Jealousy and Pets
Do pets feel jealous? Some experts say that what we interpret as jealousy in pets is actually competitive, aggressive, or pushy behavior. Regardless, it’s not great. Jealous behaviors can quickly become an issue in a multi-pet household. Do you know how to manage them? Dr. Dave has some advice for you.
Signs of Jealous Behavior
First, let’s address what, exactly, constitutes jealous behavior. Dogs will react in certain ways if they perceive a social threat. Pay attention to the following signs so you can address the behavior, whether you consider it jealousy or not.
- Aggression: Sometimes pets bite or nibble the person or animal they perceive is getting more attention than they are.
- “Accidents”: Going outside of the litter box or inside the house may not be particularly accidental. Sometimes, it’s a pet way of expressing negative emotions. Of course, you should always rule out health problems before deciding the accident is a sign of jealousy.
- Clingy behavior: If your pet is stuck to you like glue, he or she is trying to get your attention.
- Being pushy: Demanding attention is a straightforward way of expressing a need for attention.
- Growling, hissing, or fighting: In a multi-pet household, where pets are competing for resources and attention, you might notice squabbles.
- Aggression towards strangers: If your pet barks, hisses, or growls when visitors arrive, he or she is trying to scare away the strangers.
- Tricks: Pets may try to get attention by showing off a trick.
- Disrespecting personal space. If your cat is lying on your desk, perhaps knocking things off, or your dog is in your face, all that crowding is considered jealous behavior.
- Withdrawal: Just like people, pets sometimes get mad and freeze you out or leave the room.
What causes jealous behavior?
These kinds of behaviors often happen because of boredom or a desire for attention. Sometimes pets, like people, feel insecure and need a little extra love. Sometimes, our pets just don’t want to share our attention with anyone else. Another problem that can arise in multi-pet households is a lack of resources, like too few toys, too little space, or social conflict. If a pet is stressed or hasn’t had enough exercise, that can cause jealous behavior, too.
Ending the Jealousy
To stop this kind of behavior, notice why it’s happening. Keep notes on what seems to cause jealous/aggressive behavior, so that you can either manage it on your own or talk to your vet about it. Be careful not to give one of your pets more attention than another, especially when you’ve been gone and come home. You might also want to wait until your dogs have calmed down when you come home before you give them attention. Letting the emotional excitement die down a little bit will diminish the likelihood of aggressive behavior. Give dogs a crate that they can use as a safe space, and make sure cats have a space of their own as well. Feed pets separately, and give them the same number of treats. When walking two dogs at a time, put leashes on both dogs. Don’t pet one dog without petting the other, have as many toys and beds as you have pets, and catch your pets behaving well. Reward them with attention and praise when they’re calm and not displaying jealous behaviors. On the other hand, when your pet is behaving in a way that you want to discourage, don’t reward that behavior with attention. Don’t look at, touch, or say anything to the ill-behaving pet.
Be proactive about keeping your pets healthy and happy. By meeting your pets’ needs, you can discourage bad behavior before it occurs. Dogs and cats have physical and emotional needs, just like humans, and when they feel fulfilled and happy, they’re less likely to behave badly. If you don’t feel like you are managing behavioral problems well on your own, talk to a trainer or your vet. Getting professional help is a good way to take charge and change the situation.
Help with Your Pets
If you are looking for a place where your pets will get the love and care they need and deserve, Dr. Dave’s Doggy Daycare, Boarding, and Grooming is your one stop shop! Our staff full of pet lovers has extensive experience in the pet care industry, and we understand that your pets deserve the best of everything. If you don’t want your dog to be lonely while you’re away from home, our daycare services will provide socialization with other dogs and a staff that will pay special attention to your pet’s needs. If you need to go out of town, we will keep your dog safe and happy, and we have a certified veterinarian available 24/7 in case of health care issues. Does your pet need grooming? We’ll provide your pet with a spa day worthy of royalty. For more information about all the services we offer to pet lovers and their furry family members, call 408-647-2774 in Saratoga or 408-520-4902 in Campbell.