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Hi, now before I start , please understand that I do know about the coat changes etc when castrating a setter and my sole intention is to avoid castration if possible and unless of medical reasons. So this is my dilemma at present:

Reuben will be 3 in June and is at present entire. He is a great pet and though very strong willed and very cheeky ( like most of them), he is well balanced, whistled trained for recall, no aggression and generally a very good boy. I have worked very hard with his training and had a well behaved ( but not robotic) family dog. As we didn't want to castrate, we have used superlorin implants twice since he was approx 12 months old. The idea being that we could get through a adolescent stage of raging hormones and keep the focus on training. The implant was not a wonder drug but did help. Now we have not used an implant for nearly 12 months as I didn't want to just keep messing with his hormones as felt it was not fair. Gradually his marking became more constant, slight aggression to some on lead dogs and definite confidence increase in the form of bolshyness. I expected this and am aware it is natural and have tried to accommodate with training. BUT it is now at the point of whatever we do, we can compete with the hormones - not humping but sniffing, marking and very unresponsive outside the home. He is howling at lot in the morning and obviously very distressed at times. He wants to listen ( I know he does, bless) but can not help his natural urges! Our walks are now a nightmare, my husband and I getting very frustrated as we can't trust him off lead and on lead he just pulls us to sniff and pee anywhere - and we have never let him pee whilst on lead etc. we live in a small town with lots of fields but also lots of dogs and people.

My question is, do we castrate as I don't want him to be stressed and us not enjoying our pet. Yes the coat will change but first and foremost he is our family pet.


Do we implant again and see if in a years time he is any different?

I don't want to keep making his hormones go up and down and mess him about, so I suppose we are thinking castrate at the moment. And I must stress , not for us but for his well being and possibly our ability to remain sane and not feel cross with him for something he can't help!

I do think also that he is quite a highly sexed individual as he has a setter friend who shows no hormone probs at all, completely opposite.mtherefore they re all individual I think.

Anyway , anyone who can offer constructive advice would be most welcomed!

Thank you


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What a quandry for you! I hope someone with knowledge of how superlorin works and a dog reacts when they don't have it comes forward.
Murphy was 2 in Dec at bit younger than your boy but is reasonably well behaved on the lead these days, he marks frequently when out walking but no different from any other dog I have owned in this age bracket. He hardly pulls much these days so I am wondering if the superlorin delayed the young gun phase most dogs go through? And now Reuben is saying hey look at me? Reuben is still young so the behaviour you are explaining isn't unusual. What has your vet said about this behaviour in relation to not implanting another dose?
You mention you can't trust him off lead, is he just ignoring you both or are his attentions elsewhere a bitch in season? I ask as you mention the howling. I am intigued about the peeing whilst on the lead and why you don't allow it? I distract my boys so as they don't pee in folks gardens but sometimes they get a scent and can't help it or if on a walk where they are on the lead for a while they need to.
Just offering a bit of reassurance in that with training they do improve but as I said I don't know if his hormones have been delayed or banked and are now at the forefront of his mind. I went through a tough time with bitches in season and Murphy thinking he could do as he pleased, I researched superlorin but decided it wasn't for us. So I know of the pulling an almost 30kg can do.
Good luck and I will watch replies you get!

Barkley is roughly the same, however hormones rise and fall. At this time of year there is a natural rise in testosterone (that's why the blackbirds start singing at this  time of year), and I notice that Barkley starts becoming a bit more bolshy around now.  There was a bitch in season in the neighborhood a few weeks ago, and he was whining at the door, and scratching up his back legs and growling around that time.  He has settled a bit since she went off, but is still bolshier than usual.  I get to the stage with him where I think it would be kinder to neuter him because of the stress, and then he calms down again.  Suprelorin will only reduce behaviour patterns which are directly under hormonal control.  I advise the people coming to our classes that if the dog "aint broke, then don't fix it".  If you can live with the degree of hormonal behaviour, the dog isn't under great stress then why bother.  It often gets thrown back at me "well, the vet says they can get prostate cancer", which to me is a bit like saying to a women "you had better have  your boobs removed so that you never get breast cancer"  It is an extreme solution.  However, I do tell them that if the dog is really stressed out, becoming aggressive, is picked on by  other entire males, starts to roam off that it becomes a danger to itself and others, then that would be a good time to consider neutering,

It really must be the dogs interests which are at heart first. If Barkley was to be constantly stressed, or aggressive, then yes, I would consider neutering, but that's just my opinion, because I would want what is best for my dog.

Interestingly, I know of 5 male setters living in Brighton and all but Errol have been neutered!

I tend to agree with what's been said here: firstly, now is most definitely the time of year when hormones are raging. Secondly, since Reuben's hormones have been suppressed for so long maybe they've now come to the fore even more strongly. He's probably not more highly sexed than any other entire male. All of them will show dominant behaviour and will test you at times and will naturally try to dominate other dogs. I’m just wondering whether his change in behaviour is emerging more strongly now because he's basically never really experienced it (physically as well as socially) and by the sounds of it neither have you.

