Does a Dog Get Jealous?

February 16th, 2024

‘When my wife hugs me, our dog comes between us’

couple on sofa with their dog. image by Monkey Business Images. Article: does a dog get jealous?

Does a dog get jealous when its owner pays more attention to someone else, even when the owner hugs his wife? See what animal advisor Cathy M. Rosenthal says.

Dear Cathy,

We’ve got an amazingly bright six-year-old female lab named Duchess. When my wife comes home from work, Duchess stands between us, hugs me, and seems to push my wife away.

She doesn’t put her paws like that on anyone else. She hardly ever barks at us but often does during this moment. She exhibits no aggression. Do you think Duchess is trying to pull my wife away from me to protect her, or is Duchess trying to get my wife off me to protect me? Is Duchess jealous of my wife or me? Or is it something else?

— Jack and Stacy, Las Vegas, Nevada

Dear Jack and Stacy,

Many people will attest that their dogs sometimes get in between them when they hug or are intimate with their significant other. Several reasons for this include protective behaviors, attention-seeking behaviors, or even a dog’s skewed perception that you both need to be separated from a perceived conflict.

In your case, it’s likely a mild protective behavior that lets “mom” know that “dad” is mine or vice-versa – or it’s attention-seeking. It’s hard to say without witnessing the behavior. But I can tell you how to handle it.

Teach Duchess to “go to her place.” This place is a kennel, a dog bed, or even a piece of carpet where you have trained her to go to (with treats) when you need her not to be underfoot. Once she understands this command, you can tell her to “go to her place” and give her a stuffed Kong when your wife walks through the door. She will be distracted so you can give your wife a proper hug.

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Dear Cathy,

At what age should a puppy be spayed?

– Steve, Little Neck, New York

Dear Steve,

Veterinarians generally recommend dogs and cats be fixed around six months old, but for the past three decades, veterinarians at animal shelters and spay-neuter clinics have been performing pediatric spaying and neutering on puppies and kittens as young as three months old.

Younger animals recover more quickly from surgery, and there is the added benefit of no accidental births when it’s done before sexual maturity. Check with the veterinary clinic where you want to have the procedure done and see what’s the earliest age they will accept your pet.

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Dear Cathy:

I have a 13-pound stocky rescue dog, a “Chorkie.” Several years ago, he started having severe back issues. When it came to stairs, I noticed he had to twist his body to get his back legs on the next step. With three flights of stairs in my vacation home, I had to carry him everywhere.

The vet determined it was arthritis, but he is fine in my single-level home. Steps seem unsuitable for dogs of certain body types. I believe ramps are more back-friendly for dogs. Just my experience; I hope it helps others.

– Kathy, Las Vegas, Nevada

Dear Cathy,

Dogs with short legs and long bodies struggle with stairs as well as jumping on or off a couch or bed. Because many dogs may struggle with stairs as they age, it can be helpful to train dogs to walk on a ramp from an early age.

I have had five big dogs who didn’t care for the ramp, so I used hind-end lifting devices (almost like slings) to support my dogs when they needed to go up and down stairs. But training them to use a ramp can be very helpful, since there may be a point where one can’t lift their dog into the car anymore. Thanks for sharing.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist, and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. She addresses reader questions as diverse as outdoor cat safety to does a dog get jealous. Send your pet questions, stories, and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.

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