Dog Jealousy: Causes, Symptoms, and How To Help

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Jealousy in dogs is a common occurrence. If a dog feels unloved or neglected, jealousy may occur. Here is what you should know about this condition in dogs.

Dog acting jealous in front of other dogs or people may seem cute and funny, but it actually can be a serious problem. Dogs’ behavior and body language have been fascinating people for centuries.

Now, researches from the University of California, San Diego, decided to discover once for all if dogs’ are really capable of being jealous.

Can Dogs Be Jealous?

Your dog is usually easy-going and loves sharing food with you?

If this is the case, you should know that your dog is very attached to you, but if you are living in a multi-pet home, you have probably experienced some sort of canine jealousy – either a strong sound around the treats or a major scuffle during snuggle time.

We still don’t know just how high is the level of dog’s jealousy when it comes to emotions, but we do know one thing for sure – dogs can experience jealousy.

According to a study from San Diego, 36 dogs of different ages and sizes were used to demystify emotions in dogs to humans.

Once their owners focused their attention anywhere else but to them, an interesting thing happened.

Researchers used real dogs with their owners and a stuffed dog that was capable of wagging its tail and could even bark!, a children’s book, and a plastic Jack O’Lantern.

According to the study, dogs showed no interest when their owners reacted toward the non-social objects. However, when owners focused on the toy dog, they started reacting.

Their reactions were:

  • Barking
  • Touching the toy
  • Touching the owner
  • Placing themself between the owner and the toy dog
  • 86% percent of dogs sniffed the stuffed dog

All in, this behavior led researchers to conclude that the dogs actually believe the toy was real. Moreover, this behavior led researchers to conclude that dogs do feel some type of jealousy.

Overall, the study proved that “The idea that dogs are capable of jealousy is congenial to the burgeoning body of research on animal social cognition that reveals that dogs have sophisticated social-cognitive abilities,” which shouldn’t come as a big surprise considering the fact that humans had a huge role in the development of dogs brain, due to breeding interference.

What makes this research more interesting, is how this study was shaped.

This study was actually based on a similar study of how infants reacted when their mothers showed affection to a realistic-looking dool, compared with how they reacted when their mothers actually talked to a book.

These two studies demonstrated similarities in terms of signs of jealousy.

Still, more research must be conducted so we can truly understand a dog’s brain, behavior, and reactions.

What Causes Dog Jealousy

Dogs are people-pleaser and they want their share of attention in return. It seems logical, right? Sometimes you may shower your dog with the most lovable moments, pure love, and extra cuddling and still have a jealous dog.

So, if you know for sure that you are being a responsible dog owner who offers nothing but love, but your dog still showed tremendous jealousy, you should search for causes outside your relationship.

If your dog acts jealously or seeks your attention more aggressively than he isn’t tolerating some changes very well.

Dog jealousy can be caused by changes such as:

  • New routine schedule
  • New home and different neighborhood
  • New people in the household, including primary caregiver
  • New pets in the home
  • Another cat in the home
  • The arrival of a new baby or a child

Jealous-like Behaviors In Pets

To fully understand jealousy and dogs, and approach it right, you must know the symptoms first. Jealousy in dogs can easily escalate from being ‘cute’ to unhealthy and unwanted behavior.

Here are the most common jealous-like behaviors that pet dog owners should be on the lookout for:

1. Aggression

This can be a common sign and it manifests in the form of nibbling and biting.

If you have a multi-pet household this may escalate into aggression toward other pets and you should react if it becomes a common phenomenon.

2. Going to the Bathroom Indoors

If trained well, dogs know that they must do their business outdoors. However, in some moments of sadness, anger, or jealousy, dogs may choose to punish you by doing their business indoors.

For them this practice it’s more a way to communicate about their feelings with you, to tell you that they are unhappy. Destructive behavior is sometimes a clear indicator that your pet is troubled with something.

3. Following You Around

Dogs love to be with their owners and their family members.

