Have you noticed odd behaviour in your dog when another dog or person is nearby? Does it growl or lunge? is it overly clingy with you, doing whatever it takes to get your attention? One possibility is that your dog is jealous.
Recent studies on dog behaviours show that dogs do experience jealousy.
Dogs have a good understanding of reading our body language. They recognise when we are paying less attention to them. And they are put out when their routine changes due to a new addition in their environment.
Dogs cannot communicate jealously the way we do. Instead, they can act out in an assertive, needy, or pushy way. Their goal is to establish authority over the situation causing the jealousy.
Generally speaking, when your dog exhibits jealous behaviour such as aggression, it’s an indication that it feels insecure and confused. This can be stressful for all involved, especially your dog. It’s important to recognise these behaviours no matter how subtle they are, action on your part is required. A jealous dog sees anyone or any dog as a rival for your attention.
The good news is that these
behaviours can be corrected
with the right training.
There are specific signs that are associated with dogs that get jealous. In this blog, we will address:
- what causes dog jealousy
- how to recognise the signs
- what you can do to help your dog overcome feelings of jealousy
What Causes Dog Jealousy?
It’s very natural for dogs to want to protect their carers. They form a strong bond with those they spend most of their time with. But their bond with you can also lead to jealousy if they feel your attention is somewhere else.
Some of the most common causes of jealousy can include:
New pets in the home – new pets generally mean you share your time and attention between the 2 of them. This in most cases will leave your dog feeling neglected.
New people in the home – this changes the dynamic of the home. Your dog may not want you to share your time with someone new who has invaded their space.
A new baby in the home – This is a very common cause of jealousy, especially if you implement new rules for your dog such as no more sleeping on your bed. Again, the refocus of your attention could leave them feeling neglected.
Change in routine – if the change in routine results in you spending less time with your dog it can make your dog feel ignored or abandoned.
“Your attention, your voice, your touch are all to be prized, and it is only natural that a possessive dog would want them all for himself.”Leslie Nelson
What are the Signs of a Jealous Dog?
To manage your dog’s jealousy, it’s important to recognise the signs when they experience it. Behaviours may include:
This is common in most dogs when they experience jealousy. It can present in the form of snapping, biting, lunging, growling, barking, and on occasion attacking. These behaviours can be directed at people and pets.
Pushy pooch – The classic move of a pushy dog is squeezing in-between you and your partner when you snuggle, when you hug a friend, or when you show attention to another pet.
They can really turn it on by intensely staring at you or whining in order to get the attention they are craving, or more like demanding.
Accidents in the home
Assuming your dog is toilet trained, peeing or pooping in the house is not a common occurrence, unless your dog feels it’s the best way to get your attention. The stress that is caused by jealousy can lead to these accidents.
your dog knows that tricks result in treats and or praise. So when they get jealous because your attention is elsewhere, doing their tricks is a way of redirecting that attention back to them.
Dogs by nature are territorial. Their home is full of everything they love and value such as their food, water, and toys. When someone new comes into their home, it’s not uncommon for them to guard what they love. Another example of resource guarding is when you pay attention to another pet or person, they will pull on the lead to take you away from the interaction.
Dogs will do anything to gain your attention, including things like scratching or biting furniture, jumping on the couch, and growling. Plus anything else that will distract you from the pet or person you’re with. Even if it’s to yell at them, it’s still a distraction and the attention is back with your dog.
Exiting the room
Leaving the room is a clear sign of withdrawal from the situation. Some dogs will turn their backs on situations that cause them stress.
At times jealousy can cause a dog to feel extreme anxiousness. Some of the behaviours to look for are;
- Excessive licking or chewing
- Tail between their legs
- Ears pinned back
- Drooling & panting
- Not eating or drinking
Tips to Help Your Jealous Dog
At times a jealous dog can be unpredictable. It’s always recommended to work with a professional dog behaviourist. However, there are some measures you can take to help your dog overcome its jealousy.
Here are a few practical ways you can help improve your dog’s jealous behaviours:
Most training for dogs stops after puppy school. It’s important to keep up regular training. Going back to basics like leave it, go to your bed, drop and rollover is an effective way to reinforce your leadership. Dogs need structure and are better behaved when they know what is expected of them. Regular training, around 5 to 10 minutes a day is a great way to remind your dog that you’re in charge. Ensuring your training skills are intact will help you manage your dog’s behaviour when jealousy takes over.
Also spending this quality time with your dog is good for creating an even stronger bond between you. This also reinforces positive behaviours.
Remove the “reward”
Sometimes we unknowingly reward unwanted behaviours in our dogs. Even negative attention satisfies their need for attention. When you look at them, talk to them, and touch them, in their mind, they are rewarded for their behaviour.
When your dog exhibits jealous behaviours, (in a non-dangerous situation) simply turn your back to them and walk away. Doing this consistently will send the message that the behaviour will not be rewarded.
If your dog is jealous of a new pet in the house or a pet you come across on walks, ensure you have treats on hand. Rewarding your dog to sit nicely with another dog is a great way to enforce good behaviour.
Dogs are pack animals, being in the company of other dogs is natural for them. Treat them the same, pay them the same amount of attention and walk them together but take a break mid-walk, ask them to sit, and reward them with a treat.
Jealous dogs can feel more comfortable with new people over time as they become more familiar and no longer see them as a threat. Therefore, it’s a great idea to involve new people in activities with your dog, such as regular walks. Or play their favourite games and have the new person give them food and treats.
Have your new person practice some training with your dog. This will let your dog know that the new person is a part of the pack and can be a trusted leader.
When your dog is displaying good behaviour around the new person, reward them! Consistent praise and treats for good behaviour will result in acceptance of the new person into the pack.
It’s important to be gentle and patient with your dog to get the best results.
Dogs and a new baby
A jealous dog with a new baby isn’t the ideal situation. It requires you to have a high awareness of how you interact with the baby whilst the dog is present.
Gently introduce the baby to your dog by allowing it to smell the baby’s clothes or blanket and reward it when it is calm.
Although your own routine will change with a new baby, it’s important to keep the dog’s routine the same and encourage positive interaction with lots of treats and praise for good behaviour.
Important: Do not leave your dog unattended with a baby or toddler. If you are unable to manage your dog’s jealousy, ensure you seek help from a professional dog behaviourist. Leave nothing to chance!
Aggression is by far the biggest concern and should be addressed immediately. Anytime your dog is showing aggression, have your vet check them out to make sure there’s no medical issue. It’s also a good idea to engage an animal behaviourist to deal with your dog’s aggression.