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Just looking to hear people's experiences of whether castration calmed their dogs down. We have a very hyperactive working cocker spaniel. Before anyone comments , I know I was woefully unprepared for the amount of work involved with this breed and did not research it properly and accept full responsibility for my stupidness. I love him hugely, he is funny and affectionate but very hard work. He is constantly annoying our older ( 7 years) bitch , constantly sniffing her and bothering her, body slams her on walks and is over boisterous. Walking them together is a nightmare sometimes and I often walk them separately just for an easier life and because I feel sorry for our older dog. He is not aggressive with other dogs ever, he has growled at dh when he did not want to be moved off our bed when he had sneaked up there earlier in the evening. but not generally aggressive to anyone.
I'm just wondering if getting him done might help to clam him. DH is very against it, thinks it's unfair to do it to him and blames spaying for changing our bitch and making her more aggressive. I'd just like to hear other peoples experiences of whether it helped clam their dogs down and whether it negatively affected their dogs personality. The sheer amount of energy ( despite lots of walks/ play etc) is overwhelming. Also is there anything we can do to discourage digging - he has dug huge craters in our lawn which admittedly was already awful from a hot summer, he cannot be left unsupervised in the garden or a new crater appears and now our older dog has started copying him.
I know official doggy people are anti-neutering, but it made the world of difference to my dog. He is a pet, not a stud dog, and although it was a shame for him, it made life more pleasant!
I held off for as long as possible and had him done at 13 months. He was a nightmare . He humped everything - and anyone. He howled outside gates of likely mates. He would lie down on the pavement and refuse to move (and he is big). The final straw was when he cornered a friend of dd's and his, er, interest, was patent to see
He is still full of beans - just not those kind of beans.
Thank for the replies . he's 14months. I know this is probably the height of the teenage ' time for dogs !
He doesn't hump things ( much). When my older dog has a wee, he licks the pee ?? ( Gross ! ). He tries to be dominant standing over her and barging her about. I thought this would stop in time but they still don't really get along.
This article (plus the summary sheet linked to within) is worth a read if you're considering castration for behavioural reasons.
How much exercise and mental stimulation does he get? The latter is just as important (if not even more so) as the former. Physical exercise is important but on its own is never going to fully wear a dog, especially an intelligent and active breed, out. It's possible he could be bored and the digging/mithering your older dog is how he's entertaining himself. One of the easiest ways to provide some extra mental stimulation is to reconsider how you're feeding him. If he just gets his food in a bowl then consider something like scatter feeding, using food dispensing toys, using a snuffle mat/licky mat (depending on food type), etc.. You might also want to consider doing an activity with him that will get his brain working and channel his energy a bit more appropriately. Gundog training, nosework, agility, flyball, obedience and rally are all worth looking into.
Switching off and chilling out at home isn't always something that comes naturally to all dogs, again particularly working breeds/types, but it is something you can train. Kikopup on YouTube has a good series of videos called Capturing Calmness which is really good for this and I also really like Beverley Courtney's 'Brilliant Family Dog' series of book, the first of which covers mat training which is essentially teaching your dog to settle anywhere.
Yes. Do it. It’s driving him batty. I have had dogs all my life. Not cockers, but shepherds. (They’re busy too....) I firmly believe that if they’re pets, and not using their bits, they’re much happier and calmer without them. (And experience has proven this true - I mention this to my husband when he irritates me, too.... “Time to take you to the vet!!!” He won’t comply though.... Dogs are so much braver!
I agree with @justilou1 definitely do it for his sake and yours.
And the sooner you do it the better as the dominating behaviour will already be starting to become learned rather than hormonal behaviour.
Thanks all. he does get a lot of exercise but agreed we could do more with the mental stimulation, it's just hard to find time to do things ( classes) at the weekend with him as I sometimes work at the weekends and dh is busy with the kids activities etc. The making him work for his food is a good idea too . I think I will have a serious chat with dh tonight about it as I reckon the sooner the better.
Sorry I totally disagree with the posters above.
