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April 27, 2022
Does your dog quickly get between you and another pup when you start to show the other animal attention? Maybe your dog sprawls across your partner's side of the bed, or your cat meows disapprovingly when you hug your friend. Sometimes, this jealous behavior can turn aggressive, but what's the best way to deal with it?
Dogs and cats might not feel jealousy the same as humans, but they certainly compete with others for your attention. Jealous and aggressive behavior in cats and dogs can manifest in various ways, from urinating in the house to excessive growling to being extra clingy. You can reduce undesirable behaviors by giving your pets equal attention, providing them with individual spaces, and staying aware of potential triggers.
The best way to reduce and stop jealous and aggressive behavior in your pets is to understand the signs and why they happen. Pinpointing what sets your pet off can help you better understand how to stop their unpleasant behavior.
Dogs and cats can undoubtedly desire all of your attention. Does your furry friend start acting weird when you show any of that attention to another animal or person? If so, they could be jealous, or the animal equivalent—competing for the most affection.
Here are a few signs that could mean your pet is jealous:
If you’re worried your dog or cat is acting aggressively, there are a few key things to pay attention to. Sometimes, dogs and cats might attempt to scare off someone they see as competition with a growl or bark. But, in actuality, wouldn’t take it any further.
Other times, your pet might want your full attention so much that they act out on their aggressive and jealous behavior. Pets can experience aggression for a variety of reasons, from fear to pain to jealousy. What you see as jealous aggression is likely related to dominance or territorial aggression. Your pet doesn’t want anyone else in their space or getting more attention than them.
Here are signs of aggression in cats and dogs:
Remember, when it comes to aggression, it can be for different reasons. Therefore, make sure to pay attention to what seems to trigger the behavior. Also, discuss any sudden behavioral changes with your vet. It could be a sign of an underlying health issue that is causing your pet discomfort.
Many things can spark jealous or aggressive behavior in pets. For example, in a multi-cat household, jealousy or aggression can stem from a lack of resources. Not having enough litter boxes or scratching posts to go around can make some cats testy and competitive.
If you have a cat and a dog living together or multiple pups, it could be that you’re unknowingly giving one pet more attention than the other. For some breeds, these behaviors might be more apparent than others, with genetics playing a large role.
It could also be that your pet is anxious, doesn’t get enough exercise or proper stimulation, or is bored. For aggression, pain can sometimes be the culprit, or your pet could be territorial and over-protective of their food.
Your pets might also show jealous or aggressive behavior because they don't have enough personal space. (Something a lot of humans can probably relate to.)
The best thing to do to thwart jealous behavior is to ignore bad behavior or move to another space if your pet keeps interfering.
It’s important to know why your dog or cat is acting aggressively. When you can identify the triggers, you can try to avoid those situations while working on the problem. It's also important to recognize your pet’s cues so you can hopefully prevent an aggressive attack before it happens.
It can be helpful to keep a journal to track this information about your pet. You can use it to look for patterns and also give a clearer picture to your vet if and when you seek professional help.
Early intervention and early socialization are always the best way to try and prevent aggressive behavior. But if your pup or cat is starting to act aggressively toward others, you might need to seek the help of your vet.
Your vet might also recommend working with a behavioral specialist to pinpoint the exact root of your pet’s aggression. Together, you can make a plan with a professional to help your cat or dog be happier and healthier.
For more helpful resources, check out the rest of our blog. Our goal is to give you a front-row seat to all the information you need to be a fantastic pet parent.
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