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Coping with a Jealous Dog

 by jaime on 09 Aug 2014 |
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Many owners are lucky enough to have a dog that simply adores them; however, sometimes these dogs have the notion that no one else should love their owner. Jealous dogs can act out in some alarming ways when they watch their owner getting attention from someone else. Their jealousy may be coupled with feelings of territoriality. It can be difficult for owners to help their dog get over negative feelings of jealousy, but there are some ways to deal with the situation.  
Jealousy and dogs
It's first important for dog owners to realize that jealousy is a genuine emotion for dogs. In fact, U.S. researchers recently determined that dogs do get jealous; at least, their behavior can certainly alter-much like babies and toddlers-when their owner is getting attention from or giving attention to something or someone else. Apparently, jealousy isn't breed-specific either. The study examined jealousy responses in breeds like chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers, and even mixed breeds. In fact, researchers preferred to work with smaller breeds as they were easier to subdue than large breeds displaying jealous tendencies.
How do jealous dogs react?
Many jealous dogs will growl, bark, or even bite when their jealousy is triggered. Dogs may jump and try to get between the owner and the offending party. Sometimes dogs' reactions can be quite dangerous. On the other hand, sometimes the dog merely tries to encourage attention for itself by rubbing up against the owner's hands or trying to displace the other object of their owner's affection. Some dogs may even show signs of depression because of their feelings of jealousy.
Dealing with a jealous dog
Experts suggest that it's important for owners to recognize if their dog is merely being territorial or truly jealous. The dog may actually feel like it's protecting its owner-which is not quite the same thing as jealousy. Understanding the dog's motivation (as best as is humanly possible) can better help dog owners solve this behavioral problem.
If you invite company to your home and your dog begins to show signs of jealousy, it's a good idea to leave the room with your dog. Reassure it with some petting and attention, but you certainly don't want to risk your dog nipping at your guest. Once your dog calms down, you might reintroduce it to the situation; however, you need to carefully gauge your dog's response to company and its level of discomfort. Some dogs may merely be caught off guard initially when a guest arrives, however, if the dog continues to be perturbed by company, it may be better to let the dog cool off outside.
Once company leaves, owners can reassure their dog by spending some quality time with their pet. Of course, owners should not tolerate negative behaviors in dogs like jealousy. By removing the dog from the situation, you reinforce the idea that its behavior is not going to be tolerated. It may take some training, but it is possible to curb this tendency.  
Jealousy, like aggression, can be a difficult trait for owners to cope with so obedience training may help. If you can't manage with your dog's jealous streak yourself or it disrupts life in your home, consult your veterinarian or an obedience trainer for more specific help for your pet.

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