Does Your Dog or Cat Get Jealous?

What's this I hear about you touching another dog?

What’s this I hear about you touching another dog?

A new study shows that dogs can feel jealousy:

A study by scholars at the University of California, San Diego found that dogs showed jealous behaviors when their owners displayed affection toward an animatronic stuffed dog that barked, whined and wagged its tail. The dogs snapped at and pushed against the stuffed dog and tried to get between it and the human.

And:

“These results lend support to the hypothesis that jealousy has some ‘primordial’ form that exists in human infants and in at least one other social species besides humans,” the study said.

Although most animals clearly demonstrate primal emotions such as anger or fear, studies have been less conclusive in determining whether dogs are capable of more complicated feelings such as guilt or shame, Bekoff said.

But research has shown that dogs do understand when they’re being treated unfairly, he said.

“Dogs are really keen social observers,” Bekoff said.

I think anyone who has owned (or owns) a pooch of their own probably knew this long before this study was published. My dog (Dexter) doesn’t even have to witness the contact of another dog, before he sniffs me and gives me the eye. He also tries to interject himself between me and my wife if we cuddle too long without including him. We will sit on the couch and eat dinner, which is fine with him. He’ll lay on the floor and watch us. After dinner, he will leave us alone for maybe ten minutes, before trying to fit his fat ass up on the couch with us. My wife usually takes the brunt of it, as she tries desperately to remove herself from beneath the dog.

You see, there is a natural order to things, according to Dexter. The one side of the couch is his. He’s always laid there and when I share the couch, he often lays on my chest. He’s done this since he was small enough to almost fit in the palm of my hand.

No one else can lay there unmolested – including his mommy.

If one of the girls try to sit there, he will try to get up on the couch and continually press his wet nose to the side of their face. He’ll give them the puppy eye or try to make them uncomfortable enough to leave.

For me, it’s sort of humorous to watch, but it’s a form of jealousy in my opinion. Dexter wouldn’t hurt a fly, but that doesn’t stop him from making his feelings known.

We also have two cats, and they don’t exhibit the same sort of behavior. I wonder if cats are capable of jealousy. I’m thinking they might be capable of it, but less prone to feeling or acting on the emotion.

Do you have any stories about your pooch acting jealous? Or any other animal for that matter?

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19 Comments

  1. My first husband and I had a dog named Molly before my son was born. She was very much a little princess, and when I was pregnant we decided to get a second dog so she could get used to not being an “only dog” before the baby came. (I cringe at my logic now, but it did work.) We found a lovely, sweet dog who wouldn’t try to dominate her and brought him home. We called him Benjamin.

    For the first week Molly made her disgust clear. Just in case the look on her face wasn’t enough communication, she refused to even look at the new dog. Every time he came within her field of vision she would slowly and deliberately turn her head or shift her position to remedy this distasteful situation.

    Eventually they became best friends. Benjamin was never the same after Molly died. I miss those dogs, and no one will ever convince me that dogs don’t feel emotions like jealousy or happiness or love and sorrow and grief.

    • Such a great story. Thank you for sharing.

      I know what you mean by never being the same. My mom has had a similar experience with her two dogs – a Boxer and a Jack Russel. The Boxer passed away and the Jack hasn’t been the same since. It’s like they miss the missing family member. After the Boxer died, my dad passed away and the Jack wouldn’t play ball anymore with anyone, including people she’d used to play with. Sometimes she still sits by the door at the time when my dad would normally have gotten home from work.

  2. My girl cat is a jealous type, but only towards other cats so far. She doesn’t like my boy cat to go near me if its her turn to cuddle and responds to me being friendly to neighbour cats by either chasing them off or glaring at me, storming off and hissing at them later. Birds are actually the worsed pets for jealous behaviour though, they often pair bond with a human and can be totally crazy about it.

    I have to say though, I am way stricter with animals than you by the sounds of it, haha.

    • That’s fair to say. I’m not very strict with Dexter. He rarely needs it, but I probably should be stricter sometimes.

      Now that I think of it, my aunt used to have a cat that everyone in my family says adopted me. She would curl herself around me when I was a baby and hiss at people if they got too close. She would follow me around and my mom says she thinks the cat thought it was my mom. LOL

  3. We have a dog and a cat, and should we show the cat any attention, the dog will come over to us and demand attention of her own. And if our cat believes we are giving our dog too much attention, he will often position himself between the dog and us.

  4. My girl, Sam, gets jealous on occasion. She doesn’t mind the cats, but if another dog is around she won’t have any part of them loving on her momma. Lol.
    I brought home a Great Dane once and she sat in front of me ready to leap on him any time he came near me. Sammy is the animal queen of the house and spoiled rotten.

  5. Our dogs (4 of them) are more territorial than jealous. However, WE are their territory and they will protect it (us), albeit non-violently, from other dogs. When we had cats, they acted a lot like the dogs. I think it depends on the individual cats. Dogs are pack animals, cats are not. I love them all.

  6. Elvis, my 120lb bullmastiff, is extremely jealous. Nobody can hug me without him jumping on them to push them away. If they try to sit next to me he jumps up and sits on them. Or he does that one thing that he usually NEVER does… he barks. He’ll bark at them until they move. It’s so funny. Now Elvis has Norman, the 10lb pug puppy, to deal with. He’s a jealous mess. LOL

  7. I know I already said this, but Dexter is so adorable! Gosh, that face! ❤ Dogs are so great. I had a dog, Junior, years ago who was just the best companion to me, so loving and loyal, it's been many years, but I still miss him. He wasn't the jealous type, but was very attached to me and never left my side. He would even get up with me in the middle of the night for midnight feedings when my daughter was a newborn, and sat there dutifully watching and waiting until she finished. Because I'm allergic to dogs, I've elected not to get another dog and have cats now. They act a bit like dogs, probably because I treat them as such, and they're wonderful companions too, but not the same as a dog. We do have a dog in the house, my daughter's dog Teddy, he's a little punk Pomeranian who has separation anxiety and hates to be alone. I love him to pieces and was just out taking pictures of him next to the giant zucchini I found in my garden, it's almost as big as he is! 😀

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