It’s been proven that dogs do feel jealousy. So what can you do when you have a dog that you know gets jealous and you want to adopt second dog?

According to the AKC website: “Research indicates there might be jealous bone in your dog’s body. Tests showed dogs can be quite possessive when it comes to being the focus of their owners’ attention.”

Each week of 2020, I am choosing a question from a Rescue Dogs 101 community member.

[Q&A] #AskingForMyDog


This week’s question is from Ellen, she wrote:

“Hi there. Thanks for your blog and website. An invaluable resource.

We are preparing for the arrival of a rescue. Our biggest, #1 concern, is building the relationship with our existing dog, Piper.

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Piper came to us when she was 1-1/2. She is a timid and loveable King Charles Cavalier, who is now 6-1/2. She is very small, only weighs about 13 pounds.

NewDog (not yet named) will be roughly a year old, also a spaniel of some type, possibly mixed (but who cares), and is about twice the size.

Piper has had us all to herself for 5 years. She is exceedingly well behaved and causes zero trouble, so she is welcome in laps, on sofas and sleeps with our daughter (aged 16, not a child).

You have some materials about introducing two dogs to each other; the first meeting and walk outside, then inside. The new dog should be crated with a limited, baby-gated, space in the kitchen until she is trained and learns the house rules.

Newdog will need to be securely leashed and harnessed. Piper needs to enter the house first to welcome NewDog. Got it.

NewDog will be very frightened at the beginning but needs to be formally trained sooner rather than later. Got it.

We already have the crate, the baby gates, the lessons all lined up at PetSmart and the vet waiting eagerly to meet NewDog.

I know we will have a million questions, and we don’t yet know what those are before NewDog arrives. But can you go a little deeper on the topic of best practices in handling two dogs together?

If I was going to predict what will happen, it is that our sweet, docile little Piper is going to turn out to be a resource guarder, and the resource she will be guarding will be us.

I have noticed that when we bend down to pet another dog, Piper gets jealous. She will jump up and start whining for attention.

She is usually a completely silent dog, but she doesn’t like it when we pet other dogs. I can just see what is going to happen when NewDog moves in permanently.

What if she becomes disruptive to try and get rid of NewDog and starts barking every time we pay attention to NewDog?

Any further tips you can give us on getting this relationship off on the best foot possible and removing the threat factor for Piper while we start to make NewDog comfortable in her new home would be great.

Thanks, Ellen”


Tips for Preventing jealousy between dogs

1. Remember the 3-3-3 rule of bringing home a new dog

It is important to understand the 3-3-3 rule of bringing home a new rescue dog. The new dog will need time to decompress, give him as much time as he needs to adjust.

2. Take introductions slow

It sounds like you read the introducing a second dog into your pack article, which is a great start. The introduction period is critical to a happy ending.

Keeping them separate for as long as it takes to create a calm introduction. This can be as short as 24 hours, but don’t be afraid to wait several days or weeks if necessary.

Because Piper has shown jealousy in the past, you will need to be hyper-aware of her behavior during this transition period.

two dogs sleeping together

3. No favorites allowed

You may feel sorry for the new dog, or maybe even Piper, but don’t! Sorrow never helped anyone. Show them both that you can be there for both of them, you can protect and love both… equally.

You can achieve this by not allowing either one to bully the other.

Take both for walks together and separate. If you have a family member that can help you take walks, each of you should take turns walking each dog.

Do not allow Piper to push her way in between you and the new dog. If she starts showing any of the signs of jealousy, instruct her to wait, continue petting the new dog, then go to Piper on your terms.

4. Keep comings and goings calm

Do not a big deal about leaving the house and coming home. Insist on calm dogs before giving either of them get any attention. This is key for many reasons. First, it will reduce the chances of separation anxiety, but also reduce the chance of the dogs fighting for your attention. ALWAYS only reward calm behavior!

5. Remove all toys, bones and food

You mentioned that you fear Piper may start to resource guard. I suggest removing all items that she may decide to guard, including toys and bones.

If she starts to guard you or furniture, then you need to put an end to that the first time you notice it.

Please read Living with a Resource Guarding Dog for more details. And if you don’t feel equipment to handle this behavior seek out a professional behaviorist trainer immediately. The longer you let this go on, the harder it will be to change.

Signs of a jealous dog

Learning her body language will allow you to notice her jealousy before she goes into a barking fit.

