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Castration and Behaviour

21st Jun, 2017  

In the UK we castrate male dogs for many reasons, primarily to avoid unwanted pregnancies but we also neuter to prevent roaming, to control unwanted sexual behaviours, in the hope of calming a dog down, in order to prevent aggression problems developing or to solve an existing aggression problem.  There is mixed evidence as the efficacy of castration for all of these reasons, the only sure fire thing that castration will solve is unwanted pregnancies!

However, if not already developed castration can be effective in preventing:

•    Inter-male aggression;
•    unwanted sexual behaviours;
•    and to prevent roaming.

But once a dog is already acting out these behaviours they become learned and castration is unlikely to be effective on its own. Even when castration is relevant, there is only a percentage chance that it will work. This varies from 90% for some problems, such as roaming to find potential mates, down to 50% for others such as inappropriate scent marking. This is because the male brain is programmed to display male behaviour by testosterone even before birth.

The statistics show that entire male dogs are more likely to show aggression than female dogs or neutered males.  Entire male dogs are more likely to be aggressive because they are more competitive over things they value than are either females or neutered males. They may be more confident in their ability to control things they think are important and as a result more likely to use aggression when confronted.  Castrating dogs before they start to show aggression may well reduce the future likelihood of some individuals becoming aggressive, but again, once they have learned that aggression is a successful response, the learnt behaviour does not go away.

In cases where aggression is motivated by fear, which is not a testosterone related problem castration is not likely to be effective.  Indeed, there is strong anecdotal evidence that castrating a dog can actually aggravate defensive aggression. The thinking here is simply that testosterone confers confidence and that the massive drop in testosterone following castration can lead to a corresponding fall in confidence thereby exacerbating defensive aggression and other fear-related problems. Accurate diagnosis is therefore essential to determine whether castration is appropriate.

It is generally accepted in the behavioural profession to advise against castrating a dog displaying fear related aggression or other fear related behaviour problems for this reason.  It is wise to allow a dog to mature and for his confidence to develop before considering castration.  Potential guide dogs in the UK have their confidence levels monitored and castration is timed to suit each individual.  This may mean leaving the less confident dogs until almost a year old while others are done at 8 months.

If a dog is already showing aggression it is advisable to seek a professional behavioural opinion as to exactly what the cause is before considering neutering as an option.  If the accurate diagnosis of a problem shows that castration is likely to help, the chances of success are greatly improved if the operation is done in conjunction with behaviour modification therapy (Claire Kirby BSc AS/Dip (CABC).

TESTIMONIALS

  • Even whilst Claire was here, she was able to stop Harvey barking at dogs passing the window. This has continued and we haven’t actually needed to cover our window, which we really didn’t want to do. Harvey is also better out on walks, he responds really well to the squeaky ball and he seems calmer in general. We would have paid twice for this result! Thank you so much,

     - Mrs Chapple

  • I have two boy Jack Russell crosses from the same litter, Jake and Joe. Apparently two pups from the same litter can be an extra special challenge and we were starting to get into a muddle! Claire came out to see us for three visits and the boys are so much better. We have had to teach them to be independent of one another and work with each on their own. They now walk well on the lead and are much better around the house and I feel that I know what to do.

     - Marie

  • Got my new harnesses on Saturday, thank you. Using a traditional 'no pull' back harness was a waste of time for my two springers. I was pulled along like a sled driver, the two of them like heat-seeking missiles with noses down and tails wagging. We used the harnesses all weekend and they took to them straight away, but this morning was the first time out on my own with all three dogs. What a difference!

     - Julie

  • Our Bulldogs were fighting on sight. We didn’t know what to do and 4-Legs-Good’s advice has been invaluable. We are very pleased with the progress they are making - they can now be in the same room (supervised!). There are definite steps in the right direction and it’s still early days. Thank you for your ongoing support!

     - Samantha

  • Claire’s visit has changed our lives! The dogs are barking much less! Thank you so much,!

     - Brenda

  • We are very happy with 4-Legs-Good's advice. Barney is much calmer and more settled and so are we! Thank you so much for all your help!

     - Lisa

  • I've been working really hard with Penny, and at the Mid County Championships yesterday, she qualified for Crufts. She behaved beautifully and was an absolute angel. Thank you for all your help and guidance.

