Why Is The Dog Jealous Of My Spouse?

This is a problem I see quite often with my dog training clients so I thought I would write an article about how to deal with a jealous dog.

We value our dogs for many reasons, including the close relationship we can enjoy with them. Dogs are loyal, devoted and loving. They are often our best friend. So, it’s not surprising that many dogs can be very attached to one person even when that person is part of a couple. You may find yourself asking at times why your dog is jealous of your spouse.

Your dog can be jealous of your spouse for many of the same reasons that a child would be. Your dog can feel bonded to you. He may feel that you are his “special person.” He may look upon you like a substitute mother or, at the very least, like a pack leader. Any other relationships that you form threaten to distance your dog from you and reduce the amount of time you spend together. Your other relationships may reduce the importance of your dog in your life and your dog instinctively knows this.

If you prefer more concrete reasons for your dog’s possible jealousy, your dog may be jealous of your spouse for reasons as simple as the time that your spouse spends with you. It could also be because your spouse gets the best place on the bed. Maybe your dog used to be able to sleep on the bed before you were married and now he’s not allowed to do so anymore. Your dog may be jealous of your spouse because he sees you lavishing affection on your spouse and your dog feels left out.

Although it can be a bad idea to anthropomorphize your dog too much, when it comes to jealousy, it’s likely that your dog gets jealous for many of the same reasons that people do. He may look upon you as someone special to him, and him alone, and he doesn’t like to see your spouse intruding on your relationship together.

There are plenty of tales about jealous dogs and how they can act out in the home. They range from dogs that may ignore your spouse to dogs that may pee on your spouse’s belongings. Some dogs may set out to destroy things that belong to your spouse. In extreme cases a dog may wage a battle with your spouse for your attention, inserting himself between the two of you both literally and figuratively. He may try to sit between you on the sofa, for instance, or interrupt kisses by jumping up on you. If your dog is jealous he will probably give some not very subtle clues about his feelings so your spouse knows that he or she is not welcome.

If your dog is jealous it can make things difficult in the home. Your spouse may try to win your dog over but, depending on the dog, this may or may not be successful. Some dogs may become friendlier to the spouse but some dogs won’t. With time most dogs will eventually accept that the spouse is not going to go away and some kind of détente can be worked out.

If your dog is jealous of your spouse you should support your spouse and let your dog know that you expect him to respect your spouse in the home. For instance, if your spouse wants to sit down and your dog is occupying the space next to you, it’s a good idea to back your spouse up and make your dog get down. You want to send your dog the message that he needs to obey the spouse, if for no other reason than because you say so. The same goes with your bed. Make sure that your dog understands that your spouse belongs there and has higher status than the dog.

On the other hand, you should also make time to spend with your dog. Do not ignore him or leave him out. Make sure that he gets plenty of your time and attention. His role may be different with your spouse in the house but he should still feel loved and wanted. If you find ways to include your dog in your activities, along with your spouse, then you will have fewer problems with a jealous dog.

Do you have any jealous dog stories to tell us about?  Use the comment area to tell us about your experiences.

Until next time…..

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Comments

  1. Brooke says

    My dog is unfortunately jealous of our other dog. We had our female Sheltie 6 months before we decided to get a male Sheltie. Now they are both over a year old and the female has recently gotten very jealous of the male. She has a high pitched bark when you show him any attention. Would the corrective training be the same between 2 dogs as it would be between a dog and spouse?

  2. Marcy says

    My puppy who is almost 6 months old and that we have had for almost 2 months growls and barks and tries to “get” my husband when he tries to kiss me. I spend most of the day home so I know the puppy is a momma’s boy. How can we fix this thing between the dog and my husband showing me affection?

  3. Wayne Booth, the Dog Training Blogger says

    Hi Marcy:

    You need to get the dog into some training so that he understands the pack order in your home because if he is acting this way at 6 months you are in trouble when he gets older.

  4. Nina says

    My dog is brand new to or home. She is a 4 yr old shiba inu. She is obsessed with me and when I even hug my husband she jumps up on us and whines. Not sure how I can get her to stop. It’s kind if funny but also annoying.

  5. Wayne Booth, the Dog Training Blogger says

    Nina, the answer is simple…..TRAINING. So that she l;earns what is acceptable. Find a good trainer in your area to help.

