While dogs do experience simple emotions like happiness, sadness and fear, socially driven emotions like jealousy, regret and guilt do not manifest fully in the canine mind. Dogs do experience a sort of primitive envy, but it should not be confused with the vastly deeper and more complex feeling tied to human jealousy. Bad dog behaviors are tied to many factors, jealousy included, but should always be analyzed from a cause-and-effect perspective.
Monitor your dog’s behavior for attention-seeking habits like barking or jumping. Stress can also manifest in the form of destructive habits, such as chewing and digging. Jealousy will manifest in behaviors designed to force you to acknowledge the dog.
Examine the situation surrounding the behavior. For instance, is your puppy barking when you hold your new baby? Does your dog barge in between you and the new puppy when you're on the couch? Behaviors that seem related to another animal or focus are often tied to envy.
Identify the benefit your dog gains from the behavior. If barking distracts your attention from a new puppy or your work, the reward is your attention. If whining when you pet one dog makes you pet the other, affection is the reward. If jumping on you, eating the furniture or racing around the house transfers your focus to the dog from whatever it is you were doing, your pooch considers that a win. Dogs are excellent manipulators of human behavior.
Test your dog’s behavior in a variety of circumstances. If he only acts up when you reward another animal or show attention to someone else, this could be indicative of a little canine envy.
Treating your animals equally is one way to avoid puppy jealousy. Additionally, being careful to never reward bad behavior will help ensure your dog breaks the habit quickly and quietly.
Bad behaviors can have a number of causes. If your dog is acting out, work with a pet trainer or animal behavior specialist.
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