Spaying & Neutering Benefits Behavior

spayingSpaying and neutering is not only important because of the pet over-population problem, but it also reduces frustration. Typically the dogs that show a change in behavior problems due to spaying or neutering are dogs that are frustrated due to hormones. The dog’s frustration is expressed as behavior problems. My clients find having their dog spayed or neutered does not reduce their dog’s energy level or change its personality, but that their dog is calmer, more relaxed, more attentive to them and in general behavior problems are reduced. These are all worthwhile reasons to have dogs spayed or neutered at the youngest age recommended by the vet. Well run studies also support these findings.

Dr. Karen Overall of Pennsylvania University states in her book Clinical Behavioral Medicine For Small Animals, male dogs that are intact are twice as reactive as neutered males, “the intact dog will react more easily, escalate the response more quickly, plateau in response at a higher level, …become less reactive at a slower rate and may return to a higher baseline state of vigilance” (280). Unfortunately they have the tendency to become hyper reactive to any stimuli in the environment. Hyper reactivity then becomes a learned behavior as well as a hormonal response. I see a myriad of behavior problems with dogs like this. They vary from, roaming, not coming when called, vocalization problems, destruction, and inattentiveness to owners. Overall also states, “removing hormonal fluctuations may make the dog more amiable to behavior modification” (112). Typically the only behavior problem we see due to a female dog being intact is aggression right before, during, or right after the estrous cycle.

If you want to avoid the arousal and behavioral symptoms of frustration that occur with dogs that have not been spayed or neutered speak with your veterinarian about the procedure and the age to have it done. The recommended age is going to vary considerably from veterinarian to veterinarian. For some people the operation to spay or neuter their pet at the appropriate time can be a financial burden. A web search with the words low cost spay and neuter Eugene Oregon will give you a couple of options.

Both well run studies and real life experience shows dogs that have been spayed and neutered make better pets due to less hormonal frustration. There is a reduced chance owners will be dealing with arousal issues, aggression, roaming and vocalization issues while enjoying the benefits of a dog that is more attentive to the owner.


Overall, Karen L. (1997). Clinical Behavioral Medicine For Small Animals. St Louis Mo.: Mosby-Year Book Inc

9 thoughts on “Spaying & Neutering Benefits Behavior

  1. Luke Smith

    I find it interesting that spay and neutering a pet can help it with being frustrated. So it seems that it can help calm down a dog if that happens. Also, there will be no pets without a home because there are too many.

    1. Debbie Schaefer Post author

      Yes, it can help calm down some dogs. Unfortunately, it won’t make it so dogs don’t have homes through because the majority of dogs without a home are in that position due to behavior issues.

  2. Dennis Sanchez

    You wrote that dogs that aren’t neutered roam more, don’t come when called, are more destructive, and inattentiveness to owners. My mother has been thinking about getting a dog to help keep her company. I recommended neutering, and she was fairly hesitant to do it. But knowing what I know now, I’m sure she would reconsider. No one wants a poor behaving, inattentive dog. Thanks for the informative read.

  3. Dave Anderson

    I did not know that not spaying and neutering dogs led them to be more hormonal and react without thinking. I love my pets and I want them to be calm yet energetic without being overly energetic. Like you said, veterinarians can help with that aspect. I think I will consult my veterinarian to see what their perspective is and what I should do for my dogs.

  4. Tomas Killington

    My wife and I recently adopted a husky. He’s beautiful, and we want to make sure he’s as healthy as possible. I didn’t realize a neuter clinic can help reduce a dog’s frustration by removing hormones. I’ll be sure to discuss this info with my wife.

  5. Ridley Fitzgerald

    I didn’t realize that there were so many benefits that come from spaying and neutering. Having a dog that is really aggressive or disobedient would not be fun. When we get a puppy, I’ll be sure to talk to our vet and see when we can get them spayed or neutered.

  6. Ellie Davis

    I had no idea that spaying and neutering could change behavior. It definitely makes sense that hormonal frustrations can be reflected in behavioral issues, though, and solving the root of the problem is a logical solution. One of my dogs has been having a lot of issues lately, and I have put this off because I wanted to breed him. Keeping his behavior in check is much more important, though. I’ll have to look into getting this done soon.


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