Can Dogs Get Jealous?
The answer is “no.” As humans oftentimes we need to put a common human trait onto our dogs. The reason being, is we love our furry babies and need to project human emotion onto our pets in hopes of better understanding the animal. This really isn’t a problem all by itself, but it is when we try and analyze our pets’ unwanted behavior(s) through human eyes.
I’ve been asked about this quite a bit recently, and I felt it best to write a blog versus addressing this to only 1 or more individuals.
I read articles regarding “jealousy” and, as a canine behavior specialist, I lean more towards the belief that jealousy is not related to the dog world of emotions. Most professionals, ranging from veterinarians, dog trainers, to animal/dog psychology, etc., all say that the “jealousy” behavior that we see in our pets is most likely due to social hierarchy.
Let’s say a couple start hugging and kissing in front of the dog, and soon thereafter the dog barks, growls or whines while witnessing this display of affection. Immediately, we believe the dog is jealous of this interaction. However, we aren’t seeing the full picture.
If one person carries the brunt of the duties for the dog, the dog will begin to associate that person with having a higher value in its social circle than the other individual. So if the other person, on occasion, walks the dog, or better yet, “joins” the walking festivities, the one that seldom addresses the pooches needs is seen as an interloper, or not part of the pack.
So in a nutshell, duties should be shared. I recommend that the less involved partner start by feeding the dog it’s meals. Since food is very important in the canine world, more so than in ours, dogs view food as a mechanism for survival. The one that provides food for the “pack” can be viewed as the hunter that meets a very important need for the dog. Plus, the “interloper” can begin playing games with the dog that contain high value treats. During this time the other individual, that the dog views as “high value”, should not be present, but allow the strained relationship to grow. If the “high value” partner needs to be present, don’t interfere and if the dog comes to you, ignore the dog or walk out of the room. Most likely, if you stay around this interaction, the dog might not want to get close to the “interloper.”
I’ll end with this: The individual that is the main hands on pooch provider should NEVER see this behavior as okay, nor use this as a “weapon” against the other person. A lot of times, but not in every situation, the highly valued individual has inadvertently encouraged this behavior. It can lead to your human relationship becoming strained, or it can be your way (human) of wanting to distance yourself from your significant other (human) from your life and potentially using the dog as a scapegoat. So begin by self examining yourself, and the relationship. ~Become aware.
Happy Tails 🐾😊