Some people may think that jealousy is a uniquely human feeling, but many dog owners seem to see it with when they own more than one dog as well. Studies have been done to test if dogs can feel jealousy, and although interpretations vary, it seems likely that they can. If Larry has ever gotten pushy and upset when you were petting Terry instead of him, trying to physically push his way into your attention instead, you're seeing his doggy jealousy rear its angry head. We can't be 100% sure that it's jealousy in the same way we feel it (because it likely due to some canine territorial feelings about you as well), but one thing's for sure-it shouldn't be tolerated. So if you see jealousy arising between Larry and Terry, what can you do to make sure everyone's needs are met?
First, you need to learn how to recognize Larry's feelings of jealousy. Some of it may be obvious-if you're petting Terry and Larry comes and tries to move her aside and force your hand to pet his head instead, anyone should be able to interpret this as jealousy. This is one of the most common ways in which dog owners say they see jealousy. But other signs are less obvious. He may start acting out by tearing things apart in the house or peeing on the carpet as a way to reassert his importance. If he gets depressed, he might stop spending time with you or start overeating or under eating during mealtime. Indeed, he may act a bit more aggressively to Terry in general, snapping at her when she comes in a room or trying to take away toys or food from her. If Terry is new in the house, Larry is going to be upset by the presence of another dog-after all, he was the one who got ALL of your love and affection before. Sharing can be hard for humans and dogs alike.
How to Deal with Doggy Jealousy
In order to address this situation, you need to teach Larry to share his time with you. You can do this by training him that non-jealous behavior is rewarded. Call him and Terry over to you while armed with a box of treats. Sit down and start by telling Larry to sit and stay. Start giving Terry some love and attention. When Larry comes over to act jealously and avert your attention from Terry to him, firmly reprimand him and get him to sit and stay again. When he does, give him a treat. While petting Terry, speak to Larry in a soft, positive voice, telling him what a good dog he is.
Then switch your affection between Terry and Larry, making Terry sit and stay while Larry gets the affection. Do this several times in a row. Larry learns that he gets a turn with you, but also that has to be patient when it's Terry's turn. He will soon figure out that he has nothing to worry about and that sharing is the way it's going to be from now on-and that's not so bad.
In the end, as long as you are giving each dog equal attention and love, they'll soon realize that they have no option but to share you and they'll adapt. Jealousy will become a thing of the past. Initially, Larry may not like not being the recipient of all of your love and petting, but with time, he'll get used to the idea. And oddly enough, Larry and Terry should end up bonding once Larry realizes that Terry is not replacing Larry.