Common reasons pets get jealous
Major life changes, such as bringing home a new baby, can cause anxiety that looks like envy in your pets. Some dogs act possessive of things and people they value, behaving aggressively to anyone who threatens what’s theirs, says Toronto animal behaviourist Dorothy Litwin. “This is often interpreted as jealousy by humans but is actually a manifestation of protective, attention-seeking and dominant behaviours.”
Preparing ahead of time can smooth the transition. Litwin recommends anticipating how your routine will shift and introducing new patterns to your pet beforehand. “If the couch will be off limits once a baby arrives, start asking the dog to lie on its bed in the evening with a bone or a toy,” she says.
Introducing Fido to a new pet can also be fraught. Litwin says one of her dogs, a mixed breed, growls or glares when she’s cuddling with her on the couch and a younger pup tries to join in. “She’s trying to control access to something of value to her: my attention,” says Litwin. Spending time individually with each dog can help, as can engaging in fun activities with both dogs to encourage them to bond. And praising them warmly when they get along discourages rivalry.
Taking time to make adjustments slowly will keep things calm for both you and your furry brood. A happy pet is a healthy pet, and that’s better for everyone.