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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Study finds dogs may display jealousy

  • You come home at night after a day spent with friends and their pets. Your dog happily greets you, but after a long sniff, gives you a look.

    Does your dog care if you’ve been spending time with other animals? Can dogs feel jealousy?
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  • You come home at night after a day spent with friends and their pets. Your dog happily greets you, but after a long sniff, gives you a look.
    Does your dog care if you’ve been spending time with other animals? Can dogs feel jealousy?
    A study published Wednesday by science journal PLOS ONE has brought researchers further in the study of animal emotions, like envy.
    In the UC San Diego experiment adapted from a similar study on human infants, researchers put 36 pet owners in a room with their dogs and another object — either a stuffed animal, a plastic jack-o-lantern or a children’s book. Pet owners were then told to pet and talk to the object like they would their own dog.
    When the object was the stuffed animal, more than three-quarters of the dogs would nudge or paw at their owners.
    The numbers diminished for the less lifelike objects, but still 40 percent of dogs reacted aggressively when attention was given to the jack-o-lanterns.
    Though the study doesn’t prove that jealousy is definitely the motive driving the dogs behavior, but Khara Criswell, a certified dog trainer at The Doggie Spot, 12-A E Main Street, says this study only adds to other research she’s seen about dog behavior.
    “They’re finding out that dogs really do have the brain of a three-year-old, and there’s a whole lot of talk on whether they feel pain or fear and all that stuff and it’s showing that they do,” Criswell said.
    While Criswell acknowledges that each dog is different, she believes dogs are capable of emotions usually thought to be complex, human feelings, like empathy.
    Though not a behavioralist or a Ph.D., Criswell said she does behavior control work for some veterinarians and has witnessed a lot of childlike behavior in the animals she works with.
    “Me, personally, I think they can sense everything that we sense,” she said.
    Criswell recommends those interested in further studying dog and pet behavior read peer-reviewed journals like Psychology Today and The Whole Dog Journal and to research into anything about pet behavior on social media before taking it as fact.
    “There’s a lot of good information coming out about pet emotions and I think it’s going to change the way we view animals,” she said.
    Criswell, who has eight dogs of her own, said that she doesn’t notice them competing with one another for her attention, but they do seem envious of the dogs she comes home smelling like because of her job.
    Page 2 of 2 - Criswell, on the other hand, may be a little envious of her furry companions.
    “I don’t get jealous of my dog,” she said. “I want to die and come back as my dog.”

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