Neutering ……….a hot topic

I’ve had a busy week, I did classes last week on Wednesday and Gundog Training on Thursday then in between I have been book writing

Mia my female cocker has came into season last Friday

Now I have 6 dogs into total . Snoopy is 14 and neutered. He was neutered at 10 years old when i retired him from showing. Pickles is 9 and she was neutered at 7 when I stopped breeding from her.

So currently I have 3 entire males and 1 entire female.

Neutering is a hot topic and causes lots of debate these days. 15 years ago early neutering was the responsible thing to do. You are probably hearing now that it is best not to neuter early?

I think it can be really hard being a pet dog owner with all the conflicting information out there.

Now there is a lot of research out there now and good information so you can research yourself.

I think neutering is a personal and individual choice. When I did behaviour work I have advised that some dogs are kept entire and I have advised neutering with others and it has successfully and significantly reduced aggression. We have always performed temporary chemical castration first to assess the impact on behaviour.

My behaviourist head says allow the animal to mature fully then neuter at a later date.
The Vet will look at it purely from a medical point of view and the reduction of unwanted pregnancies. Some will recommend neutering early and others later.
The Rescue look at it from the fact they pick up the pieces of irresponsible owners and they see the thousands of unwanted pets that die every year. Rescues often will neuter early so all dogs are homed neutered, that includes puppies with some rescues.

With all these different views which some people are very passionate about, it can make it hard for pet owners to make a choice.

I personally think that people’s disposable attitude to dogs is the reason dogs die every year in rescue kennels, not neutering.

The key is, the dog is your dog. Not mine, not the vets and not the internet keyboard experts either. You decide.

So for me and my behaviour hat, in an ideal world pet dogs will be left to mature then neutered once matured.

However …………… if your bitch has a season and is a hormonal nightmare , then consider neutering after that season. If your bitch is a bit of clown and an idiot and she calms down after her first season, probably let her have a couple more as the maturity is helping her.

If you are not going to neuter or neuter after a few seasons learn about the signs of pyometra. It’s important.

If you have a male then be aware that just like teenage boys they will be impacted behaviourally through adolescence having surges of testosterone and they will make school boy errors. This will be individual to the dog. Neutering will not change behaviours that are down to a lack of training and manners. I have three entire males here that are trained and can even behave around in season bitches.

If your dog is showing aggression and it fear related then neutering can make it worse as testosterone is confidence. If your dog is full of it and showing aggression that is testosterone driven , especially towards other males, then neutering can help.

If he is randy as hell and embarrassingly humping everything, including your friends then neutering might help. However……Humping can pain related. So again you need to know what is actually driving the behaviour.

The key here is if you have a problem, get a professional behaviourist to assess and advise.

If we look at the situation today , I am seeing many people struggling with adolescent males and their behaviour. They have often been advised not to neuter and that they ‘simply’ will grow out of it.

Now here is the problem. Behaviour is simple, if it gets reinforced it gets stronger, if it doesn’t get reinforced it gets weaker. You don’t grow out of behaviour.

Adolescent boys will make ‘school boy errors’ as surging Hormones hijack behaviour, but reinforcement can maintain it so you need a plan of action when these behaviours appear if you don’t want them to establish themselves.

If your dog is showing aggression towards other dogs and it occurs several times, then it is getting stronger and that learned behaviour pattern will stay.

Then we have another problem, the research says early neutering is detrimental, so then the dog trainers and internet experts who have read these articles are advising pet owners not to neuter early. This blanket advice to all is really not helpful.

Have all these people ever experienced bringing up entire males up to 3 years? I think this is a huge problem for pet owners, being advised to not neuter, but not being given advice on how to manage these dogs through what can be a challenging time.

Because of years of ‘responsible’ neutering not only do pet owners have little experience in bringing up entire adolescents, many dog trainers don’t have either.

If you have a male especially, you can really get it wrong and end up with a problem dog. The assumption of a solution is often more socialisation and we are led to believe socialisation solves everything. Sadly it doesn’t and it can actually, during this time make things worse. If your dog is not coping around other dogs, then less is often more beneficial.

Testosterone levels in an adolescent males can be up to three times higher than that of a mature entire male. If your male wakes up one day with a tonne of testosterone in his blood , this can make other dogs who are a bit insecure feel threatened around him, even though he’s still a friendly goofball and they can attack your dog. This can then in turn cause your dog to become fearful and defensive.

During adolescence with my boys I avoid parks when these kind of inappropriate situations can occur. They spend time with confident girls where they learn to be flirty and apologetic and they spend time around confident males who are not threatened and behave appropriately. My aim is they don’t learn inappropriate behaviour and don’t get opportunity to repeat and practice it.

My aim is they do not get put in situations where they learn to be fearful or aggressive while testosterone is fluctuating.

So I guess my overall advise is if you’re struggling with training and behaviour, get some help and if you want to work through the adolescent male without neutering, get advice off someone who has experience with them.

Hope this was helpful and not too deep……

Jane