Loads of scientific studies that show the only behaviour that will be prevented after castration is scent marking. Humping, energy levels, etc will not change a bit.
What often happens is that is coincides with the dog maturing anyway.
Working cockers are manic ( I have working dogs, collies, kelpies etc all my life and will never ever ever own a working cocker, fostered many though!!!)
You need brain activities, you need exercise, you need training, constantly, to have a calm working cocker.
Have him castrated for health reasons and prevention of breeding but I promise you that castration will not make any difference to his energy levels.
Dominating behaviour is rubbish by the way as I am sure you know
Comparing a german shepherd to a working cocker is not the same at all . German shepherds are intelligent, empathetic, sensitive dogs, working cockers are just on speed instinctively driven by scents and the need to chase
<sits back and waits for the rush of owners who have the calmest working cockers ever , that spend 18 hours on the sofa all day - I just don't believe you!>
The digging - the way to top this IS to supervise, I'm afraid. Now that he has discovered how much fun it is, expect him to take a while to let go of the habit. Distract, distract distract while he is out in the garden.
In all honesty, I am not convinced neutering has any reliable effect of calming a dog down (over and above the natural calming that comes with increased age). Whichever way you go, reading articles like the one linked to in a pp is important because the effect it will have on the dog is determined by the individual dog.
In simple terms, it lowers the point of provocation at which the dog resorts to aggression but increases how much the dog can handle before being provoked. The net effect of this seems to be that neutered dogs are more aggressive than intact ones - on average. How this will translate to your dog depends on how nervous or fearful is is right now or how easily provoked.
All that doesn't mean I am anti neutering, just that I think the removal of hormones that do more than just drive sex behaviours is a big step and it is worth really knowing what the possible benefits and risks are before going ahead. Testosterone has far wider reaching influences (good and bad) than just sex drive - in dogs and humans.
I do agree with Windyshrimp Brain games are easy to set up
Is he fed kibble? Then scatter feed his kibble on the garden for every meal. Spread it out to make him sniff for it.
Hide a piece of food in the room etc this take no effort from you but again will tire him out.
Does he like balls? On his walk hide his ball and get him to find it.
Scent work is easy to set up if you want more info.
The sheer amount of energy ( despite lots of walks/ play etc) is overwhelming.
My cocker did go through a stage of digging big holes in the garden as a puppy. I ended up supervising and physically removing him when he used to do it so his fun outside stopped if he dug. I also cordoned off areas or placed big things over his favourite spots to discourage him. Fortunately he grew out of it.
What do you do for exercise? Mine is mad on chasing balls or hunting them so whilst he has the traditional walks with a pack of dogs at daycare I don't walk him. Instead a short period of ball chasing or hunting in the forest is what he prefers.
As yours is also cocker get his nose working as they love it. We did gundog training for the first year and now we do agility. Think about whether you need to change how you exercise him.
As for castration, we had him done just before 11 months of age and it didn't really change him at all but I was always going to castrate him.
I’m not sure I agree that castration will not stop humping - especially as my vet told me this was exactly what castration was primarily for! I went to ask them if he should be done because on walks (never at home strangely) he would get on almost every dog I came across, male or female. She said wait a while and so I gave it 6 months, until he had a particularly bad run in with a German shepherd who wasn’t best pleased with his behaviour and booked him in.
He has NEVER humped again, went from every walk to never again, stayed in for 2 weeks to recover and do lead walks and then he was a different dog on walks.
His energy levels are a little less but I wouldn’t say dramatic. He does seem a slightly calmer dog though, less chasing the lawnmower when I’m out mowing!!
A down side I would say is he puts on weight much easier so I’ve had to reduce food intake.
My vets said they wouldn’t castrate for behaviour alone though so maybe try the working for food etc too and see if the extra stimulation works?
Janus a lot of humping isnt sex related - that's why it's no longer considered a behaviour that will be helped by neutering. Obviously there will always be the odd extremely randy sex pest dog but it's not the norm.
Also with any type of humping they can just suddenly grow out of it - my entire male cavalier humped one particular toy every evening from just under 1 year old to 18months. Then just stopped and hasn't humped anything again.
