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Does Your Dog Get Jealous?

24 July 2014

US - Unsurprisingly to most pet owners, new research has revealed that dogs can act jealous when they are not shown the level of attention they think they deserve.

The findings support the view that there may be a more basic form of jealousy, which evolved to protect social bonds from interlopers.

The current study — published in PLOS ONE by UC San Diego psychology professor Christine Harris and former honors student Caroline Prouvost — is the first experimental test of jealous behaviors in dogs.

The research shows that dogs exhibit more jealous behaviors, like snapping and pushing at their owner or the rival, when the owner showed affection to what appeared to be another dog (actually a stuffed dog that barked, whined and wagged its tail).

Dogs exhibited these behaviors more than if the same affection was showered on a novel object and much more than when the owner’s attention was simply diverted by reading a book.

“Our study suggests not only that dogs do engage in what appear to be jealous behaviors but also that they were seeking to break up the connection between the owner and a seeming rival,” Professor Harris said.

“We can’t really speak to the dogs’ subjective experiences, of course, but it looks as though they were motivated to protect an important social relationship.”

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