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How to Recognize and Deal With a Jealous Dog or Cat

My old dog was very jealous. Based on my experience with him, I'm happy to share my advice on how to recognize and deal with a jealous pet.

Learn how to recognize and respond to signs of jealousy in your dog or cat.

Learn how to recognize and respond to signs of jealousy in your dog or cat.

Do Pets Really Get Jealous?

You may not want to call it jealousy, but you can probably admit that changes in the home can create problems for your pets. You may have seen this when introducing a new pet into your home, or you may have seen this when bringing a new baby home from the hospital.

Certain unusual behaviors in pets can be indicative of a jealousy issue. Some of these behaviors are listed below. Luckily, there are ways of addressing this issue so you and your pets can continue to coexist in a safe and happy home.

7 Signs That Your Pet Is Jealous

First, you should understand how a jealous (or territorial) pet might act. Here are some of the signs that your cat or dog may be jealous:

1. Hissing, Barking, or Growling

Sometimes, this behavior might be directed at the object that is triggering the jealousy. For example, a cat may hiss at a new baby that has been brought into the family. A dog may bark at a new kitten that’s hanging around the house.

Other times, your pet may hiss or bark at you, particularly when you are giving your attention to the triggering object. Your dog that never barks may suddenly start barking at you every time you pick up the baby.

2. Always Being Underfoot

Your pet may try to claim your attention by being around you more than usual. Cats that aren’t normally lap cats may start crawling onto you; dogs may never want to be in a room unless you're there, too.

3. Disappearing

In contrast, your pet may act sulky and stop spending time near you. Cats are more prone to this than dogs are, but either type of pet may exhibit this behavior.

4. Performing Excessive Self-Care

Your dog or cat may start licking itself far more than usual as a means of making up for the lack of attention it feels.

5. Undereating or Overeating

Animals may change their eating habits in response to the household change that is causing their jealousy. Animals that have ready access to food may overeat (this is more common in dogs). Alternatively, animals may not eat as much as normal (this is more common in cats).

6. Acting Out

If your pet suddenly starts tearing things up, chewing on things, or acting unusually wild in the house, you should ask yourself if he or she has a reason to be jealous.

7. Peeing or Pooping in the House

If your pet is house-trained but stops acting like it, then you may want to consider whether or not your pet is jealous.

If your dog is always underfoot, it may be a sign of jealousy.

If your dog is always underfoot, it may be a sign of jealousy.

5 Tips for Dealing With a Jealous Pet

After recognizing the symptoms of jealousy in your dog or cat, you can make some changes that will reduce the problems in your household. You may be thinking that your pet just needs to learn to deal with the new puppy or new baby or whatever is causing his or her jealousy. But if you consider the signs of jealousy listed above, you’ll see that it’s in your best interest to restore the balance in your home by addressing the territorial needs of your pet. Here are some things you can do to steer your pet away from jealous behavior:

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Read More From Pethelpful

1. Provide Love and Attention

Give your pet the attention that he or she needs. Your pet may just need a little bit of extra loving during this time, and you should be the kind of responsible pet owner who provides that extra care.

2. Solve Problems

Consider what things are causing problems and address them. If the baby keeps playing with the cat’s toys, and that’s when the cat gets upset, perhaps you should put the toys in a place where the baby can't access them (but the cat still can). If the dog is angry every time the cat jumps on the bed where the dog usually hangs out, stop letting the cat sit there. These little changes could make your pet happy enough to stop feeling territorial.

3. Stand Firm

Do not stand for bad behavior, and don't let your pet rule the house with these new, unwanted behaviors. Implement whatever disciplinary methods you normally use whenever your pet starts hissing, growling, tearing things up, or otherwise acting out.

4. Supervise Changes

Take responsibility for supervising your pet during any changes. Make sure that you’re frequently present when bringing a new pet (or baby) into the home. You may feel angry at your pet for acting out, but the truth is that it’s your responsibility to make sure your home stays sane and stable.

