The Jealous Dog
Among the many feelings we attribute to our dogs, jealousy is perhaps one of the few that do not contribute to humanizing them, imagining that they have the same human feelings. Jealousy is in fact part of the dog’s life, and it must be our care to notice and remedy this circumstance.
To feel jealousy is a source of stress for a dog. The way in which he manifests this discomfort can vary even with diametrically opposed behavior:
- Destructive or aggressive behavior;
- Lethargy and little desire to play;
When Does It Manifest Itself?
Manifestations of jealousy typically occur when you bring home a second dog, cat, or other pet. An infant could also be a source of jealousy, as well as a new partner to whom we seem to give much more attention than we give the dog (if the partner does not like dogs it will be even more pronounced).
Some people confuse jealousy with possessiveness. Many dogs who, when the owner caresses another dog, swoop down on his legs and push his rival away. In this case it is mostly possessiveness, and not real jealousy.
By pushing the other dog away and at the same time crawling on the owner’s legs, they “mark” leaving their own smell on their pants, almost as if to say “this is mine”. In reality it is likely that they did not want to cuddle at that moment, but that they did so only to push the other dog away.
Jealousy, on the other hand, manifests itself overbearingly in the case of a new family member. In order not to create tension, and above all to make our dog live better with the newcomer, it is important to know how to behave, and to intervene appropriately at the right time.
How To Behave
Whatever the newcomer (dog, cat, child, partner), we must strive to give the dog the impression that nothing has changed, even exaggerating our attention on him, as if the arrival of the new element would make his presence even more important. It is important to try to include him as much as possible in the change.
This means not only not missing cuddles and food, but also moments of play and sharing. No step backwards must be taken in the first period. Adapting to the new situation will take a few days or even weeks, and it is important not to make mistakes at this stage.
In the case of a second dog, for example, if “misunderstandings” should arise between the two, be careful to take the “old” dog’s side, regardless of what you rationally think of the situation.
Think of it this way: when you adopt a new dog you will try to give him the rules of your home, making him understand each time the limits. Good. The same thing your “old” dog is doing. A growl can sometimes just mean, “hey, that’s mine… don’t you dare.”
With your intervention, perhaps with the intent to calm the situation, you could even make things worse, triggering a fight that would never have happened on its own.
Don’t feel bad about the new dog. It’s an adjustment period for him too, but it’s “good news”. For the “old” dog, on the contrary, it is an annoying interruption of his routine and of all the certainties he had conquered over time.