As much as I have been led to believe that dogs are man’s best friend, but when my girlfriend and I got our pet dog Tess home, I would have not considered our dog to be jealous of me over her. So, if your dog is jealous of your spouse, this recent study that found that pet owners who share their home with a spouse and a dog reported higher levels of jealousy from the canine than those who lived alone make sense and I recommend that you read it!
So what does this mean for new pet owners whose homes are about to become an integral part of both pets and people’s lives? So it is important to find ways to maintain peace in the household or at least understand whether dogs really feel jealous of spouses.
As a general rule, all dog breed types experience emotions like love, denial, or acceptance. Dogs can therefore get jealous of people who take care of them and dote over them, but they usually feel more entitled to their owners than the other way around, and they are typically tolerant to people that are not yet as close to them.
There is no doubt that dogs feel emotions in varying degrees. Their emotional capacity has been found to be comparable to a human child who is capable of experiencing different levels of happiness and pride–some more developed than others.
One thing’s for sure, our loved ones inevitably enter into the equation; whether through nepotism or genes, we all have a proclivity many times over for loving one member of the family while hating another.
And as it turns out, animals also have a propensity for loving one member of the family and hating another according to recent studies with monkeys who were given cucumbers and apples when they interacted with one individual versus others in their social network (or clutch). Yes, even primates experience things like loyalty.
Generally, Defensive aggression in dogs may cause your puppy dog to growl, snap or bite in response to a direct confrontetion with any member of the family who they perceive as a threat to their relationship with the most important person in their heirachical order.
If your dog is growling at your spouse, your dog’s perception may be that she/he is a threat to him. And in this particular case, the jealousy emotion triggers defensively aggressive behavior in your dog to exhibit a mixture of fearful and offensive postures like deep loud growls or nipping and biting.
There is no doubt that Dogs do get jealous of Spouses. Dogs usually become jealous when it comes to items or people. This is hectic when the object of the jealousy is a spouse. This can prove to be fatal as it can damage the bond between both people and dogs.
Many people think jealousy is too complex an emotional and cognitive response but most dog lovers would refute this and state how jealousy dogs can get when it comes to spouses or items.
Why do dogs get jealous of Spouses?
A jealous reaction would result about from competition of attention from a loved one. Here are some of the reasons your dog may get jealous towards your spouse.
1) Resource guarding
In some instances, jealousy may be termed as a resource guarding behavior. Your dog probably takes you as a very valuable resource and when your spouse distracts you from him, the dog feels his resource is being threatened. This will definitely lead to jealousy towards the spouse. Guarding resources is a natural instinct in most animals.
2) Sibling rivalry
In some cases, the dogs that we own might see us as siblings in a litter in which there is competition when it comes to the family resources.
The jealousy might be explained easily since dogs are a part of our families. The jealousy might arise quickly when your dog sees you as a parent figure and your spouse as a sibling.
3) Emotional jealousy
A lot of human beings feel that emotional jealousy can only be experienced by humans but research has been done to prove that dogs also feel emotional jealousy. For example, a research that was done by PLOS one in July 2014 proved this. In the study, dog owners were put in a room with their dog but were instructed not to interact with the dog.
Each of the pair was given an item that seemed like a lifelike stuffed dig as it was able to bark and move. The dog owner was instructed to interact with the item the very same way they would with their dog and do this while the dog is watching and ignoring the dog. The dog started showing signs of jealousy.
Signs that your dog is jealousy of your spouse
Your dog might get mixed reactions when a new person is introduced in your home. Like humans, the dogs might be a bit anxious about change and the jealousy can arise from the sudden attention you are paying to the other human more than you are paying attention to them.
When dogs love, they love for real, I mean just see how they get so excited when you come home just after leaving for an hour. Here are some of the signs that your dog is jealous of your spouse
1) Destructive behavior
All over a sudden your best and gentle dog starts destroying your home, this should tell you that something ain’t right. Cats usually do this destructive behavior maybe of scratching or clawing your furniture which is very unlikely of dogs but if your dogs starts doing this, it might be that they are lacking your attention and affection.
They might bite chunks out of sofa, claw at the carpet or just on forbidden surfaces, willingly being disobedient just shows that they are feeling neglected.
When your dog has this sudden change in behavior upon arrival of a spouse in the household, this destructive behavior might be down to jealousy.
2) Pushy behavior
When you plan a romantic night and just as you sit down and cuddle up with a glass of wine, the dog jumps on the sofa and pushes between the two of you just to show you that either the three of you are having a romantic night in or no one is.
