Do dogs respect their elders?

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Respect is a type of earned deference. In some ways, younger dogs commonly defer to older dogs. For dogs, territory is an important issue; it is constantly being acquired through marking, and invaded by other animals and people. Territory can be five feet of space in a dog park or a simple spot under the bed. In general, a younger dog will not openly invade an older dog’s territory whether it encompasses a large or small area.

An older dog has declining physical senses and demands more personal space than a younger dog would require. If an older dog and younger dog are carefully observed, it is common that an older dog is the determining factor when it comes to sleeping and cuddling. In a relationship between and older and younger dog, the older dog has usually been in the home longer and previously established its territory. A new dog will have to choose from whatever space is left, or risk incurring the wrath of the older dog, and even the unhappiness of humans, who are also hesitant to cross a cranky canine.

Additionally, an older dog’s superior etiquette makes it clear to other dogs that an older dog is dominant. The exception to this rule is an older dog’s interaction with puppies. Puppies have very poor dog etiquette, and will often try get positioned in the most desirable spots and won’t recognize that the older dog has no interest in playing with them. It is in the older dog’s interest to teach puppies to respect their elders.

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