Humans aren’t the only species that feel and show signs of jealousy. Like humans, dogs can feel envious if a person they love seems to be giving someone else more attention. Dogs simply display their jealousy in a different way.
At first reaction, you may think it’s cute when your dog shows their jealousy over you. While that may be true, it’s probably more because your dog sees you as their “pack leader.” For that reason, a dog’s jealousy might actually be a result of their natural instinct to protect their territory. This is why jealousy in dogs may lead to other behavioral issues.
Luckily, there are specific behaviors to look for when determining if your dog is jealous. Knowing the signs of a jealous dog can help you ensure their mental and emotional needs are met. That way, your dog can focus on becoming friends with new dogs they encounter instead of being jealous and on guard.
Here are some of the most common signs of a jealous dog.
Perhaps the most obvious sign of a jealous dog, aggressive behavior can be things such as growling, lunging, showing teeth, biting, and attacking. This behavior can be directed at other dogs or at humans. Be sure to look out for more mild signs like pawing and nibbling, as these may lead to more aggressive behavior.
Not only is aggression not fun for you, it’s also not a feeling your dog enjoys. In fact, a lot of aggression in dogs stems is motivated by fear. If your dog becomes aggressive, it’s best to consult with your vet about possible solutions to overcome this behavior.
Destructive behavior is not dissimilar to the actions that define aggressive behavior. The main difference is that destructive behavior is directed at inanimate objects, like furniture. If your dog feels like it’s not getting enough attention, it might start destroying couch cushions as a way to attract your focus back to them.
Competing With Other Pets
Dogs communicate with each other via body language and physical displays. Your dog may be subtly asserting its dominance over a new pet in a way that’s not apparent to humans. Showing dominance can be your dog’s response to feelings of jealousy, and a way to ensure they remain in control of their resources.
Pushy or Needy Behavior
Has your dog ever squeezed themselves in between you and another person? This is an example of pushy behavior, and a sign of jealousy. At first glance, this behavior is cute and harmless. However, this behavior is actually your dog’s way of showing possession over you.
Giving You Extra Attention
Of course, you’d probably always welcome extra affection from your dog. However, if they stick close by you in social settings and snuggle up close whenever they get the chance, this could be a sign your dog is jealous. Your dog might do this as a way to get you to give them extra affection in return.
Performing Tricks Without a Command
Your dog may try grabbing your attention away from another pet or person by repeatedly doing tricks without your command. Usually, this behavior results in your dog being rewarded with treats and praise. If your dog starts randomly doing tricks without a command, it’s probably a sign they’re jealous and anxious to receive attention from you (and take it off of someone else!).
Other Behavioral Changes
Going to the Bathroom Inside
Accidents happen, but if your dog is potty trained and knows not to go inside, this can be a sign of jealousy. Because dogs can’t get our attention verbally, going to the bathroom inside may be their way of getting your attention. They may be trying to communicate that they’re upset about something, like the new pet or person in their home!
Dogs are territorial by nature. If your dog starts feeling jealous of a new pet, for example, they may start guarding their most valuable resources — including you. You give them food, toys, affection, and share your home with them. If a new animal or person enters the picture, your dog’s instincts might tell them to guard their resources in fear of losing them to the new person/pet.
Leaving the Room
Your dog may express jealousy subtly by simply leaving the room when the person or animal they’re envious of enters. Dogs are usually social creatures, so while withdrawing is one of the more polite signs of a jealous dog, it’s a sign of jealousy nonetheless. You can show your dog you still love them by rewarding them with treats and attention when they re-enter the room.
Over-grooming is often a symptom of stress in dogs. It’s a way for them to self-soothe, so it makes sense that your dog may do this in response to feeling jealous. This may not seem like a big deal, but it can become a habit that’s tough to break.
Unfortunately, dealing with jealous dogs isn’t as simple as dealing with jealous humans. Though you can’t actually “talk it out” with your pup, you can take steps to show them there’s no reason for them to be jealous. Confronting the signs of a jealous dog is likely going to be a learning process for both the dog and their owner. Stay calm and consistent when working with your dog, involve your vet if needed, and be sure to give them lots of affection along the way!