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Is your dog jealous? Toronto Pet Vets.

As humans, it’s only natural for us to feel jealousy and envy. But what about Dogs? Sometimes it may seem like your dog is jealous of a cat? A baby? A Lover?

But do dogs really feel envy?

According to Psychology Today, observations of clear cases of jealousy and envy in primates, such as chimpanzees and baboons, the argument has been made that it would be unlikely to find it in an animal like the dog, because it involves self awareness at a level which, until recently, was doubted in dogs.

However, for anyone who lives around dogs, would likely argue these scientific results. For example when you are cudding and playing with a small child and the dog comes over to be a part of the fun. Or when you play with the cat and the dog barks non-stop.

Jealousy is a very apparent emotion in a Mother and her puppies for example. Young puppies are very cute and cuddly, so it is natural for them to receive a lot of affection from the people in the house.

More knowledgeable owners may try to treat all of the dogs with equal care and attention, but usually this is to no avail. The mother dog sees her owner’s attention being diverted away from her toward the puppies, and becomes jealous.

Mother Lab and Her baby puppies

She may begin ignoring the pups and trying to exclude them from the maternal nest. This can escalate to the point where she might actually become aggressive toward the pups or even toward her owner.

It is strange that behavioral scientists often ignore such common observations. It is well accepted that dogs have a broad range of emotions. Dogs are certainly social animals, and jealousy and envy are triggered by social interactions.

Dogs also have the same hormone, oxytocin, which has been shown to be involved in both expressions of love and jealousy in experiments involving humans.

A researcher at the University of Vienna in Austria named Friederike Range discovered that dogs do have a sense of “fair play.” Her team began with a group of dogs who already knew the command to “shake” and would give their paw whether they received a treat or not. However, if they saw that another dog received a piece of food for the behavior while they did not, they stopped!

Dogs are not the only ones who are insulted when they aren’t treated fairly. A similar experiment found that monkeys also become jealous if their peers were rewarded and they weren’t. It is likely these behaviors resulted because both animals live in cooperative societies.

If you feel like your dog is experiencing jealousy, here are some tips on how to deal with these emotions and prevent any kind of upset or negative behaviours that might occur.

Is your dog jealous of the new baby1. Recognize the signs of Jealousy
Like a spurned lover, your dog will have a hard time containing himself when he feels jealous. Sulking, snarling, growling, fighting and sluggishness can be symptoms of jealousy. Some dogs even get so upset that they stop eating and appear depressed. In that case, be sure to schedule a veterinary check-up with one of our Toronto Animal Hospitals to rule out possible medical causes.

2. Maintain pet routines
You likely have a daily routine for interacting with your dog, even if you did not establish this routine consciously. Think back to what your schedule and habits were like before the new pet or person was introduced and, whenever possible, try to reestablish that pattern with your dog. Routine is important to your dog because its jealousy, in part, comes from fear of losing its place in your life. By continuing to feed, walk, and play with your dog according to a normal schedule, you reassure your pet of its place in your heart.

3. Give Fido a little extra attention
Try to spend even more time with your dog than usual during the transitional period. If the subject of your dog’s jealousy is another person, encourage that individual to play, pet and otherwise positively interact with your dog as much as possible.

4. Reinforce basic training
Your dog thinks of you as part of its pack. Now it must share you with another individual. You must remain the leader, so gently show your dog who is boss by verbally scolding negative behavior as soon as it starts. At the same time, reward positive behavior with sweet talk, head rubs, and treats, especially if your dog makes an effort to socialize with your new pack member.

5. Empathize
Whether the object of your dog’s jealousy is a new pup or person, try to remember that from your dog’s perspective, it was with you first. Your dog has attempted to earn your loyalty and affection over the years, while sharing those same gifts with you. Its jealousy is actually a measure of how much it values both you and its position within your now-growing pack.

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