Dogs aren’t known as Man’s Best Friend for nothing. You’re your dog’s #1, so you better be her top priority…or else.
Yep, dogs can get jealous.
So, You Think Your Dog is Jealous?
There are a lot of signs that might lead you to believe your dog is behaving jealously. A few of the most common include:
- Invasion of your physical space
- More frequent requests for play or affection
- Increased whining or other vocalizations
- A sense of restlessness
- Destructive behavior when being “ignored”
Seen any of these signs? Then you might be right…your dog could be jealous! Scientists have been debating for more than a century over the concept of jealousy in animals, but recent studies are shining light on jealous emotions in dogs. It seems our furriest friends are potentially just as likely to become jealous over us as our significant others and even our children.
Why Would My Dog be Jealous?
Remember that dogs don’t do anything without a reason that’s rooted in evolution. Dogs likely developed the emotional sense of jealousy when their beneficial social relationship with us was challenged in some way. Of course, they’ve learned to manage that jealousy over time by understanding the line between appropriate jealous behavior (whining and asking for rubs) and inappropriate (biting your Tinder date.)
You see, jealousy is actually a complex emotion. All emotions are segmented as either “primary” or “secondary,” the former being things like fear and joy. Secondary emotions like jealousy, guilt, or shame are more nuanced, meaning only the most cognitively advanced animals experience them. Is your dog the jealous type? She might also be super-smart!
How Can I Make My Dog Less Jealous?
It’s sweet that you care about your dog’s emotional wellbeing. There’s a fine line between helping your dog process her feelings of jealousy healthily and enabling bad behavior. Finding that line can take some time.
Remember that although your dog can’t necessarily control her feelings of jealousy, she’s smart enough to control her actions. So if she’s behaving unacceptably when she gets jealous, she’s responsible for reining that in. If, for example, she rips up the curtains every time you snuggle on the couch with your spouse, don’t be afraid to reprimand her as you normally would when she misbehaves.
The trick is not only reprimanding your dog. To help her deal with her feelings of jealousy, you’ve got to reward her for good behavior while also not being a doormat to unacceptable behavior. Identify when your dog is prone to jealous outbursts, then preempt those outbursts with treats as you ease into a situation where she might normally behave jealously. Teach her that not only should she not be jealous of this other person/thing/activity, she should welcome it because she gets rewards!
Of course, be sure you’re still giving your dog plenty of individual attention, too. This is especially important if you’ve recently undergone a jealousy-inducing life change, like having a baby or adopting a second pet. The more secure your dog feels in her connection with you, the less prone to jealousy she’ll be.