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Jealousy in dogs
C. R. Harris, C. Prouvost
DOGS are capable of exhibiting sophisticated social-cognitive behaviours. This study aimed to assess whether dogs engage in behaviours indicative of jealousy.
Thirty-six dogs and their owners were included in the study. Dogs were videotaped while their owners ignored them and interacted with different objects. First, owners were asked to interact with a stuffed dog that barked and wagged its tail; petting it and speaking to it in a similar manner that they would speak to a real dog. They were also asked to behave in this way towards a novel object – a plastic jack-o-lantern. The owners were then asked to read aloud a children's book that had pop-up pages and played melodies. Each action lasted for one minute, after which the owner placed the object within reach of the dog. By comparing the dogs' reaction to these three situations, the researchers aimed to assess whether jealousy could be elicited by an object that represented another dog, an object that the owner treated as if it was another dog, and/or a novel object that had no similarities to a dog but that caused the redirection of the owner's attention.
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