Why Is The Dog Jealous Of My Spouse?

by Wayne Booth, the Dog Training Blogger on June 28, 2010

This is a problem I see quite often with my dog training clients so I thought I would write an article about how to deal with a jealous dog.

We value our dogs for many reasons, including the close relationship we can enjoy with them. Dogs are loyal, devoted and loving. They are often our best friend. So, it’s not surprising that many dogs can be very attached to one person even when that person is part of a couple. You may find yourself asking at times why your dog is jealous of your spouse.

Your dog can be jealous of your spouse for many of the same reasons that a child would be. Your dog can feel bonded to you. He may feel that you are his “special person.” He may look upon you like a substitute mother or, at the very least, like a pack leader. Any other relationships that you form threaten to distance your dog from you and reduce the amount of time you spend together. Your other relationships may reduce the importance of your dog in your life and your dog instinctively knows this.

If you prefer more concrete reasons for your dog’s possible jealousy, your dog may be jealous of your spouse for reasons as simple as the time that your spouse spends with you. It could also be because your spouse gets the best place on the bed. Maybe your dog used to be able to sleep on the bed before you were married and now he’s not allowed to do so anymore. Your dog may be jealous of your spouse because he sees you lavishing affection on your spouse and your dog feels left out.

Although it can be a bad idea to anthropomorphize your dog too much, when it comes to jealousy, it’s likely that your dog gets jealous for many of the same reasons that people do. He may look upon you as someone special to him, and him alone, and he doesn’t like to see your spouse intruding on your relationship together.

There are plenty of tales about jealous dogs and how they can act out in the home. They range from dogs that may ignore your spouse to dogs that may pee on your spouse’s belongings. Some dogs may set out to destroy things that belong to your spouse. In extreme cases a dog may wage a battle with your spouse for your attention, inserting himself between the two of you both literally and figuratively. He may try to sit between you on the sofa, for instance, or interrupt kisses by jumping up on you. If your dog is jealous he will probably give some not very subtle clues about his feelings so your spouse knows that he or she is not welcome.

If your dog is jealous it can make things difficult in the home. Your spouse may try to win your dog over but, depending on the dog, this may or may not be successful. Some dogs may become friendlier to the spouse but some dogs won’t. With time most dogs will eventually accept that the spouse is not going to go away and some kind of détente can be worked out.

If your dog is jealous of your spouse you should support your spouse and let your dog know that you expect him to respect your spouse in the home. For instance, if your spouse wants to sit down and your dog is occupying the space next to you, it’s a good idea to back your spouse up and make your dog get down. You want to send your dog the message that he needs to obey the spouse, if for no other reason than because you say so. The same goes with your bed. Make sure that your dog understands that your spouse belongs there and has higher status than the dog.

On the other hand, you should also make time to spend with your dog. Do not ignore him or leave him out. Make sure that he gets plenty of your time and attention. His role may be different with your spouse in the house but he should still feel loved and wanted. If you find ways to include your dog in your activities, along with your spouse, then you will have fewer problems with a jealous dog.

Do you have any jealous dog stories to tell us about?  Use the comment area to tell us about your experiences.

Until next time…..

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brooke 06.28.10 at 8:13 am

My dog is unfortunately jealous of our other dog. We had our female Sheltie 6 months before we decided to get a male Sheltie. Now they are both over a year old and the female has recently gotten very jealous of the male. She has a high pitched bark when you show him any attention. Would the corrective training be the same between 2 dogs as it would be between a dog and spouse?

2 Marcy 07.10.13 at 8:38 am

My puppy who is almost 6 months old and that we have had for almost 2 months growls and barks and tries to “get” my husband when he tries to kiss me. I spend most of the day home so I know the puppy is a momma’s boy. How can we fix this thing between the dog and my husband showing me affection?

3 Wayne Booth, the Dog Training Blogger 07.10.13 at 5:17 pm

Hi Marcy:

You need to get the dog into some training so that he understands the pack order in your home because if he is acting this way at 6 months you are in trouble when he gets older.

4 Nina 10.07.13 at 3:04 pm

My dog is brand new to or home. She is a 4 yr old shiba inu. She is obsessed with me and when I even hug my husband she jumps up on us and whines. Not sure how I can get her to stop. It’s kind if funny but also annoying.

5 Wayne Booth, the Dog Training Blogger 10.07.13 at 4:20 pm

Nina, the answer is simple…..TRAINING. So that she l;earns what is acceptable. Find a good trainer in your area to help.

6 Tina Cooper 01.08.14 at 4:25 pm

We rescued a pup from our vet he was 1 years old, he is a kemmer cur he is very jeolous of my husband he is fine loving and with my husband all day but when I get home from work he barks and growls at him and follows me everywhere sometimes it seem really bad like he may even bite him.. I have told him NO and taking him away many times again good natured for the most part but like I said he is great all day and then when I get home he just flips a switch.. What to do we don’t want to get rid of him seems like he had a rough time before we got him.. ???????????????

7 yvonne 02.14.14 at 4:04 pm

I have a 5 mth Rottweiler who everytime my husband and I kiss tries to hump me. He has freedom on the bed. And settee. He follows me in to everyroom I go to. I am the one that walks him he will not respond to my requests to come when called but will is I say goodbye.

