So you have two dogs in the house, who you all love so dearly. You start petting one and the other starts acting up, and then you wonder: do dogs get jealous?
Apparently, the answer is yes. Researchers at the University of California San Diego claim that dogs indeed feel jealous.
Christine Harris, a psychology professor at the University of California San Diego, said she was visiting her parents who have three Border Collies when she realized something about the dogs.
“I’d pet two of them at a time and I wouldn’t have been surprised if that had made the third want my attention, too,” she said.
What’s more interesting was that the two Border Collies she was petting showed aggression against each other.
Experts argue that jealousy is complex and is an emotion unique to human beings. But Harris and Caroline Prouvost found otherwise. Their findings revealed that dogs get jealous — but in a more basic form.
The study was conducted by having each dog owner interact with three different items in front of their dogs:
- A plastic Jack-o-Lantern
- A children’s book that played music
- A stuffed toy that looks like a dog that moves and barks
What Signs Do Dogs Show When They’re Jealous
The results showed that when the owner was paying attention to the fake pooch, their dogs were much more engaged and showed the following reactions:
- Tail up
- Trying to get in between their owner and the fake dog
- Touching their owner
However, these behaviors and reactions were not as prominent when the owners interacted with other objects.
C. Harris and C. Provoust/PLOS ONE
The study revealed that 78% of dogs touched or pushed their owners when they were interacting with the fake dog; 42% had the same reaction when the owners were interacting with the pail, and only 22% of the dogs seemed to be jealous of the children’s book.
Not only did the study reveal shreds of evidence of jealousy in dogs, but it also showed that dogs were seeking to break the connection between the owner and his rival.
What’s more interesting is 86% of the dogs sniffed the fake dog’s rear end – leading the researchers to believe that a majority of the dogs saw the fake dog as a real rival.
Dogs Feel Jealous But It’s Less Complex Than Humans
According to the study authors, jealousy may have evolved in species that have multiple dependent youngsters – who have to compete for food and affection.
“Many people have assumed that jealousy is a social construction of human beings – or that it’s an emotion specifically tied to sexual and romantic relationships,” said Harris. “Our results challenge these ideas, showing that animals display strong distress whenever a rival usurps a loved one’s affection,” he claimed.