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Do pets get jealous

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If your pet has ever reacted strangely when you’ve brought a new friend, partner, baby or pet into the home then it’s likely he could have a touch of the old green-eyed monster.  Just like humans, animals can feel jealous of other animals as well as people who might take over their territory or their owner’s attention. Dogs, cats, rabbits and hamsters are all partial to feeling a little jealous now and again but there are some things you can do to minimise the impact of a new arrival.

Know what to expect

Signs your pet may be feeling jealous include snarling or growling, over-grooming, aggressive behaviour and sulking.  If your pet isn’t the sulking type then you may find he always wants to be in the same room as you and follows you around looking for you to notice him.  Alternatively, he might seek attention by chewing or scratching household items.  If your pet’s behaviour alters around the time of a change in circumstances then there is a good chance it’s down to jealousy.  But, if your furry friend starts to refuse food then it’s worth taking a trip to the vet to rule out any physical illness.

Make time for your pet

Keep to your pet’s usual schedule as much as possible.  This is especially important for dogs as they generally thrive on routine.  Some extra attention will help reassure your pet that you still love him and he is not being replaced or shut out.  While it’s important that your pet sees the new arrival being treated as a member of the family, try not to overdo the affection you show in front of him too much.

Smell

Bringing a new animal into the home is always going to take some adjusting for the pet that already lives with you.shutterstock_74924494  One of the simplest ways to ease the transition is to introduce scents gradually.  Try to keep your pets separated for a few days to allow your new pet to pick up the scent of your house and your old pet to get subtle sniffs of his new companion.  Swap places every now and again so that they get used to each other’s smells before they meet.  If you’re bringing home a new baby then set up the baby’s things in advance to give your pet time to get used to them.  Bring home some items of clothing or blankets that your child has been wearing in hospital to familiarise your pet with the new scent.

Get back to basics

If your pet demonstrates his jealousy by behaving in an unacceptable manner then it’s important to let him know you’re not happy with it.  Reinforce basic training if needed and reward good behaviour with attention and warmth.  Giving in to bad behaviour will reinforce it and you’ll struggle to get the upper hand the next time it happens.  The sooner you stamp out jealous behaviour the easier it will be to get back to normal.

Empathy

Try to see things from your pet’s point of view. He is used to having you to himself and probably doesn’t understand why he now has to share you.

If all else fails or if your pet behaves aggressively towards a new baby or person you’ve brought into his life, then consider calling in a professional.  Pet bahaviourists can offer advice as well as taking your pet for practical training to eliminate any negative issues.

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About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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