There have been many studies and research into jealousy in dogs, but they really don’t tell us much more than most Fur Baby owners already know…. More that 80% of dog owners report observing jealous behaviours in their dog. So YES dogs can get jealous, not only of a real threat to your affection, like the new arrival of a baby into the family (with or without fur) but even a preceived threat such as another animal coming near you or you showing affection to other people.
So we accept that it can happen, the question is what are the possible reasons your dog might exhibit jealous behaviours such as
✔️ over-vocalisation, whining or whimpering
✔️ agitated or anxious behaviour
✔️ pulling on a leash when owners are giving attention to other dogs.
Recent research (April 8, 2021 published in the journal Psychological Science https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210408131415.htm) confirms that not only can dogs get jealous when their humans interact with other dogs, but the can also show these behaviours when they only imaging that their owner is interacting with another dog. Studies previously found jealousy behaviour with play, interest or aggression but dogs reactions to their owner interacting with other dogs had never been done. The research was ground breaking as it provided the first evidence that dogs can mentally represent jealousy-inducing social interactions.
The study found three signature of jealous behaviour similar to that found in humans. 1. It emerged only when their owner interacted with a perceive social rival and not inanimate object. 2. Happened as a consequence of that interaction and not due to the mere presence of the potential rival. 3 Occurred even in an out of sight interaction between the owner and the perceived rival.
So if your dog suspects you are interacting with another dog it can become jealous, even though it can’t see that interaction. This confirms how smart dogs are as the emotion of jealousy is clearly linked to self awareness in humans.
Dogs are one of the few species that can display human-like behaviour such as jealousy, just like a child protesting at any attention given to a new sibling, they are letting you know what THEY want your attention and are not happy with you interacting with another dog.
We all know how our Fur Babies can go crazy when we come home and they can smell the scent of another dog on us or our clothing! There is no doubt that they can process complex emotions such as jealousy and let us know about it!
Understanding that our dogs feel these kinds emotions helps us to plan, prepare or prevent change in their living environment and situations that might evoke strong behaviours in them, such as bringing a new puppy home.
Interestingly, Cebar, my almost 10 year old Cocker X, adapted well to the arrival of Whisky and they became best buds in a matter of weeks - no doubt in a large measure due to the planning and preparation we put in before Whisky’s arrival.
Whisky is now 6 months old, and Cebar still shows us he needs our attention and wants to ensure he doesn’t miss out on anything. For example, being a Frenchie, Whisky wears a no pull harness rather than the traditional flat collar and lead. When we would get ready for our walk, Cebar would try to shove his head through the tiny harness, even though he doesn’t need a harness, we decided to buy him the exact same one! So now he gets his harness on first, and then Whisky follows and he is happy as a lark.
More recently, with Winter weather, I purchased a Huskimo Mt Bulla Khaki Dog Coat for Whisky, and although Cebar has a dog coat already, it is clear he has outgrown his and needs a new one, so I will again track down the same one as Whisky in Cebar’s correct size and ensure he feels treated the same as his little brother.
Whisky also can show signs of jealous and FOMO, if we are patting or fussing over Cebar he will somehow manage to muscle his little tank of a body into the situation to ensure he gets extra attention too! Just like toddlers!! That’s our Fur Babies!