Saturday, August 16, 2014

Do dogs get jealous of other pets?

Ripley and Edgar. Are they ever jealous of one another?

Jealousy is a dangerous emotion. According to a fascinating PLOS ONE journal article, it is generally the third leading cause of non-accidental homicide across cultures (people, let’s keep a lid on the jealousy, please!). That’s a striking declaration. Jealousy requires a social triangle, which arises when someone or something threatens an important relationship.

It requires, the researchers argue, some complex cognition including self-awareness, an understanding of the meaning of a rival threat to us, and appraisals of that threat to our relationship. So the big question is, can dogs feel jealousy?

Most dog owners (including myself) will tell you that they can, but is this just reckless anthropomorphism?

Maybe not. In a series of experiments involving real small dogs and a dog-like toy, the real small dogs exhibited significantly more jealous behaviours – such as snapping, getting themselves between the owner and the object, or nudging the owner – when it appeared more like another dog than an inert object.
The others conclude this is a primordial form of jealousy. You can read the full article here.

If you missed the Australasian Society for Infectious Disease’s wonderful zoonoses conference, fear not. The AVA NSW and ACT Divisions, combined with the AVA’s Public Health Special Interest Group, is hosting a weekend zoonoses conference in September.

Visit here to view the program and registration info.

Finally if you're lost for something to do this weekend, our Shark Girl DVD Giveway will keep you amused for minutes to hours (potentially days) - subject to the entry you choose of course. More info here.