Jealousy in dogs can be quite common, especially if they are used to being the centre of attention. Naturally, dogs can be territorial. When they believe something is theirs and they do not like sharing, it can cause jealousy. This could be with a person, toy, food or anything else that they associate as their property.
It can be quite upsetting to see your dog act in a jealous way, especially if it brings out a different side of them that you did not think they had. When we had Nelly the Cockapoo, she started to become jealous when my sister had kids. Whenever my nephews were around, Nelly would growl at them. One day, she barked aggressively at them and we had to take her out of the room.
It was an upsetting experience because it meant that I could no longer spend as much time with all of them together when I lived with my parents. It also meant that Nelly had to stay with my Auntie, meaning that even when I moved out and visited home again, I’d never really see her. That’s still true to this day and I genuinely miss having my little pooch to cuddle when I visit my parents.
To try to help you stop this from happening with your family, I’m going to share with you my experience. It’s important to note that everything I discuss in this article is from my own experience and from research.
It is important that as soon as you suspect that your dog is behaving in a jealous manner, you try to kick the habit before it goes on for too long. I’m going to discuss the possible causes of dog jealousy, the five signs to look out for in your pup and what you can do about it.
- The causes of jealousy in dogs
- 5 signs that your dog may be jealous
- What to do about dog jealousy
The causes of jealousy in dogs
Dogs can get jealous for a range of reasons and it’s only natural for any dog or human to feel this way. However, it’s when your dog starts to behave in a more assertive or aggressive way that you know something needs to be done. So, what are the causes of this?
A new dog or pet in the house
When a dog has been used to having all of the space, love, attention, toys and food to himself, it’s no wonder that he can react badly when another pet invades his space.
Think about it. If you have had one person to yourself for quite some time and got to do everything with them without interference from somebody else, you’re likely to feel a little squeezed out when someone new comes along. Dogs can feel this way too!
Dogs can be protective of their things. Older dogs may struggle with this a little more if they’ve been an only doggo for a long time. If, for example, a new little puppy comes into the household and is demanding more attention, your other dog could feel like they are less important.
Oz the Cocker Spaniel loves new smells and new people.
You’ve just had a baby
Similar to your dog reacting badly to another pet, they can also react to a tiny human taking your attention away from him. Not all dogs are like this and actually there are plenty of dogs who really enjoy being around children. Children can really benefit from having dogs, so I understand that it’s important to try and keep a good relationship between them. However, it’s always best to make sure that all interactions between your dog and your baby or children is supervised.
As I mentioned earlier on, Nelly the Cockapoo only got jealous once my nephews came along. We’re not exactly sure what it was that sparked it but I think that it was something about them crawling on the floor around us made her nervous and jealous.
Cockapoos tend to be quite lively dogs and so they like to be doing something with you constantly. Once that is taken away, any dog can become jealous.
Changes to their schedule
When a big change happens in your household, your dog may find it difficult to adapt. For example, there may be two of you who look after your dog but one of you spends more time with him. Things might change however, which means that the dog’s routine would have to change too. If you’re suddenly unable to spend as much time with the dog, they can become jealous when you spend time with someone else.
Dogs are very intelligent. They know when something is different and they are definitely creatures of habit. Do not be afraid to change your dog’s schedule but do try to make sure that you help him to adapt to it without taking away all of the things he is used to at once.
People visiting your house
Have you ever noticed that your dog acts differently when others are around? This could be particularly evident if they are people who your dog is not used to.
Dogs can sometimes see other people or other dogs as a threat, especially if they are protective over you and the love and attention you provide them with. They may not like it when someone else takes your attention away from them because they do not know when they are going to get it back.
Oz is very loving and adores any human attention he can get.
That is not a full list of reasons why your dog may be jealous but hopefully it gives you some idea of the types of situations to be wary of.
5 signs that your dog may be jealous
Now we’ve established the causes of dog jealousy, let’s look at the different behaviours that your dog might show to let you know how he is feeling.
When watching dogs interact together out in the real world, you might notice that one of them will growl when they have had enough or are trying to tell another dog that they do not like what they are doing. Although many interactions can be positive in the park, there are other signs to look out for.
However, we’ve all probably heard our dog growl at some point since owning them. As an owner, you get used to understanding what your dog is asking for or saying. So, when they start to growl in a negative way, you probably know about it.
If a dog is unhappy in a situation, they might growl as a way of saying: “Please stop, I do not like this”. If your dog is doing this on a regular basis towards one specific thing, you should probably try to get to the root of the problem. However, this can always depend on the circumstances. If your dog is growling at another human, animal or living thing, you will want to find ways to ensure that nobody is at risk.
Growling can be a key sign that your dog is jealous. You might want to consider whether the other living things are taking up more of your time or coming near you. If so, your dog may not like this as they want you all to themselves.
If you’re unsure whether your dog is growling aggressively, make sure you look into the different types of growl and what they mean.
