is included in the celebration, Morris said.

"Many people have indicated that they are buying treats for their dogs or for a friend's dog," said Paul Raphael, co-owner of Scotch Plains-based Woof Biscuits, a homemade dog treat company. "We've even had a few people buying for their "grand-dogs. Our most popular biscuits have been Peanut Butter Blast and Cheeseburger and our Chicken Jerky has been a big seller too."

The poll also identified the Top 5 reasons that Americans give gifts to their dog:

1.  To express love to my dog:  72%
2.  Because it's fun for me:  60%
3.  To help my dog feel included like a family member:  54%
4.  To give my dog a moment of happiness:  53%
5.  To feel closer and bond with my dog:  43%

Gifts aren’t just a holiday treat, either.  Frank Caragher, a teacher at Valley Road School in Clark, said he and his wife Lindsay buy Mason, their American pitbull/terrier mix, gifts all year long.  But, Caragher said, there will be something under the tree this year, too.

Additionally, the study examined inclusion of dogs in the following holiday traditions:

  • Hang a Christmas stocking for their dog:  48%
  • Include their dog in a photo for a family holiday card:  43%
  • Post photos of dog on social media with a holiday message:  32%
  • Dress up their dog in a holiday-themed outfit or costume:  29%
  • Make or buy dog-themed holiday decorations:  22%

TheNosePrint.com is am online hub from Big Heart Pet Brands (makers of Milk-Bone, Pup-Peroni, and other treats).