  6. Tina Cooper says

    We rescued a pup from our vet he was 1 years old, he is a kemmer cur he is very jeolous of my husband he is fine loving and with my husband all day but when I get home from work he barks and growls at him and follows me everywhere sometimes it seem really bad like he may even bite him.. I have told him NO and taking him away many times again good natured for the most part but like I said he is great all day and then when I get home he just flips a switch.. What to do we don’t want to get rid of him seems like he had a rough time before we got him.. ???????????????

    • Melinda G. says

      How’s it going with the jealousy issue and do you have any recommendations for me? My dog is a female rescue that is very jealous of me when my husband comes home from work every day. I am at home every day and she is obedient and pleasant with me until he gets home then she flips a switch acting out by ignoring my commands and sticking close to my husband everywhere he goes. She acts like she believes he has come home to her; not me, and resents me being there. She is so clingy with him that he sometimes tells her to go lay down or go to her bed because she insists that he has his hands on her at all times and she tucks her tail and goes away staring at him with the sad eyes of a broken heart. She looks at me the whole time he is home like she wishes I would just move out so she could have him all to herself and turns her back to me getting closer to him then looks back at me like she is letting me know that he belongs to her. If I enter the room when he is showing her affection, she immediately tucks her tail and walks off looking at me with total disgust for interrupting his undivided attention to her. She recently caused me to fall when she was being defiant to a command she usually follows when my husband isn’t home but again, she ignores me with resentment when he is home. I have tried showing her affection when he is home and she just sits there crouched down looking away from me at my husband seemingly resenting my touch and “sweet talking” and can’t wait for me to stop. Then she goes running to my husband snuggling up next to his legs and looking up at him with deep adoration. I am a cancer patient with feeble bones due to chemo that have broken easy in the past. Since she has become a risk to my health we made the decision to put her outside to live and no longer allow her inside at all. She is used to outdoor living because she was an outside dog when we first adopted her but then bringing her inside during occasional cold weather snaps eventually turned into living indoors all the time. She really hates the new arrangement missing all of her indoor amenities. When hubby comes outside she gets super excited but when she sees me with him she runs in her dog house pouting. I’m pretty sure she knows I am responsible for her outdoor living arrangement since I was the one who put her out and my husband supports not letting her back inside when she tries to come back inside with him. I kinda felt like me putting her outside instead of him would help her understand my role as equal leader of the house with my husband and that she was subordinate to both of us. I think she gets it but she doesn’t like it. I didn’t realize how stressful she made my life until putting her out felt like such a weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I got my house back because she had decided with determined defiance that I had no voice in my own house. I considered returning her to the shelter but decided to keep her because my conscious made me afraid she might end up in an abusive situation and I couldn’t bear to feel responsible. We know she was abused in the past because some of her fear triggers are still there; just improved. For example, my husband makes sure she is not around when he takes off his belt because seeing it or even hearing the buckle clanking terrifies her and she hides under furniture shaking uncontrollably. Sorry for the long reply but I’m hoping for some tips from your experience that seems to be very similar to mine.

      Thanks!
      Melinda
      Pelahatchie, Mississippi

  7. yvonne says

    I have a 5 mth Rottweiler who everytime my husband and I kiss tries to hump me. He has freedom on the bed. And settee. He follows me in to everyroom I go to. I am the one that walks him he will not respond to my requests to come when called but will is I say goodbye.

  8. Tammy says

    We have a 1 and a half year old yellow lab that we got when he was a 6 week old puppy as our family dog. He’s is a great dog and we all love him and show him affection everyday. But lately he seems to be jealous of my husband and son whenever they hug me or show me any kind of affection. For example, when either of them hugs me, my dog will growl at them and nudge them in the rear until we tell him to stop. At first we thought it was “cute” but I’m afraid that it will continue and will progress into something not so cute anymore.

    • kelly says

      I have a 6 month old Australian Shepard and have the same problem…please some advice!!! He isn’t directing it specifically to one person, just doesn’t want us kissing or being intimate.

  9. frustrated says

    I have a 7 yr old chihuahua and i am in a new relationship n engaged to the man. She thinks she has to wedge between us in the bed, on the couch, in the vehicle and even when we are kissing she jumps on him and when on the couch she sticks her nose in between us licking our lips til we break apart. I feel I am competing with my dog for my fiance’s attention. What do I do?

  10. Donna Jones says

    My husband and I adopted a two-year-old pointer mix three days ago. It had been fostered for about a month-and-a-half to two months prior to that. We visited with Dottie in her own environment at her foster-parents’ house and decided she seemed a good fit. They advised us she would probably warm up to me before my husband and she’s very skittish of sudden movements.