8 Tammy 02.19.14 at 12:52 pm

We have a 1 and a half year old yellow lab that we got when he was a 6 week old puppy as our family dog. He’s is a great dog and we all love him and show him affection everyday. But lately he seems to be jealous of my husband and son whenever they hug me or show me any kind of affection. For example, when either of them hugs me, my dog will growl at them and nudge them in the rear until we tell him to stop. At first we thought it was “cute” but I’m afraid that it will continue and will progress into something not so cute anymore.

9 Wayne Booth, the Dog Training Blogger 02.19.14 at 1:15 pm

Tammy, you didn’t say where you were located. So go to my website http://www.CanineBehaviorSpecialists.com and give me a call. It doesn’t matter where you are I can help you solve this problem.

10 frustrated 02.25.14 at 7:36 pm

I have a 7 yr old chihuahua and i am in a new relationship n engaged to the man. She thinks she has to wedge between us in the bed, on the couch, in the vehicle and even when we are kissing she jumps on him and when on the couch she sticks her nose in between us licking our lips til we break apart. I feel I am competing with my dog for my fiance’s attention. What do I do?

11 Wayne Booth, the Dog Training Blogger 02.26.14 at 7:22 am

Frustrated as you can see by this post it happens quite often but is fixable. Are you in the Nashville area? If so visit http://www.CanineBehaviorSpecialists.com and give me a call.

If you are not in the area go to http://www.TrainMyDogOnline.com and give me a call.

We can help you solve the problem.

12 Donna Jones 04.10.14 at 12:41 pm

My husband and I adopted a two-year-old pointer mix three days ago. It had been fostered for about a month-and-a-half to two months prior to that. We visited with Dottie in her own environment at her foster-parents’ house and decided she seemed a good fit. They advised us she would probably warm up to me before my husband and she’s very skittish of sudden movements.

We brought the dog home and she did, indeed, warm up to me. I seem to be her “person”. She will, when my husband is preoccupied otherwise, come up to him and sniff him, she will take treats from his hand, she will follow him around curiously. If he attempts to pet her or approach her she wants a three-foot boundary. She will retreat and begin to bark and growl at him. If I sit next to him on the sofa, or lie in the bed with him, she will bark and growl at him.

Could it be that she is jealous of him? And if so, can this be overcome?

13 Wayne Booth, the Dog Training Blogger 04.10.14 at 2:19 pm

Donna,

I bet this has happened with a previous family or at least with the fosters, because they warned you that she would warm up to you first. They knew!

The first thing you need to do is get her trained. Training establishes the dog master relationship and would be very important in this situation.

Take a look at this article and then let me know if we can help. We work with dog owners all over the country

http://www.dogtrainingblogger.com/is-your-dog-showing-aggression-in-the-home.html

Wayne

14 Donna Jones 04.11.14 at 6:54 am

Wayne,

Thank you so much for your reply. I read around your blog quite a bit yesterday and will continue to do so.

I contacted a trainer and she came for an eval yesterday afternoon. There is a jealousy issue, but the deeper issue is that the dog is very unsure of my husband and she showed us some things he could do differently to help with bonding. This dog definitely needs time to adjust-she’s been through a lot. She also recommended we keep a spray bottle of water and just spritz Dottie when she starts this behavior.

He was trying to force the petting and affection when the dog was clearly trying to retreat. So she showed him some things he should be doing and reassured him that with patience and time she felt this would work. Obviously she cannot guarantee that, but it has only been three days.

Donna

15 Wayne Booth, the Dog Training Blogger 04.11.14 at 7:11 am

Good, I’m glad you are getting help. If you still have problems check out my site http://www.TrainMyDogOnline.com and the give me a call. As Behavior Specialists we are able to help a lot of people all over the country.

16 Ashley Taylor 04.11.14 at 7:58 pm

I guess I never noticed it before, but my boyfriend (of 5 years, the number is important) pointed out to me that our dog, JR is jealous… I called his bluff and Googled it. Turns out, he’s EXTREMELY jealous. 4 years ago we picked up Harley and at 6 months he got my dad’s dog pregnant. A short time after that we got 3 puppies: JR, Nala, and Wotawe. JR had always been a little loner, hiding under table lamps and in couch cushions. As he grew bigger, he got attached to me. Well, all 4 kids are ‘my’ dogs according to the boyfriend. So, every time I go somewhere they are my shadows; in the loft to change, kitchen to make meals, brushing my teeth, in the basement to grab canned goods… When I leave for school, all 4 heads are staring out the window watching me drive away. Now, back to JR… Sitting on the couch, at the supper table or in bed, my little 120 lb. boy ensures that his place is between me and Michael(boyfriend). I thought he was just being silly little JR, attention stealer. Turns out he’s jealous! He jumps out the couch right between me and Mike, moves when I move and wedges himself so Michael cannot touch me and JR turns his back on him. It’s quite comical really (I think at least). If I’m doing homework JR wedges is head between my arm and leg and sits beside me and stares. When Michael gets home from work, he ‘guards’ the door prevent Michael from entering my office (nothing harmful), JR just nerves his legs so he doesn’t enter. <3, love all 4 of my kids!

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