Will Spaying Calm a Female Dog? Behaviour Changes Explained

Last Updated on July, 2024

So you’re stuck with an unruly female dog on your hands, and you’re wondering if spaying her is the answer to making your dog calm. It’s a topic that often sparks curiosity and debate among dog owners. 

If you’ve ever found yourself chasing a hyperactive dog around the house or dealing with constant mood swings, you’re not alone.

Many dog owners wonder whether spaying their dog can help reign in the wild side. It is a complicated question to answer as it may depend on various factors.

Let’s discover the truth if will spaying calm a female dog and help you decide if it is the right choice for your dog’s well-being. 

Quick Summary

Yes, spaying a female dog can help calm her down by eliminating heat-related behaviors such as restlessness, mood swings, and roaming. However, it may not have an effect on other behavioral issues such as aggression or separation anxiety.

Spaying surgery is a medical procedure where a female dog’s reproductive organs are removed, and it can help prevent unwanted pregnancies, decrease the risk of certain health issues, and eliminate heat-related behaviors.

There are benefits and downsides to spaying, including reduced risk of health issues and potential surgical risks, but also a potential for weight gain and changes in hormonal balance. Recovery time varies for each dog, and it is important to follow vet recommendations post-surgery.

So What is Spaying? 

two female dogs under spay surgery

Spaying surgery is a medical procedure where an experienced vet removes your female dog’s reproductive organs– the ovaries and the uterus. 

Keep in mind that spaying your dog too early can’t be good for her as it can inhibit the development of internal organs, bones, and joints, causing issues such as hip dysplasia, bone cancer, and other issues. 

Will Spaying Calm a Female Dog?

The effect of the spaying surgery has been a hot topic among pet owners, with some believing that spaying a female dog calms her down. The reality of this, however, is a bit more intricate. 

It will get rid of those pesky heat-related behaviors, such as the late-night serenades, endless pacing, and the not-so-mysterious vanishing acts in search of love. It’s all thanks to hormonal hijinks during a reproductive cycle. 

Spaying eliminates these hormonal mood swings, making your dog a bit more calm during these times. Plus, you’ll never have to deal with the melodrama of false pregnancies that can cause anxiety and behavioral changes. (1)

However, a word of wisdom– the spaying surgery isn’t a one-size-fits-all behavior fixer. It helps with dealing with heat, but when it comes to other behavioral issues like aggression or separation anxiety in adult dogs, it might not be the solution to such unwanted behaviors. 

And why is that you ask? Because your dog’s behavior is as unique as her personality. Genetics, socializing, training, life experiences, and her environment are all factors that can influence your dog’s behavior.

Think of spaying a female dog as just one puzzle piece. The complete picture includes proper training, socializing, cuddles, and a loving home. And if you find yourself scratching your head because of your dog’s behavior, remember that dog experts and trainers can help you correct your dog’s behavioral problems. 

The Benefits and Downsides of Spaying


A black and white dog lying on a bed with a bandage

First, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of spaying a female dog.

Population Control- No More Unwanted Pregnancies!

Spaying is your ticket to preventing unwanted pregnancies, which means fewer unwanted puppies, adding to the stray dog population since not all of us can afford to keep that many puppies.

Plus, it lightens the load on animal shelters, giving more puppies a chance at finding forever homes. 

Health Benefits 

The spay surgery comes with many health benefits for your dog. It eradicates the risk of uterine infections, like the lethal pyometra (development of pus in the uterus) and uterine cancer.

Spayed dogs also wouldn’t have to worry about the chances of mammary tumors and breast cancer, especially if you spay your dog before her first heat cycle. 

No More Heat Cycle Drama 

You know those moments of hormonal changes you’ve had with your restless and vocalizing dog during her reproductive cycle? Well, spaying puts a stop to all the drama, allowing you and your dog to relax. 


While getting your dog spayed is a great choice, there are minor downsides to consider. 

Surgical Risks

A dog is being shaved with a teddy bear

Like any other surgical procedure, spaying does have its risks. Things like infection, bleeding, or anesthesia complications could happen, but picking a skilled vet can keep these risks at bay. 

Chance of Weight Gain 

Spayed female dogs might be more prone to increased weight gain. But fear not– a balanced diet and regular exercise can keep your dog in shape. 

Changes in Hormonal Balance 

Since the spay surgery removes your dog’s reproductive organs that make hormones, it can cause a hormonal imbalance in your dog’s body, affecting some aspects of their physiology and behavior.

However, most dogs don’t go through severe negative repercussions. Remember, every dog is a unique character, so chat with your vet to understand how spaying might affect your particular pup. It’s all about ensuring your dog’s well-being. 

