Dog Behavior: Jealousy

You do your best to love your dogs equally. Find out how to be the best pet parent when your dog thinks equal is not enough.


Q: I'm looking for advice on how to handle the needs of two male puppies. I have an 8-month-old Rat Terrier and a 3-month-old Jack Russell. I can't tell if the Rat Terrier is happy with his Jack Russell brother who seems to dominate everything.  To what degree do I intervene with their fighting over toys, chews, etc.? The Jack Russell must have everything including my attention. I feel bad for my Rat Terrier. What should I do?

A: It’s natural for two pups to be a little jealous of each other and vie for your attention. But when one pup is too bossy and starts to overwhelm the other you’ll need to referee and help them learn to share. When you hand out toys, give two to each pup. That way the bossier pup will already have two and may be less driven to try to take one away from his "brother." Even if the bossier pup takes one of the toys away, the softer pup will still have a toy. When you feed the pups or give them bones or food-puzzle toys to chew, it would be best to separate the pups so they can both enjoy their own portion without bullying or being bullied for it.

Teach your pups to take turns when you’re giving out treats, by saying the pup’s name to whom you are about to give a treat. You can do the same “name game” when handing out toys or other favors, too. Only the pup whose name you just said is eligible to receive the goodie at that moment. The other pup will learn that patience pays off, because when his name is spoken he will receive his own treat.

The same concept can help your pups learn to share your attention. Ask one pup, by name, to sit or do some other skill you’ve been teaching them. When he does, give him a reward of a treat, happy attention, and petting. Then give the other pup his turn to perform a skill and get rewards.

When your pups learn that you are the one who decides whose turn it is, they will learn to see you as director and arbitrator. They will start to realize that you give treats and attention fairly to each of them and they won’t have to worry about it.


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Eileen - 249708   Port Perry, ON

7/4/2013 5:14:06 AM

Interesting article!

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Sarah - 243618   Port Charlotte, FL

4/18/2013 10:39:40 AM

Kimberly: It sounds like you have a leader of the pack in your pack and your parents have a leader in their pack. So, the two leaders are trying to work out who is going to be leader of the together pack that has been created. I'm sorry on not really an expert on the topic, but have you tried to introduce your pets from a distance? Food rewards? Have you tried to introduce on different territory like a dog park or some place where the dogs wouldn't be territorial and protective?

We have two dogs and for the most part they get along. Our female however, is very unsociable with other dogs, especially if our male is close by. Neither one of them are fixed/spayed.

Be patient and consistent with your efforts. I'm sure some kind of solution will present itself and the problem with get remedied. Don't loose hope.

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Sarah - 243618   Port Charlotte, FL

4/18/2013 10:31:28 AM

We have two dogs that get along for the most part. Our male dog owes everything: toys, food, bones etc. Even though I give them each something, he always takes it away from our female so he has nothing. Our females doesn't fuss about this much unless it's her food. They have had a few fights involving food in which our male dog suffers minor wounds. I have begun separating them at meal time protecting our female so our male can't threaten to take her food. Well, he can threaten but cannot accomplish his threats. This has worked out well and our male seems to know not to even bother her anymore. Thanks for the tips.

I still haven't found a solution for him needing to own everything though.

As for taking turns, they both think they have the same name. So they both work at doing the action to be rewarded.

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Kimberly - 39448   San Antonio, TX

11/29/2012 7:40:41 PM

I have a problem if anyone can help me please!!!! I had to move back to my parents house with my 3 dogs 2 pitbulls and 1 chwawa. My parents have 2 boxers 1 rottie mix. So we had to seaperate my male pit with my parents dogs. My female use to get along with my parents dogs just fine she played with them all the time. But a few months ago she got in afight with my female boxer. It wasnt a pretty sight. so I got my female fix and have to tie her up and put her ib the same cage as my male. She has to be tied because she jumped the 10 foot fence we put to separate them so for there safty it had to be done. But some times she breakes out and one of them ( boxer or pit) get hurt. Why is this happaning and what can I do to fix it. Please some one help me.!!!!

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