Errol is now 2yrs 7mths and my first Setter so you could say that I'm a novice but I was raised with a number of Basset Hounds and my mum has never neutered her dogs (and still doesn't understand why it's so popular in England), so I’ve plenty of experience with headstrong males with bloody good noses.  :)

Admittedly Errol has been a pain throughout mid-Feb to March. Not being aggressive towards other dogs necessarily but is certainly more randy and roaming more widely and is less me-focussed / slower to recall. He's starting to get better although we're not out of the deep end yet. It’s something I am prepared to live with and we’re out in the ‘burbs, so in a semi-rural environment with lots of other dogs and kids about. Incidentally I’m also curious to know why Reuben is not allowed to pee whilst on the leash….

I guess in the end you need to do whatever you feel is right for you and your family – although I’d probably give it a bit more time to see if there will be any changes to Reuben’s behaviour as the year progresses. One thing you may also need to keep in mind is that neutered boys are likely to get humped more due to it being an act of dominance not just reproduction. Do let us know of your decision!

I had our 6 year old neutered last year because of dog aggression issues and it hasn't made the blind bit of difference.  He still hates the sight of black labs so I'd say that from personal experience, don't castrate to solve behavioural problems as I'm not sure that it works.

I try and keep Rigsby focussed with fetch and find games.  I also only let him off the lead for 10 mins at a time as I think the longer they have total freedom the worse they get.  I also find it's easier if we walk with someone else who has an older, well trained dog as they take their cues from them.

Aggression in itself has a large number of causes, not just hormonal, so having the dog neutered is not a guarantee that it will become less reactive. I can usually tell through observation whether aggression is hormonal, as well as certain things owners tell me which completes the picture. 

A dislike of black labs is a an issue with a number of dogs. Barkley has a real dislike of them, and I don't believe its just a hormonal thing. I am not sure what goes on in their heads at times, but when I did my first behavioral courses 20 years or so ago, there was much discussion then on the problem of black labradors.  Boxers are another breed who can become victims but that could be because of the shape of their faces causes some communication issues with some dogs who have not been well socialized with Boxers? Who really knows what goes on in their minds. We will never know. Many people put it down to dominance, but I think there is a lot more which goes on that without knowing the thought processes, we will never understand the full picture.

Isn't that weird. I've noticed that black Labs and black Retriever types are Errol's favourite and it's often mutual! He has no issues with Boxers either - mind you he grew up surounded by Dogue the Bordeauxs so maybe the face argument carries some truth.

He doesn't seem to care much for other Setters mind  - though not in an aggressive way just can't be bothered...   ;)

Your post made me laugh! I have a male who hates black labs! No idea why and his behaviour  changes straight away?

I've 5 males and they'll all go through that stage of sniffing and marking around the age of 2...they do grow out of it. Not one of them is neutered and they won't be unless for medical reasons. I find our dogs are easily distracted when walking and will tend to mark more as the pace is slower. Once the pace is picked up into a jog the dogs are more focused and don't look to mark, they've a job to do and a faster pace keeps them concentrated. Do you walk your dog on a harness?

I also recommenced this book it has help me with issues such as humping, fear aggression etc.. http://puredoglisteners.com/pdl/why-does-my-dog-do-that-the-book/

Why have a male dog I have had dogs over the last forty years.I did not find it such  a problem all this talk of drugs and cutting off his happy bringing parts.may I suggest buying a cat and leaving him with all his parts.

I'd ride it out (maybe not an appropriate term for this discussion), they often calm down at around 3,and I certainly agree that being 'full of the joys of spring'  doesn't help! Good luck, whatever you decide!

Our boys are litter brothers and a faster pace does help. Easy going about marking a few street trees as it is a natural part of them. After that, the time is for walking and a quick firm "Leave it" and they know we are not stopping for every tree. Murphy is the dominant dog and when he is to bouncy he just gets more practice at having to mind his manners. More bouncy equals I have not walked him enough too usually. Like wise would not neuter unless it was medical.

Lucky you that you haven't had any problems that's all I can say.  Having worked as a clinical behavior specialist, I have seen some dogs who are totally overproducing hormones to the point that they can become a danger to themselves as well as others. We should not judge all dogs by the same yard stick, and look at the overall picture.  Once altered those dogs have gone on to have a much happier and less stressed existence with a totally loving family.

In fact, the first dog I had was a re-homed (black) Labrador who had a reputation of being a nasty piece of work with other dogs, and he was. If he escaped and happened upon another dog he would almost rip them limb from limb. his owners couldn't cope with him any longer.  I took him in, had him neutered, and I couldn't have wished for a better and more loyal companion. People who had known him in his previous life were totally amazed seeing me walking him in the local park, off leash and either ignoring other dogs or actually playing with them. Including his previous owner, who then started noises about wanting him back (she didn't fortunately). He was also a great friend to my first Setter.  So may I ask - why should I have had a cat instead???????????




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