Some behaviors of intact male dogs can be difficult for some dog owners to cope with, considering that some of them may turn being problematic, especially in the long run. Whether you have decided to keep your male dog intact or are just postponing the neutering procedure, knowing what to expect is important. Veterinarian Dr. Ivana shares several strategies that can help you ameliorate the situation.
Dealing with Behaviors of Intact Male Dogs
From periodic binges of furniture destruction and digging, to excessive barking and baying, to fence jumping and mounting people – intact male dogs express their sexual frustration in a plethora of creative ways. Just like a testosterone-packed teenagers, intact male dogs exhibit many unwanted behaviors.
All in all, parenting a dog that is going through its adolescence years is not a walk in a park. You will be challenged on a daily basis and faced with many unwanted behaviors. Some of those behaviors are funny, some are embarrassing, and some have the potential to become dangerous.
Basically, if your canine baby is a teenager dog going adolescence or an intact adult male, be prepared for shenanigans and troubles. Here is what you should expect and when to expect it.
Hormonally-Driven Behaviors of Intact Male Dogs
Male dogs tend to reach sexual maturity when between the ages of five and twelve months old. During this timeframe, you should expect hormonally-driven undesirable behaviors to unveil.
Socialization is crucial for a dog’s development. Just because your intact male dog is going through his adolescence years and there is a risk of unwanted pregnancies and male-to-male aggression match offs, it does not mean you should keep your dog in total isolation.
Keep allowing your dog to mingle with other dogs, and let him interact and socialize (watch though the rules of dog parks, as several don't allow intact male dogs). However, never let your intact male dog play with an intact female without close and diligent supervision.
What to behaviors in intact male dogs should you expect? Here is a short list of issues, intact male dogs can exhibit:
- Periodic destructiveness, in the form of digging, scratching, and chewing
- Pacing, inability to settle down, lack of focus
- Escapism efforts – fence jumping, door dashing, leash tearing
- Wandering or roaming
- Barking, lunging and fighting with other male dogs
- Offensive growling, snapping and biting other male dogs
- Lack of cooperation and noncompliant behavior, reluctance to follow owner's directions
- Unusual pulling and dragging during walks, accompanied by unnecessary sniffing, and licking female urine
- Extra interest in grooming the genital area
- Exhibiting sexual excitement when petted or simply given attention
- Mounting people, other animals or even objects
- More pronounced sense of territoriality and excessive urine marking, both indoors and outdoors.
Urine Marking Behavior in Intact Male Dogs
Dogs use their urine to mark territories because the urine gives different information about the dog, including sex, reproductive availability and identity. Dogs usually mark with urine vertical surfaces that, from their perspective, stand out. This includes trees, bushes, parking meters, and fire hydrants. Yup, know you know one reason why your dog is fixated on peeing on tires!
Urine marking is normal canine behavior as long as it is moderate and infrequent. However, if your dog spends more time with his leg in the air than actually walking, then he has an “over-marking” issue. And yes, some dogs do even a headstand when peeing.
Another potential problem is if the dog starts urine marking indoors, which usually involves the furniture and the drapes.
Urine marking should not be mistaken for poor house training. Even house trained, intact male dogs will start to urine mark around the house if they sense another dog’s urine within close proximity.
Humping Behavior in Intact Male Dogs
For the dog this is completely natural, but for us as dog parents and for the strangers whose legs our dogs are humping, this is completely embarrassing behavior.
Dogs can hump other dogs (regardless of age and sex), other pets, people or objects, including their toys and your pillows. Some dogs may even just hump the air!
There are several reasons why dogs and puppies hump, but a common one in intact male dogs is that they perceive the humping as a form of masturbation.
As a behavior, humping must not be encouraged. While it is true, that humping, especially by younger dogs is funny, if we laugh at this, we unintentionally encourage this behavior.
If you notice your dog is about to hump on something or your dog is starting to mount your guest, you need to interrupt the behavior verbally, ideally, before he even has a chance to latch on. If that does not work, leash your dog and leave the situation.
Male- to- Male Aggression in Intact Male Dogs
Male to male aggression is a common issue among intact male dogs. These issues are becoming more and more frequent and concerning as the dog matures.
Even the best-trained and well-behaved dog can exhibit signs of aggression towards another intact male if there is a female dog in heat present or a territory that needs protecting.
Proper training and extensive socialization are the best way of decreasing the risk of aggressive blow outs. However, even if your dog is mellow and even-tempered, you should always closely monitor his interactions with other male dogs. Some neutered male dogs can become aggressive towards intact male dogs.
Roaming Behaviors in Intact Male Dogs
When there is a female in heat within sniffing distance, there is no fence an intact male dog cannot jump over, squeeze through or alternatively, dig under. Male dogs are exceptionally good at sensing the nearby presence of a female in heat. In such cases, they turn into skilled escape artists.
To prevent your dog from escaping, keep him in a well-enclosed and dog-proofed area. When walking, never let your dog off-leash, unless you are in a secured and enclosed space. Finally, make sure the leash is stronger than your dog’s hormone-spiked drive to chase females.
If you have ever parented an intact male dog, you are well-aware that there are significant differences between the social behavior of an intact and neutered male.
If you are planning to breed you furry canine baby, then you will have to put up with hormone-induced shenanigans. However, if not planning to breed, it is highly advisable to have your dog neutered.
Today, there are specifically formulated medications that can decrease the dog’s testosterone levels offering something like temporary and reversible neuter procedure. If you are happy with the behavioral changes this temporary fix offered, you can then arrange for your trusted vet to perform surgical and permanent neutering procedure.
Neuter procedures in dogs are considered routine and simple, which means your dog will be back home, healthy and happy in no time.
About the Author
Dr. Ivana Crnec is a graduate of the University Sv. Kliment Ohridski’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia.