Envious Animals: Do Dogs Get Jealous?
It’s human nature to get jealous every now and again. For example, if you see someone snuggling with an adorable dog, you may wish that you were getting that same type of attention. What you may not expect is that your dog can have that same type of reaction when they see you interact with someone else.
According to Psychological Science, more than 80 percent of pet parents have observed jealous behaviors from their furry friends. Those reports have led researchers to study our canine companions and discover that dogs can exhibit jealous behaviors, just like people do.
On one paw, this jealousy is a sign that your dog really cares about you and wants to spend more time with you. On the other paw, this same desire for adoration can create some unhealthy habits. Now let’s break down what causes dogs to get jealous and how to prevent bad behavior.
Why Do Dogs Get Jealous?
Ultimately, dogs experience jealousy for the same reason that people can – someone or something else is getting the attention they crave. This feeling is especially strong when it involves their favorite person in the world. There are a variety of events that can trigger this sense of jealousy, including the following causes:
- You get close to or play with another dog.
- A new baby or puppy demands more of your attention.
- You interact with a significant other or loved one.
- A change in schedule or environment disrupts your dog’s normal routine with you.
All of these factors are very normal and understandable events. The challenge is that your dog doesn’t easily understand why you are focused on something else, your furry friend simply wants more of your time and attention.
Can Jealousy Lead to Bad Behavior?
A little jealousy isn’t always a problem. Pouting or huffing are small signs that your dog wants some more time with you or more attention. In these cases, you’ll be able to focus on your best friend in due time.
However, some dogs will take their jealousy too far. Dogs can get pushy or even aggressive in certain circumstances. For example, you may notice your dog exhibit the following negative behavior:
- Your dog audibly whines and becomes animated if you greet or spend time with another person, dog, or task.
- Your dog growls at other people or animals if they get too close to you.
- Your dog pushes other people or animals out of the way to force themselves into the situation.
- Your dog lunges at or even nips or bites a dog or person who gets too close to you.
- Your dog acts out in other ways to attract attention, such as chewing on furniture.
Simply put, these actions are negative behaviors. It’s important to take measures to not only stop jealous behavior, but also teach your dog that these impulses are not okay.
How to Address Bad Behaviors Caused by Jealousy
Certain behaviors may require different measures than others, but the following strategies can help prevent possessive and overly protective actions and help your dog learn not to act out of jealousy.
Prevent reasons for jealous behavior
Sometimes the best way to stop a negative behavior is to prevent them from happening in the first place. If you know that certain triggers will cause your dog to act out, try to limit your dog’s exposure to those types of events. You can’t hide your dog from certain interactions – you’ll likely want to interact with other people or dogs at some point – but restricting these types of opportunities can help prevent your dog from using the behavior in the first place.
Don’t reward your furry friend for jealous behavior
Speaking of reinforcing certain behaviors, it’s important not to accidentally reward your dog when they act out of jealousy. If your furry friend starts exhibiting jealous behavior, such as whining or aggression, don’t make a big fuss because any notable reaction will only reinforce that your dog got exactly what they wanted – your attention.
In certain circumstances, the best plan of action is to simply ignore certain jealous behaviors. If your dog is trying to get your attention by acting sad, don’t give in and reinforce that behavior. By just simply leaving the room or going about your business as you normally would, you will help your dog learn that whining isn’t going to help.
There are also several situations where you need to either correct or redirect your dog’s action to teach them that jealous behavior is not okay. The best approach is to be short and direct with your canine companion. If you catch your dog acting out, don’t let them complete the action and tell them “no” or some other stern, verbal correction. Those lessons, along with preventative training, will go a long way toward teaching your dog better behavior.
Help your dog adjust to other people or dogs
Oftentimes, your dog will get jealous when you pay attention to someone else. This strained relationship can become a problem if you ever plan to see these people or animals again. Fortunately, a little patience and preparation can help your dog learn to accept these types of interactions.
The best way to help your dog adjust to you interacting with others is to involve your furry friend. If you get a new puppy, make sure to slowly introduce them to each other so that your dog can learn that this little furball is a part of the family. You can also take your dog on walks with your significant other or any other targets of jealousy.
These acts to integrate people or animals into your family will help your dog see them as an equal instead of an adversary stealing your attention. You still may need to correct or redirect certain behaviors, but that developing relationship will give your dog less of a reason to be territorial or upset with you when interacting with others.
Consult with an expert
If redirection, correction, and other steps aren’t helping, working with a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist may be needed. This is especially true if your dog is nipping or biting and you need to keep everyone involved, dogs and people, safe. Jealousy is a strong emotion that isn’t always easy for your dog to overcome. A specialist can work with you and your furry friend to take those extra steps necessary to make life better for both of you.
Beating Jealousy with Your Best Friend
It’s understandable that your best friend loves spending time with you – you are a big part of your dog’s life! However, it’s important to make sure that your dog doesn’t go overboard with that adoration. Through a combination of prevention, redirection, and consistent training, your dog can learn that it’s okay not to have your attention at all times.
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