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Hey Everyone,

I mentioned this once in a previous post, but the clock is ticking and I could use a few extra thoughts on the topic.

I have an Aussie puppy (almost 8 months now). She's a little anxious and will bark when she's scared and she'll bark to alert me someone is walking near us or towards us. She doesn't show any teeth, no lunging towards anyone. I wouldn't say that she's aggressive (maybe a touch of fear aggression)...but mostly just alert. I've also been working with her A LOT and have seen tremendous improvement. Sometimes she will bark under her breath (barely audible to someone walking towards us), and I will sit her down and have her sit and reward her if she's quiet. If she barks, I'll distract her with a high value treat and have her watch me until the person passes. Before I wouldn't have been able to control the barking.

Anyway, I'm getting so many conflicting information about spaying. IT's about time to have her spayed. My trainer says not to have her spayed yet...wait until after the first heat because they say aggression can get worse after spaying.

All other people I've talked to say that spaying has had the opposite affect and I shouldn't risk the other issues, such as cancer, she could develop if I wait until after heat.

My instinct says that her guarding, protective, and maternal instincts would only increase with added hormones and her first heat. But that could be totally wrong.

Any advice??

Thanks so much!!
 

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Spaying will not make her aggression worse. Any fear aggression/reactivity she has is behavioral and not linked to being spayed. If anything, the lessening of hormones could calm her down. I'm not saying that it will, but that would be more likely. I have 3 females, and all are spayed and none had any behavioral changes at all. It just came down to their training and personalities.
 

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I believe what your trainer is saying is referencing one small study that found a small increase in female aggression after they were spayed. This was one study, and one small group of bitches. It generally makes sense to think that there would be a tiny increase in aggression because spaying reduces their supply of estrogen, and therefore increases the supply of testosterone. However any study on the effect of altering male OR female dogs on their behavior shows extremely minimal differences and effects. The general consensus about this is that altering dogs has little to no effect on their behavior or personality.

I think you should get your dog spayed. Or at the very least, ask for some scientific proof behind her claims. Anecdotal evidence isn't good enough. In general I don't think this will have any big effect on your training.
 

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"If she barks, I'll distract her with a high value treat and have her watch me until the person passes. Before I wouldn't have been able to control the barking." -AudreyS

Just be cautious about accidentally rewarding the barking here. Try to get her attention before she starts barking, so you can reward her for calm behavior at the start. :)

I don't believe spaying your dog will improve this behavior either. However, it's something that I recommend anyway as I would for most other dogs. I have a reactive and spayed border collie mix.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong here, but I do believe Aussies as a breed do tend to be more prone to developing reactivity issues. It's just something that has to be worked on with a lot of training, so keep it up. :)
 

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I have yet to see any studies that make me think spaying/neutering is likely to effect behavior one way or the other. I would probably never spay/neuter a dog with the intent of changing behavioral problems.

There have actually been some recent studies linking increased cancer risk to early spay/neuter, and I'm starting to sway more towards the opinion that it's better to wait until 1-2 when the dog is fully grown before spaying or neutering. I do really regret spaying my bitch so early (6 months), and if I had to re-do it I may well have waited to alter her until she was 2, if ever.

At 8 months, I don't think she's "too young" to spay, but I also don't think you need to be in a hurry to do so unless you are really miffed at the idea of everything that comes with having a female in heat (no off leash walks, no socializing with intact males or dog park time while in heat, needs to wear panties while she's bleeding, etc). At this age, I do think she's developed enough that it wouldn't be terrible if you spay her (vs if she was like 4 months old), but I also wouldn't bank on it changing her behavior at all.
 

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Anyway, I'm getting so many conflicting information about spaying.
There is a lot of conflicting information, and strong opinion, and to make matters worse, there are health consequences for both spaying and not spaying. I'm choosing not to spay my 7 1/2 month old dog at this time and may not do so at all.
 

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I agree with Chessa that it really boils down to training and personality. Everyone has opinions on spaying/neutering. If you are uncomfortable about traditional spaying, you can look into OSS. I don't know a lot about it but I believe it's a partial spay where the ovary is kept. The dog will still show signs of being in heat but no bleeding and no pregnancies. Not many vets do it and it is more expensive.

I spayed my female, traditionally, and have noticed no changes in her personality.
@jclark343 and @Shandula both have Aussies so they can speak to their temperament a little better but I believe they are 'on alert' dogs. As she gets older and you continue your training with her, she can learn to control it - spayed or not - IMO.
 

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I believe I commented on your other thread as well, I think she's just an Aussie. Maybe a little bit reactive, but I think with the training you're doing, she'll come around. There are lots of great books i can recommend for working with her reactivity if you're interested.

As for the spaying, I have a neutered male Aussie, who was done at 6 months. I have seen zero behavioral changes in him. He'll be two in September, and I wish I had waited for him to develop further before I got him castrated.

My Border Collie just turned a year old on Monday. She has not been spayed, and has had her first heat. BCs are similar to Aussies in they have the "reserved with strangers" trait. (Although I would argue neither of mine really got that gene - they love everyone :p ) She will be spayed sometime in the next six months or so (before her next heat). I really don't expect any changes in her behavior once spayed.
 
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I believe spaying and the behavioral problems are two unassociated subjects.

Spay when you are comfortable spaying, it is not going to affect her behavioral problems. Those have nothing to do with her being unspayed and everything to do with her being an aussie. Honestly, I am a person that spays when my dogs are young. IDK why but the thought of having to go through a heat just irks me. I know it's natural, and I've read all the articles about why you should do it when they are older but I just can't get my head over my hang ups. Males I don't mind neutering later by any sign of sexual traits (humping, marking, etc) I will have them snipped. That is not something I want to deal with.

I believe I mentioned it in the last thread, but to me she sounds like a typical Aussie. I've found most of the aussie's I've met (except Shandula's Levi) tend to be more reserved. My Forbes is 3 years old and still acts the way you are saying your puppy acts when in new environments. He does not like to be approached, likes to meet people on his terms, and will bark if people approach him too quickly. You're doing the right thing, distracting her ad rewarding her for sitting while people pass. The best thing you can do is continue to do that. Take her out and put her in places where people are, find a spot where it's a little empty, ask her to sit and machine gun rewards into her mouth. Make the situation as positive as possible.
 
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