    We brought the dog home and she did, indeed, warm up to me. I seem to be her “person”. She will, when my husband is preoccupied otherwise, come up to him and sniff him, she will take treats from his hand, she will follow him around curiously. If he attempts to pet her or approach her she wants a three-foot boundary. She will retreat and begin to bark and growl at him. If I sit next to him on the sofa, or lie in the bed with him, she will bark and growl at him.

    Could it be that she is jealous of him? And if so, can this be overcome?

  11. Wayne Booth, the Dog Training Blogger says

    Donna,

    I bet this has happened with a previous family or at least with the fosters, because they warned you that she would warm up to you first. They knew!

    The first thing you need to do is get her trained. Training establishes the dog master relationship and would be very important in this situation.

    Take a look at this article and then let me know if we can help. We work with dog owners all over the country

    http://www.dogtrainingblogger.com/is-your-dog-showing-aggression-in-the-home.html

    Wayne

  12. Donna Jones says

    Wayne,

    Thank you so much for your reply. I read around your blog quite a bit yesterday and will continue to do so.

    I contacted a trainer and she came for an eval yesterday afternoon. There is a jealousy issue, but the deeper issue is that the dog is very unsure of my husband and she showed us some things he could do differently to help with bonding. This dog definitely needs time to adjust-she’s been through a lot. She also recommended we keep a spray bottle of water and just spritz Dottie when she starts this behavior.

    He was trying to force the petting and affection when the dog was clearly trying to retreat. So she showed him some things he should be doing and reassured him that with patience and time she felt this would work. Obviously she cannot guarantee that, but it has only been three days.

    Donna

  13. Ashley Taylor says

    I guess I never noticed it before, but my boyfriend (of 5 years, the number is important) pointed out to me that our dog, JR is jealous… I called his bluff and Googled it. Turns out, he’s EXTREMELY jealous. 4 years ago we picked up Harley and at 6 months he got my dad’s dog pregnant. A short time after that we got 3 puppies: JR, Nala, and Wotawe. JR had always been a little loner, hiding under table lamps and in couch cushions. As he grew bigger, he got attached to me. Well, all 4 kids are ‘my’ dogs according to the boyfriend. So, every time I go somewhere they are my shadows; in the loft to change, kitchen to make meals, brushing my teeth, in the basement to grab canned goods… When I leave for school, all 4 heads are staring out the window watching me drive away. Now, back to JR… Sitting on the couch, at the supper table or in bed, my little 120 lb. boy ensures that his place is between me and Michael(boyfriend). I thought he was just being silly little JR, attention stealer. Turns out he’s jealous! He jumps out the couch right between me and Mike, moves when I move and wedges himself so Michael cannot touch me and JR turns his back on him. It’s quite comical really (I think at least). If I’m doing homework JR wedges is head between my arm and leg and sits beside me and stares. When Michael gets home from work, he ‘guards’ the door prevent Michael from entering my office (nothing harmful), JR just nerves his legs so he doesn’t enter. <3, love all 4 of my kids!

  14. Clarissa says

    I have a 5 year old terrier mix that I rescued while my husband and I were long distance. Now the three of us are all living in a new state together. My dog took to my husband well, almost like a dream. My husband sometimes jokes Tank loves him more, and I’m actually scared it’s true. He goes to my husband to play with him, lays on his chest and in his lap, and is never aggressive towards him.

    Then bedtime comes. My husband and I are both firm believers in sleeping with our dogs and letting them on furniture. Tank is used to sleeping next to me or at my feet. But now Tank tries to take up most of the bed, making my husband almost fall off onto the floor. I’ve moved him but he always seems to push us back into that position. I’ve tried giving up my pillow but he would rather take my husband’s when he goes to the bathroom. Last night, I moved Tank and he jumped off the bed. My husband and I got comfortable together and then called him back up. Tank decided go try and lay in between the non existent space between us and actually got on top of me and slept, using my husband’s body to keep him from falling and got my husband to give him a tummy rub.

    Sometimes I wonder just who he is jealous of.

  15. Krys says

    I have a chihuahua that is 16 weeks old. He’s pretty close to me and my husband. Tonight while we were trying to get my dog to sleep in the middle of us, my husband started to nuzzle down between my breasts, just being silly (I had my bra on) and my dog went CRAZY! He started scratching and hitting at us. When my husband moved, he started nuzzling down into my bra just like my husband did. We thought it was HILARIOUS!!! I’m still getting to know my little buddy and all his dog feelings. We’ve only had him for 4 weeks.

