Canine Behavior/A question regarding dog behaviour
I am just curious about this topic, do dogs express jealousy?
We have a 4 year old, spayed female Shih Tzu. A year ago, we brought a 10 week old puppy home who turned out to be quite a handful. Our older dog, being a very calm and laid back dog did not like this new puppy at all. For the first 2 out of 3 puppy visits to the vet, we brought our older dog along with the puppy. For the first puppy visit, our older dog came along as she was due for her annual and we also brought our older dog along for the puppy's second visit as we wanted to follow up with the vet on something with her. For the puppy's third visit at the vet's, we only brought the puppy. Our older dog appeared to want to come with us as she got excited and made her way to the front door but we just left her at home as she didn't need to go the the vet's.
When we came home, we found several poops all over the floor in our hall way near the front door. We were very surprised to see this as our older dog is completely house trained and she does not have any accidents in the house.
This brings me to wonder if she felt jealous that we only took the puppy out and not her. I am wondering if she was angry at us for only taking the puppy out and leaving her at home.
I am curious to find out about what you think of this. This is not a problem as it only happened the one time and we made sure to always take them out together after that happened. I am just curious and I am interested in finding out if dogs get jealous.
Thank you for your time,
Greetings, and thank you for contacting All Experts,
That's a very good question. A study was actually conducted on this a few years ago and the results were quite interesting. What the study revealed is that dogs have an understanding of fairness and can become resentful if they feel another dog is treated better. In the study, some dogs were rewarded with food when asked to give a paw while the others received nothing. The ones receiving nothing simply started refusing to cooperate.
Here is a link about this study:
In your case, it's easy to assume that that your 4-year old Shih Tzu may have pooped out of spite. But do dogs have the rational capability of thinking as such? In other words, can a dog think "life is so unfair, I am now going to poop because I'm unhappy about this and want to do something that is frowned upon?" More than jealousy, this behavior seems more like seeking vengeance.
While dogs seem to be respond to inequality as the study above suggest, acting out of spite takes some more rational thinking because it would require the dog's thought processes to meet the following criteria:
1) the dog would have to rationally think how to get back at you and what behaviors would cause the most upset. Dogs don't think "what can I do bad today? Should I scratch the door, poop on the carpet or chew the table? They don't have the capability of evaluating what behaviors would cause you the most upset in the same way that they don't plan what to do good to impress you upon your return.
2) In order to behave in spite, the dog would need some careful planning. This elaborate way of thinking is different from the study mentioned above where the dogs refused to collaborate on the moment because the others dogs were reward. Also, in the above study, it could have been simply that the dog refused to collaborate simply because it wasn't convenient to do so; indeed, the best way t extinguish a behavior is by stopping from rewarding it. Back to your dog, dogs don't have the capability to plan ahead as we humans do; indeed, they are for the most part stuck in the moment according to studies, and this prevents them from acting on spite which is mostly a human attribute. The studies mentioned in this article elaborate some of this:
Most likely, what you have observed is anxiety and stress. Perhaps your dog is no longer used to being left completely alone since she came along for the ride prior to that and found it particularly distressing that day to see all his family leave and suddenly realizing she was left alone. This article further elaborates the behavior:
I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have any further questions and please take a moment to rate my answer if you found it satisfactory. My best wishes and kind regards!