Jealousy: an unhappy or angry feeling of wanting to have what someone else has.
Do dogs experience jealousy? That is the question sought by the New York Times article on The Green Eyed Monster in our dogs. Link below.
New York Times article on Jealousy in canines
There are many thoughts on canine emotions and the idea that they even have emotions. Of course I think that dogs have emotions; although they are different than the human versions. We humans tend to be complicated as far as emotions; we can turn twist things around until we make ourselves crazy. Dogs on the other hand are very matter of fact about their emotions. Jealousy exists in our dogs but in a much different form. Having Penny here for a week allows me to see jealousy in the eyes of a canine.
Attention is probably the biggest trigger for jealous behavior in our dogs. But dogs do not turn it around into all sorts of what ifs and maybes; they simply see it as it is. Attention can come in the form of acquisition or retention. If I start to pet Luke, Elsa will almost always come in between. She wants her fair share and wants to ensure that attention given by the leader (me) is also given to her. Attention is everything within a pack; although each and every dog is very different, so their desire for it will vary. Luke is a very affectionate guy but he is not jealous over attention given to either Elsa or Penny. Perhaps he is more confident in his standing as he is nearing fourteen years old.
Penny is a funny little (or big) girl. If I am petting Luke or Elsa she immediately wants a piece of it. In fact she is very obvious in her wants as she bulldozes her way to get it. This is where acquisition can become an issue. The other night Elsa was soaking up some much needed attention from her Dad when Penny spotted the goings on. She set her sights on a piece of it but Elsa had no intention of sharing her Dad at that moment; letting Penny no in no uncertain terms. Jealousy is different in the canine world. Given the same scenario, humans would simply throw emotional daggers at one another; brew and begin a surplus of impassioned mixed messages.
How we deal with our dog's jealousy will make a huge impact on the behavior itself. I make it very clear that being as one, an entire pack is a great thing. We indulge in giant pack hugs and snugglefests while I attempt to keep Penny from bulldozing the others into the ground. Jealousy is a powerful state; but keeping it simple and not allowing it to turn into a monster is key.