Heads Up: Dogs Get Really Jealous Around Stuffed Animals, Among Other Things

Vivek Saxena - Author

Jun. 6 2017, Updated 6:53 a.m. ET

We tend to assume that only humans get jealous, but a study completed by University of California at San Diego psychologist Christine Harris suggests that dogs get jealous too! How jealous? Jealous enough to go completely ballistic when in the presence of a stuffed animal!

According to USA Today, the idea of testing dogs for jealousy dawned on Christine when she noticed that her parents’ three young border collies seemed to almost fight for her attention:

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“When she tried to pet two of them at the same time, ‘they weren’t happy,’ she says. ‘One would take its head and literally push the other’s head out of the way so both my hands were on him and the other one would do the same thing. And I thought [that] this really does look like jealousy.'”

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To prove this theory, Christine recruited 36 students who owned small dogs like Boston terriers, Yorkshire terriers, pugs, mutts, and chihuahuas. She then asked the students to ignore their pet and instead do one of three things: read a pop-up book out loud, “pet” a jack-o-lantern pail, or shower a realistic-looking stuffed animal dog with boatloads of attention.

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National Geographic reveals that 22 percent, 42 percent, and 78 percent of the dogs flipped out when the students directed their attention at the book, the pail, and the stuffed animal, respectively. Furthermore, a whopping 86 percent of the dogs tried to sniff the area beneath the stuffed animal’s tail (hint hint: butt). Even more telling is the fact that according to Fox News, some of the dogs resorted to “being more affectionate to regain their loved one’s attention.” Sly dogs, right!?

So do these results necessarily indicate a propensity for jealous in dogs? Not so, countered Indiana University neuroscience professor Dr. Jonathon Crystal. He wondered if the dogs were simply be repeating attention-getting behavioral patterns – and not actually experiencing jealousy.

However, Christine rebutted by pointing out that “if the dogs only wanted attention, they would’ve tried the same tricks when their owners were fussing over the jack-o-lantern or reading the book.” Instead, the dogs saved the aggressive stuff (snipping, thrusting, sniffing) for the stuffed animal.

All this proves (or at the very least suggests) that experiencing jealousy, which researchers usually tie to sexual-based relationships, does not require complex cognitive capabilities. All that’s required is the ability to recognize when another entity of some kind is invading your turf.

Moral of the story: Keep jealous dogs away from stuffed animals at all costs!

And oh, avoid doing things that might make your dog jealous, because otherwise this might happen:

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Image via [Google Images]


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