Do dogs get jealous? - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Do dogs get jealous?

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – Call it the green-eyed monster. A new study being done at UC San Diego suggests that jealous isn't just a human emotion – it extends to our four-legged friends as well.

New research is confirming what many pet owners already suspect -- dogs can get downright possessive when it comes to the love of their master.

A study by UC San Diego looks at the behavior of dogs when they feel like their owner is paying too much attention to someone, or something else.

Tiger, a greyhound-Chihuahua mix, is trying to adjust to the newest member of his family, Peach.

"He just comes up and growls at her and like just pecks at her feet," owner Benny Ruff said.

Benny will be the first to admit his dogs are just as prone to jealousy as humans.

"Tiger always does everything like a human," he said.

And now there's science to back it up. UC San Diego psychology professor Christine Harris was inspired to do the study by her border collies. In her study, Harris had dog owners devote attention to a picture book which they read aloud, a toy dog that moved and barked and an object their dog had never seen before.

She found not only were the dogs jealous, but they also were seeking to break up the connection between owner and a seeming rival.

Dog owner Carol Green says she's not surprised by the study. Her dog Sara is all about her.

"Not at all surprised. She's very jealous if my husband hugs me, she has to get right in between. If my grandchildren comes she plays with them but she wants the attention," she said.

Harris found dogs were about twice as likely to push or touch the owner when the owner was interacting with the fake dog.

Most dog lovers don't need a study to tell them that their pets are capable of feeling more complex emotions, including jealously. And while the study may be stating the obvious to dog owners, this particular breakthrough lends credibility to research on animal cognition.

Dog owners say study or not, our four-legged friends want your attention.

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