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Thoughts on Castration

Subheading:  Family dogs and ‘the snip!’

 

I may be criticised for being too dismissive, however, over the last X number of years of advising and training family dogs, I do, genuinely, in the main, think people overthink whether to castrate their family boy. However, of course that shows they really care if they do :-) In reality, In 90% of cases, for your average, family Labrador, it’s such a simple op they bounce back from in days.

 

Is it essential?

*Nothing* is essential unless it’s life saving, lets face it…. But…. As a pet dog trainer I see 30-50 pet dogs a week. For a pet dog, castration *can* be a hugely beneficial addition to training to bring down their testosterone, adrenaline and stress levels and to put FAR less *things* on their *agenda* when you are training and in life in general.

I am (genuinely) yet to see a clients dog, castrated around 12 – 18 months old NOT improve their performance DIRECTLY related to lowering their ‘agenda’ and testosterone….. And I judge this by the ‘lazy owners’, as I think of them…… whom I love to bits but I know do nothing and no work between classes… Their castrated youngsters still improve because they are less distracted, not because the owners have put any homework in…

 

Overcrowded dog walking society

In this overcrowded dog walking society family dogs live in, to me, its almost a given for a pet dog UNLESS they have the sort of hidiously nervous sort of personality where they crawl on the floor at the sight of their own shadow…… (which 99% of well bred labradors absolutely aren’t going to).

 

Age

Don’t let anyone make it into a big deal in your head, just get on and do it when the dog is over a year. Its not a great idea to do it earlier than this and can cause development problems. But the point BEING, you don’t want to leave it too late and negative patterns of behaviour *set in* that didn’t need to. Around 12 – 16 months of age is ideal, and then enjoy the slowly increasing benefits to a family dog over the next six months, or so, that they take to adjust.

 

Do they get Fat?

Only if you let them by not reacting to weight going on. With less on their to do list they express less energy and need less food…. Fullstop nothing complicated there.

 

Does it change their personality?

No…. There is actually more room in their head for you especially *if* their head was particularly full of ground sniffing, other dogs and rushing up to other males to posture and tip toe…. Or sticking their nose up bitches skirts! But just general even headedness is far more achievable.

 

Does it instantly cure common training problems?

No of course not. Training is training. It has benefits related to training, as mentioned above,  but with so many selfish ignorant people walking bitches in season in public, and a huge lack of private ground for most people to exercise their dogs on….. It’s helpful for most pet male owners to castrate. Not a fix all. But helpful.

 

Shall I try chemical castration first?

We all can only advise on our own experience. I have seen terrible personality changes occur in dogs given chemical castration, who were pretty sound and reasonable creatures before hand. I have never seen such reactions from proper castration.

My fustration that people don’t just get on and do such a minor operation, rather than mess their dogs body around with hormonal chemicals, is immense. Either do it. Or don’t. A chemical inplant is not going to tell you how much your dog will improve (or not) when you undertake the op. Leave chemical castration WELL alone is my advice.

 

Who will tell me not to?

Usually VERY experienced owners with years of dog handling…. Or people rarely rubbing up against the general dog walking public, often won’t see the need……but I see a huge need from clients every single day.

It’s a corner smoother, not a life changer, and we could all use a little help sometimes.  :-)

 

Diana Stevens – April 2020

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