You love your dog. You love your significant other.
But what if they don’t get on?
Introducing a new person to your home can set off all kinds of alarm bells for your dog. Like us, dogs can be a bit anxious about change, and the sudden attention you’re paying to another human, rather than them, can cause jealousy.
Dogs love hard. Think about how excited they get when you come home after an hour gone.
So they get jealous hard, too.We chatted to Ben Cunningham, behavioural specialist and education manager at GroomArts, to find out the signs that a dog might be jealous of your boyfriend or girlfriend.
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If your normally neat and gentle dog starts destroying your home, something’s clearly wrong.
Ben says: ‘We know that cats will scratch and claw your furniture but if this is something your dog adopts in situations where your attention and affection are not solely focused on them, then this can become a problem.
‘Whether it’s biting chunks out of the sofa, clawing at the carpets or simply jumping on surfaces they know they’re not allowed on, wilfully disobedient or destructive behaviour in dogs demonstrates that they’re feeling neglected.
On hot summer days, walk your dogs before 9 a.m. or after 8 p.m. — or walk them only in shady or grassy/dirt areas.
‘After all, if they’re lacking attention, destroying household items is a bold statement that’s bound to get them some, whether that is positive or negative.’
Pushy behaviour‘Picture the scene,’ says Ben. ‘It’s Valentine’s evening. You’ve lit some candles, cooked an exquisite steak dinner and got the latest Oscar-winning movie all ready to go on the TV. You’re expecting the dog to maybe curl up at your feet, or take a position on the end of the sofa next to the two of you.
‘Just as you sit down and cuddle up with a glass of wine, your dog jumps on the sofa and pushes between the two of you, making it very clear that either the three of you are having a romantic night in, or no one is.
‘If your dog can’t let anyone else get near you without barging into their way, this is a sure sign that your attention isn’t being divided equally enough.’
If your dog seems desperate for attention, they’re probably acting out of jealousy.
Pushy behaviour such as constant whining and shoving their way on to your lap is a way for dogs to express their sadness and assert their importance in your lives.
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Doing tricks without a command
Another classic attention-grabbing behaviour. This is the equivalent of your dog saying: ‘stop being cute together and look at me, please.’
‘Whether it’s rolling over, standing on two legs or spinning around in circles, all dogs love to show off their skills and all dog owners love to watch them,’ Ben explains. ‘But doggy tricks are usually preceded by a command – so if your dog is suddenly performing a favourite party piece unprompted while you’re in the middle of doing something else, they’re doing more than just being cute.
‘They’re likely to be feeling not only neglected but jealous of whatever it is that you’ve got your attention on, so if that’s your partner, put some attention aside for your dog and keep an eye out for tricks that show a need for attention.’
Okay, so this is one that if humans did it, you’d think they’d lost their minds, but pooing inside is another way a dog can demand attention. Think of it as a dirty protest.
It can also be a reaction to stress, signalling that your dog isn’t happy with how things are going.
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Ben says: ‘Neglecting to go outside to do their business can be a response to many things such as stress, a change in schedule, ageing or even medical problems – as well as jealousy of a partner.
‘Your dog knows as well as any other that it’s not allowed, but that doesn’t mean that this behaviour is just a simple protest.
‘It’s common to talk about communicating with animals “in the only language they understand” whether that’s through physical gestures or tone of voice.
‘However, it’s possible for dogs to feel the same way about humans. If their frustration and jealousy reach a certain level, they might feel that an action likely to provoke anger or disgust is the only way to get through to you.’
Make sure to consider the cause of pooing inside – and take your dog to the vet if you’re concerned they may have a health issue – but give a firm, gentle telling off to show the dog this is not acceptable behaviour.
If your dog is cleaning themselves far more than they used to, this can be a sign they’re feeling distressed.
‘This is another indirect response that could be linked to jealousy of a partner, and there are several reasons why your dog might suddenly spend an excessive amount of time cleaning themselves,’ says Ben.
‘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.
Alternate Their Toys to Keep Their Interest. Just like us dogs get bored with new stuff after awhile, and this includes their toys. Keep their interest by alternating their access to them. Once your dog hasn’t seen their blue ball in a month they’ll have a brand new appreciation for it the next time it makes an appearance.
‘Self-grooming is not ordinarily a problem, but experts suggest that it can get out of hand in response to stress, boredom or frustration.
‘It tends to stop once you give them attention in a positive but measured way, such as redirecting them to a toy or other activity when they start doing it.’
Leaving the room
If you notice that every time your partner enters the room, your dog makes a swift exit, that’s a pretty clear sign they’re not fans.
Let your dog have their space, but when they return make sure they feel just as loved and appreciated as before. The best way to soothe your dog’s jealousy is to reassure them that no matter how much you love your partner, you still love your pooch just the same.