5. Be Patient

Wait it out. Your pet is eventually going to get adjusted to the new situation, so try to be patient.

Be patient with your pets. Change is hard for everyone!

Be patient with your pets. Change is hard for everyone!

Most Pet Owners Deal With Jealousy Sooner or Later

I have told people in the past that my old dog, Rusty, was the most jealous dog that I’d ever seen. Some people would respond that animals don’t know how to be jealous, but you could tell from Rusty’s actions that he felt jealous about everything. If I ever gave attention to my other dog (whom Rusty had grown up with his entire life), Rusty would immediately come over and get in between me and the other dog and demand attention.

Perhaps you don’t want to call it jealousy because that’s an emotion that you don’t think animals can feel. But can you really deny the behavior? Perhaps you would prefer to say that your pet is acting territorial. Call it what you will—it happens, and it’s something that you may need to deal with sooner or later if you’re going to have pets in your home.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


heather on June 03, 2012:

i have a 72 pound mix breed dog name loki he always ate his food fast but now i got a new puppy i feel it like a head game to get him to eat i tried every thing to get him to eat it

like a head game what can i do to get him to eat i need avice

kelly on May 07, 2012:

my little dog was jealous of everyone around me my cat the baby and my husband she would bark her head off if my husband gave me hugs even

loves her Bruce! on April 23, 2012:

My cat does all of these things!!! His name is Bruce and he is a full bred Maine Coon. Ever since our new Kitty came around he has been VERY clingy to me and me sides me I have my daughter and wife here. He follows No one but me. He's jumping on counters and tearing up every blind in the house!!! I have been giving him extra attention and it's as if he is not content n still wants more! Ahhhh

Donna Angelillo on March 11, 2012:

Someone help me please………I am at my wit’s end and don’t know what else to do! I have 3 cats; my first one is Bentley, a male. Bentley is about 4 or 5 years old. I adopted him from a pet store when he was less than a year old; he was in the cage in the pet store for the majority of his life. At the time I adopted Bentley, I had 3 other cats at home (all of which has since passed on). A few months later, I rescued 2 baby kittens (a brother & sister, Dolce & Bella) about 5 weeks old from a litter I found behind a shed. For the first couple of weeks, I kept the kittens in a separate room. At the time, I had a lot of space, I had a 3-bedroom condo and I was the only one living there. Eventually, I had all of 6 cats together. 3 adult cats (1 very old), plus Bentley (who would have been a young teen, in people years) and the babies (Dolce & Bella). My female kitten, Bella, has had a crush on Bentley since day one. It’s so adorable. Yet, her bond with her brother, Dolce, is still just as strong as ever. My oldest cat passed, so I was left with 5 cats. Harley & Coco ( who are now also passed), Bentley, Dolce & Bella. I never had any problems with Bentley & Dolce. As a matter of fact, I have more pictures of Bentley & Dolce snuggling together than any other combination of cats. THEY’VE ALL GROWN UP TOGETHER. You would think they were madly in love and, to this day, I still catch them snuggling with each other. Throughout these few years, Dolce, has become my baby. He is a total lap cat, which I love, which my eldest was for over 17 years, so it’s so nice that Dolce is like that because I’m used to having that with my former cat Tommy. However, now, if Bentley or Bella try to come near me or if I attempt to give even the slightest amount of attention to the others, Dolce flips out! If I try to pet one of the others, Dolce will jump in the middle so it’s hard for me to pet the other. I don’t have much of a problem with Bella because (A) she’s a more independent cat, doesn’t like being petted or touched anyway, she’ll hang out in the same room with me but she runs if I go near her. She’s always been like that. You would think I had abused her instead of rescuing her when she was only 5 wks old. (B) Bella doesn’t take any crap from Dolce. Bentley, on the other hand, obviously, lost the alpha war, but Dolce still bullies him terribly! Bentley is the oldest out of the 3, he is far larger in size than Dolce, I even had Bentley first, and they all snuggle togther at times, even nowadays. Yet, if I try to pet Bentley, Dolce will run in the middle and Bentely will run away and hide under the bed! Currently, I live in a much smaller environment, but its still only me as far as humans go. I hang out basically in one large room, where I have my bed, my TV, and my recliner. The other room (where there is no a/c) there is another bed, the 4 large litter boxes (for the 3 cats), my closet, dresser, etc…… Bentley is now basically LIVING under the bed in the other room and defecating under that bed too. I thought that had stopped and I never realized it was that bad. I found a ton of dried up poop under the bed this morning. A few months back the urinating and defecating began. I have pee pee pads all other the two rooms, for awhile it was happening in my areas near me. I think Bentley and Dolce were both marking the areas near me as their territory, while the alpha battle was in full force. That has stopped and it is clear that Dolce won the title. However, there is still a great problem. Even after putting 6 Feliway, Comfort Zone diffusers throughout the 2 measly rooms in my home, the bullying is still going on, I believe worse than ever! I noticed the urinating all over the place stopped with the Comfort Zone, but, the jealousy is still in full force. Bentley has no life, lives in fear under the bed, wants love & attention from me, and I know he is a real snuggler and lovable cat with me and other humans if we didn’t have this problem with Dolce. I saw how he was with me before I found Dolce & Bella and when they were still baby kittens. Bentley could easily be another lap cat. They all used to sleep with me on the bed, even when I had all 5 of them before my other 2 cats died. Please, note that even when all of them slept on the bed with me, Dolce was the one that always on top of me or closest to me. Since it’s been just the three of them in my 2-bedroom apt, Dolce will not allow Bella or Bentley to sleep on the bed with me, even though they grew up all sleeping together and with me! I’m used to having 5 cats sleep with me and now I’m down to 1. I’m not a happy camper. I wouldn’t mind so much if the other two didn’t prefer to sleep with me, but I know they do, particularly, Bentley. Now, I have to keep dry food & water in both rooms at all times, because I noticed Bentley was getting thinner, and I saw what was happening…Whenever, Bentley used to come into my room to eat or drink out of the cat bowls, Dolce, usually snuggling on my lap at the time, would abruptly jump off my lap and bully Bentley right back into the other room and under the bed! So, Bentley couldn’t eat or drink. Dolce would then simply come back on my lap as if nothing ever happened! When I tried to get Bentley to come out and eat, he wouldn’t. For a couple of months now, I’ve feeding Bentley his breakfast (the one-a-day WET food) in the other room because when Bentley comes out for breakfast, Dolce is more concerned with chasing Bentley back into the other room than eating his own wet food (which they all love and wait for every morning). This morning was the last straw. I woke up in bed with Dolce snuggling with me (as usual). He can’t seem get close enough to me, if he could lay on my face he would. I love that about him, but the rest has to stop! Anyway, you would think Dolce would be in heaven, he had me all to himself, but he saw Bentley come into the room to peak around the corner to see if I was up (that’s all Bentley did, nothing else, he didn’t come near me or anything), and Dolce ran off the bed, I tried to prevent him, but he was too fast and chased Bentley back into the other room under the bed (the usual). I got up, prepared their wet food as usual, now Bella has breakfast with Bentley in the other room because Dolce would eat his food and then go to hers, she eats very slowly, Dolce eats fast, so most of the time she would only have a few bites and then Dolce, after inhaling his food, would take hers and, in that aspect, she lets him. Plus, she’s always had a crush on Bentley anyway So, this morning, I was preparing their wet food (usually the minute Dolce goes to his dish, when he’s not paying attention, I bring Bentley and Bella’s wet food into the other room and they now to automatically run in there and wait for me. That’s the fairly new routine. This morning, Dolce got wise to us and chased Bentley into the other room and stayed in there! He didn’t even care about his food out here. Bella was in there too, simply waiting for her breakfast in the other room. She kept going back and forth from room to room wondering what the heck was going on. All she wanted was her food and to eat it in peace. It doesn’t matter what room they’re in, as long as Bentley and Bella are separated from Dolce during the feeding. But, that didn’t happen; instead Dolce first chased Bentley back into the other room under the bed and then wouldn’t come out of the other room, no matter what I did. If I tried to bring all 3 dishes into the room, Dolce would have either eaten all 3, or at least his and Bentley’s, or, prevented Bentley from eating his food, which, apparently, takes precedence over eating his own wet food, which he normally loves! DOLCE IS WILLOING TO GIVE UP HIS WET FOOD TO KEEP BENTLEY FROM EATING HIS! It’s getting worse instead of better. First and foremost, I am sick over what he’s doing to Bentley of what my sweet Bentley’s life has become (not a life at all)! I actually considered finding Bentley a new home in which he’s the only cat. But, I love Bentley so very much, he’s so handsome and so sweet, has such a w

