Help! My Dog Doesn’t Like to Share My Affections with My Other Dogs!
I have had a few questions lately from people who need help because one of their dogs does not like to share human time with the other dog/dogs in the home! A lot of us have more than one companion dog or pet in our homes and it is all about finding a good balance between all of us.
I have 3 dogs and never seem to have less than two, which is just the way I like it! And, sometimes there are some jealousy issues even in my home!
Some people would argue that dogs don’t have emotions much less complex emotions like jealousy, but having spent almost 20 years training animals I can attest to the fact that they have emotions and complex emotions.
Basic emotions More Complex Emotions
- Joy Excitement
- Trust Shame
- Fear Frustration
- Surprise Envy
- Sadness Worry
- Disgust Curiosity
- Anger Sorrow
- Anticipation Pride
Some might say that one dog is the dominant dog and that is why they are resource guarding the person, it has nothing to do with emotion because dogs don’t have the capability of having much less showing emotion, but I have witnessed dogs show all these emotions and many more!
While it is true that some dogs are immediately defensive and possessive of EVERYTHING they have and don’t want to share anything with the other dog/dogs in the house some dogs only get jealous of their owner’s time and affections.
Obviously the dog with universal possessiveness has many more issues and sometimes is just a bully! He needs the "nothing in life is free" principles applied!
But, the dog that is just possessive of his owner’s and his/her affections may be feeling a bit slighted whether or not it is warranted.
What Can You Do?
- Make sure that everyone is getting alone time
- Make sure that all of your dogs are getting equal time
- Be the parent or the leader and do not accept aggression between your dogs
I believe that no matter who it is in our life that is important to us; sometimes they deserve our undivided attention.
When I was a child my mother and father would split up my sister and I and spend the day one on one with each of us. We got to decide what we wanted to do with each parent and where we wanted to go. This one on one attention with each parent helped us to feel special and therefore not slighted when we all spent family time together or if time was lavished on one of us due to an event or special circumstances. I recommend all parents do this with their children. Some of my favorite memories came from those days that it was all about ME even though I loved the family time we all spent together.
Likewise I think that marriages and relationships are strengthened when one on one time can occasionally be spent. Couples need at least monthly date nights and to carve out quality time daily to spend with each other. This simple principle can help couples feel less stressed and can keep jealousy and other negative emotions at bay.
I believe that our pets are the same way and deserve some one on one time with their owners.
My husband and I are avid hikers. Most weekends are spent climbing mountains and geocaching with our dogs. It is great exercise and I am lucky because when I come home my dogs are EXHAUSTED, and that in itself is priceless! Unfortunately a few weeks ago was my oldest dog’s last hike. Nix hiked 2 miles before his old body gave out and I sat with him for an hour as my husband finished the hike. He was simply unable to continue do to his age, and medication from his meningitis. Now we are forced to only hike with the youngest two, which does break my heart.
Jealousy and sadness could overcome his world if it wasn’t for the fact that I let him do things that my other dogs don’t get to! He gets to accompany me on car rides and the occasional slow stroll around the yard. I let the other two outside, while he gets a massage and vice versa.
In an attempt to train toward competition goals, my other dogs get one on one time training with me each day and I make a point to ensure that everyone gets appropriate snuggly time!
I even make sure the cat and our adopted raccoon get one on one time. Sometimes it feels like I am pulled in all directions, but to keep the peace and ensure happiness for all I believe they all need to feel special. And, just to be honest I like spending one on one time with them as well, it helps me develop a deeper relationship and get to know them on another level. Just like a person may be different without their parents, friends, or their spouse, I get to know my pets as individuals with no barriers. MAKE TIME!
Although most of you wouldn’t admit it, you may have a favorite! We are told we shouldn’t have favorite children and likewise we think we shouldn’t have favorite dogs within our family structure but some of us do. I think it is kind of normal and I will admit that my oldest is my heart and soul and he should be; I have spent the last 11 and a half years with him by my side and we have been through many tragedies and triumphs together!
That doesn’t mean I don’t love my young kids, I certainly do! But, to them spending all of my time or affection on one dog can cause animosity! Can you imagine your parents spending all their time with one of your siblings? Even if you didn’t say something, you would feel slighted and probably hostile to the brother or sister even if it wasn’t their fault!
