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The Effects of Neutering on Your Dog’s Behavior

By Alison_wood @midnight_eden

Great Dane HARLEQUIN and a chihuahuaMany pet owners understand the intrinsic benefits of having their pets spayed or neutered, namely the fact that it stops unwanted breeding. With animal shelters often at capacity, the number of healthy, but homeless animals euthanized is truly disturbing, coming in at nearly 3 million annually, according to the Humane Society of the United States. So those who count themselves as responsible pet owners are sure to have the animals in their home fixed. Some shelters even require that the procedure be completed before adoption can take place. But you may still be worried about the behavioral effects of neutering your puppy. For example, some dogs that are neutered early on will never learn to lift their leg to urinate. In general, your dog will not be harmed by neutering, even though some of his otherwise natural behaviors will change as a result. In truth, you’ll likely find the behavioral changes a blessing, on the whole. Here’s what you can expect when you neuter your dog.

There are a couple of major differences between adult dogs that have been neutered and those that haven’t, the main one being the urge to breed. Over time, puppies that have not been fixed will want to start breeding, and they may go to great lengths to find a suitable female. They will have the urge to roam, which could lead to all kinds of disruptive and dangerous activities such as digging under fencing, trying to squeeze through gaps, or even attempting to jump over enclosures in order to get out in search of females in heat. And while you might be surprised by their ingenuity in finding ways to escape, it’s more likely that they’ll injure themselves or damage your property during their attempts. And then, of course, there are resulting litters of puppies to deal with. However, neutered dogs are far less likely to engage in such behavior.

Male dogs are also known for marking their territory, something that often occurs outside, but could also take place indoors, much to the ire of a frustrated pet parent who finds the dog urinating on walls and furniture. Neutered males will still engage in this behavior to some extent, but they can be more easily trained to take their natural proclivities outdoors when the desire to mark is reduced thanks to lower testosterone levels.

Of course, the larger issue for many pet owners may revolve around aggression. Unfortunately, this problem is not always solved by neutering. Some breeds tend to be prized for their penchant for aggression, and it may depend on the disposition of your animal, as well. But you can practically guarantee that a neutered dog is going to display less aggression towards people and other animals than he would if he had not been neutered, especially when he has been properly trained. That said, even neutered males may get aggressive when they encounter a female in heat or a male that has not yet been neutered. But generally speaking, a neutered dog is going to be less aggressive than he might have otherwise been in nearly every situation. So before you balk at the cost to neuter a dog, consider how much you stand to gain where the behavior of your pooch is concerned, not to mention the money you might save by avoiding marking in the house, dog fights, and unwanted litters of puppies.

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