So I called my veterinarian this morning and said, “I changed my mind.” I’m not going to get M’Ocean neutered — not yet, anyway. Here’s my reasoning (and I maintain the right to change my mind AGAIN).
M’Ocean doesn’t go around marking or humping pillows or blankets. He does sometimes get overly excited around other dogs, where it seems like he would like to hump them. Recently when a sweet playful spayed german shepherd came running over to him and dived directly underneath him, he wrapped his arms around her and started humping. It wasn’t a dog fight, but she was pinned and it scared her. He let her go, he didn’t hurt her, but I guess that was the event that made me think, I want to make training easier.
And unfortunately, neutering might not make training easier. At least, not for my dog. I see plenty of neutered dogs who get very excited when they see other dogs. Learning how to play, especially when you’re the biggest strongest dog on the playground, takes time. He does best in a large group, and this pretty dog diving into his arms was a pretty big challenge! But M’Ocean is increasingly showing self control around distractions.
My guess is that testosterone levels will naturally decrease as he hits five years old and 6. Maybe we’ve already been through the worst of his hormones.
When M’Ocean was 11 months old, an older intact dog at a dog Canine Musical Freestyle event jumped over the ring gates, landed on M’Oceans neck, sent him flying and left him with a shoulder injury that took a few months and about $1000 to heal. Yeah, I still am upset about it, because the event organizers seemed to blame M’Ocean, as though it happened because he was intact. But the dog’s owner told me her dog is “an asshole,” and he had a history of repeated bad behavior. So, unprovoked attacks happen to neutered dogs too. And now M’Ocean is 3 and he is 90 lbs of confident, socially experienced, mature, ballsy dog. A dog, maybe even a coyote, would think carefully before jumping a dog that looks like M’Ocean does now.
So I’m thinking, if I’m going to have to keep on training him and being wary of coyotes ANYWAY, if neutering isn’t a guaranteed resolution of the typical behavior challenges I face in owning a large imposing looking working dog, then I might as well focus on training and see how far I can get with that. I will re-evaluate in the fall.
Keeping his natural hormones for just a few extra months, while he is still building muscle and bone in agility, that has some health advantages. It’s a lot of responsibility, but if I can handle and manage him safely, there are some real health benefits, protections for his bones, brains and muscle, associated with keeping him intact a bit longer. He is becoming more “conscious,” more of a real “thinking” dog every month. There are other options, such as chemical (temporary) castration, or a vasectomy. I have time to do some research. He’s a LARGE dog to be running in agility. He needs to be in peak physical condition. So, about that neutering? Not yet. I changed my mind.