Dogs get jealous, just like humans

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

jealous pooch
Looks like someone is quite unhappy with the cat stealing all the attention. Do I smell a cat and dog fight brewing?

Dog owners have long suspected that their pooches get super jealous when they give attention to other animals, or even humans. However, science hasn’t ever quite agreed that jealousy is an emotion experienced by non-human animals. Now, a recent study has confirmed that man’s best friend definitely doesn’t like them having any other best friends!

How did researchers come to the conclusion that dogs have a bone to pick with threats to their affection? Well, they videotaped the reactions of 36 dogs when their owners ignored them, while giving loving attention to a plastic Halloween pumpkin bucket or an animated stuffed dog. The owners made an obvious display of adoring the jack-o’-lantern or fake pooch, to really see if their canine buddies would get feisty.

Sure enough, over three-quarters of the dogs went out of their way to make physical contact with the owners or the object, and a few even growled at the fake doggie. Whoa! While the dogs didn’t seem as bothered by the pumpkin getting love, 40% of them still attempted to get between the owner and the plastic.

Why do dogs react this way? “Many people have assumed that jealousy is a social construction of human beings…” explains study author Christine Harris, who is a psychologist. “Our results challenge these ideas, showing that animals besides ourselves display strong distress whenever a rival [steals] a loved one’s affection.”

Featured image courtesy of Ivar Husevåg Døskeland on Flickr. Image of dog vs. cat rivalry courtesy of Jeffrey Montes on Flickr.