border collie rounds up the sheep

Questions and Answers

This is where visitors can submit questions about Border Collies, Sheep, Red Top Dogs, Dog Training Clinics, or other related topics to Patrick. The questions and Patrick's answers will be posted on this page so that everyone can gain new knowledge.

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Q: When is the appropriate time to neuter my dog?

A: The last few months, I have gotten several clients who asked about when they should neuter their male dog. Their dog was actually just a puppy, and their Vet had recommended that it be neutered at about 5 months of age.

I want to be clear on this point, because I don’t want anyone to be confused, I am very happy when people neuter/spay their dogs. But, there is an appropriate time for this procedure, and I think owners should wait until the dogs have matured. By neutering a dog so young, there is no chance for him to get the hormones needed to have a masculine look and grow their body properly. Dogs that are neutered young, end up having a very non-gendered look, not looking like a male or a female. There is also research in horses that says castration early changes how a body will grow.

My Vet was by the other day; so I asked her why there was such a big push to get this procedure done so early. She said most of the push came from the shelters, as they of course want to get the dogs fixed before they are adopted. She said that there are some irresponsible people who should possibly do this procedure early, but most should wait for the dogs to mature

Q: I have a 10-month-old pup that I am thinking of bringing to one of your clinics. Is she old enough?

A: The timing for your pup is perfect. Ten months is a good age to gauge how prepared she is for training. Not all dogs are ready to be trained for livestock at this age, but many have the physical and mental maturity to handle it. A clinic will give you a good idea where your pup is.

I have seen pups very keen at a very young age. This does not necessarily mean they are ready for training. It just means they are very keen. They are ready for training when you can put pressure on them and they respond positively to it. If you put pressure on them, and they become confused, or upset, it is most likely that they aren’t ready to be trained.

Q; What do you recommend to feed an overweight dog?

A: There are two possible ways to take weight off of a working dog. The first is to increase exercise. The second is to reduce calories or his/her diet. Being fit is very important to working dogs, so we must all be very careful not to let our dogs get too much condition.

My dogs have the tendency to be very good eaters, and put weight on very easily. If I have misgauged their weight, and I discover they are too fat, I usually change their diet for a short period of a month or two. My dogs have the tendency to keep weight on, even if I restrict the amount or the calories. But what seems to work very well, is to restrict their carbs. So, I put them on a low-carb diet of meat and low-carb vegetables (spinach, broccoli, asparagus, etc). I usually have no problems with the dogs eating this as I usually cook the meat, and put it over the raw vegetables. All my dogs love it.

It then takes about 3 weeks, and I notice their weight going down. After I achieve their goal weight, I usually feed them a mixture of regular kibble and the meat and veggie mixture for another short period.

Hannah, my great dog, had the “easy keeper” syndrome. I tried and tried to get her weight down. She was down to a cup a day, and still the fat would cover her ribs. I wish I had this diet down when I had her, because it not only got the weight off, it seems to quiet their hunger as well.