shauna on February 08, 2012:

This was so helpful 4 me. My 15 year old cat is exhibiting all these behaviors since I rescued a dog. She is so jealous! Eating, or trying 2 eat off our plates, jumping on the counter, eating my vitamins (i hv 2 hide them now) and will pout. She never did this b4. I try & be more patient & luv her up more but she's so competetive w/ him. This info really helped.

Snigdha Shahi from India,mumbai on February 06, 2012:

They don't want to share your affection.Good hub

Ali on January 28, 2012:

Oh yes. I have had jelous cats & dogs. They get jelous of each other & once when we cat a new puppy my very sociable dog who for a week refused to interact with us. She'd sit at the bottom of the garden & hold her head in a very dignified manner & pretend we did not exist. We'd catch her watching us but as soon as she saw us shed pretend she was not looking. Anyhow they ended up being the best of friends after a few weeks

myawn from Florida on November 07, 2011:

my dog and cat were pretty jealous of each other mostly the dog of the cat but after awhile they actually became friends and even sleep in the same chair together which is so sweet.

referee on October 28, 2011:

This is a good topic, but there is no answer here. I had a 1st dog and got a 2nd dog. The first dog gets between myself and the 2nd dog who is the cuttest ever. I give one hand to each one every time. Makes no difference. #1 is simply outlandishly jealous of #@. I am at the point of getting rid of #1 because I have no answer for what to do. I scold when I find the teeth into #2, I praise when they play, I get them both for petting. It is a year and has not changed one iota.

cjoanie on September 08, 2011:

I believe dogs can get jealous. My kids got a new puppy and their other dog was very jealous. He would sit there and stare at them if they were holding the puppy, with big puppy dog eyes. You have to be sure and give your first pet a lot of attention, until he gets use to the idea that the puppy is staying.

Aphrodite Venus from Orlando on August 13, 2011:

This is very good information. You make some very good points. I have a Doberman Pincher. He is super cute, but can very aggressive. He barks and growls really loud especially when we are eating, but what I have noticed is that when my dad is around my mother, he starts growling so yes, sign of jealousy

meow48 from usa on August 05, 2011:

really liked this hub... thankyou for sharing.

Pets and the Sity from Atlanta on June 07, 2011:

This is such great info! Thank you!!!!

GrantGMcgowan on May 10, 2011:

Hahahahha Cool.

Bunnies10 on March 26, 2011:

I have a feeling my dogs are jealous of me playing with my bunny ...

suzanne on February 14, 2011:

Oh there is no doubt dogs can get jealous. I have three and my original wasn't too happy about the other two..However, she got used to the 2nd waiting 4 her to get accustomed to the 3rd. oh....why am I such a softie!!!

2011ishere on January 02, 2011:

My story is a little like bassfishingguide's. I have had my dog for 5 years and we love her dearly, she is our baby and we treat her like a human. We found a domestic gone wild bunny in our garden and we decided to bring it into our home, our dog got very very jelouse and she's (I think) avoiding me. I still love joy (dog) more than anyone/anything in the world but I still feel guilty. I will find more time to spend time with HER. Thankyou heaps for the article it was great!

