Dogs are devoted companions that offer unwavering loyalty to their humans, but new research has exposed the full extent of their inner green-eyed monster.
Anecdotal evidence from owners is now backed up by scientists which have found pet pooches get jealous when their human strokes another dog.
But research has also found dogs can get jealous just by imagining their owner is fussing another dog, even when they can’t see the interaction.
‘Research has supported what many dog owners firmly believe — dogs exhibit jealous behaviour when their human companion interacts with a potential rival,’ said study lead author Amalia Bastos from the University of Auckland.
‘We wanted to study this behaviour more fully to determine if dogs could, like humans, mentally represent a situation that evoked jealousy.’
Scientists are interested in studying jealousy in animals because it is linked to a degree of self-awareness, which is a complex cognitive trait not seen in all species.
As part of a study, 18 dogs and their owners were recruited and taken into a room. In that room was either a fleece cylinder or a highly-realistic artificial dog.