2. Getting in the way
You might notice that when you’re giving attention to someone or something else, your dog tries to get in the way. This could be done in various ways and they do it to try and divert your attention to them.
They might try and get in the way by:
- Circling around your feet
- Climbing on top of you unnecessarily
- Licking your face when you’re trying to talk
- Jumping up at you
- Getting in between you and another person or animal
Nelly used to follow me everywhere, so it was sometimes hard to tell if she was being herself or being jealous when she would circle around my legs. However, she’d usually show more than one jealous behaviour.
3. Pushing other dogs out of the way
Have you ever noticed that when you stroke another dog in the park, your dog runs in for some of the action? This could be because they are jealous! Dogs want to be their owner’s one and only, not second best.
When another dog comes up to you or is showing interest, your dog might get in front of them to try and demand your attention instead. At first, it’s easy to think that this behaviour is adorable if not done in an aggressive manner. After all, it’s your dog wanting you all to himself, right? This should be a warning sign and if you permit it to continue, your dog can get the wrong impression and continue that behaviour.
Teddy the Miniature Labradoodle gets really excited about anything and everything!
4. Being aggressive to other dogs or humans
If you notice that your dog reacts badly when another dog demands your attention, you might want to consider that they are taking a particular disliking to them. Dogs tend to remember things that create a strong emotion in them – jealousy being one of them.
When a dog is jealous he might display behaviours such as nibbling, chewing or fighting with other dogs. This could be because they are trying to warn the other dog that they do not want them around or it could be trying to get your attention.
Make sure that you read more about how to ensure that two dogs are treated equally to avoid bad behaviour.
5. Going to the toilet inside
Before jumping to the conclusion that your dog is attention seeking by going to the toilet indoors, try to make sure that it is not for any other reason. It’s possible that they were scared by something or have a health problem, or perhaps they just couldn’t hold it in any longer.
Try not to punish your dog for this. This is for two reasons:
- If it was done earlier in the day, they will not understand what exactly they are being punished for
- If you give them the attention they seek if it was done on purpose, you are giving in to their jealous behaviour
If your dog is going to the toilet inside due to jealousy, sometimes the best thing to do is simply clear it up and ignore it. The more fuss you make out of it, the more your dog will realise that it is a way to get your undivided attention. If it poses no risk to anyone else, perhaps things are left unsaid.
If you’re unsure as to whether this is down to jealousy, make sure you look into why your dog might be going to the toilet inside.
What to do about dog jealousy
Now we know the causes of dog jealousy and the behaviour associated with it, I’m pretty sure you’ll want a solution. So, what can you do?
Remember that all dogs are different so these tips are not guaranteed for all.
This adorable Golden Retriever is jealous over a stuffed toy.
Rehearse the sit and stay commands
If your dog is not listening to you when you try to stop their jealous behaviour, such as getting in the way of other dogs or people, it might be worth going back to the basics. If you can try to train your dog to ‘sit’ or ‘stay’ for short periods of time during those situations, it may well help them to adapt. It could also show them that another person or dog is not something to feel threatened by.
This is something that worked well with Nelly when other people were around. Once she could see that they were not a threat and that they could actually provide a happier environment, she was fine. Sometimes just getting them to be patient and observe can be helpful.
Teddy is really good at sitting when prompted.
Avoid too many treats
We always want to reward our dogs for doing something well. However, what we do not want to do is teach them that if they behave a certain way and then stop when you ask, they will get a reward.
It would be best to reward your dog if they react positively on their own accord, without your direction. This is a way to tell that they are learning from their previous mistakes.
Do not give in to jealous behaviour
Whatever jealous behaviour your dog shows, remember that they are doing it to gain your attention. In order to help them stop their bad habits, you have to ignore it if possible. If it poses a danger to someone else, of course you must step in. However, if they are not, try not to give in to their behaviours.
Make sure you are spending enough time with them one-on-one
Although doggy jealousy can be shown by your pooch in negative ways, you need to also consider what could be impacting it. If your schedule has changed (as discussed earlier in this article), it might be that your dog is feeling a little lonely or left out.
It might be that making sure that you spend more time with your pooch one-on-one could help them feel like they are still important to you. Some jealous behaviours could simply be because they do not understand why something or someone else is getting more attention than them when this was not the case previously.
Spend quality time with your doggy and make sure that they are happy, healthy and are a high priority in your day.
Speak to a professional
If your own efforts have not worked, do not be afraid to seek professional help. Dog trainers are naturally good at helping you with dog jealousy. They have lots of experience and might have other ideas that you have not tried.
Try to make sure that you speak to a professional as soon as you think it is necessary. The longer your dog feels that they can continue their jealous behaviours, the more they will get into the habit of it.
You need to pick a dog trainer that is right for you, your dog and their needs. Make sure that you have a look at some advice on how to pick a dog trainer.