Aggressiveness, as displayed by baring teeth, growling and biting, is one way dogs communicate. An aggressive dog can be a danger to people, however, so it’s best to curb those behaviors. One way to reduce a male dog’s aggression is to neuter him.
Fighting for Mates
Neutering your dog — removing his testicles — changes behavior driven from male sex hormones. This may or may not reduce his aggressiveness. For example, two male dogs might be aggressive to each other because they are fighting for the same mate. Neutering cuts down on a male dog’s desire for female dogs, so he will not be as prone to fighting for that reason. Dogs fight for other reasons, though, so neutering will probably not stop all aggressive behavior.
When a dog is afraid he will be harmed, he might act aggressively. Your dog might become scared when another dog approaches and could act out in an aggressive way to protect himself. Similarly, if a small child runs up to a nervous dog to play, the dog might misinterpret the child’s enthusiasm and growl or bite in fear. Neutering does not change fear-based aggression.
Neutering is likely to help curb protective and possessive aggression. A dog can be protective when he perceives a person or another animal as being potentially harmful to his family. He can be possessive when he guards his food or a favorite toy. Both instances can cause aggression in a dog. Neutering lessens aggression for those reasons.
After a dog is neutered, he tends to become more family-oriented as opposed to being more dog-oriented. He urine marks less because he is less interested in demonstrating his territory to other dogs. He focuses more on you instead. A neutered dog is typically more affectionate and friendly.
If you have an aggressive dog, check with your veterinarian to determine the possible causes. You also want to rule out a medical reason. Get advice regarding what to do. If you do nothing, your dog will likely remain aggressive. You might need to work with an animal behaviorist. Whatever you do, don’t punish an aggressive dog; you are likely to escalate the behavior, and you could be hurt.
Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.