Fido is also jealous


The "green-eyed monster", as William Shakespeare defines it in the Othello, spares no one. With two or four legs. In fact, even dogs are victims of what was thought to be a feeling only of man: jealousy.

For the bosses, already convinced that Fido behaves in an absolutely human way, it may not be a surprise. But now science has tried it experimentally. The team of Christine Harris, of the University of California at San Diego, has in fact found the behavior of 36 dogs made jealous by taking them back to their homes. The jealousy of the man's best friend was stimulated by having their master show affection towards a realistic looking fake dog that barked, whined and waved its tail.

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Image Christine Harris, professor of psychology at the University of California at San Diego, with Samwise, one of the 3 border collies who inspired the study of canine jealousy. | Steve Harris

I BITE YOU. Fido's reactions were clear: three quarters of the dogs touched their legs or pushed their master while he was caressing and cuddling the "rival", much more than when the owner instead turned his attention to other objects, like a book (in in this case, only 22% of dogs did it). A third of the four-legged animals also tried to get between the master and the fake Fido, and a quarter of them managed to bite the puppet. "Not only did the dogs show jealous behavior, but they also tried to break the relationship between the master and the rival, " says Harris.

COMPETITION BETWEEN BROTHERS. Human jealousy is a complex feeling; according to some scholars, it is even a social construction, which is not found in all human cultures and is not "printed" in us as fear or anger. According to Harris, the canine would be a more basic form. That may have evolved in species where more puppies have to compete for attention and food. Although we generally think that jealousy is unleashed in the couple, in fact, Harris comments, this often happens between brothers or even between friends.

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