It’s not uncommon for pets to be protective of their owners, but at times they can become jealous of others.
There are certain behaviours that indicate your dog may be feeling envious of your partner. Here are some of the signs which signify that your dog could be feeling left out – and how to resolve the situation – according to Ben Cunningham, Behavioral Specialist and Education Manager at GroomArts.
Exiting the room
Your dog may choose to back away from you and your partner, and withdraw from your company.
If your dog is usually affectionate and has been particularly quiet lately, or seems to spend a lot of time hidden away by themselves, then this could be a sign that the presence of a new or existing partner is making them feel pushed out.
How should I respond?
Be careful not to overdo attention in response to your dog’s absence, as seeking them out and trying to coax them back into regular interactions may cause them unnecessary stress and anxiety, which could just make the problem worse.
Instead, you should reward any positive behaviour and gently encourage them to take part in favourite activities such as walks. This should eventually bring them back out of their shell.
On the other hand, your dog may jump up on the sofa and push between the two of you, in an attempt to make it very clear of their presence.
If your dog can’t let anyone else get near you without interrupting, then this is a sure sign that your attention isn’t being divided equally enough.
Pushy behaviour like this, alongside destructive tendencies such as damaging furniture, are ways for dogs to express their frustration or jealousy. Dogs use these actions to assert their dominance and redress the balance in their relationship with their owners, as they have a natural desire to present themselves as being in the alpha position.
Neglecting to go outside to go to the toilet can be a response to many things, including stress, a change in schedule, aging, medical problems, and jealousy of a partner.
Your dog will know that it’s not allowed, but that doesn’t mean that this behaviour is just a simple protest. If a dog’s frustration and jealousy reach a certain level, they might feel that they can only get through to you through an action which is likely to provoke anger or disgust.
How should I respond?
You should try and understand where this behaviour is coming from and address the issue in a firm, but gentle way.
Giving a verbal telling off or displaying outward signs of anger will only worsen the problem by making them feel nervous and anxious.
There are several reasons why your dog might suddenly spend an excessive amount of time cleaning themselves – and over-grooming is another indirect response that could be linked to jealousy of a partner.
Grooming is also a way for dogs to deal with feelings of insecurity or unwantedness, and to physically self-soothe when their owners aren’t giving them enough love.
Self-grooming isn’t ordinarily a problem, but experts do suggest that it can get out of hand in response to stress, boredom or frustration. However, it does tend to stop once you give them attention in a positive but measured way, including redirecting them to a toy or other activity when they start to do it.
From rolling over to standing on two legs to spinning around in circles, dogs love to perform tricks.
However, doggy tricks are usually preceded by a command, so if your dog is performing a trick without being prompted whilst you’re in the middle of something else, this could signify something else. This could show that your dog is feeling not only neglected, but jealous of whatever it is that you’ve got your attention focused on.
If this is your partner, then try and put some attention aside for your dog, and keep an eye out for tricks that show a need for attention.
How should I respond to this?
Mr Cunningham explains that you should always reward your dog for doing tricks, as it’s a behaviour that they’ve learned to associate with reward and reinforces the following of commands.
However, there is a fine line between tricks and attention-seeking behaviour, so it’s important to distinguish between the two and not reward the latter.