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Canine Behavior/Neuter or not?-thanks in advance!

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Question
Hello Jill and thank you in advance for your time and help. I am trying to decide what is best for my 1 1/2 year old male German Shepherd in regards to neutering. I have heard so much about pros and so much about cons that I'm not sure what to do. I'm not irresponsible about watching my dog (he's an inside dog), but I do not have a fenced in yard when I do let him out to go to the bathroom (though I do monitor him and make sure he doesn't go off). The main reason I would neuter him is to keep his behavior under control and keep him from roaming, but I've heard in regards to the behavioral issues that it won't necessarily change from my personal vet (who said he felt it wasn't necessary to neuter him and went over a lot of stuff with me about it), and I've heard that roaming isn't guaranteed to stop either. So with that being said, after learning about how neutering can negatively impact a dog I'm scared to do it, especially if the benefits of neutering aren't really set in stone. I'm debating it due to seeing his behavioral changes around my grandmother's small dog who is now living with us- who I assume has went into heat (she never had her spayed partly because the dog never showed signs of heat except twice in her entire life of 10+ years) - he went from ignoring her or being playful with her to being absolutely obsessed, high-strung, wining and moaning to be around her (she's crated) for the past several days- he's just not being himself at all and that's why I'm reconsidering neutering- out of future worries of roaming/behavior problems. Could you offer me some insight? Maybe there's a training alternative? Thank you!

Answer
NEUTER YOUR DOG AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

He WILL breed the bitch in heat; the size difference will result in possible death to her (puppies' size and quantity) and your dog WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.

FIND ANOTHER VETERINARIAN.  Prostate cancer is a real danger for intact males; "roaming" will begin NOW because he can scent a bitch in estrus five miles away.  HE CANNOT BE ALLOWED OUTDOORS WITHOUT YOU PRESENT ON A LONG TRAINING LEASH.

There is NO "training alternative": the dog is in high distress with a bitch in estrus in the home. He is suffering.  At 18 months, you are at the very END of gaining behavioral benefits from neutering.  DO IT THIS WEEK, FIND ANOTHER VETERINARIAN, JUST DO IT.

The GSD is one of my favorite breeds; intact males are the most difficult to manage.  It will take approximately six weeks for testosterone levels to drop after neutering.  While he is recovering (from what is, actually, minor surgery), put a belly band on him: you can buy them on the internet if you are unable to find a pet supply store that carries them.  This will make it impossible for him to breed the bitch in your house.  His attitude toward her may never change; it may be set in stone at this point.  SHE NEEDS TO BE SPAYED.  Mammary cancer IS a real issue in bitches.  My Toy Poodle developed (in ONE MONTH) a mammary tumor (I check her every month) and had to have a mastectomy and of course was spayed at the same time.  I have had many intact bitches in my lifetime (because I used to show dogs), none ever developed mammary cancer but one did suffer from pyometra which can be DEADLY.  Be sure to run your fingers over this bitch's teats once a month (first of every month).  If she develops a cancerous mammary tumor, you WILL know it when you feel it (it is not smooth, like a cyst; it has a rocky, craggy feeling).

If your veterinarian is wrong about this (and HE IS) he will be wrong about other things, too.

Now: at 18 months your dog is no longer available for socialization; what you do with him is now remedial work.  You must find a GOOD trainer that uses ONLY positive reinforcement and join a Novice obedience class.  Check credentials and check references; then sit in on two classes to be certain this is the place you want to work with your dog.  He must learn manners on leash, and to "work" for reward among other dogs.  If you want a great deal of information on positive reinforcement training at no cost, go to Dr. Ian Dunbar's website:  DogStarDaily.com.  There are articles and videos that address almost every issue.  BUT...nothing works better than a good group class.  Once "graduated" your dog can go on to a more advanced class (you will have fun doing this and so should he), and you may even discover that he will make a good therapy dog or even a search and rescue dog, both highly rewarding for owner and dog..NEUTER THE DOG THIS WEEK.

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.

Expertise

I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.

Experience

30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for ThePetChannel.com for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, K9Shrinks@egroups.com. Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Organizations
Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Publications
Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Education/Credentials
Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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