Do dogs get jealous?

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Ever come home from visiting a friend and their dog, only to be kind of padded down with a nose followed by a look of absolute disgust – traitor!!  If you think your dog has an issue with the other dog and or cat and or pet in general he’s smelling on your clothes, you’re correct. 

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Psychologist and expert dog behaviourist, Stanley Coren, found proof in the relationship between mother dogs and her puppies.  Stanley observed mother dogs shoving their puppies away in an attempt to get human affection and attention, and it seemed as though the Mums was getting jealous of all the love their own pups were getting.

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Researchers have completed experiments designed to see how dogs react to unfair situations. One experiment had two dogs tasked with doing the same thing, but only one was rewarded.  Another experiment put dogs in a position where their owner’s affection was intercepted by a toy stuffed dog, and again, you can probably guess how that played out. Dogs tended not to get bent out of shape when their owners were paying more attention to something like a book, but when it was another dog pseudo or not? They were like – oh, hell no!!!

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It’s not just other dogs or animals your dog may become jealous of.  Dogs don’t like it when their owner’s affections move towards another person either, for example a new boyfriend, girlfriend, baby etc. Dr Paul Morris, a psychologist at the University of Portsmouth said the emotions stemmed from a fear of being displaced. Dr Morris found that in almost all cases of jealous behaviour, the dog tried to prise their owner away from the new love in the early days of a relationship.  So it’s important to introduce the person correctly especially a child, and ensure the dog knows they’re not being replaced but also how it will now be.cranky-dog

Until recently, it was believed that dogs only experienced primary emotions such as anger, anxiety and surprise.  However, the new research suggests that dogs and some other animals can experience so-called secondary emotions such as jealousy, embarrassment, empathy or guilt.

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The jealous reactions demonstrated by the dogs in the research highlight distinctly childlike behaviour.  The results of the dogs’ test were similar to the results of experiments done with toddlers who watched their parents play with life-like dolls instead of them. So when we refer to them as our fur-babies, seems we’re not too far wrong.

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