Dog Jealousy?

A few months back I heard a behavioral specialist trainer say that dogs do not get jealous but instead it is a show of dominance when they “fight” for your attention when another dog is in the picture. With having 5 dogs I had to stop for a minute and think about this statement. I often tell my dogs to stop being jealous when I am petting them and one will bulldoze in to get to the very front and push his or her siblings out of the way. I’ll admit that I find it funny at times with how determined they are to get to me and sometimes must put them in timeout; yes, we have timeout in my house, I know you’re laughing, I am too. In all seriousness though we know that dogs are known for pack attitudes just like their ancestors’ wolves in the wild. Each pack has a leader and as their owners we are the dominant one that they follow. Even though we are the leader our dogs will try to be higher on the ranking than their sibling(s). So, the question remains is it jealousy during these times or are they showcasing their beliefs of where they stand in the pack… and what do we do as the leader?

Envy

    Studies have shown that dogs become envious of other dogs, humans and other domestic pets in the household. The saying a man’s best friend comes from this. Dogs are engraved to be social creatures that showcase their loyalty to their owners by following us around, greeting us when we get home, wanting to sleep right by us and wanting to be the first, only and last companion that we love the most. Of course, this lifestyle isn’t exactly how their lives flow with ours, but they will still strive for it daily. If you are questioning how envious your dog may be here are some examples:

  • Do they push other pets out of the way to get to you during petting sessions?
  • If you are showing affection to your partner or a friend, do they whine, bark or jump to get noticed?
  • When a new pet or family member comes into the family, do they get more needy?
  • Do they growl at another family member, human or pet, when they come close and are next to you?

These are just a few ways jealousy shows in your pet. If your dog does fits any of these examples or you notice some on your own that come to mind don’t ignore them as they are behaviors that should be addressed and stopped to prevent potential future territorial behaviors and/or aggressive behaviors.

Time Out

    As mentioned in my house we have time outs for undesired behavior. This consists of my dogs going to their beds on the ground when I say, “time out”. They know they are not allowed off their beds until I say so. Depending on the severity of the trouble they got into the time out lasts anywhere from 2-10 minutes. Now dogs have a short-term memory of 2 minutes so during the first 2 is when they are being punished for their behavioral while the remaining time is me showing my dominance. Usually my dogs only have a 2-minute time out but if aggression is shown that extends their time. If they also move from their beds time gets added back on since they are now being punished for failing a command. The point of my time outs mostly is to show my dominance and what I will tolerate and what I will not in my pack.
If your dog has been trained to a spot where they go when told which might be called “place” for many who have done puppy training this is ideal for nicking out some of these jealousy acts. Here are some of the suggestions I was given by the behavioral specialist’s trainer.

  • Just like a child don’t reward the bad behavior. If they are trying to push their way to the front don’t acknowledge this behavioral with petting or treats
  • For the dog that is trying to overpower his/her way through the pack correct them by putting them into time out/place, etc. for a few minutes till you can give them attention one on one
  • If you have a dog that gets hyper or jealous when someone comes over put your dog into their spot before letting the person in. Do not look at your dog as this will be essentially giving them attention which they do not get till you say so. However, do not leave the dog in their spot the entire time. After a few minutes tell them “free” and let them come over to you and get some attention. Depending on your dog they may have to go back to their area while the visitor is there or may be able to roam free.
  • If you separate your dog by a gate while you are busy or have company the best action is to ignore them if you are busy, making sure everyone does the same as well. This will teach them that they don’t get attention just because they are begging and that they can be independent.
  • Let’s say you have two dogs that may become aggressive with each other for attention. They should be separated during petting time and a professional trainer should be sought out to help teach them to interact with you in a safe and friendly manner.

Jealousy or Dominance?

    Now that you hopefully have a little better insight to what jealousy or dominance may look like you can work on correcting these behaviors and not condoning them. Jealousy and dominance are the same thing when it comes to dogs no matter how you would like to label it. I’ll be honest and still say my dogs have jealousy flaws, but I had been educated on how condoning these behaviors negatively impact my pack and could potentially bring out aggressive and territorial behaviors with 5 dogs. The truth can even be said for households that only have 2 dogs or 1. Just because you may have a single dog household a dog’s dominant trait will and can come out towards other domestic pets in the household, family members, friends and strangers, both human and pets. I have seen people who let their dog think they run the pack around other dogs and attack if the stranger’s dog seeks attention from you. In these cases, you may think the dog cannot be around other dogs but they just need some corrections. We don’t need to stop giving our pets the attention that they seek instead we as leaders just must understand the difference between wanting friendly attention and being demanding or envious of others.

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