Dogs suffer from jealousy

by Darren Jamieson on December 12, 2008

As if we didn’t already know this, but Austrian scientists claim they’ve proved it anyway; dogs suffer from jealousy! Anyone who’s owned more than one dog will of course be well aware of this fact.

According to research, if one dog that performs a task isn’t rewarded while another dog who performs the same task is, the first dog will stop performing the task. The researchers claim that the sensitivity they discovered to exist within dogs previously was only thought to exist within primates.

The experiment conducted consisted of rewarding one dog for presenting his paw for shaking hands, but not rewarding another dog for doing the same thing. The dog that wasn’t rewarded soon lost interest in the game and refused to co-operate.

In order to ensure that the dog that didn’t get rewarded wasn’t just unhappy at not getting a reward, the same experiment was conducted without the other dog being present. The dog continued to co-operate much longer than he did when he was present with a dog that was rewarded.

One of the scientists involved with the experiment, Dr Frederike Range, stated:

The only difference is one gets food and the other doesn’t, they are responding to being unequally rewarded.

It’s through the fact they have to work for the reward, this confers it with a higher value.

I think it’s a precursor, simpler than in humans, it’s a selfish behaviour, they don’t react to seeing others treated unfairly. With humans they react, say it’s unfair, we can’t see anything like that in the dogs.

I’m sure that it’s not something that evolved with the dogs, we will have to test it in wolves and other cooperating species.

The scientists now hope to extend the research towards wolves, to see if they can experience jealousy the same as dogs.

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