Dog Jealousy - Signs And What to Do

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: April 11, 2019
Dog Jealousy - Signs And What to Do

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Is your dog jealous? People often attribute characteristic human behaviors to animals, which is normal. However, to say that a dog is ‘‘jealous,’’ is not exactly correct. Dog jealousy cannot be compared to that of human jealousy. Dogs act in a way which is inherent to their species, and therefore, it’s important to understand that dogs do not feel jealousy the way that we humans do. In fact, dog jealousy can actually warn us as their carers that something is not quite right.

So, if dogs do not feel ‘‘jealousy’’ or act on jealousy the way we do, what are the signs of a jealous dog? For more about the symptoms of a jealous dog, its causes and what to do, keep reading here at AnimalWised.

Do dogs get jealous?

Defining jealousy is not an easy task, especially because it varies from one individual or species to another. But, simply put, jealousy defines a set of emotions and feelings which one feels when an individual is threatened by a third party, which they perceive as a rival.

Jealousy is a common emotion in gregarious animals, such as humans or dogs, and has an important adaptive function. However, these are also complex emotions, which requires the individual experiencing them to maintain high cognitive abilities that allow them to reason and compare with past experiences.

Thus we can conclude dogs may experience jealousy towards other individuals, but not towards inanimate objects. Even so, the use of this term, ‘jealousy,’ is very controversial. The reason why is because, of the few studies that do exist, there are doubts about whether this ‘emotion’ is comparable to that experienced by human beings.

However, it is essential to point out that there are other behavior problems in dogs such as protectiveness, territoriality and boredom, which are often confused with the concept of ‘jealousy in dogs.’ Keep reading for more about the signs of a jealous dog and what to do if your dog is jealous.

While on this topic, you may also find our article about canine possessiveness interesting, read ‘‘Why is my dog possessive over toys?’’

Signs of a jealous dog

As we have already mentioned, there are very few studies that refer to ‘jealousy in dogs.’ Therefore, it is incredibly difficult to determine the exact behavior of jealousy without indirectly referring to another behavioral problem common in dogs.

With this in mind, here are some possible signs of a jealous dog:

  • A dog will try and grab the attention of a "valued social partner" when they feel ignored.
  • A dog attempt to interrupt the interaction between the "valued social partner" and the possible "social rival".
  • A dog will become increasingly attentive when the "valued social partner" and the "social rival" are in contact.
  • A ‘jealous’ dog may become aggressive or behave negatively.

Below, we’ve attached a video from Miperthhusky’s Youtube channel to share how well he manages his dogs’ jealousy. As you will see in the video, he provides attention and affection equally in order to avoid any confrontation:

Why do dogs get jealous?

The main reasons for dog jealousy and dog jealousy signs include:

  • Dog jealousy of new dog (or puppy): this occurs when several dogs live in the same home and the tutor continuously ignores one or pays more attention to another. We must differentiate jealousy from territoriality, which is shown only to unknown individuals.
  • Dog aggression during pregnancy: it is very common for pregnant women to naturally change routine and daily habits. In these cases, the dog may feel ignored and therefore try to gain lost attention. It is important to progressively prepare a dog for the arrival of a baby. Make sure to never suddenly change their habits and always support your dog positively through this transition. Dogs may seem ‘jealous’ during pregnancy because they become confused by their tutor’s change of scent, hormones or physicality. For more, we recommend reading our article where we discuss, ‘‘Can dogs sense pregnancy?’’
  • Dog jealous of baby: it is essential to present a dog and baby correctly, consider doing this with the help of a professional. However, if for whatever reason there is a negative association or this presentation has not taken place correctly, behavioral dog problems may arise. This can occur if you scold the dog in the presence of the child, if you do not let the dog approach the baby and/ or if you punish the dog. You can avoid dog jealousy between children and babies through positive reinforcement, the proper guidelines and with the help of a professional. For more, we recommend reading our article where we discuss how to introduce your dog to your new baby.
  • Dog jealous of boyfriend or girlfriend: surely you’ve seen the numerous YouTube videos of dogs getting jealous when a couple kiss? While many refer to this as ‘jealousy,’ it’s in fact a sign of ‘protection of resources’. Naturally, a dog considers its guardian as their property and acts on the the need to protect. Sometimes, if dogs are incredibly protective of their owners, they may even become aggressive towards the ‘rival.’

Now, let’s look at how to stop dog jealousy, keep reading to find out!

Dog Jealousy - Signs And What to Do - Why do dogs get jealous?

How to stop dog jealousy

Jealous dog aggression can be incredibly alarming and dangerous for any dog tutor, especially if directed towards a child or baby.

But, how do I get my dog to stop being jealous? First, you must start by taking the relevant safety measures, which includes avoiding direct contact between the dog and the third person or "social rival". You can temporarily optimized the use of a muzzle if necessary, never exceeding 60 minutes. Avoid the use of punishment altogether, as this can further aggravate your dog’s behavior. Instead, control the situation with the use of basic obedience commands (sit, lie down, etc) and positive reinforcement.

In the case of jealous dog aggression, we recommend consulting a professional canine ethologist, trainer or veterinarian. A veterinarian will be able to rule out the possibility of a pathology which may be triggering this aggression. A canine ethologist or trainer will be able to help fix this behavior accordingly and start conducting behavior modification sessions.

It is very likely that a professional will:

  • Ask you to monitor your dog’s interactions with other individuals.
  • Offers advice on how to handle this situation appropriately.
  • Apply a set of activities to help improve your relationship with your dog, through positive habits and routines. Read best techniques for dog training.

For more about dog behavior problems, we recommend reading the following articles:

If you want to read similar articles to Dog Jealousy - Signs And What to Do, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.

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