8 simple ways to stop your dog being jealous of your partner

Finally getting the four-legged friend you’ve always dreamed of is a special feeling, from buying all of their toys to preparing a space for them in their new home. More people have experienced it recently, as 2020 saw a surge in those seizing the opportunity to take on a puppy – and this trend looks set to continue.

Whilst giving love and attention to our dogs is key to helping them develop and settle into the family, the other side of the coin is that, according to experts, many breeds of dogs find it difficult to step back from people they form a strong bond with, and are therefore prone to jealousy when their owners’ attention is diverted.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, and many couples having to create a romantic setting at home this year, how can you identify when a dog might be jealous of your partner? Laura Campanella, owner of GroomArts Academy, a successful independent pet styling school in St. Albans, who has over 25 years of experience in dog care and pet welfare, explains more.

1.  Destructive behaviour

Destructive behaviour, like scratching the sofa or chewing on your slippers, shouldn’t be a habit you have to put up with just because you have a pet. Try not to get angry when your dog destroys household items, and remember that this behaviour is often caused by feelings of neglect.

How you should respond

A behaviour like chewing is normal for dogs of all ages, as it helps strengthen their jaw and keep their teeth clean. However, provide your dog with objects to chew on or that they can be rough with that aren’t your own possessions or furniture. Supervise your dog during times of the day when they are drawn to destroying household items, in order to guide them towards more appropriate objects to use as an outlet.

Also, avoid giving them unwanted household items to chew on like old shoes as this can add further confusion as to what is and isn’t okay to chew.

2.  Performing tricks

From simple tricks to sitting on demand, to roll overs and two-legged stands, both dog owners and pups  love to show off what they are capable of. However, if you find your dog regularly showcasing their skills unprompted, especially when you’re busy with another task, this is a sign that they are jealous.

How you should respond

Rewarding your dog for tricks is a great way to reinforce their positive behaviour in response to your commands. However, in order to avoid your dog crossing the line from performing tricks to engaging in attention-seeking antics, make sure you only reward the former, so your dog understands where the boundary is.

3.  Whining for attention

Whining is a way for your dog to vocalise something they are feeling, and is especially common in young puppies who are learning the best ways to communicate. In some moments it may be harder to decipher the reason than in others.

How you should respond

In order to change your dog’s habit of whining to gain your attention, you need to support them in learning that remaining quiet is a better strategy. Calm yet clear body language such as turning away from your dog or crossing your arms can help them understand this.

4.  Excessive licking

If you notice that your dog is spending an excessive amount of time cleaning themselves, then this could be a way to identify their feelings of jealousy. Dogs deal with emotions surrounding insecurity through grooming, by physically paying attention to themselves to fill a gap being left by neglectful owners. Experts also suggest that it can be linked to boredom or frustration.

How you should respond

If you feel that your dog’s self-cleaning is getting out of hand, gently and quickly redirect their attention to a toy or positive activity. Ensuring you are swift and consistent with this positive reinforcement is key to altering your dog’s habits for the long term.

5.  Hiding away

Just like humans, every dog expresses emotions in different ways. While some dogs may become overassertive, others will retreat into themselves by withdrawing from your company.

If your dog is usually affectionate and excitable, yet seems to have become more timid lately, then this could be because the presence of another loved one is making them feel left out.

How you should respond

You can gradually bring them back out of their shell by rewarding positive behaviour and gently encouraging them to get involved in activities that you know they love, such as a walk round their favourite park.

6.  Pushy behaviour

Picture the scene. It’s Valentine’s evening. You’ve turned on some atmospheric mood lighting, hit play on your favourite album and ordered a takeaway. You’re expecting the dog to eat from their own food bowl, or maybe sit in his favourite spot.

Just as you’re tucking in, your dog begins whining and jumps up onto your lap, asserting their presence in a way you can’t ignore. If your dog fails to respect the rules they’ve been trained to follow, such as remaining away from the dinner table, then this can be a sign that they feel you’re not giving them enough attention.

How you should respond

To set boundaries with your puppy so that they understand their position within the family unit, you can provide the puppy with certain things that are theirs, for example, a dedicated bed and food bowl, and outlining areas that are not for them, such as your dinner plate and the bed.

7.  Aggression

This can include threatening barking, snarling or repeated biting. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by the distressing and often dangerous implications of this behaviour, reflect on when moments of aggression tend to take place. Are there any common patterns or triggers?

How you should respond

By making an effort to include your dog in activities you engage in with a loved one, you can prevent potential aggressive episodes before they happen. Be firm and consistent in your attitudes and reward positive behaviours to reinforce them. If your dog’s aggressive behaviour becomes difficult to manage and a danger to themselves and those they live with, then you can seek a qualified professional to help.

8.  Going to the toilet indoors

When dogs fail to go outside to do their business, they are typically responding to their own feelings of stress, a change in schedule, ageing or other medical issues. They could also be showing jealous emotions towards your partner.

Although this behaviour is extremely frustrating, especially if you’ve already put plenty of time and effort into training your dog properly, they may still resort to these sorts of actions if their frustration or jealousy reaches a certain level.

How you should respond

If you do find that your dog has defecated inside, expressions of pure anger through a telling off can serve to make the situation worse by instilling further anxiety and stress in your dog. If you approach the issue in a firm yet understanding way, by communicating in a serious tone with your dog without furiously shouting, you can help prevent it happening again. Constant supervision and patience is key in reestablishing good habits.