Every single dog is unique, but some common behaviors and signs to look out for are:

  • Erect and/or stiff tail
  • Body freezing or
  • Body curling movement
  • Being pushy with body or muzzle
  • Showing aggression by growling, air snapping or nipping
  • Performing tricks to get your attention, such as spinning or barking
  • Getting into mischief, not limited to chewing your belongings
  • Marking inside the house, more common in males, but females mark too!

Doggy Best friends or ???

We all want our dogs to be best friends, play and run together, then cuddle on the couch at the end of the day together.

But the fact is, you can’t force a friendship. Are you best friends with everyone you meet?

It’s okay for the two dogs to just coexist and not be best friends; as long as they can get along and there is no aggression.

When we adopted our dog Bear, I had hoped he and Ginger would be best buds. But Ginger is just too pushy and “in your face” for Bear. They have very different personalities and like to do different things. Bear would rather be playing fetch and Ginger, well she’d rather for hunt prey, LOL!

In conclusion

I hope this helps you, Piper and the new dog. Please keep in touch and let us know how it’s going.

Recommended reading just for you:

Have a question of your own? Email me with the subject line #AskingForMyDog and I may choose to feature it in our next Q&A!

As a community we are here to help each other in times of need, so please share.

If your dog has jealousy tendencies, please leave a comment below and let us know what has worked to keep your pack balanced.

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About the Author

Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, three dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.

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  1. I was told to keep my new Chesapeake bay retriever and our tiny dachshund apart for 1 week. My son let the dachshund out on purpose, and kept doing this. We now had to sell our new dog. Learn from this. All need to be onboard!

  2. Hi there. Follow-up on Clover and Piper. Could use some guidance:

    Clover arrived 10 days ago. She is a good-natured, high energy, completely untrained older puppy (almost a year). She had a whole range of ticks and parasites. On the vet’s advice, we have kept her and our longtime dog Piper apart until Clover finished her meds (yesterday).

    They do bump noses occasionally through the baby gates, but we did not permit butt-sniffing until today (giardia meds now complete).

    They have been on walks together. We have kept them separate on walks but they are totally aware of each other. Clover has to go in front even though she is the junior dog because she is so much bigger, faster and more active than Piper. Little Piper strains to keep up the rear and catch up to Clover on her tiny little legs.

    All of this is positive. In the house and through the gates, they are silent (no barking or growling at each other). Tails wag. Good, happy, body language. Yay!!

    Today we had our first tentative session where they got to meet in the back garden. First we took them for a super long walk to tire them out and burn off some of Clover’s puppy energy. Then we took them in the backyard. We released Piper without a leash but left Clover double-leashed. I gave her lots of leash so she had some freedom of movement but I wanted to be able to pull her back if necessary.

    Things started out well. Happy nose bumps, butt sniffing, circling playfully to get at each other’s butts, tail wagging. Yay!

    I gave Clover a little more leash and backed off to sit on the bench. Piper came running over to me. Clover did NOT like that. She came bounding over, jumped up, growled at Piper and then bit at Piper, first on her back and then at her under-neck. Piper just stood there silently and stared at me. I pulled Clover off right away. So it was Clover who guarded me as the resource and giver-of-pets, not Piper. The opposite of what I expected.

    Back in the house, we are keeping them separate until we figure this out. With the kitchen gate between them, they seem fine with each other.

    Question: What is regular puppy play and what is inappropriate? Piper was not a puppy when we got her. How do I know if Clover’s behaviour was age appropriate puppy play or completely inappropriate?

    What should we do now?

    Our first training class is on Thursday. The trainer wouldn’t take her til the giardia was fixed, which is entirely appropriate.

    1. It sounds like you need to set some clear boundaries for Clover. You did everything correct. But that behavior does not sound playful, but like you said, guarding you. Piper was looking for you to protect her, which you need to ensure you do, otherwise she will feel the need to protect herself. I would keep the face to face sessions shorter for a while. Just keep setting the rules and boundaries and they both should figure it out. It’s great that you are starting a training class, but you can also do a lot at home.

  3. Hi there! I’m the one who asked the question. When I wrote that big long email I didn’t expect you to use the whole thing in your video! Sorry about that. I would have written a shorter note if I’d known what you were going to do. But the info is very helpful. Clover, our new rescue dog, is arriving in our lives tonight at 9 pm, so I will report back how it goes.

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