When your dog just can’t let anyone near you without barging into their way, this is a sign that the attention ain’t being divided enough.
When your dog seems so desperate for the same attention you are giving to your spouse, it just shows jealousy towards your spouse.
Constant whining and shoving their way on your lap and other such pushy behaviors is just a way of dogs trying to express their sadness and assert their importance in your lives.
3) Doing tricks without a command
This is another way dogs try to grab your attention. This is the same as your dog saying “stop being cute together and look at me, please”
It might be rolling over, standing on two legs or spinning around in circles, all the tricks dogs do to show off their skills, the skills their owners love to watch them. If your dog suddenly starts performing your favorite tricks without you even telling them, know that this is more than them just being cute.
This might not only result from feeling neglected but jealous of the attention you are placing towards your spouse. Give your dog some attention as you used to do when the spouse was not around and always pay attention for tricks that show a need for attention.
4) Pooing indoors
Pooing indoors is another way your dog can demand attention from you. Think of it as your dog doing a protest, a dirty one. This is usually a stress signal from your dog that the dog is not happy with the way things are going. Neglecting to go outside to do their business can be a response to many things like stress, a change in schedule, ageing but mostly jealousy of a spouse.
Your dog knows very well this behavior is not allowed and is uncalled for but this just shows how this is not a simple protest.
We can communicate with animals through common physical gestures or tone of voice. Dogs might feel the same way and see that the only way to express their level of frustration and jealousy can be to take an action that will likely provoke anger or disgust but see it as the only way to get through to you.
Strive to know the cause of the dog pooing inside and you can take your dog to the vet if you feel like they may have health issues, but always make sure to show the dog that this is not an acceptable behavior.
If your dog suddenly becomes extra clean and grooms themselves more than they usually do, it’s a sign that they are stressed about something.
This is another way the dogs show their jealousy towards your partner and there are several reasons why your dog might do this.
Grooming is another way of dogs dealing with feelings of insecurities and to self-soothe themselves physically when they are lacking love from their owners. This self grooming behavior is not a problem but it can sure get out of hand in response to stress, boredom or frustration.
How to cure the dog jealousy, especially towards your spouse
Dogs are naturally social animals and they thrive on attention and interaction. Disruptions to the pack dynamic like new babies, large changes in routine and introduction of a spouse in the home can cause your dog to become jealous. This jealousy can be cured by showing your dog that he is still an important and loved member of the pack.
Step 1: Monitor your dog’s behavior
See how your dog responds to certain stimuli like visitors arriving at the house, feeding a baby or you and your partner snuggling on the couch. Make sure to look out for signs of disruptive or attention seeking behavior like pawing at you and aggression toward perceived Interlopers such as a new spouse.
Step 2: Note down jealousy triggers
You need to have a record of every situation or stimulus which causes jealousy in your dog. Once you figure out the real cause of the behavior, you can train the dog out of his unwanted behavior.
Step 3: create a jealousy trigger
For instance, you can interact with your new dog or hold hands with your new spouse. Before the dog even gets the chance to respond jealously to this, issue a treat as this will help neutralize the trigger by making the dog form positive associations with it. If next time you hold hands with your spouse, your dog will see this as a normal thing and a good thing actually that results into treats.
Step 4: Discourage jealous behavior
You can form another jealous instance or trigger but then this time don’t issue a treat. Take your time and wait for the dog to show signs of jealousy, then actively ignore the behavior by turning your back and leaving the room. This trick is very essential as it educates the dog in a way that the dog learns that responding negatively to a trigger has no positive outcome.
Step 5: Reward positive behavior
Just after your dog becomes calm or stops his jealous behavior, issue a food treat or you, whichever motivates your dog the most. Ignoring the dog when he shows his jealousy behavior but then showering him with attention when he behaves calmly teaches the dog that acting jealously has a negative outcome but acting calmly has a positive outcome.
Step 6: Perform basic obedience training
Give it about 20 minutes per day with your dog in an environment free from distractions. Put the dog on a leash if necessary and teach him basic commands like stay, sit and come. Attention and mental stimulation combined will further demonstrate to the dog that his place in the pack is safe.
Dogs do get jealous of spouses either as a resource guarding, sibling rivalry or emotional jealousy. They can mostly do this when they see the spouse as a threat or someone causing their owners to start depriving them of attention that was normally given to them.