Silver Poet from the computer of a midwestern American writer on December 27, 2010:

Some very good advice. Pet owners need to look for calm and sensible solutions. Thanks for writing this hub.

schoolmarm from Florida on November 28, 2010:

My dogs were very jealous of the new stray puppy I took in a while back. I'm happy to say that after devoting a lot of individual attention to each of them, as you suggest, they all love each other now.

cwarden from USA on October 17, 2010:

This is great information. Thanks!

xiaoyu on September 20, 2010:

Thank for the good content.

Stela Aghenie on September 10, 2010:

Dealing With Jealousy, you visualize things in your mind, like you’re sure that something is going wrong. For example, if the life partner is not coming home the right time, that he usually comes, you already think that he’s flirting with somebody, or… you think like you’re losing him. That happens because of the lack of trust.

nosense on August 16, 2010:

Very well said. I have dogs and I know they tend to get jealous sometimes to each other because of the way they act. I tried to balance my attention to each one of them.

Pamela Lipscomb from Charlotte, North Carolina on July 14, 2010:

Very good points in this hub. 2thumbs up!

You have to be careful when brining a new pet into you home. Animals are much like children and will lash out when they feel they are being replaced or their territory is being infringed on.

Maria Cecilia from Philippines on May 26, 2010:

I do believe they get jealouse, those who don't maybe just know too much, but every one has their own experiences, and what we have experience with out Pets may not be common to them... My dog Peso hates the male neighbor that delivers our drinking water, I don't know why Peso knew when he is arriving and his kind of bark whenever I talk to this delivery man always sounds like he is threatened to be left by me.... I guess he is especially alert with males... with fellow pets in the house, I can tell when he is jealous but he adjusts easily.. I think he is confident that he will always be my number one dog.

blah on May 22, 2010:

Nice. My spoiled indoor cat is jealous of an outdoor\stray cat we just adpoted and he keeps biting me... so i tried speanding more time with him and he started purring like he had never sunk his teeth into my skin ever... so thxs 4 writting this :)

ericsomething on May 05, 2010:

My dog (now 15 years old and horrendously spoiled) always had that jealous streak. She could always tell whether I'm talking to a co-worker, my mom, or a girlfriend on the phone. If it's the latter, she'll start acting wild.

OhNo2010 on January 02, 2010:

I have a new baby and my cat is scooting her butt on my carpets every where I take the baby, If I take him in the bedroom she goes in there and scoots and if I take him in the living room Kitty scoots. I really didn't know what was wrong with her until I read more on it and had her check out by the vet and found out she was just jealous. WoW! But we'll try some things out and see how it works out.

bassfishingguide from Somewhere in the US on December 11, 2009:

Great hub! I have a Jack Russell Terrier and she has been with us for over 5 years. She is our baby, but few weeks ago, we found a stray cat and decided to bring her home has been a nightmare for all of us. The kitty doesn't mind the dog; however my dog goes crazy everytime she sees her, to the point that the little kitty has to stay all the time at the lanai or the studio when is too cold outside. We want to keep the kitty and we would love to see my dog warming up to her...Let's see what happen.

By the way, I wrote a hub about my finding about feral cats

igomez on July 29, 2009:

thank yu!

this is helping me understand my cats behavior.

i got a new cat and my other cat is hissing and leaving the room.

and its definitely a sign of jealousy

granitebutterfly on January 29, 2009:

Terrific Hub! This has been very helpful to understanding my dog's behaviour.

Reynolds_Writing from Atlanta, Georgia on January 13, 2009:

Interesting Hub. I've thought about getting a second dog from time to time and worry that my dog will become jealous...She has such a great personality now.

babyfee on January 12, 2009:

This is very helpful. My dog portrays 98 % of these jealousy traits. lol

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