Behaviors of Intact Male Dogs
That cute male puppy may appear adorable upon seeing him for the first time. However, once adopted, puppyhood lasts only a fraction of a dog's life, and sooner than later that cute puppy will turn out being a teenager with full-blown testosterone dictating various unwanted behaviors.
Indeed, dog adolescence may not be a walk in the park and is somehow similar to dealing with human teenagers. Perhaps this is why according to PetSyle most dogs are surrendered to shelters between the ages of eight months through 18 months. However, for those that are able to hold on to those adolescent dogs with unwanted behaviors, they will eventually get to the light at the end of the tunnel, once their dog settles down and turns into an adult. Although, they may still have to deal with hormones should they fail to neuter their dogs.
Male dogs reach sexual maturity when they reach their adolescence stage. Owners who chose to not neuter their dogs, therefore, may have to deal with the rebellious teenager stage with the effects of hormones on top of that. This article applies in particular to behaviors of some intact male dogs. Of course, they don't apply to all intact male dogs.
In the wild, as a pack of wolves migrate from one place to another looking for food, some male wolves may be seen urinating on bushes, trees, or rocks. The wolves will lift their leg and dribble a bit of urine. This is pure marking behavior. Domesticated dogs have conserved part of this instinct. A male dog may walk to an area, sniff it, lift its leg and mark it to leave "I was here" message.
Curiously, according to the book Genetics and Social Behavior of the Dog, dogs that live in a pen rarely frequented by other animals, will not engage in this activity and may still squat as they did as when they were puppies. The main trigger which entices the dog to lift the leg and mark, therefore, appears to be the smell of another dog's urine.
Some male dogs may also defecate as a way to mark, and after doing so, they may scratch the dirt nearby. This is not to cover up the feces, rather it is to mark it further adding a visual cue, that he was there.
An intact male dog has an instinct to roam around. They feel the pressure to mark around the neighborhood. This behavior especially exacerbates if there is a female in heat nearby. Dogs may recognize the scent of a female in heat from several feet away, and they may stick around the area for many hours or days. Sometimes if there are competitor dogs nearby, they may even engage in bloody fights. If you must own an intact dog, make sure your dog is safely confined (this applies to any dogs).
While mounting may appear to be mostly a sexual behavior, it is often triggered by other reasons. For more on this read about humping behaviors in dogs. Neutered males, puppies, and female dogs may be also seen mounting other dogs, or human legs.
Some intact male dogs may exhibit aggressive behaviors targeted at other male dogs, especially when there is a female in heat. While neutering the dog is not a magic solution, it may sometimes lower this type of aggression if it is related to hormones.
Aggression manifested towards owners, strangers or other dogs will likely not change especially if there is a fear component at play. Aggressive behaviors should always be assessed by a dog behaviorist before deciding whether to neuter or not. For more on this, read Should Male Dogs be Neutered?
Genetics and Social Behavior of the dog by John Paul Scott, John L. Fuller University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (January 1, 1998)
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.