Do dogs feel jealousy? It’s certainly possible for dogs to exhibit behavior that appears to be jealousy. Jealousy in dogs may look like possessiveness of their owners, toys, food, or other resources, and a jealous dogs may exhibit signs of jealousy when they feel threatened or see another animal or person getting attention that they believe is rightfully theirs. 

For many dog owners, this is especially the case when a new significant other enters the picture, and unfortunately, this can often sour the dynamics in a relationship. In a Onevet.ai survey of 600 U.S. singles, 48% of dog owners said they would break up with someone they were dating if their dog did not like them. 

But a jealous dog doesn’t have to mean the end of a relationship. Below, our expert panel of veterinarians and dog trainers weigh in on this topic and discuss common signs of jealousy in dogs, as well as ways dog owners can modify this behavior so that happily-ever-after includes Fido as well. 

Is Your Dog Jealous of Your Partner? 5 Signs of Jealousy in Dogs

Possessiveness

One of the most common signs of jealousy in dogs when it comes to significant others is protective behavior. For example, a dog may become possessive of their owner’s attention and try to push the significant other away or push themselves in between the couple.

-Thomas Doyne, DVM

Dogs may also attempt to easily draw their owner away from the significant other, for instance, by pawing or nudging.

-Alex Schechter, DVM

Aggression 

One sign that a dog may be jealous of a significant other is if the dog begins to show signs of aggression when the significant other is around or receiving attention. This may include growling, barking, and snapping.

-Abdul Basit Javed, DVM

In some cases, the dog may even show signs of physical aggression, such as biting or lunging, towards the significant other.

-Thomas Doyne, DVM

Changes in Body Language

Look for tension in your pet’s body language [when the significant other is around]: ears back, pupils dilated, thumping tail, raised fur on its back, low growl.  

-Bernadine Cruz, DVM

They may turn away, move away, freeze up, or lie submissively when their owner pays attention to the significant other. 

-Alex Schechter, DVM

Behavioral Changes

A sudden behavior change is one sign that a dog may be jealous of a significant other. Dogs feeling insecure and resentful may begin to act out differently. Dogs usually bark and show excitement when praised or given treats, but jealous dogs may show signs of displeasure instead. This may be expressed through pacing, whining, or panting. 

-Alex Schechter, DVM

Avoidance of the person, cowering, or becoming overly clingy with you may all be signs that your dog is uncomfortable around your significant other.

-Jamie Whittenburg, DVM

Seek and Destroy 

Some jealous dogs have been known to seek out and destroy items of clothing of those they are jealous of. 

-Amy Attas, DVM

When it comes to relationships, people often feel the strongest emotions towards those they are closest to. Dogs are no exception, and as a result, can exhibit signs of jealousy when their human companionship is monopolized or taken away altogether. One sign that your dog may be jealous of your significant other is if she exhibits territorial behavior around your home or possessions. This might include…going on aggressive rampages when you’re not home.

-Febra Alexander

How to Modify Behavior in a Jealous Dog 

Schedule Quality Time Between Your Dog and Your Partner 

This could include going for a walk with your dog, playing fetch in the park, or having them help out with feeding and grooming. This will help the dog form a positive association with them and understand that they are part of the family. Additionally, owners can make sure that their significant other is always providing positive reinforcement and praise when interacting with the dog. This will help build a strong bond between the two. 

-Dilber Hussain, DVM

Have [your dog] spend time with your partner in an unthreatening and safe way…go at your dog’s pace and give breaks if they seem overwhelmed or threatened. 

-Rebecca Greenstein, DVM

Associate Your Significant Other with Positive Experiences

Start teaching your dog to associate your significant other with positive things. That means tasty chews and treats whenever your significant other comes over. You can also work on throwing treats away from the furniture when your significant other comes to sit beside you (couches and beds are common resource guarding locations, as many dogs find those positions very safe and comfortable). 

Meg Marrs, Trainer

Let your significant other be the source of joy…have them give a high value treat from a comfortable distance.  Don’t baby the dog and tell them ‘it’s OK’.  Have interactions take place at a neutral spot like park, backyard or away from the home.

-Bernadine Cruz, DVM

Give Your Dog a Safe Space 

In the home, allow the dog to have their own space…never punish the dog or force them to interact if they do not feel comfortable.

-Jamie Whittenburg, DVM

Creating a comfortable living space, reducing stress, and increasing exercise can also help.

-Thomas Doyne, DVM 

Redirect Your Dog’s Attention 

Redirect your dog with something more productive to do, and if your dog is notorious for always butting in, be proactive so they can’t keep practicing this behavior. Get their favorite chew out every time you plan to focus on your partner. 

-Ashley Reely, Trainer 

Jealous behaviors in dogs can be caused by boredom…to treat this behavior, pet owners can provide individual attention and activities to keep their pets busy and engaged.

-Thomas Doyne, DVM 

Seek a Trainer 

All of our experts agreed that if your dog’s jealous behavior persists, it’s absolutely critical to enlist the help of a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist with experience in resource guarding and possessive behavior.

Such an expert will be able to tailor their advice to your unique situation and help you, your dog, and your significant other make great strides toward a harmonious relationship. 

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Special Reports Team
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