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Male dog behaviours : decrypt undesirable situations

Today, dogs are considered as family members by their owners. So when these companions show indesirable behaviours, their owners may feel embarassed.

If the manifestations are rather different, the origin is sometimes similar with the sex hormones playing a major role. In all cases, solutions exist : talk to your vet.



My dog pees everywhere

Male dog urinary marking is a natural behaviour that allows him to mark his territory. Through this, he informs his peers of his passage and of his « claim » on this given place. However, this behaviour can become problematic for the owner when it occurs too frequently in inappropriate places.

  • A behaviour linked to testosterone

It is important to distinguish urinary marking from uncleanliness or urinary incontinence.

Urine marking consists in the emission of urine in small doses, posterior leg raised, generally on a vertical support (wall, plant, furniture…). Annoying but non-pathological, urinary marking is a means of social communication in the male dog, that does not empty his bladder in one go but in a fractional manner, thus depositing olfactory signals (the pheromones contained in the urine) and visual signals (raised leg).

Urinary marking can be linked to testosterone. Your vet can perform a testosterone inhibition test that mimics the effects of surgical castration.

When unclean, urine is instead deposited in large doses. Toilet training varies with the age and education of the dog. If a puppy eliminates anywhere, he progressively learns to eliminate outside of his niche, and then outdoors. Cleanliness is thus one of the puppy’s basic learnings. Indeed, the duration of normal urinary retention varies with the dog’s age. At 2 months, a puppy cannot hold back more than 2 hours, and gradually this duration is extended to reach 6-8 hours at puberty, or even more later.

An adult dog that pees in inappropriate areas (particularly indoors) and/or at an inadequate frequency is considered unclean.

Urinary incontinence is the inability to voluntarily control urine emission. This problem must be the subject of a medical investigation.


* Behaviour and the pituitary-testicular axis in dogs before and after surgical or chemical castration with the GnRH agonist deslorelin, de Gier et al., congrès EVSSAR 2012

My dog runs away : what solutions ?

24% of owners have already lost their pet once. A dog that runs away all the time is therefore, for you, a great source of worry and concern. Indeed, such a behaviour can have terrible consequences : road accident, fights with other dogs, loss or theft of pet, risk of infectious diseases… This behaviour can have different causes.

  • Causes and solutions to prevent your dog from running away

A dog can run away because he has spotted a female in heat, to widen his territory, to hunt, to look for food, to search for companions, to play, from boredom…

Some breeds are more at risk and notably hunting dogs who run away to follow a trail or track an animal.

Preventing your dog from running away passes by physical measures (well defined and closed territory with fences, barriers…) and by educational measures, especially with the notion of recall and a perfect control over the dog. Of course, identification (mandatory) is a guarantee of safety as it allows you to find your lost pet.

To avoid your dog responding to external situations, he must find things to occupy himself in his environment and all the palliative means to boredom (sufficient walks, toys, physical activities…) will be useful. In certain cases, running away can be linked to testosterone. A testosterone inhibition test exists, that mimics the effects of surgical castration.

Depending on cases, castration, definitive or temporary, could be the appropriate solution for male dogs that run away looking for females in heat. A dog can be attracted by females in heat that he can smell, even from long distances. When facing repeated fugue behaviour, it is important to first determine its’ cause, and to discuss it with your vet.

*Source : enquête TNS/Sofres pour I-Cad, octobre 2016.

Sexual behaviour of the dog : a possible hormonal origin

Dog reproduction has a procreative purpose, and usually occurs between a male and a female in heat (we also say she is in estrus). When the dog’s sexuality is expressed repeatedly on other individuals or on inappropriate supports (toys, objects), these behaviours can become embarassing for the owner.

  • An attitude sometimes linked to sex hormones

Without endorsing misconceptions about this behaviour (« obsessed » dog…), it is important to talk about it as it can affect the good relationship between a dog and his owner. This attitude can sometimes be related to sex hormones.

The sexual behaviour of the male dog is in fact primarily governed by a sex hormone, testosterone, which is responsible for the dog’s libido.

However, other causes are possible, particularly related to behavioural problems. To determine if testosterone is responsible for this behaviour, your vet can suggest solutions. A testosterone inhibition test exists that mimics the effects of surgical castration.

My dog fights : a ‘viril’ but disturbing behaviour

Dog fights are often impressing for owners. Even if this attitude is part of the dog’s usual behavioral repertoire, do not hesitate to ask your vet for advice.

  • Males often fight more than females, driven by their sex hormones

Your dog can fight with a congener in mainly 2 types of situations : when he is trying to defend a resource (food, toy, sexual partner…), or to ensure his own protection, when he feels threatened. Your dog pulling on his leash during walks is a behaviour that may be annoying to you.

Conflict only breaks out if the other dog insists and does not respect the intimidation signals initially sent. Males fight more often than females, driven by their sex hormones.

When a dog who exhibits no hostility towards his fellow animals starts to attack them for no apparent reason, he must be subjected to a medical investigation so the vet can determine the cause.

The presence of a bitch in heat can trigger a fight between the whole male dogs that are in her surroundings. They forget about any camaraderie, even if it had been the case previously.

Chemical or surgical castration may be the solution if the fights are of sexual origin. A testosterone inhibition test exists that mimics the effects of surgical castration.

Contact your Virbac Technical Sales Advisor

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