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Podcast 20 – Neutering Males & Behaviour. Does neutering really affect behaviour as we believe and if so how do we manage it?

Does neutering really affect behaviour as we believe and if so how do we manage it? On Podcast 20, Rowan and Caroline talk about neutering male dogs and discuss if neutering has any effect on undesirable behavioural traits. Join the conversation on Instagram and Twitter @BellaAndDuke and make sure to join our growing Facebook community! – https://www.facebook.com/groups/bella…

Rowan:          OK. Caroline, welcome, welcome, welcome.

Caroline:        Lovely to see you.

Rowan:          It’s lovely to be seen.

Caroline:        It’s been a long time.

Rowan:          It’s been way too long.

Before we get into all of this, let’s quickly just tell everybody what we’re going to cover this week because it’s really exciting. Following on from podcast number 19, last week with Wendy McGrandles, our super holistic vet, where we talked about the pros and cons of male neutering, we thought that it would be —

Caroline:        That’s a big thing.

Rowan:          Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, what a wormhole to fall into.

Caroline:        Yeah. Absolutely.

Rowan:          — we thought it would be really useful for the Bella and Duke pack and anybody else who is interesting — interested…

Caroline:        It might be interesting as well I’m sure. Everybody on the Bella and Duke site, interesting.

Rowan:          Of course.

— is to explore the ways in which we can manage the kind of downside, shall we say, of not neutering a male, or males who have already been neutered, from a behaviourist perspective.

So just to recap because that was a little bit drawn out. The issues which arise from either neutering or not neutering, can we manage them from a behavioural perspective? So that’s what we’re going to cover this week.

Well, first of all, Caroline. What a pleasure.

Caroline:        As always.

Rowan:          Yes, absolutely.

Should we just recap for people who’ve not met you before on what you do?

Caroline:        Well, I have been doing canine behaviour for about 30 years now and it’s all about natural canine communication. We’ve all heard about canine body language and calming signals, and I guide a dog to make better decisions. I’m not micromanaging into “sit” and “don’t do this.” I let a dog go through the behaviour and guide it out the other side to make a better choice. That’s me.

Rowan:          Excellent. This almost sounds like empowering teenagers.

Caroline:        Oh yes. And that’s what we’re talking about now, isn’t it? Teenagers and testosterone. [laughs]

Rowan:          Ah, I like what you’ve done there. Nice segue.

You very kindly subjected yourself to podcast number 19 with Wendy, which you know, I confess, geek candor, I always get really excited when get to swap ideas like this and this is one of the reasons I love having you on as well, is, it’s such a whole different world of information that when I see how it interacts with the limited part that I see, it’s like — wow, where do we stop? — and also from an empowering perspective, how much we can influence stuff for the positive.

Caroline:        Oh absolutely. And the thing that gets me and has for many, many years is that you know, castration is the go-to for any undesirable behaviour. It doesn’t work. And this is what I’ve been banging on about for years and I found a fantastic study from — I got to have a look at my piece of paper here because I’m not very good at remembering names – Faraday and Zink.

Rowan:          Can we just start with knowledge that you’ve done some homework for this?

Caroline:        I’ve been doing for years. But I’ve probably done a little bit more homework in the last couple of weeks.

Rowan:          I’m just saying thank you. I’m not… I’m just saying thank you that you’ve done some homework for these podcasts.

Caroline:        [laughs] What I have in your… What is it? Your amateur thing? You call it in-my-opinion-amateur… Anyway…

What I have thought for many, many years is that castration actually causes more problems behaviorally that mending behaviour problems.

Rowan:          Nope. Sorry to interrupt you. But this segues, perfectly and I was really surprised to hear this last week was when you were saying “yes, it can be problematic…” Shall we just recap actually on that before we jump…

Caroline:        Let’s do that one.

Rowan:          Wendy was saying, yes, a lot of people go for male neutering because obviously, one of the issues — and I’m ad-libbing slightly, maybe I should’ve done some more homework — was male dogs that which are un-neutered, or un-castrated — let’s call it what it is — tend to wander further. So they’re more associated with accidents, as in car accidents, being hit on the road. They can be a bit more frustrated. So they tend to have these humping behaviours and or copping legs. What the other things, which are associated?

Caroline:        Well, could I just get back to a little bit of sexual frustration for a moment?

