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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Let me preface this by saying I am at my whits end and ready to rehome him. I am that done.

I've got a 2.5 year old husky/mastiff who was neutered January 2021. Up until that point he was fantastic. Loved other dogs, loved people, loved "his kitty" (who I got 2 years prior), and minus some hiccups as a pup, was so good.

Since neutering things have gone downhill. He is dog reactive, even with dogs he has been friends with since puppy hood. Completely forget meeting new ones because he gets a full Mohawk and is on attack mode. He was always somewhat protective of me, but now is growling at everyone. Then recently he has been unreasonably snapping, growling, and chasing the cat. Today he was across the room chewing on a toy, the cat walked through the room and he proceeded to get up growling and snarling. This is always met by swift disipline and him thrown away into time out for quite awhile.

I'm done. I'm over it. I need a fix before I get rid of him. Help.
 

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Whatever has happened likely is not because of the neuter. If this was a very sudden change from a dog who was generally fine with other dogs and strangers, a vet check may be in order. You might consider asking your vet about doing a thyroid panel, as the issues with the thyroid may cause sudden behavior changes. If you are still worried that the neuter surgery was the culprit, you should consider getting a second opinion from a different vet.

If he is medically cleared, then this reactivity is likely genetic. At 2.5 he is reaching maturity, and this is an age when many dogs who were previously fine with other dogs and strangers decide they don't much like them anymore. You should read through this thread about reactive dogs for some great resources on training.

It's also important to remember that reactive dogs should never be corrected or punished. Their "bad behavior" often comes from a place of fear, and when their owners come through and discipline them, they think, "oh, mom/dad is behaving in a very scary way, this thing must be super scary"! It sounds like your dog was resource guarding his toy in the case you described, which also isn't a place for punishment. They often think they should guard their resource harder if we punish them for guarding it. We accidentally make the issue worse when we punish, because dogs rarely, if ever, connect a punishment to what their behavior was unless we really know what we're doing and our timing is impeccable.

A book I have seen many on this forum recommend for resource guarding is Mine!: A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding by Jean Donaldson.

Another option you may have is hiring a behaviorist or positive, force free trainer specializing in reactivity. If you are new to dog training, this is likely the best route.

All that being said, not everyone is capable of working with reactive and resource guarding dog, and I understand there is a cat involved, too. It takes constant vigilance, careful management, and a dedication to training. I have a reactive dog who dislikes strangers myself, and his reactivity is relatively mild! I understand how hard it can be. It can be very difficult depending on how severe the reactivity and resource guarding is. If you don't think you'll be able manage this and work on teaching yourself to train the dog (whether that is by researching yourself or hiring a trainer), it is probably best for both you and the dog to rehome the dog, because with a cat at home a mistake can easily lead to a tragedy. I would work through a reputable shelter or rescue, however, so they can accurately evaluate the dog and place it in an appropriate home. Rescues often have access to training resources, as well, to help the dog be more adoptable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Whatever has happened likely is not because of the neuter. If this was a very sudden change from a dog who was generally fine with other dogs and strangers, a vet check may be in order. You might consider asking your vet about doing a thyroid panel, as the issues with the thyroid may cause sudden behavior changes. If you are still worried that the neuter surgery was the culprit, you should consider getting a second opinion from a different vet.

If he is medically cleared, then this reactivity is likely genetic. At 2.5 he is reaching maturity, and this is an age when many dogs who were previously fine with other dogs and strangers decide they don't much like them anymore. You should read through this thread about reactive dogs for some great resources on training.

It's also important to remember that reactive dogs should never be corrected or punished. Their "bad behavior" often comes from a place of fear, and when their owners come through and discipline them, they think, "oh, mom/dad is behaving in a very scary way, this thing must be super scary"! It sounds like your dog was resource guarding his toy in the case you described, which also isn't a place for punishment. They often think they should guard their resource harder if we punish them for guarding it. We accidentally make the issue worse when we punish, because dogs rarely, if ever, connect a punishment to what their behavior was unless we really know what we're doing and our timing is impeccable.

A book I have seen many on this forum recommend for resource guarding is Mine!: A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding by Jean Donaldson.

Another option you may have is hiring a behaviorist or positive, force free trainer specializing in reactivity. If you are new to dog training, this is likely the best route.

