How Neutering Can Help Calm Your Lab Puppy
Although Labs are excitable, energetic dogs by nature, males tend to exhibit excessively hyperactive and aggressive behavior during puberty.
You have probably noticed your Lab puppy displaying the following unpleasant behaviors starting at around 3 to 6 months of age which is when puberty begins for them:
- Marking their territory with urine
- Mounting other dogs and even objects
- Trying to escape your house or yard to find females
- Aggression towards you, your family, and other dogs and pets
Increasing their exercise and playtime will help somewhat with calming this kind of activity. However, neutering is the simplest and healthiest way to put a stop to their hormonal outbursts.
Neutering Interrupts the Production of Testosterone
Neutering is a low-risk, minimally invasive procedure where your vet will make a small incision on your dog’s scrotum to remove their testes. This effectively interrupts their body’s production of testosterone. The result is minimizing puberty-related aggression and hyperactivity.
However, you should keep in mind your dog’s excitability may not be solely due to their hormones. Labs are simply more active than others by nature and thus require more physical and mental stimulation to tire them out.
Neutering will not stop all hyperactive behaviors; however, it will minimize puberty-related aggression and moodiness.
Why Should You Neuter Your Lab
Neutering your Lab has many benefits, including:
- Population control.
- Preventing health issues.
If you choose to neuter your Lab, you’ll be helping to control the population of dogs in your area. If not neutered or spayed, a dog can end up being responsible for as many as 500 puppies in only three years!
Additionally, neutering your Lab will minimize the risk of him escaping your home or yard to seek out nearby females to breed with.
Labs have a powerful sense of smell, and males can pick up the scent of intact females from miles away. Some will persistently and aggressively try to escape to locate them.
Another lesser-known benefit is preventing your Lab from developing certain health risks such as testicular cancer and joint disorders. Studies have shown that neutered dogs live around 14% longer on average than dogs who are left intact.
What To Expect After Neutering Your Lab
After neutering your Lab, you will quickly notice a decrease in puberty-related behaviors like mounting, roaming, and trying to escape your home to hunt down intact females.
Immediately after the procedure, your dog will likely be a bit more subdued than usual.
In the following two to three days or so, you should try to restrict his activity so the incision on their scrotum doesn’t become damaged or torn open.
Remember, neutering is not an easy fix for any and all hyperactivity in Labs. Ideally, Labs require around two hours of exercise per day to stay happy and healthy. If they are not getting enough stimulation, acting out and excitable behavior is to be expected.
When Should You Neuter Your Lab?
Generally, it is best to neuter your Lab around 9 to 15 months of age. Additionally, your dog should be at least 45 pounds (20.4 kg). Around nine months is the absolute earliest age you should neuter your lab.
Some experts have opined that dogs can be neutered or spayed as early as six months. However, the accepted consensus is that this is too early and can present health complications during surgery and in post-op.
Do Labs Calm Down After Being Spayed?
For female Labs, spaying is a great way to minimize overactive or aggressive behaviors related to puberty and hormones.
Females’ heat seasons can be highly stressful and even painful for them, resulting in unwanted aggression and excitability.
Like male Labs, females often try to escape their homes and yards to seek out intact males. If she smells a male nearby, she will become relentless in her attempts to find him, which can be exhausting and frustrating for any pet owner.
Spaying will eliminate this kind of behavior.
Additionally, unspayed females can become very protective of household objects if they experience what is known as a “false pregnancy” during a heat cycle. She will treat random objects like toys or shoes as if they are her puppies. Sometimes, she may even lash out at her owner and other pets in the home if she feels the object is being threatened.
Although spaying will calm your Lab to an extent, just like males, female Labs require lots of exercise and mental stimulation to avoid becoming restless and depressed.
Therefore, it is important to realize that spaying will not solve hyperactive behavior that is a result of under-stimulation.
Why Should You Spay Your Lab
Spaying your lab, like neutering, has many benefits for your dog’s health and happiness, such as:
- Reducing the chances of her running away to find a mate.
- Preventing certain health issues.
The main benefit is that spaying reduces the likelihood your dog will escape your home or yard and end up becoming pregnant by another male in your neighborhood. Do not underestimate your dog’s ability to sneak out when she is in heat!
Finally, your dog’s aggressive and hyper behavior typically expressed during and around heat cycles will be eliminated after spaying. Heat cycles can last for weeks and be painful and stressful for female Labs. Your dog will greatly benefit from being spayed.
What To Expect After Spaying Your Lab
In the days following a spaying procedure, your Lab will likely be tired and groggy as she heals. Spaying is a bit more of an invasive surgery than neutering. Some swelling and even a small amount of blood around the incision site are to be expected.
In addition, you should prevent your Lab from engaging in any strenuous physical activity. Running or playing should be limited as much as possible for about two weeks to help her heal.
After your dog heals from the procedure, you will likely notice a change in her behavior. There will likely be a decrease in puberty-related aggression and irritability in the coming weeks.
When Should You Spay Your Lab?
While male Labs should not be neutered before nine months of age, to avoid complications during or after surgery, it is best to spay your Lab just before her first heat cycle or when she is around six months old.
She should weigh at least 45 pounds (20.4 kg).
Neutering or spaying your Lab is an essential part of being a responsible pet owner. Neutering or spaying will undoubtedly help to calm your dog’s unwanted hormone-related hyperactivity and hostility.
However, it curb these behaviors if they are caused by inactivity or a lack of mental stimulation.
Be sure to neuter or spay your dog as soon as possible and allow your dog to get at least two hours of exercise per day to minimize excessively high-strung behavior.
About THE AUTHOR
Mark is the founder of Everything Labradors and a husband and father of 3. He enjoys spending time with his family, including his dog Molly, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix. He’s a big fan of the outdoors and loves to travel to new places.Read more about Mark Brunson