Although very young puppies and very old dogs require a lot more of our concentrated time, do your best to be equal and fair! I insist that my dogs earn their privileges at my house; you must earn your right to sit with me or get on the furniture but to be fair I have to give my dogs the opportunities to excel and receive my affection, which requires my time! Although the time I spend with them may be different (I may spoon with my oldest and train with the younger two), it is about quality for where we are in our relationship and I require respect, nothing at my house is free (until you are at least 11)!
No Aggression Allowed!
I am the Mom, Alpha, Ruler or Queen of this house depending on what verbiage and semantics you prefer! I simply won’t allow blatant aggression under my roof towards the humans, children, or other pets in my home.
Blatant aggression means no outright nasty displays. My female dog who is about a year and a half now is definitely “on top” after me. She has this “look” I call the “stank eye” that can stop just about anyone or anything in their tracks. She is easily able to manipulate the other animals by stiffening her naughty little body or by shooting a look across the room.
I recognize and accept these minor behaviors and allow her to “work her magic” with the rest of the pack. If I did not allow her to exert her demands on the other dogs to some degree it could make things worse for all of us, because she would feel even more helpless if I took all of her control away. She is a dominant female; there is absolutely no changing that, so I accept it to a tiny extent.
It is important to be able to recognize these changes as they are the beginning of more drama if you are not careful.
Dogs do not need to hackle, growl, snarl, bark or snap. A simple look and a change in body posture is all it takes to signal to another dog that they want the behavior to stop. I also do my best to ensure her status as “bitch royale” meaning I don’t allow the other dogs to test her past her bounds. I respect her by letting her do things first and not allowing the other dogs to steal her things or muscle up on her. This keeps tensions lower because the other two see that I respect her next.
However, she is NOT allowed to hackle, growl, snarl, bark, snap or bite at the other two dogs.
Aggression = a loss of privilege!
So if she is being possessive of my time and she growls at the puppy or Nix, she loses the ability to spend time with me in that moment and she may just earn a time out.
If she growls, I would take her calmly by the collar or the leash and put her in another room or outside for a few moments by herself.
She is not a child, so leaving her there to “think about what she did” is not going to be effective. But denying her access to what she wants, which is me, can be quite effective. A minute or two is enough to suffice, but it must be immediate at the first sign of aggression.
Do not wait until there is a biting match and expect to split the dogs up. They should be safely separated at the first and lowest sign of naughty behavior. If you know that your dog will growl or escalate, I would reprimand and separate at the first sign of “stank eye” or stiffening! They are much easier to control in the beginning stage of aggression than waiting until there is about to be an altercation! Fights can also be somewhat satisfying, so it is important to make sure they never get the satisfaction of taking it that far.
When she comes out, I am not going to exploit or fawn over the other dog to make a point. In fact, I probably won’t have any contact with the other dog and will just let them go back to normal behavior. Rubbing it in her face will undoubtedly make it worse, but I will also not keep the other dog from me. She will not be allowed to instigate or cause more drama or again she will lose a privilege. If I need to, I will keep a leash on her to make sure everyone is safe.
It is important that you be consistent and figure out what you will and what you won’t put up with and then stick to your guns no matter what! If you accept even a little growl, it is liable to escalate and soon the behavior will be worse.
If your dog cannot sit on your lap without being aggressive and threatening the other pets or people in your life…perhaps he hasn’t earned the right to be on your lap? Privileges should be earned and sometimes dogs need to stay on the floor until they can grasp this concept. This is not to say that you can’t have one on one lap time with this dog, but he may not be able to stay there with the other dogs around until he has figured out that you won’t tolerate aggression or possessive behavior!
If you continue to have problems or resistance from him or her, you may need to back up and start doing daily obedience so he is use to listening to you!
Stick to these principles and you will see a change!
AND, don’t argue! Don’t say you don’t have time to give all of your dog’s one on one time, don’t tell me you don’t have the time to share your time equally while they are around, and DON’T tell me you are unwilling to keep the offender off of your lap or out of your space if he is showing naughty aggressive behavior.
Change has to start with you and you must be willing to take control and do what you need to keep the peace under your roof, or woof !
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.