Rowan:          Let’s cover your issues. In public.

Caroline:        [laughs] Dogs aren’t driven by sex.

Rowan:          OK.

Caroline:        Dogs are driven, just literally for making —

Rowan:          Procreation.

Caroline:        That’s the jobbie. For making puppies. So if there’s a bitch season, they’ll go and wander to find her. Yeah? But there isn’t a bitch in season, they’re not going to wander off looking for sexual pleasures, shall we say.

Rowan:          Are they not?

Caroline:        No. But…

Rowan:          I mean this goes counter… I bow to your prowess on this. But this goes slightly counter to public perception.

Caroline:        Yeah. You know you get a lot of dogs that are running off. Again, this is like — is it running off, or is it wandering off because it smelled a female? But yes, a full-blown male, but also a castrated male, will because it’s still a bloke, will go off and wander off for a female, but there are plenty that don’t. But there are plenty of females that run off and wander off.

Rowan:          So let’s just recap for a second then. So what we’re saying is, we covered this last week with Wendy. We’ve seen some of the behaviours that we want which tend to be associated with un-neutered dogs. What we’re covering this week are, if your dog has been neutered, and it, therefore, has some downsides behaviorally, can we manage them? Or if your dog is not neutered and has the counter-behaviours associated with that, typically, can they be managed? And what we’re saying here is, actually, some of those behaviours might not be driven by this neutering at all.

Caroline:        A lot of behaviours, they are wrongly labelled as testosterone-driven.

Rowan:          OK.

Caroline:        A lot of dogs get neutered between six and 12 months where they have got, I do believe, a higher — well you’ve got testosterone surge anyway, I don’t know — slightly higher than that of an adult dog, so you’re going to have over the top behaviour. You’re going to have pushing boundaries, you’re going to have all this adolescent behaviour. But if we work through the adolescent behaviour and come out guiding it to make a better choice in life, then it’s going to come out a stable adult.

Now, I’ve always had full blown males. I’ve never neutered them. I can leave my dogs out in the front garden and they won’t wander off. They want to be with me.

Yeah. I wouldn’t say if there was a bitch that walk past in season who was a little bit fruity, I’m sure Pike would go — oh, that’s very nice — he’s only a bloke.

Rowan:          Make an episode of Carry On Dogging. [laughs]

Caroline:        [laughs] But all I’m really trying to get across is fact that we neuter invariably for the wrong reason. If a dog has got a high testosterone level because you and Wendy were talking about this yesterday — how do we know if a dog is got high testosterone? Higher than a normal value really.

Because, when I’m working with a client, if we’re dealing with behaviours, particularly aggression, they’ll say — oh, I’ve been advised to castrate. Well, invariably I’ve also been to see clients who had that dog’s castrated and the problem has escalated. Because a male with testosterone feels like a bloke. He feels, you know, quite blokey. [laughs] Confident. OK?

Rowan:          Yes.

Caroline:        If you then take his testosterone away, he doesn’t smell like a bloke. He feels like a wounded animal. He’s going to feel more vulnerable, and therefore the behaviour — he has to stand taller. He has to look more aggressive, or more forceful because he doesn’t smell like a bloke anymore and he’s trying to give off the signals that he did chemically before and his body language becomes more demonstrative and — bigger problems.

Rowan:          This is absolutely golden. I’m loving this. And before the show, before this podcast, you and I were chatting about this. This links in perfectly to what we’re seeing in the human world.

Well, look at Lord Varys in game of thrones, and he’s a nightmare to manage.

Caroline:        [laughs]

Rowan:          Is, this makes a lot of sense. Because guys with better testosterone expression generally tend to be… Let’s get away from, say for instance, the image of somebody who’s got excessive testosterone, steroids, etc., being prone to road rage, all these 1980s, 1990s images. What they’ve shown in the human world is consistently that guys with better testosterone expression, and I won’t go into too much detail, but they can go through different pathways, one of which is stronger than the other depending on inflammation and etc. etc. — generally tend to be a lot more relaxed, a lot more confident and a lot calmer in themselves. Whereas, and I’ve got two theories on this, and I think that both interact, and I think one is — obviously guys are meant to have testosterone, which you’re alluding to right now, so that fits biologically with what they’re supposed to do, but secondly, the estrogen, which guys have as well, it’s not purely a female hormone, it’s in both guys and females, is meant to be balanced.