     - Ann Marie

  • We cannot thank you enough for your help with Tinker and her 'vertical scratching' problem. Since your visit last month and implementing your suggestions, she has settled down wonderfully and is now her old self. It's obvious that your method of seeing your 'clients' in-situ really works - your visit was both very informative and enjoyable and your written report is so helpful. We're also progressing nicely with getting Tinker and Bonnie to travel - again your advice was spot on. Many thanks again from two very grateful de-stressed cats and two very relieved owners!

     - Barbara and Rod

  • Just wanted to drop you a line to say thank you very much for the Sensation Harness. It is AMAZING!!! We have probably tried every conceivable lead and harness on the market to stop our 2 year old beagle Daisy from pulling, all to no avail. We are delighted with the positive effect the Sensation harness has had on walking Daisy. She is much happier it seems, as are we. No more straining around her neck, which I am eternally grateful for.

     - Sharon

  • It was so lovely to meet you guys! Thank you so much for your help, you have such a kind attitude and have plenty of time for people! We have been practicing the exercise you taught us and hey presto!! She seems to be accepting dogs in a closer environment than ever before - speak soon!

     - Charlotte & Dan

  • Bobby is an 8 year old Border Collie who is very sensitive to noise. As well as fireworks and bird scarers he really doesn’t like the sounds our neighbours make moving around upstairs. Claire, our vets and ourselves have worked closely together and whilst Bobby is still not 100% he is much, much happier - and safer too. Claire and the vet have given me the right tools to work with Bobby and now I know what to do I am much more confident and relaxed.

     - 

  • I have and will continue to recommend 4-Legs-Good any animal owner's who need support and guidance. Claire and Zoe have been so helpful in sorting out my rescued loopy lurcher's nervousness and socialising problems. I trust them both: what they don't know about animals is not worth knowing. Their calmness and reassuring manner transfers to both dogs and owners. Thanks guys for a great service!

     - Corinne

  • We are so proud of her. She has amazed everyone, all the dogs she used to bark at, she now meets out on the field and although she would rather play with her ball than actually join in their play, she tolerates them more than I thought she would. Their owners are amazed at the transformation!!! She has a habit of sitting and looking like butter wouldn't melt so that they will give her treats. Believe it or not, other dog owners compliment us on what a well behaved dog she is!!!!

     - Beverley Badger

  • I am not stupid enough to think there is not a long way to go, but I am very, very reassured by the fact that there just may be something I can do about this after years of thinking we were resigned to our fate. Having read your report below, I should maybe not rush too much and try to take things gradually, but I feel much happier. Although I take Dottie religiously, twice a day for a walk it’s always a relief to get her back home. Now I am actually contemplating a situation where I get to look forward to it again.

     - Diane Rees

  • I think we have decided that Corky doesn’t need another session yet. She has been just delightful the last couple of months. We are taking her away in the campervan for 3 weeks so going to assess her level of anxiety whilst we are away. She isn't best buddies with every dog she sees but habitually looks me me when another dog appears and will ignore them which is a whole lot better than becoming the aggressor. Thanks again for all your help

     - Ru Hazarika

  • Henry’s barking has really improved and I’m feeling much better too!

     - Lyn Tildesley

  • We are enjoying a very calm evening, with a mad dog who has been resting in a very exhausted state in her crate........have double checked and she's not dead!! The training manual is really excellent and my daughter is looking forward to getting stuck into some of the training with me.

     - Jane Henry

  • Things are definitely on the up, Murray's a joy! He's walking twice a day, eating really well and we're able to leave him for a couple of hours at a time without coming home to a bomb site - he's taking quite a liking to chewing cardboard, but only when it's given, so all good there! We took your advice and enrolled him into doggy day care - he goes once a week and runs round all day, then is ever so calm for the following 1 or 2! I think it's probably a mixture of the 3Cs, day care and a lot of persistence, but he's turning into a really lovely young dog, bless him! We couldn't have got to this point without you!

     - Rhian Wilkinson

  • We are managing Roly ok, and I’m pleased with his progress. Thank you for your help and probably saving Roly

     - Dawn Coley

  • Many thanks Claire for your help and advice regarding Jeffrey and his on-lead aggression towards other dogs. It was great to meet you at the showground ,enabling us to put your advice into practice with the other dogs in sight. I have to say that Jeffrey is coming on in leaps and bounds within just a few weeks of using the techniques so fingers crossed for a brighter, fun filled future! As an aside I also found the manual you provided very helpful. It gives an insight into dog behaviour/thought process that really does make a difference in trying to understand Jeffrey and made me rethink what I do on a daily basis. Looking forward to a catch up session in a few weeks, hoping you will see the improvement Jeffrey has made.

