Dogs can get jealous – scientific study

Jealous dogs compete for  attention - study
Jealous dogs compete for attention – study.

– Did you know that if you have more than one dog, or a dog and another pet such as a cat, your dog can become jealous when you show attention to the other animal? Or did you know that if you have a dog and introduce a new baby to the house, the child can unknowingly make the dog jealous?

At the Daily Dog we assume most dog owners are at least reasonably intelligent, and would know that dogs are just as prone to jealousy as are humans. Yet taxpayer funds have been used by scientists (with too much time on their hands in our opinion) to research this issue and come to the conclusion that (drum roll please) yes indeed dogs do demonstrate jealous behaviours.

When the pups4sale team reviewed a scientific paper on the topic of dogs and jealousy in the Journal “PLOS One”, we first waded through the typical jargon scientists use to show how smart they are. After doing so we found the practical outcome of the study justifies the widely held belief that some scientists (not least the ones behind this study) really need to get out more.

The lead author, a Psychologist by the name of Christine Harris from the University of San Diego in California, decided to study whether dogs are indeed capable of jealousy when she tried to pat more than one of her family’s Border Collies at the same time. Christine noticed that when she did so, each dog would try to knock her hands away from patting the other dog. Now, if you’re like us, you may be wondering what Christine was doing whilst she was growing up to not notice this behaviour in her dogs previously. Perhaps she was too busy studying to be a Psychologist, but jealousy in dogs has to be one of the most common behaviours exhibited by dogs when there is more than one dog, pet or child vying for attention from the dog’s owner.

Whilst there was little value to be gained from this (groundbreaking!) research, the one thing that was of interest was the range of different behaviours dogs exhibited in order to show their jealousy. Most dog owners know that dogs exhibit a variety of jealous behaviours, including snapping at each other, pushing to get between their rival and the owner, whining, wagging their tails, drooping their ears and so on. However the research showed that this behaviour was independent of breed, meaning that breeds often seen by the general public as more aggressive were in fact not more prone to showing aggressive jealousy behaviours than other breeds.

Those involved in campaigning against Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) may well find the breed-independent part of the study useful in their efforts to show that a dog is a dog is a dog – regardless of breed. The fact that Toy breeds, working dogs, a range of cross breeds, Terriers and so on were used in this study is by far and away the most useful information to take away from it. Having said that, we wonder what subject the scientists involved will focus on in their future research; perhaps what tail-wagging means or some other mysterious phenomena? We can only wait with baited breath…or failing that we can just resort to using our common sense. 😀

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