If you’re removing testosterone and the testosterone adult can then make is through the adrenal gland, and this kind of like, super-limited testosterone — I’m trying to keep this really brief, apologies — super limited testosterone, but they’ve still got some estrogen, I think that could lead to a hormonal imbalance.

Caroline:        Oh gosh. Massive.

Rowan:          — and we’ve known for years how it feels when people have hormonal imbalances. I look after… I would say 35 to 40 percent of my patient base are females who are going through perimenopause or menopause who want to improve the expression of their hormones, who all complain about feeling hormonally imbalanced?

Caroline:        Yep. I get that one. [laughs]

Rowan:          Oh, there’s loads of really cool —

Caroline:        I need balancing. [laughs]

Rowan:          Forget balance. Let’s just have fun.

I can tell you, we’ve got some really good tools for that.

But imagine if you’re actually putting that onto an adolescent who isn’t equipped with a whole lot of life experience. You’ve gotten in trouble.

Caroline:        Yeah.

Rowan:          So it’s really interesting.

Caroline:        Yeah. If people would like to castrate their dog, do it when the dog has gone through adolescence, he’s an adult in body and mind, because if you take away the testosterone before that’s happened, you’ve got juvenile for the rest of your life.

Rowan:          Wow.

Caroline:        Brain ability is down because they’ve got the attention span of a gnat.

The study that this bloke Faraday and Zink did, of 11,000 dogs, nearly, with bitches and dogs and the study came through that if you castrate a dog at whatever time in his life, he becomes more anxious. He becomes potentially more aggressive. Moreover the top behaviour. But interestingly, if you spay a bitch at 12 months or under, she also becomes far more anxious. If you spay a bitch over 18 months when she’s mature, it doesn’t have the profound effect does it does on a male if you castrate.

So I’ve always suggested to my clients, I don’t know if Wendy does or if she agrees with it. I would love there to be a testosterone saliva test for dogs. That would be brilliant.

But when we’ve done —

Rowan:          [inaudible] discussing last week.

Caroline:        Not difficult.

But what I always suggest, we start off with the behavioural modification program. Because again, doing anything in isolation, you’re only hitting half the issue. So we start off with a behavioural modification program, see how well that goes for four to six to eight weeks, depending on the personality of the dog, and how it’s working with them and everything, and more often than not, we get through the issues. There are some dogs, we don’t get through all the issues. So my suggestion is always to the client to ask their vet to chemically castrate initially before they go for the snip. Because once it’s gone, it’s gone. [inaudible]

Rowan:          OK. So let’s just stop there for a second, because we’re covering a lot of information. It’s just I want to keep this into bite-size chunks.

Caroline:        OK.

Rowan:          So what we’re saying is, firstly, people are potentially neutering the male dogs thinking that these problems will go away, when actually the lack of testosterone can make — one, creates a juvenile or it keeps them in the juvenile period, depending on when they are, there tend to be more downsides with castrating a male dog then neutering a female dog. Is that correct?

Caroline:        Yeah. Female over 12 months is OK. A male anytime is a bit dodgy.

Rowan:          Okay. Next thing is, actually, the male dogs can become more aggressive rather than less aggressive, and it sounds like you’re saying that actually without the testosterone and the confidence, that the dog feels more threatened, so he’s making up for that by being defensive aggressive.

Caroline:        Yeah. Because the bulk of aggression we see is fear aggression.

Rowan:          Yeah. So you’ve got —

Caroline:        And statistics — we see in the paper so often now that we’ve got dog bites, dog on dog aggression, human on dog aggression, that is escalating. Why? We’re castrating. Over the last 20 years, we have gone castrating, castrating, castrating, so much. And I do understand that we don’t want more puppies in the world, but we need responsible owners, you know, that just don’t let their dogs off. And it’s a…

Rowan:          Well, you know, that in itself is a whole other podcast.

Caroline:        I know.

Rowan:          If we were to delve into some of these studies — are escalating dog boats actually driven by castration, testosterone, food? Or actually with people who were just…

Caroline:        Environment, genetics…

Rowan:          To just summarize the recap, we’ve said, female dogs over 12 to 18 months tend to be OK, in terms of behavior, male dogs at any point, less so, particularly when their younger, because you’re creating a permanent juvenile, and have less attention span, they can be more aggressive.

