All pet owners know that each one of your animal companions have their own unique personalities – some are extremely independent, while others prefer being around you majority of the time. In some instances, pets may also be the jealous type wherein they make it a point to interfere every time you’re entertaining another animal – or even another human! But like humans, it’s not always obvious when your pet is exhibiting jealous behavior.
You might notice very subtle changes in behavior or short instances of heightened clinginess especially if you own a velcro breed like Maltese Puppies or Chihuahua. However, in some instances pets may also exhibit aggressive behavior, which may come off as alarming especially when it’s directed at a younger puppy or a child.
In this article, we’ll talk about how you can determine if your pet is jealous and how to properly address and curb any negative actions that it may cause.
Why Do Pets Feel Jealousy?
Like people, pets have their emotions and their own personal relationships with their owners. One possible explanation for why pets may feel jealousy is that they have strong connections and loyalty to their pet parents – and sometimes, they feel threatened or insecure when their owners give their attention to other animals or people. In some instances, dogs may even feel envious if their human gives away things, like toys or food, that were originally supposed to be theirs. Following this emotion, pets may become upset or anxious when they feel they’re not receiving the same attention, which is why many pets exhibit jealous behavior.
What Are the 6 Most Common Signs that Pets Are Jealous?
The signs that a pet may be experiencing jealousy can vary depending on the individual animal and the situation. However, some common signs that a pet may be feeling jealous include:
- May exhibit attention-seeking behavior: When your pet is jealous, you may observe a few attention-seeking reactions, which may be heightened when you’re around other animals or people. A jealous dog may start whining, barking, or jumping on you, while a cat may start meowing, play-biting, or nuzzling you more than usual.
- May grow aggressive towards other animals or people: In some instances, jealous pets may start to compete for your attention, albeit in an aggressive and physical way. They may physically try to distance you from the other animals, or they may even start growling at the animal that they’re jealous of. Unfortunately, there are instances wherein jealous pets may attack other animals – which is one of the reasons why you need to be familiar with the warning signs of pet jealousy.
- May change their eating and sleeping habits: Because feelings of jealousy are highly unpleasant even for pets, some cats and dogs may exhibit changes in both their eating and sleeping habits. They may become lethargic, or even unresponsive when they’re jealous, and some pets may also lose interest in food altogether. However, remember that lethargy is also a symptom of many health conditions. If you observe that your pet has become lethargic all of a sudden, consider bringing them to the vet just to be sure.
- May show destructive behavior: Jealous pets may act out by destroying things around your home. They may start with their toys and bed, and move onto your furniture, shoes, and other things that are accessible to them.
- May become louder than usual: Jealous pets typically compete for your attention, which they may show with increased clinginess or with increased vocalization. Jealous pets will start making more noise than usual, either by barking, whining or howling.
5 Ways to Curb Jealous Behavior in Pets
If you notice jealous behavior in your pet, there are several ways that you can successfully curb this behavior, including:
- Give your pets plenty of attention: Make sure to spend more quality time with your pet, including outdoor activities, play, grooming, and cuddling. This will help reassure your pets that they are still loved and that you’re not replacing them with another animal.
- Do not reinforce jealous behavior: When your pet displays jealous behavior, such as pawing or vocalizing for attention, learn how to ignore their attention-seeking actions. Instead, wait until they are calm before giving them your attention.
- Establish clear boundaries: Make sure that your pet understands what is and is not acceptable behavior. For example, if your pet becomes possessive over their toys, establish clear rules around sharing and taking turns.
- Take your time introducing new people and pets: If you are introducing a stranger or a new pet into the household, do so gradually to avoid overwhelming your pet and triggering jealous behavior.
- Consider professional help with animal behaviorists: If your pet’s jealous behavior is severe or they’ve started becoming aggressive towards people or other pets, consider seeking the help of a professional animal behaviorist or trainer.
When you’re dealing with a jealous pet, it’s important to be as patient and consistent as possible. With time and effort, you can help your pet feel more secure and confident, and reduce their tendency towards jealousy for a safer environment for everyone at home.