So here's the problem: I will soon be moving in with fiance who has a small Shiatsu, Jenga. Jenga is a very well-behaved dog and very sweet! On the other hand, my dog, Chocho, has jealousy issues. They've played together a few times and every time Jenga comes near me, Chocho will growl and attack her. It's like this with other dogs too. Since getting rid of either dog is not an option, can you please give me some advice for my situation? How can I show chocho that he will have to accept the fact that I will be nice to the other dog too?
Dogs may guard humans as resources. If you have more dogs than time, a dog who feels a deep need to be with you might try to push other dogs away to get the closest position for petting. This will become more of a problem if you push that dog away. If possible, keep that dog near you while you pet others. Then the dog feels more security and less need to try to push others away.
Of course if the dogs don’t get along, having them both in petting range at the same time could put you in the middle of a dog fight, so we don’t want that. For dogs who don’t fight, try putting one on each side of you. If they do quarrel—or you fear that they would—make a big show of separate but equal time for them.
So that the dogs can recognize they are each getting fair turns, rotate the turns often. A human could understand that today is the other kid’s turn and yesterday was mine, but that’s too much of a stretch for a dog’s mind. Start with very short rotations—maybe just a couple of minutes with one dog and then move to the other—and then increase the length of each dog’s turn.
Another way to provide equal attention is to give each dog what that dog prefers. If one dog likes to cuddle with you and the other would rather chase a ball, you can do both of those things at once. Dogs will often adjust their activities to find a niche in the family.
When a dog leaves the family or a new dog joins the family, you will often see a change in other dogs’ behavior. This causes us to realize that much of a dog’s behavior is due to relationships in a social unit, not to that dog “being dominant” or having some other intrinsic trait. Like humans, dogs are adaptable to situations and to changes.
Sometimes a dog appears to be guarding a human when something else is actually happening. The person may feel safe and protected by a dog’s aggressive behavior toward others, when actually the dog is guarding things such as the warm spot for sleeping, the chance to catch crumbs when the person snacks, and petting from the person. Or, as is quite often the case, the dog is behaving defensively out of fear and is using the person as a human shield!
It’s a mistake to encourage a dog to behave aggressively toward people who approach you when the dog is with you. This is not a dog showing confidence. The aggression commonly escalates until someone gets hurt, and then the dog can’t be with you anymore.
If what you want is protection, encouraging surly behavior in a dog is not the way. Get the right help to teach your dog to accompany you courteously. Whether or not you decide it’s appropriate to teach your dog protection work, a good protection dog is not paranoid. In the case of a dog behaving aggressively toward humans, be sure to get the help of a veterinary behavior specialist. This expert will evaluate the dog’s temperament, take a complete history, and advise you of the risks and your options.