I guess the golden heart of this, which we’re about to get into is — can we manage the perceived downsides of not neutering a male through behaviour?

Caroline:        Absolutely.

Rowan:          The first four to six weeks you can do a behaviour plan, and you jumped into something which I’ve not known existed in the dog world, which is chemical castration. So briefly what does, what does that entail?

Caroline:        Well, it’s injection that goes in under the skin. It’s a little, little pellet.

Rowan:          Of what?

Caroline:        Well, that’s a very good question. Wendy, where are you? It’s probably estrogen. It’s something that knocks off the testosterone anyway.

Rowan:          OK, well that’s something we’re going to need to find out. I’m going to contact Wendy and find out what the chemical castration is.

Caroline:        And you can… And by doing that you can see if castration is going to change your dog’s behaviour for the positive or the negative, or it’s not changing.

Rowan:          Oh.

Caroline:        So it either changes negatively, positively or it doesn’t change at all.

Rowan:          Interesting. So you get to actually try before you buy.

Caroline:        Before you buy. Absolutely. Rather than regretting your decision. But also, I wonder if you can… Because blokes just want their tubes tied, don’t they? Can’t we just do a tube tie? So they can’t have puppies.

Rowan:          Yeah.

Caroline:        And people worry about their wanderlust. But that’s where it comes into — has the dog got too much testosterone?

Rowan:          Well, if what you’re saying is correct, which I have obviously zero reason to doubt it, but if what you’re saying is correct, which is, aggressive behavior, and some of the other points that Wendy were mentioning with obviously humping and wandering, is not driven necessarily by testosterone, and is environmental, then there should be no downside to just tying the tubes.

Caroline:        The behaviours that are testosterone driven, cocking your leg, and marking.

Rowan:          OK.

Caroline:        Yeah? Wandering off, if it’s for that reason. It might be because he wants to chase cats, but you know, there’s also other reasons why dogs wander off or runoff.

Rowan:          Yeah.

Caroline:        And the humping. Female dogs do humping as well. It may be just testosterone-driven, it may not be testosterone driven. Marking generally is.

Rowan:          OK.

Caroline:        But then again, you get females that will cock their leg, you will get females that mark on a walk constantly. Because, and this is quite interesting, that a lot of dogs are territorial, not for because of the chemicals in their body. It’s because dogs are territorial. We’re territorial. Yeah. This is my house. Don’t come in it.

If you go in the same walk every single day, your dog is going to go, oh, that’s my boundary. Whether that’s, you know, same walk, every single day you are doing a boundary walk the dog. The dog will mark as it goes, and will become more possessive of the area. Therefore, if it sees a dog in the area and he is an aggressive type, or DNA, or situations, he will be more fearful or aggressive in his home zone than if you take him for a random walk somewhere completely different because it doesn’t belong to him.

Rowan:          Interesting. So if you’re changing the walk that you did with your dog quite regularly, they’re less likely to be territorial, is that correct?

Caroline:        Absolutely.

Rowan:          OK. So here’s the next question for you then. Going back to our original chat and where we started out on all of this and looking at the perceived downsides of neutering or not neutering, what would be your approach as our expert behaviourist in terms of how would you deal with, let’s start with the people… Let’s start with the people who might be listening to this and say, wow, oh my goodness, well, you know, I had my dog. I got my dog and it was already neutered because that’s the way I got it, or I’ve been advised by my vet, who might be listening to this going, oh, my goodness, what have I done? — how do we reassure them that actually, look, what’s done is done. This is how you can deal with it.

So should we start with that?

Caroline:        Let’s start with that.

Rowan:          And then with, those people who are looking to make a decision right now about to neuter or to not neuter, and how they could deal with the potential perceived downsides of not neutering. So does that make sense?

Caroline:        Yeah. I don’t think there are downsides to not neutering. But there we are.

Rowan:          OK. This is why we’re having the podcast.

Caroline:        Yeah. So yeah, you’re absolutely right. There’s so many people out there who had been advised to neuter their male dogs purely because they’re male.

Rowan:          Yup.

Caroline:        Yup. So, the health professional might have told them six months, get it done, 12 months, get it done, whatever, get it done.

Rowan:          OK.

