Jealousy In Dogs
If you’ve grown up with siblings, you probably remember counting out the candy to make sure the other person doesn’t get more than you.
Or perhaps you argued over who deserves the favorite toy. You might even remember your mother giving you the “life isn’t always fair” lecture.
Dogs can get jealous too! They might not cry and kick exactly, but just like siblings, dogs can sense unfairness, and in their doggy way they will let the world know how they feel!
Problem is, it’s a little more difficult to convey to dogs that there is no reason to be jealous – you can’t just sit down and talk it out.
Lets take a look at some ways you – as a dog ‘parent’ – can work though the envy and show your dog there’s no need to compete.
Signs Of Jealousy In Dogs
Just like humans, dogs have emotional and physical demands, and if the needs are not met, they’ll quickly escalate into something worse. Here are the top 6 signs of what jealousy looks like in dogs:
- Aggression. This can be in the form of aggressively growling, snapping, or attacking another animal they feel envious of.
- Pushy behavior. As you give one dog attention, your other dog pushes him out of the way to demand your attention.
- Potty accidents. A dog who feels jealous may go to the bathroom in the house to show they are displeased. Some dogs may begin territorial marking.
- Being clingy. Following you wherever you go, or crowding your space can mean that your dog can’t stand the idea of sharing your attention with someone else.
- Sulking. Conversely, your dog may express their emotions by withdrawing from the room to sulk, or refusing to be with you at all.
- Misbehaving, or refusal to obey. Jealous dogs don’t always care what kind of reaction they get, as long as they get one. If misbehaving gets your attention it’s a win in their mind.
Ring any bells? If you’re dealing with a jealous dog, read on for tips and tricks to resolve the family dynamic.
The Causes Of Jealousy Between Dogs
Sometimes the cause for jealousy between dogs stems from sexual tension and the fact that canines are naturally pack animals. Dogs have to find their “pecking order” or hierarchy within the pack.
Medical issues can also be a contributing factor to jealous/aggressive behaviors. A dog in pain is much more likely to be irritable and apt to lash out.
Nine times out of ten, however, jealousy is a form of insecurity. The dog becomes afraid of losing your attention and therefore sees other pets as a rival for your affection.
Unfair attention (loving on one pet more than the other), sexual tension, stress, lack of exercise, and changes in routine, are all things that can trigger insecurity and jealous-like behaviors in dogs.
“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 You Can Do
You’re pretty sure your dog is jealous, now what should you do about it?
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Even getting a new puppy and introducing him to a pet you already have, should not cause problems if you take care to treat all your pets equally.
But the good news is – if jealousy squabbles do arise, in most cases they are curable. You just need to show your pup there’s no reason for them to be jealous.
Let’s take a look at some practical ways you can help improve your dog’s jealous behaviors.
First things first – medical issues can contribute to jealousy. As mentioned before, pain or cognitive deficits may cause a dog to be irritable and react in aggression.
Some jealous behavior can be triggered by sexual tensions. Intact males especially, are more prone to begin territorial marking in the house to show dominance if they feel jealousy.
Before you do anything else, it’s important to consult your veterinarian, and rule out any of these possibilities. Get your dog neutered, and ensure that there are no health problems that could cause or worsen the negative behavior.
Make sure that all your pets are receiving equal levels of attention and rewards.
- Don’t give too much attention to one pet to “make up for” the jealousy of the other.
- When you arrive home, make sure you don’t lavish more affection one one dog than the other.
- If you give treats, ensure all the pets receive the same amount.
- If you go on a walk, take both pets.
Ensuring there’s no favoritism goes a long way in diminishing emotional excitement and preventing signs of envy.
Consistent training and reinforcing good behaviors like “leave it” will establish your leadership. It will also distract him from the jealousy while giving him the skills for better manners.
If you haven’t worked on obedience since puppy days, it might be time to get out that treat bag and work in a few 20-minute training sessions.
Tip: Maintaining a daily routine equals security to your dog and helps him understand what you expect from him.
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Have you been accidentally rewarding your dog’s jealousy with attention? To a dog, even negative attention can become rewarding. As long as you’re looking at them or touching them, they will feel their actions were worthwhile.
You need to show your dog that bad behaviors won’t get them what they want, but that obedience will.
If they start being a bully to the other pets, and vie for your attention, simply ignore him. Don’t look at him, don’t say anything, don’t touch him. Leave the room if you have to.
Make it clear that affection is something you give on your terms. By ignoring the bad behavior, you’re teaching him his behavior is not acceptable.
At the same time, be on the lookout for good behavior. Catch him being good. Lavish praise if he chooses to be nice rather than bully. Give rewards when he remains calm and obeys your commands.
This way, you will teach him that good behaviors are acceptable, and at the same time that he won’t get away with being a bully.
Getting rid of the triggers will help your dog overcome his jealousy.
Provide plenty of toys, but give each pet his own and don’t make them share a single toy. Remove food-based toys unless supervised.
The same goes for food bowls and beds. Feeding pets separately avoids conflict during mealtimes, and having their own personal bed or safe space will help your dog feel relaxed.
Is your dog getting plenty of mental and physical exercise? It goes with out saying that your dog needs plenty of exercise to keep him in top health. Give your dogs jobs to do, or offer puzzle toys to keep their minds stimulated and boredom at bay.
Burn off a lot of excess energy by going on daily walks or runs with your pups. And try to keep your walks interesting: they should be more than just a potty break. Try new routes, and allow your dogs to stop and explore.See More Ways To Occupy Your Dog
One Final Word
While it is highly unlikely that your dog will develop serious aggression, jealous behavior can turn into aggression if not addressed and corrected.
If your dog begins lashing out, snapping, biting, or threatening those around him, especially children, you have a very serious problem indeed.
Aggression is a dangerous behavior problem. It needs to be dealt with immediately and with the help of a professional.
Get Help If Needed
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you have a problem on your hands. Take a deep breath! You are not the first or only person to deal with bad behavior!
Don’t be afraid to call in a behavior specialist or work with a trainer if jealousy is an ongoing issue.
“You’re still a great pet parent if you call in the extra help. In fact, recognizing you and your dog need help makes you a strong and self-aware dog parent.”
Prevention is the best option: since dogs can sense unfairness, the more you keep things fair among all your pets, the less likely they’ll show signs of envy.
At the end of the day, love and attention is the language that all dogs speak. Patience and consistency = a happy home!