Some dogs are such people-pleasers that they are one of the best family dogs alive, while others love to have their own space – simply said, they are individuals just as humans are.

If your dog starts spending every second with you, follows your everywhere and wines as soon as you are not to be seen, or always asks for extra cuddles after long cuddling sessions, he may be scared to let you go.

So, paying extra attention to the owner, next to often and sudden face-licking, can be more than a sign of affection. Your dog might just be trying to get your attention.

4. Pushy Behavior

Dogs will always try to get things done their way. Some are stubborn, while some are simply more powerful than their owners are.

If you provide them enough love, proper nutrition, and good training and exercise, they will respect you and go along your nature and attitude.

However, if they become too pushy asking for extra attention, extra food, extra cuddles, and extra of everything it can be a clear indicator that something is wrong.

5. Getting Into A Fight

If you are blessed to enjoy a multi-pet household you should know that it takes more work than having only one pet.

Tolerance between pets is usually easy to build if you start working from day one, especially if they are puppies, kittens, or any other pet in their early years.

However, if you notice that your dog has a zero-tolerance toward other pets, and is prone to hissing, fighting, or growling it may be a time to talk with a professional and help your dog deal with his emotions.

Your dog may also demonstrate his jealousy in the form of:

  • Scaring off strangers
  • Doing tricks all the time
  • Crowding your space
  • Leaving the room

How To Stop Jealous Behavior In Pets

As you may know already, things with dogs can escalate extremely fast. If you notice any unusual behavior it’s crucial to react on time and stop jealous behavior in pets.

The very first thing that you should know about jealousy in dogs it’s that prevention is the best cure: train your dog well, provide early socialization, expose your dog to unknown people, unfamiliar places, and different sounds.

Moreover, take your dog to walks regularly and doggy parks, so he can interact with other dogs, and learn that you won’t leave him behind because of the other dog.

Still, here are some tips that might help you to stop jealous behavior in pets:

1. Get To Know Now Your Dog

Make sure that you have documented your dog’s behavior and needs. If needed, keep a diary to record various signs of aggression or jealousy, so you know what to look for.

This is especially handy if you have to share the dog’s symptoms with a veterinarian or any other professional.

2. Share Love Equally

If you have multi-pets make sure that you give each pet enough attention. Don’t create a ground for jealousy among them.

3. Be Careful About Feeding Routine

Always feed your pets separately. Make sure that you feed your dog on time, and that you provide a calm space for peaceful meals.

Food is important to dogs, so if you feed them separately you might avoid any conflict during mealtimes.

4. Feel Free To Ignore Your Pets

Every dog owner is crazy about after work greetings. Nothing like a dog’s happiness for seeing you to make your day great, right? However, this might be a problem if you have dogs and not only one dog.

You can’t give equal attention to both or more dogs at the same time, right? So, feel free to ignore your dog when you come home.

This way you will stop jealous, and they can get cuddling once the excitement is over, and one by one.

5. Be The Leader

Dogs will always watch at you for approval. Use that to your advantage, because you must always show that you are the leader of the pack.

This is why some breeds are not recommended for first-time dog owners. Put a dog leash on both dogs when walking two at a time.

It can’t hurt to have separate toys, water bowls, and beds. Don’t forget to praise your dog and reward him with doggy-treats for good behavior.

The Bottom Line

As a responsible dog owner, you must do whatever is in your power to provide a good nurturing environment for your dog.

Your job is also to keep the dog physically happy, strong, and never close to obesity. Therefore, for healhty and strong joints you must provide proper training, regular exercise, and yearly veterinarian check-ups.

You are also responsible for a dog’s mental health.

Great physical condition, next to strong mental health are the key components for a well-behaved dog.

Dogs love being loved, and if they just think for a second that you are not treating them right, they will show how much they are unhappy.

So, to avoid any form of jealousy, rise your dog right. Make sure that the training is done right, that your dog knows how to share and that both you and him must have moments of peace.