Caroline:        And there may be others that have been advised to get done because their dog is aggressive. As we say. If it’s done, we can’t wack them back, but what we can do, we can manage those dogs, we can actually guide them into making better choices in life. If your dog can look to you and go, you get me, you’re the one that’s going to make the right decision when I feel vulnerable when I feel unsafe. So if I stick with you, I’m going to be OK.

So many dogs are reactive also on lead, so for your dogs reactive on lead, and not so reactive off lead, it’s because the difference is, if you are joined to somebody by a piece of rope and you don’t trust them to make the right decision for you, when it gets a little bit awkward, then you can’t flee the situation, there’s no point in doing a freeze and look around you because you can’t flee afterwards, you’ve got to go straight for the fight.

Rowan:          OK. So kind of, we just qualify here for those people who are — and I’m really sorry to interrupt. I just want —

Caroline:        No, that’s alright.

Rowan:          — to understand as we’re going along.

We’re talking about making the right decisions. When you’re saying that as an owner, what do you mean making the right decisions when you’re going on a walk?

Caroline:        Right. So, people see their dogs pulling towards people, dogs, bikes, cars… No, I’ll start again. People see their dogs pulling towards people and go “my dog loves people.”

Rowan:          Yep.

Caroline:        Pulling towards dogs, “my dog loves dogs, wants to play.” Now, I didn’t walk along the street and go and hug everybody I meet.

Rowan:          Why?

Caroline:        [laughs] Because I’d probably be locked up Rowan. It’s simple as that mate. There’s no respect. There’s no thinking. They are just in reactionary mode and who’s to say, they might be lunging towards the dog that’s sending the wrong signals and then they’ll get nailed. People go, oh but my dog is wagging his tail, he’s like little wide eyes and panting, he’s happy. No, a panting dog is not smiling, it’s a stressed dog. Wide eyes is stressed. A waggy tail is only an indication of a heightened sense of awareness.

Rowan:          Ooh interesting.

Caroline:        You’ve got to look at the whole dog, not just part of it and it depends what the tail’s doing. So for a dog… We want to socialize our dogs, but letting them pull and play with every person we meet, every dog we meet is a dog not thinking straight and a dog’s going to get itself into trouble. The dog needs to be looking to you and go — hey, what are we going to do today? Hey, we don’t have to let everybody else join in our walk. So it’s about personal space.

Rowan:          OK, so what we’re talking about here when we say, making the right decisions and the dog being able to trust as, is for us to actually be the leader.

Caroline:        I like to be the guide. I don’t like calling leader because it sounds alpha and I’m not into all that. So just changing your vocabulary is just…

Rowan:          I’m all about that. I’m all about that and all about the feedback. So for us to be a stable guide.

Caroline:        Lovely. Because what a dog would naturally do if he came across somebody he didn’t know, he would have a gentle belly sniff, ear sniff and off he goes again. It needn’t be a massive conversation. Dogs go onto these big conversations because they are filled with your cortisol and adrenaline, yeah, they’re not thinking straight, they’re reactionary. So I want my dog to walk with me, be with me. We’re going for a walk. We’re not saying what you doing in my space all the time. A dog doesn’t have to go and check everybody out when you’re going for your walk as much as you don’t. So if you walk away at a right angle, the dog goes — oh, I don’t have to go and chat with them, it’s just you and me. How relaxing is that?

Rowan:          OK, this is really interesting. So what we’re saying is when you’re making the right decisions as your stable guide when you going around, basically what you’re doing is you are selecting how many interactions your dog has, you’re offering a buffer between yourselves in your bubble and the outside world and rather than driving the dog through your cortisol, your stress and actually here’s my dog right now who is absolutely filthy. Hello Kismet, say, hi.

Caroline:        That is so sweet.

Rowan:          She’s ready to go.

