Study: Dogs exhibit human traits such as jealousy

AUSTIN -- They are called man's best friend. Now we are learning there may be a good reason. A new study confirms that dogs have the ability to express human like emotions, including jealousy.

Brandi Horne doesn't have any children, but she does have her hands full with two lovable terriers named Winston and Oliver.

"We call them our furry children because they are like our children," Horne said. "I feel they absolutely have the ability to feel the same emotions that we do, sadness, happiness [and] jealousy."

A new study released in Science Daily confirms Horne's assessment, especially when it comes to jealousy. It's a human-like trait that she sees play out every night when it's time to watch TV.

"They will be on their best behavior all day," said Horne. "The minute our attention is on that television they start barking at each other and doing this weird noise towards each other that almost sounds like a whale call. They do that because they want our attention."

"We see a lot of times when people bring in more than one pet there's one that's trying to push other out of the way and get all the love and get all the treats," said John Faught, D.V.M., at the Firehouse Animal Health Center.

Faught says the study validates what he and many other pet owners have suspected all along.

"What they're trying to show is that dogs have some higher level cognitive feelings that maybe we weren't aware that they think that way," he said.

Faught says the study's findings are important since dealing with dog behavior is part of the job description of a veterinarian.

"Jealously can play a factor in that," said Faught. "It may help us if we can get to the core of why dogs do certain behaviors. It may help us find solutions around those things."

Horne says while her dogs sometimes fight for her attention, it just makes her appreciate them more.

"That's why they're man's best friend," she said. "They connect with us on this emotional level that other animals may not be able to do."

Pet behavioral specialists say that while many dogs do get jealous, not all dogs do. Some simply don't care. Also, while jealousy can be an ongoing trait in humans and can linger in a sibling rivalry, dog jealousy dissipates the moment it's over.

Go here to see what else scientists revealed in the study.


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