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'Doggy jealousy' rears head in study

Thursday July 24th 2014

Many owners will tell you that their dogs turn into green-eyed monsters if they shower affection on other canines.

And now new US research shows that dogs really do get jealous.

Scientists at the University of California asked owners to ignore their pet while stroking and talking to a stuffed dog which barked and wagged its tail. The volunteers were also asked to repeat the show of affection to a bucket and to read aloud from a book in the presence of their pets.

The research team say that the dogs were twice as likely to behave jealously - snapping or pushing their owner - when the false dog was being petted as they were when attention was being paid to the bucket. Even less attention-seeking behaviour was exhibited when the dogs' owners read from the book.

While just one dog snapped at the bucket and book almost one in four of the 36 animals tested did so at the stuffed canine. Nearly a third of them, meanwhile, attempted to get between the false dog and their owner.

Researchers say the aggression they observed suggests that the dogs thought the stuffed animal was real.

Copyright Press Association 2014