Caroline:        People perceive unruly behaviour, jumping up, pulling on a lead and doing all these doggy behaviours as a naughty dog. It’s a dog being a dog in a human world. It can’t really understand us humans living so blooming close to one another. He doesn’t have to be friends with anybody. A dog just needs to be guided, you can be calm, I’m not going to put you in any sticky situations you can’t deal with. They don’t have to have random doggy friends. My dogs have friends that I’ve chosen for them because they’re nice stable dogs. if you go along the beach or go wherever you walk and you go — my dog’s got to meet that dog, every single dog on route. How do you know what the other dog’s personality is…

Rowan:          Oh this is a good…

Caroline:        — if they’re going to get on. Is that going to be a negative experience for your dog that’s going to stack up in its mind and go, that wasn’t nice. If that happens too much through adolescence when they get to adulthood, 12 to 18 months, they go, actually, I’ve had enough now. So when people say — and he bit out of the blue. It’s just been stacking up through puppyhood and adolescence because he’s asking the questions, is this OK, is that OK? And we force interactions because you’re a dog you need to like a dog. We force them to connect. I don’t know how the other dog smells. How do we know how the other dog smells? He might’ve gone for a really big run, smells full of the flight and fight hormone, purely because he’s been for a run, not because he’s grumpy. But that gives your dog the wrong impression. Canine communication, their language is all body language predominantly. We know a smattering of it. Dogs know it all. I don’t understand what my dog understands from another dog. So I want to keep my guys safe so I will choose their friends wisely as I chose my children’s friends wisely when they were little. And also by walking away from situations I’m showing them, you don’t have to confront your fears, you don’t have to confront, you don’t have to talk to.

So the more you walk away from these situations, the dog will go — ah, I don’t have to do all that stuff. It’s okay for dogs to be in close proximity.

Rowan:          So just to recap Caroline, because obviously, we’ve got three topics we’re talking about here. That was three, not two. One is, can we control behaviours that are currently and we think misdiagnosed as associated with neutering? Can we control behaviours which we think are misdiagnosed with not neutering? And what constitutes being a good stable guide?

So just to recap what we’re talking about in terms of being a stable guide. Making the right decisions. What does that mean as, I hate to use the word owner, but let’s just think of a better word, as guardian?

Caroline:        Parent, guardian.

Rowan:          Parent, guardian. And that is avoiding interfacing with every dog, you can walk off at right angles, is remaining calm. Offering reassurance when it’s needed to be. And probably not tolerating…

Caroline:        Exuberant behaviour. Yes and if a dog’s being over exuberant there is no point asking it to sit, you just have to walk away from a situation because you can’t educate anybody who’s all over the place in the head.

Rowan:          Yeah. And I guess if you will look at that in the human world, if somebody’s having a total freak out or is really stressed, saying — “sit down,” is ridiculous. What’s that going to do?

Caroline:        Because they’re not being naughty. There’s something going on inside they can’t cope with it, so walk away from a situation, let them get over it.

Rowan:          Right, well that’s really good. Thank you for answering that. Should we circle around that and go back to… So we’ve covered what constitutes being a stable guide or guardian is making good decisions. Going back to it, for those people who have already had their dog neutered, who are suddenly going, oh, have I done the right thing? Have I done the wrong thing? Whichever. That’s kind of irrelevant. We are where we are,

Caroline:        We can work through it, we can work with it. And some behaviours we have to manage. Some behaviours we can cure, others we have to manage.

Rowan:          OK, well that seems like a realistic and pragmatic approach. If you were to say what are your top three things for people? So should we recap on behaviours which are associated with neutering the dog, what would they be for you?

Caroline:        They’re the same sort of problems associated with not neutering really.

Rowan:          So you’re saying lack of focus. So lack of focus.

Caroline:        Lack of focus if it’s done before maturity. So short, sweet walks, short, sweet lessons and build the dog up slowly to new environments and do the right thing for it. A lot of people will have their dogs neutered because the dog humps, it’ll probably still be humping if it’s not a testosterone-driven behaviour.

Rowan:          Oh, okay. This is interesting.

Caroline:        So if it’s an anxiety driven behaviour we can sort it. But even testosterone… You just take the dog by the collar, hold it to the side, it will feed off your calmness because you’re touching it so it can feel you, can smell your low adrenaline and go — oh, that situation wasn’t a problem for you. I can cope with it.

Rowan:          Right. So a dog that’s been neutered might need to be slightly more reassured and for you to be slightly calmer and also to be guided a little bit more gently. Is that correct?

Caroline:        You know, again, we’re getting into different personalities, different DNA, different situations. It depends on the individual dog. So again, for people to say you do this for a certain issue, I would probably try three different things and see which suits the dog better. For a humping dog it might be hold to the side, it might be also putting your hand in the groin area just for added warmth and security. It might be walking them around a room on a lead just silently so they can then log onto your calmness.

