Any dog lover can tell you canines are capable of strong love and loyalty towards their owner - but do dogs actually get jealous?
The short answer? Yes, and over stuffed animals! A newly published experiment has found that when dog owners showed affection and love towards a plush toy dog, their pet dogs would become aggressive and pushy -- so much so that the pet dog would sniff out the area under the fake dog's tail. Talk about being jealous!
Christine Harris, a co-author of the study from the University of California, San Diego, explains she first became interested in the subject because of an encounter with her parents' three young border collies. She says that when she tried petting two at the same time, they were far from happy. One of the dogs would even take its head and proceed to push the other dog's head out of the way because it didn't like the attention the other was receiving, and vice versa.
The study itself was pretty simple. Harris and her collaborator Caroline Prouvost took 36 college students with small dogs, and asked the dog owners to focus their attention on three different objects in turn. Why small dogs? They didn't want a bunch of huge dogs going crazy from jealousy!
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The three items were a children's book, a plastic jack-o'-lantern pail, and a toy dog that barked and wagged its tail when a button was pushed. The first two objects barely phased the dogs, but when the owner's played with the plush dog, boy did they throw a fit! They snapped at the toy, pushed their owners and whined and barked! Having the other two objects involved proved that if the dogs only wanted attention, they would have had the same response to the lack of attention from the other two objects.
So, the scientific conclusion? Jealousy may be a fundamental "core" emotion, rather than a feeling that results from a blend of feelings. The takeaway for dog owners? You may want to think twice before showering that stuffed dog of yours with attention -- your real dog won't be very happy!