People often think neutering calms dog because it coincides with dogs calming down anyway.
If its a behavioural thing I wanted to stop and no amount of training was working and neutering looked like the only possible way to help, I would always chemically castrate before actually castrating to ensure it would have the desired effect and not bring about worst issues (like fear aggression). I would only go straight to physically neutering a dog for physical health reasons and/or if I wasn't able to prevent my dog going off to make puppies.
There was no humping at all in the house, we have other dogs and small children, he never did it once inside.
On walks he just loved everyone!! I think I would have let it go until the German shepherd literally went nuts on him and I was very afraid. In the end i reasoned that it was better to get him done so that he wasn’t attacked by an unhappy receiver of his love!!
I still think it’s too much of a coincidence that he did it on every walk to never doing it again from the first walk after being done. So maybe it just worked for him?
I definitely wouldn’t say it calms dogs down though, I think his calming down a little bit just coinciding with him being 2.5 and being a little more sensible. All dogs calm down as they get older, even if it’s very gradual!
So I wouldn’t recommend it for reducing energy levels is what I was trying to say, if it’s for humping then (only in my experience) I would.
We had our Goldie done at 16 months
He wasn’t aggressive but was very humpy and a bit hyper. He was like a different dog afterwards, much calmer and not as frantic at trying to get in other dogs faces.
Right choice for us
Can I just add Vets recommend neutering due to health reasons as well as behaviour. And also saves you the worry of not letting him out of your sight and him not listening to a word you say any time there is a bitch in season down the road
I had a cocker who was castrated at a year because he had a retained testicle. He calmed down at age seven.
Ignore the fanatics and just get him done. You and he will have a happier life.
Can I just add Vets recommend neutering due to health reasons
My own vet doesn't - they recommend waiting until the dog is fully mature and then making an informed decision based on the dog and circumstance.
Some health risks are lowered (prostate cancer, for e.g.) while some are increased (bone cancers). It is not as clear cut as to say castration results in health benefits without also considering the health risks.
Again, I am not anti castration. I just would hate making a decision like that without making sure I was as informed as possible.
Neutering won’t magically solve issues. Training and brain games will help.
Can you speak to your vet about the implant? I don’t have a boy dog so no expert but I believe it’s a non permanent thing. May give you a sense of if and how his behaviour could change if you neuter.
And just a side note. Dominance is rubbish. He’s not being dominant. The whole theory has been debunked.
I'm 50/50 on this subject... I believe a dog shouldn't be neutered/spayed if it can be avoided, I mean how would you like it if someone dragged you to the clinic and did it to you? HOWEVER, in some cases it is necessary. for instance I have 3 akitaXgerman shepherds, (previously 4, the mother to the three remaining passed) my bitch had seizures in the run-up to her season, after a long discussion with the vet I decided it was better for her health to be spayed with a heavy heart I made the choice and the operation was done, keeping track of when her next few seasons would be cross-referenced with the pattern of previous ones and seizures no more seizures appeared! yes, it worked,
one of my males was quite troublesome at around the same age, very challenging, quite aggressive towards the other dogs, bitches included, would dig, runoff, wouldn't let people into the house he wouldn't bite but would try to intimidate them, we had none of this behaviour with our other intact male, we tried all sorts of obedience classes, positive reinforcement for good behaviour, again after speaking to the vet and much thought we had him done, and it made the world of difference, he calmed right down, stopped being nasty with his siblings and mother, he is loving and well behaved, in these two instances it worked great for my babies, we never had our other intact male (or late female) done has never been any bother I think if its to settle negative behaviour issues because of raging hormones or for health reasons it is acceptable but i would speak to your vet first and maybe try some other methods of controlling behaviour
@missbattenburg pyometra (in females) and testicular tumours/prostate problems (in males) have significantly high rates in older non-neutered dogs.
Also on the how would you like it. To be totally honest if I was never going to be allowed to have kids it would be great to be spayed at a young age and never have to have periods or go through those hormonal emotions every month!