Research shows dogs can feel jealousy
Dog owners might have been right all along
Dog owners could have been right all along.
We already know that dogs can feel joy, anger, and sorrow. Three primary feelings we all share.
Whether dogs can feel so-called secondary feelings is another question. Those kinds of feelings are better known as, among others, shame, guilt, resentment and jealousy. It has long been debated among scientists whether dogs are capable of carrying such emotional baggage.
Up until recent times, it has been anticipated that secondary feelings are a human sensation. However, just based on dog owners experience, that is wrong. It is not uncommon for dog people to sense jealousy coming from their dogs when they pet other dogs.
The question is whether it is, indeed, jealousy or if the dogs somehow feel something similar but different.
Jealous from imagining something
Scientists have suspected that what we perceive as jealousy in dogs is actually something else. However, a recent study has made significant discoveries on the topic. Now, they can prove that it is, in fact, jealousy dogs feel.
According to the study done by the University of Auckland, New Zealand, dogs just don't feel jealousy when their owner pets another dog. However, they also feel it when they imagine their owner petting another dog.
Their studies support what many dog owners already believed based on experience. Dogs do show jealous behavior when their owner interacts with a potential rival, says psychologist Amalia Bastos.
She could inform that scientists wanted to study this behavior and find out if dogs could also imagine a situation and feel jealous of something happening in their own minds.
Fake dog and a fleece-cylinder
In the study that included 18 dogs, the scientists staged a couple of scenarios. In one scenario, the dog got to see its owner sitting close to a fake but realistic-looking dog. Then, after a little while, the scientists brought in a wall so the dog couldn't see the fake dog anymore.
Moreover, they removed the fake dog and replaced it with a fleece cylinder. The owner then had to pretend the cylinder was the fake dog and give it some snuggles.
Due to the wall blocking the dogs' view, the dog didn't really know what or whom the owner was caressing. Either way, when the owner was pretending to pet the other dog, their own dog expressed visible dread.
The scientists mean that the dog imagined their owner petting the dog that was no longer there and felt jealous as a result.
Dogs that expressed jealousy pulled their leash only when they thought their owner was petting the fake dog.
When they removed the wall, and the dogs got to see their owner petting a fleece cylinder, they reacted less again.
The first evidence
Scientists say this proves that jealousy occurs due to their owner interacting with another dog. Not just because another dog is present.
These results, therefore, suggest that dogs do feel jealousy. However, it also proves that dogs can imagine social settings and act based on their conclusions based on their imagination.