Today’s topic is dog jealousy.
To be more specific, my dog Wally’s jealousy towards my boyfriend.
I’ve never had to deal with a jealous pup since my previous pups came into my life when I was married, so this was definitely new territory!
As many of you know, I adopted Wally in early 2019. He’s been with me for over a year now, and hasn’t really had to “share” me with anyone else besides my roommate’s dog Lila.
This changed when I started dating my now boyfriend. Wally likes him and loves getting ear scratches and TLC from him.
But you should have seen him the very first time my boyfriend gave me a tight hug and kissed me.
Wally let out an appalled series of barks while staring at us in disbelief!
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Signs of Dog Jealousy
So yes, dogs can actually display signs of jealousy. Besides the obvious barking and staring, Wally also did the following:
- Crowding me. He clearly demanded my attention and didn’t like the idea of “sharing” me.
- Marking inside the house. It was his way of letting me know that he’s upset about our new routine.
- Licking his legs. Wally figured out that I gave him attention when he started licking the inside of his legs. Even though the attention I gave him was to tell him “no” and to stop licking, he enjoyed being the center of my attention regardless of the occasion.
Thankfully, he didn’t display any destructive behavior and he also wasn’t aggressive at all.
However, some jealous dogs may very well start chewing up your shoes or furniture as well as start growling or nipping at their perceived competitor.
How I Addressed Wally’s Jealous Behavior
My overall strategy was to simply include my boyfriend more and more into my everyday life. Just like us humans, dogs are creatures of habit and will get used to a new routine sooner or later.
Spoiler alert: That’s exactly what happened with Wally as well and after we moved in together, Wally’s jealously completely stopped.
However, I took several approaches to fixing Wally’s jealousy issues during the first few months of our dating:
- Belly band. I ordered a few belly bands for Wally, aka male diapers for dogs, to eliminate the problem of marking inside the house. Try reusable or disposable diapers for your jealous female pup.
- Comfy cone. The next step was to have him wear a cone to keep him from licking his legs.
- Nighttime crating. Wally was already crate trained, but had been sleeping on my bed at nighttime. Since he started crowding me in bed when my boyfriend was around, I decided to nip that behavior in the bud and crate him at night. Wally ended up having 2 crates – one at my place, and one at my boyfriend’s.
- Walks together with my boyfriend. We started going on walks together so that Wally would accept him as part of our pack. It’s starting to work!
See my article How to combine house-and crate training your puppy for more helpful tips on this topic!
How I Crate Trained My Dog Wally
My ultimate goal was to turn Wally’s crate into a space he doesn’t fear and enjoys hanging out in. Essentially a cozy den for him to have his very own Wally-time in.
Here’s how I did it:
- I set Wally’s crate up in the living room. It’s a central area where he could see me when I was in the living room or kitchen area. That was important to me so that he wouldn’t feel left out.
- Wally’s crate is lined with a comfy reversible crate pad that he “inherited” from my late pup Missy. I love this particular pad because it has a summer and a winter side. The summer side is made of cool fabric, and the winter side is made of a warmer cotton.
- Since his crate is a wire crate, I placed a crate cover over the back end as well as the sides. He’s still able to look out of the front side, but has the cozy enclosure of sorts around him. I found that he was able to relax more easily this way.
- He’d always go into this crate along with a food toy or a treat, like a stuffed KONG. Food is a huge motivator for Wally, so it was a no brainer for me to use it in my favor.
- I left the door open for him in the very beginning so that he could just walk into the crate, check it out, and walk back out when he chose to.
“Listen” When Your Dog Starts Acting Differently
This experience was a good reminder that dogs enjoy having a routine. If that routine changes abruptly, they will find ways of letting us know how they feel about it!
I’ll be honest and say that in Wally’s case, his not so subtle messages irritated me at first. When I saw the marked wall, my initial reaction was a COL (curse out loud), followed by cleaning it, and then thinking about it.
It took me a moment to make the connection between his actions and my new routine, but then it seemed super obvious and it became clear that I had to address the issue.
I think it’s important to “listen” when your dog starts to display behaviors that don’t reflect his normal doggie self.
It might help to write down the new behavior(s) along with the possible triggers. Is there an underlying medical condition like a UTI?
If there isn’t, did something change in his daily life? Maybe less walks due to a stretch of poor weather or a broken limb on your part?
Did a family member move or was there a new addition to your family, like a baby?
Try to come up with ways to entertain your pup inside if it’s crappy outside, such as:
- Playing a game of hide and seek. Put your dog in a “sit-stay” or a “down-stay”, hide yourself somewhere in your home, then call your dog to come find you. This is a great game that burns mental energy and will leave your dog tired after 10-15 minutes of playing it!
- Nose work. Let your dog sniff out some high value treats that you hide around the house or your yard.
- Food puzzles. Stuff a dog toy or puzzle with his food. You can also freeze it for even longer entertainment.
- Running stairs. If you have multiple levels in your home, have your dog run up and downstairs a few times. Obviously only do this if his joints are healthy. Quick tip for joint health: Feed foods that are high in chondroitin and glucosamine, like green-lipped mussels (unless he does poorly on shellfish), bone broth, and chicken feet or duck feet.
Consider hiring a dog walker or asking a family member if they can help out with walks if for some reason you can’t walk your dog yourself.
Also see ThatMutt’s articles on preparing your dog for a baby for more information on this particular topic!
Dog Jealousy: Bottom Line
Regardless of whether your dog is jealous of a new partner, baby or other dogs, the signs are going to be the same:
- Inappropriate urinating indoors
- Destructive behavior
- Excessive licking or scratching
It’s important to take dog jealousy seriously and to come up with a plan of action.
In my particular case, it meant including my boyfriend on walks with Wally and actively having him be the one that walks Wally.
While Wally got used to the idea of “sharing” me, I also took several approaches to stop him from peeing inside, licking his leg and crowding me. The belly band, comfy cone and crating worked wonders!