All that being said, not everyone is capable of working with reactive and resource guarding dog, and I understand there is a cat involved, too. It takes constant vigilance, careful management, and a dedication to training. I have a reactive dog who dislikes strangers myself, and his reactivity is relatively mild! I understand how hard it can be. It can be very difficult depending on how severe the reactivity and resource guarding is. If you don't think you'll be able manage this and work on teaching yourself to train the dog (whether that is by researching yourself or hiring a trainer), it is probably best for both you and the dog to rehome the dog, because with a cat at home a mistake can easily lead to a tragedy. I would work through a reputable shelter or rescue, however, so they can accurately evaluate the dog and place it in an appropriate home. Rescues often have access to training resources, as well, to help the dog be more adoptable.
He is completely medically cleared as his yearly was earlier this month.

His punishment with other dogs when he gets his mohawk i⁸s being told to "cool it" where he lays down and watches me and isn't allowed to move until everything calms down.

He definitely wasn't resource guarding as he was completely across the room and the two share a water dish without issues. They also share their toys without issues. Why should this not be punished? He's a dog.. he doesn't own anything or get to do anything without permission. The corrections are always within seconds, if not during, the bad behavior.

I'm not new to training but the issue I run into is the closest trainer is 4-6 hours away and virtual sessions only help so much. Nevermind the back log of Covid puppy issues 🙃

There is a local humane society but also several farmers interested in him due to his guardian breeds and being protective of his property and his flock, whether that's his people or the livestock.
 

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He definitely wasn't resource guarding as he was completely across the room and the two share a water dish without issues. They also share their toys without issues. Why should this not be punished? He's a dog.. he doesn't own anything or get to do anything without permission. The corrections are always within seconds, if not during, the bad behavior.
Doesn't matter. Resource guarding is a complex issue that comes in more than one "flavor". Some dogs are fine sharing everything under sun with all animals and all humans. Other dogs will guard a bottle cap that fell on the floor three days ago from their human owner who's standing across the room. Most dogs seem to fall somewhere in between where they guard high value resources like meaty bones or their food bowl, but not much else. And sometimes it makes no sense at all.

Whatever the case, punishment is not the best action here, as it usually makes the dog think they have to guard the thing more fiercely. Punishment is like fighting fire with fire. Dogs don't understand "ownership" and "permission" like we do. You can check out this link for more resources on dogs and dog behavior. I've found it difficult not to anthropomorphize my dog sometimes and attribute his behavior to human emotions, but it simply isn't the case. I found it helpful to understand what's going on in his head so I can work with him more effectively without exacerbating the problem.
 

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There have been studies that show neutering can absolutely increase aggression. In most cases it will simply exacerbate already present aggression, but the 'calming down' people often see is nothing more than a loss of confidence, and dogs without confidence become fearful and aggression can be a fear response. The most frequent aggressive result is neutered males often become extremely aggressive toward intact males, which is something I have seen first hand hundreds of times with my work.

Neutering dogs has become a culture in the US whereas it isn't nearly as common in other countries such as Sweden. Even with far more intact dogs in other countries there are no more incidents per capita of aggressive dogs, unlike US veterinarians would have people believing. They also do not have an issue with over population like our rescues believe there will be if dogs are left intact.

Not to mention the health cons to altering.

Here is an article on the topic with citations of the studies within: Neutering Causes Behavior Problems in Male Dogs

An article from the VCA acknowledging neutering can increase aggressive response: Dog Behavior and Training - Neutering and Behavior

That is probably neither here nor there for this particular post and case, what's done is done.

Seek a behaviorist, if the problem persists then consider rehoming him to a one pet home with someone who can keep him separate from other dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
There have been studies that show neutering can absolutely increase aggression. In most cases it will simply exacerbate already present aggression, but the 'calming down' people often see is nothing more than a loss of confidence, and dogs without confidence become fearful and aggression can be a fear response. The most frequent aggressive result is neutered males often become extremely aggressive toward intact males, which is something I have seen first hand hundreds of times with my work.

Neutering dogs has become a culture in the US whereas it isn't nearly as common in other countries such as Sweden. Even with far more intact dogs in other countries there are no more incidents per capita of aggressive dogs, unlike US veterinarians would have people believing. They also do not have an issue with over population like our rescues believe there will be if dogs are left intact.

Not to mention the health cons to altering.

Here is an article on the topic with citations of the studies within: Neutering Causes Behavior Problems in Male Dogs

An article from the VCA acknowledging neutering can increase aggressive response: Dog Behavior and Training - Neutering and Behavior

That is probably neither here nor there for this particular post and case, what's done is done.

Seek a behaviorist, if the problem persists then consider rehoming him to a one pet home with someone who can keep him separate from other dogs.
He was neutered partly for medical, partly to fix the absolutely obnoxious male behavior. I never really wanted to neuter him but he was becoming too much to handle. Now those issues are fixed but these have arisen..

It's super frustrating because he was so good otherwise, both before and after the neuter. But now I don't know what to do 😔
 
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