When Ann decided to get her first family dog, she chose carefully. Her son, Jack, suffers from mild asthma, so she wanted a non-shed dog. A mid-sized, cross-bed dog like a Cockapoo seemed like the best answer. She’s been happy with Toby as a pet apart from two issues: his coat and his behaviour.
In one way, Toby’s coat is ideal: he never moults, which is helpful for her son’s asthma. The down-side is that that his long hair needs to be professionally groomed every three months, with regular combing and brushing in between grooming sessions, to prevent matted fur.
The behavioural issues are more serious: Toby has far too much uncontrolled energy. Ann didn’t get a chance to meet his parents, but she now realises that this would have been helpful to predict how he would turn out as an adult. If she had met a father dog with as much energy as Toby, she might have decided not to take the pup. Ann brought him to me to ask if neutering would help to improve his behavioural problems
The first issue is definitely something that castration will solve: Toby has started urinating in the house, cocking his leg on the side of chairs, the table and the kitchen walls. This marking behaviour is driven by male hormones, so once Toby has been neutered, as his male hormones reduce, he’s less likely to do it.
Toby’s second issue may also be helped by castration: he has become aggressive to other dogs. He continually barks at the dog next door, and when out on walks, he rushes up to other dogs, barking. Ann has learned to cross over to the other side of the street rather than risking a confrontation with a dog coming towards her. Dog to dog aggression is partly driven by testosterone, so castration is likely to help Toby become calmer with other dogs. It won’t solve the problem completely, and Ann will also need to find a way of letting Toby do more socialising with other dogs so that he is less excited when he sees them.
Toby’s remaining behavioural problems will not be helped by castration: he’s impossible to control when out on walks. He continually strains at the leash, and she can’t let him off to run, because she doesn’t think he’d come back when called. She tried using a harness rather than the usual collar, but he just chewed through it. Ann is envious of other mothers at the school whose dogs seem so calm and quiet, sitting and staying when they’re told to do so.
There’s no easy or quick answer: nothing will make Toby into a calm, relaxed dog. However there are some simple steps that may help. First, if he is taken for a half hour walk, twice daily, as part of his routine, he will gradually become less madly energetic. Second, Ann needs to talk to a professional, experienced dog trainer to get some reliable, simple tips on how to train him to behave better while on walks. The right type of harness can help a lot, and after a few weeks of consistent training, Toby will become more manageable. He will always be a high energy dog, but as long as Ann is able to keep him under good control, she’ll be happy.
- Pups tend to grow up like their parents, so it’s always worth meeting the mother and father of a new pup
- Castration helps to solve some common behavioural problems
- Consistent and regular dog training is needed to solve other types of bad behaviour