So depending on the dog, depending on the owner is dependent on what I suggest that we do.

Rowan:          OK.

Caroline:        This is why I always go to see people because I can work and find that dog’s personality.

Rowan:          Yeah, know that’s entirely true. I mean, that’s a really good point. All I wonder…. So have we covered what…

Caroline:        Sorry, butting in.

Rowan:          No, no, no, no.

Caroline:        All I’m saying is, regardless of whether your dog has been castrated or not, we can work through the problems and it’s just a way of showing the dog, I understand what you’re going through, I’m going to do the right thing for you. With aggression problems sometimes we can fix, invariably we have to manage. A lot of the other issues is just over boisterousness, the anxiety with people coming in the house, jumping up and things like that. Regardless of whether your dog has being castrated or not, we can move forward on these things. It’ll just take a little bit longer with a castrated dog.

Rowan:          So I guess we’ve talked about quite a lot here. Maybe we should kind of draw this to a little bit of a close. This has been really interesting. Sorry, I’m still actually formulating and processing a lot of thoughts there. I think we might need to revisit this at some point.

Caroline:        Yeah, I think so because there’s quite a lot.

Rowan:          Yeah.

Caroline:        Why a dog becomes a certain… Are dogs born aggressive? Some probably are. Is it their life experience?

Rowan:          So in the spirit of keeping this accessible and keeping it relatively short, what we’re saying is that a lot of the behaviours that people are associating with neutering or not neutering might not be due to neutering or not neutering at all.

Caroline:        Yeah, absolutely.

Rowan:          All of those behaviours can either be learned, unlearned or managed practically by being stable owner, non super reactive and very reassuring we can manage a lot of them. But to actually try and offer advice generally is really a little bit of a loss leader because it all depends on each individual dog and the personality and situation. Is that correct?

Caroline:        Yeah. It is. But there’s an awful lot that we can do because there are so dogs that are really quite straightforward. They’re just over boisterous and their behaviour modification plan, it’s just consistency, it’s not difficult. It’s just how you approach different situations in your world together. A lot of them are very, very straightforward and it’s not difficult or rocket science. It gets a bit more tricky when we’re talking about reactive and really anxious dogs.

Rowan:          Wow. I think that’s been really interesting. I think what we’ve also done is perhaps opened as many questions as if we’ve answered. Which is always exciting, right? Because we’re going on a journey and it means that we’ve got more things to discuss. What I do love about this is we’re getting so much feedback right now is that people are actually guiding us as to what they want to understand. Quite often it’s not necessarily what I thought was interesting or what you think’s interesting. They go — ah, you’ve said this, how does it apply to me here? So maybe we should draw it to a close there and we will let people’s feedback guide us as to what more they want to know on this.

Caroline:        Yeah and if there’s anything specific in what we’ve spoken about today because we have actually tried to keep. well, I haven’t tried to keep within the remit so it’s probably all over the place a little bit. So if they want to snip it off in particular then that would be really good and I’ll try to keep on track. I do apologize.

Rowan:          You and me both. You and me both Caroline and that’s you’re one of my favourite humans, it’s just nice to actually riff with you and to let it flow and to find what’s interesting.

  1. Well, Caroline, thank you so much for your time. I think people who are listening can be reassured that whatever their decision behaviour can be either modified or managed.

Caroline:        Yes absolutely.

Rowan:          And the fear mongering which actually goes with neutering or not neutering is largely unfounded from a behaviour perspective and…

Caroline:        And there haven’t been a lot of studies done actually on the benefits of neutering. I know people are saying neuter for AB and C, aggression or behavioural problems. There haven’t been a lot of studies done on it, but there have been studies done on the contraindications why you shouldn’t.

Rowan:          Oh, that’s interesting.

Caroline:        Yeah.

Rowan:          OK, well Caroline, I think we’re going to be having you on again very soon, because we’ve got a zillion questions to ask you.

Caroline:        Yeah. Well likewise. You with all your big long words.

Rowan:          Fragilisticexpealidotious.

Caroline:        That’s the one.

Rowan:          OK, Well thank you Caroline, and we will see you again very shortly.

Caroline:        Yeah, perfect. Great to talk to you Rowan.

Rowan:          Great to talk to you Caroline.

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