Is my dog jealous?
We know dogs do what works, which means they learn how best to get your attention, like jumping, for example. If your dog is doing this when there is a baby around, maybe she has learned to jump up to get your attention. This isn’t jealousy, however it does mean you need to do some training with your dog.
Caution when you think a dog is being jealous
Don’t assume that what looks like jealousy, is truly jealousy. Many dogs are not comfortable around babies and may be scared of them. If your dog seems scared, don’t force her to interact with the baby.
Reasons dogs might be nervous around babies
- Never smelled, heard or seen a baby before
- Scared by a baby crying
- Resource guarding – guarding objects they feel are valuable
Some dogs will guard things they feel are “valuable” objects. A valuable object to some dogs can be anything from a kleenex, to a sock, toy or bone. If your dog does this, be extra careful. Never allow your baby (or any child or other animal) to approach the dog when she has their valuable item.
Never punish your dog
If your dog is reacting aggressively to babies, children or other dogs, you should never use verbal or physically harsh punishment. If she is doing things like growling, snarling or even snapping, she’s giving signals. She’s telling you that she isn’t comfortable. You have to listen and never punish her for her behaviour.
Seek professional help – a veterinarian, applied behaviourist or reward-based trainer experienced with dog aggression. Did you know the BC SPCA has standards for humane dog training (PDF)? We can help you find a good dog trainer through our AnimalKind program.
Tips for keeping baby and dog happy together
- Before bringing baby home, help your dog get used to the sounds and smells of babies.
- Do basic training with the dog. Teach her do things like leave it, go out of a room, settle, etc.
- Set up your home with gates and a safe place (such as a crate, bed, or room) for the dog to retreat to.
- Use praise and treats to help the dog associate the baby with good things.
- Don’t reward attention-seeking behaviour like barking, jumping and begging.
- Include the dog in walks and playtime with baby.
- Let the dog get used to the baby gradually and at her own pace. Never force them to interact.
- Never leave your dog and baby alone together, even if your dog is small.
- Pay attention to what your dog is telling you. If your dog is afraid or acts aggressive, seek help from a professional.