Have you ever had a relationship where after a few months you ask yourself “how did I ever get hooked up with this psycho?” (Or perhaps vice versa.)  The tell tale signs of dating disaster in the modern era can come in many forms. You casually add a Facebook friend, which leads to an interrogation that would make the KGB proud. You’re at a party talking to someone attractive, engaging in an interesting conversation and the stare from across the room from your significant other could literally kill you.

jealous dogs

Dogs can express jealousy

Be careful because it doesn’t just happen with humans. Dogs, a new study determines, can express jealousy just like that nut you dated who at first seemed so fun loving and adventuresome but turned into a relationship Nazi.

Dogs exhibit more jealous behaviors, like snapping or pushing their owner, when their owners displayed affectionate behaviors towards what appeared to be another dog compared to random objects, according to a study from Christine Harris and Caroline Prouvost from UC San Diego.

The study noted that when a dog owner expressed affection for another dog or object, dogs exhibited significantly more jealous behaviors, such as snapping, getting between the owner and object, and pushing or touching the object or owner.  The study authors conclude jealousy may have some primordial form that exists in human infants and at least one other species.

Jealousy in dogs can occur in a wide array of valued relationships

The study findings lend credence to the view jealousy evolved to secure resources and are not just apparent in the context of sexual relationships. The study concludes that jealousy can occur in a wide array of valued relationships and may have roots in competing for parental resources such as food, attention, care, and affection.

“Many people have assumed that jealousy is a social construction of human beings–or that it’s an emotion specifically tied to sexual and romantic relationships,” Harris said in a statement. “Our results challenge these ideas, showing that animals besides ourselves display strong distress whenever a rival usurps a loved one’s affection.”

Scientists have generally viewed jealousy as an emotion requiring complex cognition. This is called into question as research suggests there may be a more basic form of jealousy which evolved to protect social bonds from interlopers in a variety of relationships.  Scientists predict that jealousy, at its most basic level, might even exist in other social species, like the cognitively sophisticated dog.