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If you have a male dog that is un-neutered, their behaviour will naturally be rather different than that of a neutered male. While this is true as a general rule in the everyday life of the un-neutered dog, their hormone levels and drive to reproduce will reach fever pitch if they are exposed to an unspayed female dog that is in season, even if said female dog is possibly not all that close by!
Managing an un-neutered male dog comes accompanied by a range of challenges that the owners of neutered dogs simply do not face, and if you own an un-neutered male or are considering getting one, it is important to understand the various ways in which this may manifest itself.
Many pet owners are reluctant to neuter their male dogs for a variety of reasons, many of which are simply cosmetic or largely down to anthropomorphism! However, the neutering operation is quick and simple, has a short recovery time, and once your dog has come round from the anaesthetic, is highly unlikely to be aware of it or bothered by it at all.
Neutering your male dog can remove all of the overtly sexual and dominant behaviours that un-neutered males are apt to display, as well as protecting your male dog from future problems such as certain testicular cancers and other conditions. Unless you are planning to breed your male dog, having them neutered is the responsible choice.
The un-neutered male displays several different behavioural traits to neutered males, many of which are undesirable! Exactly how pronounced these traits are in any given dog will vary from case to case, but covers a fairly broad spectrum.
Un-neutered male dogs are more likely to roam away from home and wander off than neutered dogs, and when they are affected by a bitch in season, this behaviour goes into overdrive! Un-neutered males are also generally more dominant than neutered males, and are more likely to see themselves as the alpha. Two un-neutered male dogs will often see each other as a threat and challenge for resources, and may potentially fight. Un-neutered males are also more territorial, and will be more prone to scent marking and patrolling their territory to protect it from other dogs!
Finally, un-neutered males are much more likely to display sexually dominant behaviours, such as humping people’s legs or humping other dogs, including neutered male dogs! Un-neutered dogs do also have a tendency to being more amenable to training for aggression and to fighting, although this is partially down to training and management as well.
When an un-neutered male dog becomes aware of the presence of a bitch in heat, they will have only one thing on their minds: breeding! The female dog in season produces a whole range of hormones that affect the behaviour of the male dog as part of the process of initiating breeding, and your male dog does not even need to be in the direct vicinity of the female to be affected by them.
Male dogs can detect the presence of a female dog in season from several streets away, and even over a mile in some cases. This means that your male dog will become obsessed with seeking out the bitch, and will do everything in their power to do so. Their normal good behaviour, training and responsiveness may go out of the window, and your male dog will have a totally one-track mind, being only peripherally aware of other things going on around them.
They may go off their food, and potentially become snappy or less tolerant than normal. They will also do everything they can to get to the bitch, and so might become adept at escaping from the home or garden, or running of during their walks. This can of course be very dangerous, as your dog might run through traffic and put themselves in danger en route to the female dog.
Also, your dog is unlikely to be the only un-neutered dog in the area that is aware of the bitch in season, and other dog owners in the vicinity will also probably be facing the same problems as you. This means that it is entirely possible that your dog will run into other un-neutered dogs that are competing for the attentions of the bitch, which will almost certainly lead to fighting.
Even if your dog is usually very good natured and tolerant of other dogs, when they are affected by the breeding urge, every other dog is competition, and placing two un-neutered dogs within range of each other at this stage is pretty much guaranteed to lead to a very serious fight.
It is vitally important to protect your un-neutered dog when there is a bitch in season in the area, keeping them closed in, supervised at all times, and only walking them on the lead. You might even want to take help with you on walks if your dog is very large or strong, in order to control them fully.
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