Understanding Dog Jealousy and How to Overcome This Behavior

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We know that dogs can show emotions that look very similar to how humans behave when we get jealous.

by guest post blogger, Rebecca Simmonds

Whether it’s because one dog is getting attention which another one wants, or whether they don’t appreciate another person sitting by you, jealous responses can cause problems to harmony in the home.

In this article, Rebecca from Breed Advisor shares her top tips for understanding and overcoming this behavior.

Spotting signs of jealousy in your dog 

Sometimes it can be really obvious that your dog is feeling jealous. When they growl as you pet another dog, well, that can be a pretty obvious sign! However, there can be other signs which you may not immediately link to your dog’s emotional state, and these can include –

  • Over-grooming
  • Inappropriate toileting sometimes on or near the person or item which is the cause of the jealousy
  • Under or overeating
  • Becoming very clingy to one person

You may already have a good idea of what’s creating the jealous behavior. However, if it’s not completely clear, keeping a journal can be really helpful. Make a note of what happened and when to see if you can begin to work out what the ‘trigger’ for the behavior is.

If your dog has acted aggressively, we strongly recommend getting in touch with a canine behaviorist. They will visit you in the home, meet you and your dog and then devise a plan of action.

How to resolve problems caused by a jealous dog

  • Obedience Training

Although this alone won’t stop the jealous behavior, it can help get you out of a situation. If your dog knows how to ‘go to bed,’ they can quickly be asked to and then be rewarded. If you have a great recall, then you can call your dog to you and away from the ‘trigger.’

  • Manage the Environment

If you can see that your dog is jealous when another person or dog is around you, then the first priority is to ensure that everyone is kept safe.

This means having somewhere safe for your dog to be and avoids the problem happening while you work through resolving the issue.

You could use a crate or have stairgates across doorways. Both of these allow your dog to still be around you but avoid direct contact. Do be aware that neither of these options should be seen as a punishment or ‘time out’ area. Instead, pair them with great things happening, such as being given a tasty and long-lasting chew.

  • Provide Quality Time with Your Dog

If something is very limited, then it can become more valuable. Make sure your dog does get time with you, which may include walks, playtime, training, and cuddles.

  • Connect the presence of the other person or dog with good things happening.
  1. Keep safe distances so that your dog doesn’t feel the need to react
  2. Whenever the dog or person is nearby, give your dog a treat
  3. Watch closely to see that when they appear, your dog looks to you for their treat
  4. Now look for your dog’s body language to soften when they appear

Resolving jealous responses can take time. Remember that if your dog does growl, it just means that they can’t yet cope with the ‘trigger’ being that close to them. Punishment by telling your dog off or by physically reprimanding them must be avoided; it will just confirm to your dog that bad things happen when the ‘trigger’ appears, and that’s the last thing you want!

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