I would like to know if dogs can experience jealousy, and if so, how do I train my dog to stop it?
My dog is a Lab-sized Heinz 57, aged 5 years, and we’ve had her for 4 years. She’s always done this and has never hurt anyone, but I imagine the situation causes her stress, as it does me. Everytime one of our family members hugs someone, and this could be another family member or non-family member, she appears to get anxious and she jumps up. Sometimes she just crouches as if she is about to jump up, but doesn’t actually do so, and sometimes she launches herself completely off the ground and up to head height.
Most people think its amusing, but I don't think it is a good thing really as it does seem to stress her out a bit.
Please could you advise?
Sue Beale, by email
Karen Wild, behaviourist, advises…
You are the expert about your dog’s behaviour and it looks like you are right in saying she may be anxious. It is nice that you want to help her, and I agree with you. Let’s try and help her to relax. I have not seen the behaviour and I don’t know if dogs experience envy in the same way that we do, but it is safe to say that something is clearly unsettling her.
How about teaching her to sit whilst people pretend to hug, but reward her for sitting calmly as you do so? This will take a little bit of planning and preparation. Ask her to sit whilst you do other things, first, and make sure she understands that all she needs to do is stay there happily waiting for her treat. After this, start to approach as if to hug the other person, but again, ask her to sit and reward her each time she stays calm. If she begins to jump, you have pushed it too far.
Keep it short and fun, so that she learns, when people hug, she sits for something nice. She will hopefully soon look forward to hugging events as a means of earning a few food wages!