Dogs are incredibly social creatures that want to be our #1. When a new pet, baby, or person comes around and steals a bit of our attention, our dogs may start exhibiting some jealous behaviors. Uncover the causes and signs of jealousy in a dog, and use our helpful methods to help slay your dog's green-eyed monster.
Dogs are pack animals that live for their owners and family.
Think about it for a minute. We feed our dogs, give them affection, and grow closely bonded to these sweet creatures. When we leave the house to go to work or to enjoy a rich social life, they hang around the house, waiting for us to come home.
The dependent nature of dogs mimics how they behave in a wild pack - they rely on their packmates to care for them and provide safety.
Do dogs have feelings?
Of course, they do! Dogs are some of the most sensitive animals in the world. These feelings serve them well in their pack life.
If your dog senses that another person may be more important than them, their survival instincts kick in, and they become jealous, worrying you may abandon them.
There are some obvious signs to look for if you suspect your dog is jealous and some simple methods to ease the problematic jealous behaviors that can accompany a jealous dog's feelings.
Signs of a Dog's Jealousy: Protective, Jealous, and Possessive Behaviors
Jealous dogs feel very unsafe, and only one thing will make them feel better - your undivided attention.
Jealousy can make a dog exhibit more and more aggressive, out-of-character behaviors as they desperately fight to get your attention, and an otherwise pleasant dog can become downright dangerous to others in certain situations.
Here are some obvious signs that you're dealing with a jealous dog:
- They're interrupting your home life by blocking what you're doing and acting destructively within your line of sight in hopes that you'll stop your current task to scold them.
- They're exhibiting aggressive behaviors, often towards a particular person, like growling, biting, and barking. Even mild-tempered dogs can become agitated and aggressive under the wrong circumstances.
- They won't leave your side or lap whenever you're home and are exceptionally clingy.
- Usually well-trained pets can start to misbehave for attention by not listening to commands or going to the bathroom inside the house.
- Conversely, a dog may try to shine by showing off tricks without being prompted to get you to pay attention.
- If your dog is agitated at the lack of attention, they can become emotionally overwhelmed. To cope, some dogs withdraw completely and may leave the room or start to ignore you as "payback."
What Causes a Dog's Jealousy?
There are plenty of reasons why our dogs get jealous, and it's not always because of people or animals.
A new schedule can make a dog's jealousy flare-up. They're not jealous of anyone else per se, but they are jealous of the time you're spending at work instead of making quality time for them.
You may see your dog acting jealous if you're spending too much time at home on your phone, watching TV, or otherwise distracted by things that take attention away from the pup.
Dogs are often jealous of a new partner or child if they're used to having their owner's undivided attention and affection. This extends to another pet joining the family; whether it's jealousy of the new puppy or adopting a senior dog, they can struggle to share the spotlight.
How to Reduce a Dog's Jealousy
You can adopt some simple methods that will help lessen your dog's jealousy and improve your bond.
#1. Regular Training
Even the most well-trained dogs will curb jealous behaviors with some training time each week.
Setting the time aside gives your dog your undivided attention regularly, which helps to cut down jealous feelings. Asking your dog to perform training commands gives them purpose and makes them feel useful to you, in other words, a more valuable member of your pack.
#2. Ignore Jealous Behavior
While certain behaviors, like biting, are dangerous to ignore, we can ignore the vast majority of our dogs' jealous behavior to discourage them.
If your dog acts up and gets your attention, it will learn that these destructive behaviors will get them exactly what they want. Jealous dogs stop caring whether the attention is positive or negative; they're just happy to have it at all.
Ignore the behaviors as much as possible, and leave the room if your dog is particularly testy. They will have no choice but to calm down, eventually, and learn that this behavior is no longer rewarded.
For any harmful or dangerous behavior, for the sake of the dog and others, immediately remove the dog from any risky situation.
#3. Bring in the Target
During your regular training sessions, consider bringing in the person or animal that's the cause of the jealousy.
By incorporating the target into training, walks, playtime, and feeding time, the dog can begin to build its relationship with the person or pet. They will see that the addition of another doesn't mean the subtraction of them.
#4. Build Fairness
Dogs have razor-sharp skills at assessing fairness, and it's time to evaluate yours.
Chances are, if you have a new person or animal in your life, you may be giving them more attention than your pup. You can't always split time entirely evenly, but consider how much time you give to your dog - is it fair or enough?
If the time hasn't been fair, try to find the balance where you can. Break up your time when they're both present, and give your dog their fair share of undivided attention.
Final Notes: How to Help Jealous Dogs
When a dog suddenly starts to become jealous, it can be pretty distressing and frustrating for them, you and the others around you, too.
If you have a new partner, baby, puppy, or other pet, it's very likely, and understandable, that your dog could be feeling a little jealous.
Even a schedule change that leaves less time with your pup may throw them off. They don't really understand the concept of humans needing jobs.
To recap, here are the best ways to combat puppy jealousy:
- Set aside time each week for training sessions with your dog;
- Discourage jealous behavior by ignoring it;
- Incorporate the target of the jealousy into walks, playtime, and more;
- Assess the fairness of how you split your time, and adjust as you can.
We wish you much luck working with your pup on their jealous behavior and strengthening your bond.