For decades it has been assumed that humans are the only species that experience jealousy and the unique emotion of unfairness, however, a recent study done at the University of California San Diego claims to show that dogs do feel jealousy. The study was performed by having humans engage with three different objects in front of their dogs: a book, a plastic jack-o-lantern, and a realistic looking stuffed dog that moved and made sound.
The results show that, when the human was paying attention to the fake dog, their dogs were much more engaged and more likely to show behaviors such as, trying to touch their owner or the stuffed dog, trying to get in between them, barking, biting, and whining. These behaviors were not as prominent with the other objects.
You can read more about the study and conclusions at the BBC.
The researchers took these behaviors to mean that dogs do experience jealousy, but is that what’s really going on? In fact, this study may have revealed more about human behavior and how it affects dogs.
Why Do Dogs Get Jealous?
Do Dogs Get Jealous of Other Dogs?
Whether you’re physically interacting with another dog or come home after being around one, your dog’s jealousy stems from their loyalty to you, whom they consider to be their pack leader. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog would get aggressive and dominant, but it may be evident that they feel some sort of unfairness or betrayal.
If your dog continues to have problems meeting other dogs and seeing you interact with them, it may be a good idea to reward them with a treat when they behave properly around other dogs. It could be something as simple as them laying on their beds and minding their business as you give attention to another. This treat will reward them for their calm energy and teach them compliance more often than not.
Do Dogs Get Jealous of New Puppies?
Bringing a new puppy into your home that requires more attention and care can always bring its own challenges. It may be a good idea to introduce them to their new environment and let them get a sniff around before meeting your other dogs.
Evident from the study in San Diego, many dogs even get jealous of you playing with a stuffed puppy, so it’s important to know how to make this transition as smooth as possible for you and your dog. When first bringing the puppy into your home, be sure to keep the routine the same as normal and maintain your relationship with your dog by giving them their territory and continuing to show them attention together.
Tip: If you’re still concerned about introducing your dog to a new puppy, it may be beneficial to introduce them on neutral ground first. This will show your dog that you are willing to interact with both of them from the beginning.
Do Dogs Get Jealous of People?
Generally speaking, your dog is not going to get jealous of a stranger that you stop and talk to on the sidewalk, compared to if you bent down to pet a strange dog on the sidewalk.
However, in the case that there is someone new who is coming into the dog’s environment constantly, they may begin to get jealous if they see that they are being left behind when that person comes by. This can be offensive to the dog and lead to problems down the road.
Do Dogs Get Jealous of Babies?
Similar to new puppies, your dog could become jealous of a new baby in its environment and it will take purposeful action on your part to acclimate your dog to this new infant. Your dog will be quick to recognize that there is someone else getting all the love and attention in the room so be sure to include them when you’re around the child.
It may be best to let your dog get familiar with the smell of them by letting them sniff their clothes or toys. Do not leave the baby and the dog unattended at any moment, until you are confident that they have adjusted fully and accepted the split of attention.
Once you have this down, your dog may be very protective of your child and can surely build a lasting bond.
Check out these links on some of the cutest moments of dogs and babies bonding:
Signs Your Dog Is Jealous
It is not certain that dogs and humans experience jealousy in the same way, but there are still certain actions that are identified as a dog displaying envy or a natural emotion of discomfort when something is out of place.
Aggression from jealousy can be seen in a variety of forms including, growling, lunging, biting, and sometimes attacking. This behavior could come when you least expect it and can be directed at humans or pets.
To get more information on handling aggressive dogs, click here.
Going to the Bathroom Inside
If your trained dog is suddenly having issues with going to the bathroom inside, ask yourself if something has changed in his routine or environment. If you see other signs of jealousy there may be some changes necessary.
For more information on why your dog is going to the bathroom inside and what you can do, please click here.
If your dog is growling without a cause or growling at other people it’s likely that they are jealous of the attention you’re giving them. Try to include your dog in more of your interactions and make him happy in the moment, a treat will do the trick.
Either way, this can be intimidating to other people and can sometimes cause problems in the friendship.
What Causes Dogs to Feel Jealous?
If dogs feel jealous, it could be for a variety of reasons.
Change in Routine
One reason your dog may display signs of jealousy is a change in routine. This means that your dog may be feeling abandoned or neglected because of a change in when and how often the two of you interact.
Dogs might also feel jealous if they receive attention from one person but not another, like getting petted by someone else while their owner is out with them for a walk.
Not Enough Exercise and Attention
Your dog may also feel jealous if it doesn’t receive enough exercise or attention. For example, if you don’t take your dog on a walk regularly, the lack of exercise may make your pet restless and act out.
The more you ignore their bad behavior, the worse it will get!
Introducing a new pet may leave your dog feeling jealous.
The best way to avoid jealousy in your pet is to make sure that you’re giving it enough love, exercise, attention and interaction, even if you have another pet at home.
New People or Babies in Their Home
Bringing new people or babies into your home will begin to draw all attention away from your dog. This could leave them feeling jealous of the new arrivals.
To ensure they don’t feel jealous, you should try to dedicate more time and energy to them. This will strengthen the relationship between you and your dog, and the new people he’s around.
What Can I Do to Help a Jealous Dog?
If your dog begins to show signs of jealousy, here’s what you can do to help them.
More Regular Training
Dogs are creatures of habit, and love nothing more than routine. If one is missing from their life due to the addition of a new person or pet, you should try giving them something else to do during certain times so it feels like they’re still following old routines. This could be anything from going on a walk, training, or anything else your dog loves to do.
If this doesn’t work it may be best to go back to their old routine as much as possible, but just change the time that they’re doing it if you have to. This will comfort them and result in better behavior.
Improve Familiarity with Object of Jealousy
To help your dog feel less jealous of new arrivals, you should take him on short trips to the homes in question and introduce them to other people. This will increase familiarity between all involved parties and reduce the amount of jealousy that they show.
In general, dogs are always going to become more comfortable the more time they spend around someone new, so just stay calm and consistent when working with your dog. The progress will come.
One thing to keep in mind is that dogs are very social animals and they need companionship. If your dog’s behavior starts to change, it could be due to a number of factors from loneliness or boredom all the way up to jealousy if you have more than one dog at home. Be sure that you provide them with enough mental stimulation and social time, as well as physical exercise so they don’t feel like their pack leader has abandoned them!