Ask a Trainer - Intact Aggression

Training advice for aggressive intact dogs
Ask a Trainer - Intact Aggression
Training advice for aggressive intact dogs


Q: My dog, Wishbone, is an intact male Jack Russell. He wasn’t completely socialized and had a few aggression issues. He is now much better with us, but he hates my mother-in-law’s intact male dog, Jonesy. They got into a pretty bad fight after months of getting along. Now, if they even see each other, they try to get at each other and fight. Should I assume that he won’t get along with any other male dog? I want to board him, but I’m afraid he’ll be a pain to the kennel if he barks or tries to fight with other dogs. Any advice?—Peacemaker in Pasadena

A: Fights involving unneutered male dogs aren’t uncommon, and with Wishbone and Jonesy both being intact, you’ve got double trouble. But does their “talk to the paw” relationship predict that Wishbone will have trouble with other dogs as well? Maybe. While it’s true that there are plenty of intact males who are not dog-aggressive, dogs can tell when another is unneutered. When an intact male enters a dog park or social group, it’s not unusual for other dogs to get their hackles up, both literally and figuratively, and fighting can result. You didn’t mention Wishbone’s age, but assuming he’s an adolescent or older, I’m curious as to why he’s not been neutered. I assume you’re not planning to breed him, as aggression issues can be passed down genetically. Unless he’s a show dog or there is some medical or other reason that he must stay intact, I urge you to speak to your vet about neutering. In addition to lessening the incidence of aggression toward other males, neutering also decreases urine marking, roaming, and possibly, other aggression-related behaviors such as territoriality. As to Wishbone’s relationship with Jonesy, if one or both of them get neutered, it might change; but given their established history of fighting, it might not, and it would be best to manage the situation by keeping them apart for now. The important thing is to give Wishbone every possible chance of having peaceful encounters in the future. If possible, hire a gentle, positive trainer who has his or her own dogs that are “bomb-proof” around other dogs. That would allow you to work with any possible reactivity in a supervised way, and the trainer could then help you to ease into encountering unfamiliar dogs in public. All of that should help you to predict how Wishbone would behave in a kennel/boarding situation in close proximity to other dogs. If it seems potentially problematic, you could always opt to have a petsitter stay at your home instead.

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Comments (3)

my dog barks uncontrollably at almost every dog and person that walks by.6 year old female and gets along great with my other dog.
Thu, 07/04/2013 - 16:20
I have 2 rescue females. Black lab mix and a pure white huskie mix. Both territorial and protective, cannot let them together. Both attack each other and aggressive with other dogs. The black was okay until we got the white one and now she is the same way towards other dogs.

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 16:28
Neutering all dogs is not the answer. In fact castrating dogs, particularly early can have detrimental impact on both mental and physical well being. In Norway, for instance, it is actually illegal to neuter dogs unless for medical reasons. Furthermore, neutering causes diabetes, thyroid problems, ligament problems and some cancers as well as dementia in some dogs. Testicular cancer is actually less than 1% in un castrated dogs and should not be deemed a reason to neuter them it is also treatable. Some dogs particularly those who are nervous become aggressive after castration. The hormones produced in healthy dogs are vital for endocrine health. Imagine if all teenagers were routinely neutered. It's always been done for convenience and to stop unwanted puppies. However, it should also be remembered it does not stop dogs humping. New research shows many many reasons to not neuter, especially male dogs.
Fri, 02/03/2023 - 05:40

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