My dog is a drama queen. Yes, he is a boy. However, he is still as dramatic and queen-like as it gets. When I pet another dog, his tail sags and he walks away, sometimes even crying. This led me to wondering whether or not dogs can actually experience jealousy.
Many scientists hypothesize that dogs do, in fact, experience jealousy. A study conducted by scientists at the University of California, San Diego tested jealousy in dogs by filming the reaction of 36 dogs when their owners pet and talked to two inanimate objects: stuffed dogs and jack-o-lanterns. When the owners interacted with the stuffed animals, over 75% of the dogs reacted in jealous ways, such as trying to get in between the owner and stuffed animal. However, when the owners interacted with the jack-o-lanterns, only about 40% of the dogs acted jealously. Psychologists who analyzed this study determined that the dogs trying to separate their owners from the objects is a clear symptom of jealousy, substantiating the hypothesis that dogs experience jealousy in the same ways that we do as humans.
Although this theory has been researched a lot recently, the hypothesis that animals experience jealousy actually traces back to Darwin’s research. In his Decent of Man, written in 1871, Darwin argued that dogs experience jealousy because of the desire to be loved and to be the center of attention. Darwin also argued that dogs feel many other human emotions, such as sadness, confusion, and irritation.
This study, as well as many other similar studies conducted, help back up the hypothesis that dogs experience jealousy, but do not prove direct causation. Human jealousy is qualified by both behavior and vocal expression of jealous behavior. However, since dogs can only portray jealous behavior, they cannot be directly classified as having the same jealous behavior as humans. However, it is highly suggestive that dogs experience jealous behavior.