  16. Terry says

    I have been with my boyfriend for 7 years. We bought Bella (maltipoo) 3 years ago, and she is the first dog I have ever had, however my bf has had several. From the beginning I insisted on training her. He had no interest In doing so so I trained her myself in one month. I have always been consistent in enforcing what I have taught her, for instance: she knows when I give her treats she gets excited and I allow her to jump and be happy about it, then with a snap of the finger she sits. She understands when she barks, an I walk up to her she goes immediately to her crate and sits there on time out until I come out and say it is okay to leave. She understands that when we are walking into our bedroom to eat dinner, that she stops at the entrance and stays there when we are sitting down to eat. She does not enter the room at all until we say “come”. She knows not to jump on the bed and will sit nice on the side until we say it is okay. My stance and a look at her if she is doing something like chewing on something she shouldn’t be, and she sits immediately.
    She is an absolutely loving animal. She gets plenty of love and affection hugs and kisses from us both individually. The problem is the possessiveness and jealous behaviour which is frankly disgusting. If we are on the bed, she tries and wedge her way in between us, growls and barks. I point towards the door and she knows to get down and leave, no yelling no shouting involved. She stays on timeout for a few minutes, sometimes I let her on again sometimes I leave her to go to her bed.
    If we touch each other she growls and acts up. This behavior is geared towards me. She does to want my bf showing me any attention. If we are touching she starts pawing at him to focus the attention to her. I tell him when she does this to get up and leave the room. This behaviour still continues no matter what I do. I try to enforce this but my bf is lazy and sometimes thinks it’s cute. I tell him it’s not cute And that he needs to be firm with her and enforce rules when I am not around as well as when I am around. If she is on the bed she walks over to curl up with him. I have noticed that after this happens the behaviour worsens I immediately following. I think she believes he is one of her toys that is “hers” and that she owns him. If I walk over to his side of the bed to shut the blinds she barks and growls jumps off of her bed in the adjoining room and comes over and looks at me as if to say watch it. When I look at her she knows to leave and stop. She is extremely possessive and jealous if he spends time or touches me. This behaviour needs to end, and is driving me crazy. I think another part of the problem is that he does not enforce the rules when I am away and I know this because he tells me all the time that as so as I leave for work she jumps on the bed. Animals need structure. I believe that wholeheartedly. When she acts possessively towards him he needs to put a stop to it right away, he does noting and just allows for the behaviour to continue. I am the only one that tries to control this behaviour but it needs to come from him.
    For all you people on the post: when an animal is possessive of another person as if he/she is a toy or it is jealous, the person that is being “possessed” has to be the one to put their foot down. They need to separate the dog from the situation by leaving the room when the dog behaves like this and ignore them for a bit before giving it attending again. This way the dog after this is done consistently will understand that when it behaves in that way that the attention from that person will be withdrawn for a period of time. Give a treat after.
    If only my man wasn’t lazy enough to enforce this in our home. Infuriating!!!

  17. sharon white says

    My border collie is 9 years old and has always slept in his crate at night however my boyfriend has just moved in with us and my dog will not settle at night he whines until I take him out and let him sleep on the landing he is also peeing ever were, is he jealous of my BY, and why is he being so naughty, Please help

  18. monie says

    I think my dog is jealous of my fiance. While I was sitting on the sofa my dog was sitting on my lap. My fiance came over and gave me a kiss my dog growled so my fiance went to hug my dog and the dog bit my fiance on the face. He has never been an aggressive dog. But he is become one. Today I had another incident where my dog chased a little girl and made her fall he also has never done that.
    I really don’t know what to do. Or he is also acting up because our cat and his new best friend now for the past 2 months disappear.
    What should I do?? He can’t continue to be aggressive I’m afraid he will bite someone now. Does anyone know how or what should I do to help my dog??
    He is 4 years old (human age) and he is not nutter.

  19. Fawn says

    My husband got his dog (lab hound mix) while we were dating but not living together. She use to sleep on the bed with him and everything. When we got married, I moved in with him And brought my own dog (schnauzer pug mix). The dogs get along perfectly fine, but my husbands dog is jealous of me. She will not listen to me at all. She won’t even take a treat or biscuit from me when I give them out. She actually got out of our fence one day, and when I went to look for her, she was sitting on the other side of the gate. I thought if I opened the gate she would come in, but instead she actually ran from me. She went up to the neighbors but would not come up to me. Is there any way at all I can make her not be jealous of me at all.. I talk to her and give her attention all the time and nothing works

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