Do dogs get jealous of each other? Chances are you’ve wondered this after your pooch refused to let you pet him once he smelled the scent of another dog on your hands. It’s as though dogs know you’ve been cheating on them with another pup.
There hasn’t been much research done into the subject of dog jealousy, but the few available studies do indicate that dogs experience jealousy. In a July 2014 paper published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers modeled their experiment after tests conducted with toddlers to assess jealousy. Owners were told to ignore their dogs and play with either a “social” object, like a stuffed dog, or a “nonsocial” object, like a toy or book. The researchers noted that dogs “exhibited significantly more jealous behaviors (e.g., snapping, getting between the owner and object, pushing/touching the object/owner) when their owners displayed affectionate behaviors towards what appeared to be another dog as compared to nonsocial objects.”
A 2018 study published in the journal Animal Sentience showed that an area of a dog’s brain associated with aggression lit up when canines witnessed their owners feeding a fake dog. The researchers suggested that this was similar to the way humans experience jealousy.
If we assume that dogs feel jealousy like us, is it cruel then to subject them to these feelings? It’s best to assume jealousy is distressing for our fur babies so we don’t purposely provoke this type of reaction. While we certainly can’t stop ourselves from ever interacting with another dog in the future, we can stop deliberately making our dogs jealous by giving one pet attention because you find your dog’s reaction funny.
Dogs are truly wonderful creatures that we hardly deserve. So, why don’t we start treating them with the same love and devotion they show us every day?