The video shows a guy hugging a robot dog with the intention of making his real dog jealous. The aspect of this video that I don’t understand is that the large dog who is meant to be showing jealousy is blind. This is disclosed at the beginning. I don’t see how a blind dog can be jealous of another dog that is being petted by this man unless the sound of his voice provokes jealousy in the dog. But I don’t see that happening.
Another problem, if we have to be realistic, is that there is a questionmark over whether companion animals can have the emotion of jealousy. It’s quite a complex emotion. You have to know that you’re in a relationship with another animal and that the animal that you love, loves another animal. It’s incredibly complicated and I think it is beyond, without being disrespectful, the emotions of a companion dog. I think it requires self-awareness and I am not sure dogs can be self-aware. Apparently the scientists say that dogs don’t pass the self-awareness test.
If I’m correct then what we’re seeing here is the man projecting his emotions and thoughts onto the dog. He wants his dog to show jealousy and when his dog makes some movements and responds in a way which could be construed as jealousy the bloke immediately construes it like that because it suits him. I don’t believe the video. I don’t think it makes sense to me.
Those are my thoughts, but apparently in 2014 CNN published an article based upon new research which suggested that dogs can exhibit jealousy. The test is rather like we see in the video on this page and the man in the video on this page may carried out his version of the test. The study was conducted by scholars at the University of California, San Diego. When owners displayed affection towards a robot dog which barked, whined and wagged its tail, their real dogs snapped out and pushed against the robot dog and tried to get between the dog and human.
Okay, in that example which I describe in words there appears to be jealousy because the dog is intervening and is doing something. In the video that we see on this page it is hard to construe the dog’s behaviour as jealousy. Also, just because a dog gets in between a robot dog and their owner I’m not sure that it means that they feel jealousy. They may be seeking attention because their owner is playing with another object and they want to get in on the act and play as well. We have to be very careful when we are interpreting dog behaviour as being due to a complex emotion. The truth is we don’t know whether dogs can feel jealousy and certainly this video does not support this thought.