     - Janice Johnson

  • Thankyou so much for all your help and advice you really have helped me reconnect with my dogs and I am enjoying them every day!

     - Helen Smith

  • Good morning Claire Further to our conversation last week I thought I would let you know that the harness is amazing. Tara took to it immediately and we are now enjoying loose lead walks. I am thrilled

     - Iris Smith

  • Hi Claire, Just wanted to let you know the Sensible harness is absolutely fine - no issues with having the one without the extra padding - we've been using it a week now and no sign of any rubbing or chafing. It works a treat - Martha (my dog) is much more responsive to me on walks now - definitely the best no- pull aid I've used and I like the fact it works as a training aid not just to curb pulling. Best of all, Martha has no issues with wearing it (unlike the Haiti head collar which she hated). I will definitely be recommending it to others! Thanks for your help and kind regards,

     - Joy Davis

  • Thank you so much, I’m really happy with my sensation harness. I have a springer, we have tried everything. The harness has made walking him enjoyable again

     - Louise Tabone

  • Smudge is doing brilliantly. Seren is now the main handler when we are out walking. She has such excellent control over him and he obeys her which is great to see. She is so pleased. We have stuck to all the recommendations you gave us and so the majority of the time all is good. He does still like to chew chunks out of furniture on occasions but not as bad as he was. Smudge is so much more chilled now and instead of the odd nibble he now smothers us in licks and kisses. Seren has taught him a few more tricks one being that when she comes in he literally takes her coat off for her by getting hold of the hood. So as you can see we have now got a wonderful loving dog who is full of mischief and just great fun to have around.

     - Lynette Jones

  • Thank you for your report which we received yesterday. I know it may sound a cliche but in less than a week Tia is a changed dog! She seems calmer all round and even fell sleep in my arms whilst David was clipping her coat yesterday, she was actually snoring! I've been out with her for the first time on my own this morning and it was a completely different experience. I was calm, relaxed and enjoyed the walk. If we came across a dog I didn't know I took her to the side and made sure she focused on me (and the sausage of course). One lady even said she could do with me giving her some training tips as Tia was so good!! Just want to say a big thank you as you've definitely given us lots of tips to use.

     - Julie Price

  • We rescued Tigger from the moorland’s kennels (www.moorlandskennels.co.uk) a year or so ago and he has done really well! However, he has a problem with other dogs. Claire was able to assess Tigger’s reaction to other dogs at the clinic in Shrewsbury and show us how to approach unknown dogs in such a way as to boost Tigger’s confidence. His behaviour is so much better already! Claire has shown us how to encourage Tigger to trust us to keep him safe around scary unknown dogs. Where I was starting to find walking him stressful, I can now enjoy walking the dogs again. The sensible harness has been a real help too and I now find Tigger much easier to handle’ Also, the book and notes you give out are brilliant for refreshing on the things I have learnt. I can't believe how much dog training has changed over the years!

     - Ros Crocker

  • I’m loving the training! It’s so fun and positive… no yelling or negative attention! The pushing to the door is practically none existent and they wait for food too, jumping on lap is rare now and they have been playing together!! I walk away when they get funny with each other when I’m the trigger. I’m a very happy household indeed. I still have lots to read, practice and work on but so far I cannot fault your directions. They just seems happier and ‘look to me’ more for direction instead of me looking on as chaos erupts… you are worth your weight in gold! Have a wonderful weekend!!

     - Emma Wootton

  • “Milo was a very anxious cat and he started toileting outside the litter tray. The suggestions that Claire made have really helped him to come out of his shell and he is more relaxed, happier and much more social with us. These days, whilst he still wees outside the litter tray he now poos in it. Because we have not had total resolution Claire has stayed in touch and is continuing to provide help and support"

     - Charlie Barber

  • Last time I wrote we were still having some concerns about Maddy's mouthing behaviours. Well, I am delighted to tell you that this problem has reduced significantly, yay! Her default behaviour is now to grab an object and be overwhelmed with excitement. Her favourite items are always to be found in the recycling bin, so other than being careful what we put in there, it’s not a problem. The next thing I plan on doing with her is to get her to drop the objects into a box, which will save me having to clear up after her (then I will see if I can train her to clear up my daughter’s mess too)!! Her recall work with distractions is going great too and our new dog walkers were quick to comment on her brilliant recall.

     - Jane Henry

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