To Neuter or Not to Neuter …
Deciding when to neuter your dog is not a decision to be taken lightly, particularly with strong and differing views floating around the internet and conflicting advice we can often receive from vets.
While we understand that every dog/every breed is different and the “best” time to neuter depends on a whole multitude of things, we have a duty of care to discuss with all Canine Club customers any change in their dog’s behaviour if it is affecting their dog’s time at The Canine Club – daycare or boarding – or is having an effect on the other dogs in our care.
Safety first – dogs and staff
We constantly strive to provide the safest, friendliest and most sociable environment for all the dogs in our care to have fun in, and just as importantly for our staff to work in, and it’s with this in mind that we constantly have to be concious that the dogs in our care:
- Are not excessively mounting/humping
- Are not displaying overly dominant behaviour
- Are not causing dominant behaviours from other dogs due to their intact status
- Are not creating an unsafe play environment
- Their presence is not reducing the overall peacefulness and manageability of the group
All dogs are constantly monitored when they are in daycare, but as male dogs reach maturity, we keep an extra careful eye on them to watch out for the behaviour listed above.
Change in Behaviour – male dogs
With male dogs, as they get older and the testosterone levels start to rise, we generally start to see a change in behaviour as their personality gets swamped by hormones. This will begin to show itself by dogs humping, guarding, becoming fixated on other dogs, becoming stressed, more vocal and ultimately the potential to becoming ‘spikey’ and ‘argumentative’ with other dogs, especially other male dogs – even if they were best friends an hour before.
We often find the change in behaviour comes as a surprise to owners because they haven’t seen it themselves (in the local park or with their friends’ dogs) and this isn’t unusual as the change in behaviour almost always happens within a daycare environment first as this is the place where their dogs are around other dogs that they feel most comfortable and settled with.
The ‘tell-tale’ stages:
Stage 1: Their behaviour is naturally starting to shift, and we are starting to see infrequent examples of the list above during their time in the field & enclosures.
Stage 2: Their behaviour has progressed, and we are now seeing these issues more frequently and it is preventing them from fully enjoying and flourishing in daycare - but is still manageable in the short term for the team supervising the social group they are part of. Once a dog reaches this stage however, we will speak to owners to let them know there is a change in behaviour.
Stage 3: The issues we have been seeing are now consistent and their behaviour is disruptive and poses a risk to other dogs and the team supervising the social groups. Once a dog reaches this stage, we will speak to owners about a break from daycare whilst a plan is discussed.
Speaking to your vet
Remember that when speaking to your vet about neutering, it’s really important to explain to them that they attend a social doggy daycare and that they are displaying these behaviours, and that the advice to neuter is based on this.
A good vet should take this into consideration when advising on neutering and should not recommend delaying to a certain arbitrary age if these problems have developed. If your vet doesn’t fully understand the implications of not neutering on social behaviour (some sadly don’t!), you should feel able to speak to other vets at other practices too.
If you have reservations about neutering your dog, please speak to us about them and we can offer advice and our opinion based on the care we have provided to social dogs over a 11 year period.
If you want to test the water beforehand to see what effect neutering might have on your dog, chemically neutering is an alternative. This is an implant that lasts either 6 months or a year that provides the same result as surgically neutering your dog but means that it can be left to expire if it doesn’t have the desired effect on behaviour within daycare and social environments.
If you do go for the chemical option, you must make sure that you keep up with this each time they come to expire, or have them fully neutered in place of the implant, for your dog to be able to keep coming to The Canine Club.
Changes in behaviour – female dogs
Although we do see signs in behaviour changes with female dogs before a season, it is to a lesser extent. Un-spayed females are very welcome in daycare, EXCEPT from when they are actually in season. A female dog in season can still ‘connect’ with an un-neutered male dog – we have seen it happen and although there isn’t a chance of pregnancy, the mating act can be quite stressful for both the male and female dogs.
If you choose not to spay your female dog, this is absolutely fine - you’ll just need to factor in that they won’t be able to attend daycare during each season and any pre boked days will need to be cancelled for that period of time. A season will usually last 3-4 weeks from start to finish.