Spay Incontinence

A spayed female dog may sometimes leave wet spots of urine where they lay. This leaking of urine is called spay incontinence and will require a vet appointment to cure.

Will My Female Dog’s Behavior Change After Spaying? 

Much to our disappointment, dogs grow up pretty fast.

Usually between six and twelve months, they hit that magical point of becoming “teenagers” in dog years.

Much like human teenagers, you know what that means? Hormones. 

Female dogs produce an increase in estrogen during their heat cycles.

They become quite the charmers, putting out vibes that say, “I’m ready to mingle” with male dogs.

A woman is hugging her dog on the couch

Female dogs usually have two of these heat cycles each year. While spaying doesn’t change your dog’s personality, playfulness, or friendliness, it works magic on those heat-related behavioral issues.

Check this out: 

Say Goodbye to Roaming 

Do you know how female dogs in heat sometimes get a case of wanderlust for male dogs? The spay surgery is your solution to preventing your dog from risking adventures outside, often leading to injury and unwanted pregnancies. 

No More Potty Break Trouble

During that time, female dogs often mark their territory with their urine, which is their way of sending out invitations to every male dog in the neighborhood.

Mood Swings? Not anymore 

Hormonal changes can make some female dogs irritable, nervous, and even suffer pain. Having your dog spayed evens out her moods, and your dog’s behavior becomes more consistent. 

Bye-Bye to Fight Club 

Two dogs playing in the grass field

Unspayed female dogs can sometimes get a little scrappy when competing for a male dog’s attention. A spayed female dog, however, is mellowed out on this type of aggressive behavior. 

The Protective Mama Behavior is Gone 

Some dogs can get overprotective if they think they have “puppies” (even if they don’t). Getting your dog spayed keeps these false pregnancies and protective antics in check. 

What Happens to Female Dogs That are Not Spayed? 

Intact females have a higher chance of contracting pyometra, which can be fatal if the condition is left untreated without emergency surgery. There is also a higher risk of her developing mammary tumors that can infect the lungs. 

Spaying before her first heat greatly decreases the chances of developing either of these life-threatening conditions.

How Much Time Does a Female Canine Need to Recover Post-Spaying? 

A dog being groomed by a veterinarian

The recovery period after your dog has been spayed depends on your dog’s age, breed, and health. The typical recovery period is around 10 to 14 days. 

Here’s the lowdown of how it goes:

  • Initial Days- The “Sore” Phase: Right after being spayed, your dog might feel a bit sore and groggy– it’s like a canine hangover. The incision site will be tender, and your dog might show signs of discomfort or low energy. It’s all pretty normal, considering what she’s been through. 
  • Vigilant Monitoring: The First 24 to 48 Hours: During this time, you should watch out for any red flags like excessive bleeding, swelling, or discharges from the incision. Make sure to use a special collar or garment to prevent your dog from licking or chewing at the incision. 
  • Healing Begins: Over the next few days, the incision starts healing. Your vet will give you a gentle antiseptic solution for wound care. Keep an eye out for any signs of infection, but don’t stress; your vet is there to help.
  • The “Easy Does It” Phase: During the healing process, your pet has to take a break from her usual activities. That means no strenuous exercise, jumping, or roughhousing. She needs quiet time to heal properly. As days pass, her energy will gradually bounce back, and the post-op discomfort will fade. 
  • Everyone’s Different: Remember, the recovery period can vary from dog to dog. Some recover fast, while other dogs take it slow. It’s all good– just keep an eye out for any surprises. 
  • Follow-Up With The Vet: Once the worst is behind you, it’s time for a check-up with your vet. They’ll assess the progress, remove stitches or sutures if needed, and give you the green light for when it’s safe for your pet to return to her regular routine.

Tips to Help Your Dog Relax After Spaying

The after-surgery phase can get a little rough. Your pet is on the mend, so it’s time to show her some extra love.

Here are some tips to make this journey smoother: 

  • Obey The Vet’s Orders: Your vet is the commander-in-chief of this operation. They’ll hand you a manual of post-operative instructions. It might include things like keeping your dog in a crate or quiet room, stopping her from chewing on the incision site and giving her prescribed meds. It is vital to follow these golden rules to make your pet’s recovery a breeze. 
  • Keep Her Brain Buzzing: Let’s face it, dogs get bored too. After the surgery, your pet might get a little restless if she’s used to running around. So bring on the entertainment! Puzzle toys, chew toys, interactive games, and some brain-teasing training sessions are like a mental playground for her. It helps dogs burn off some energy without the need for physical activity.
  • Reward Good Behavior: Many dogs experience some behavior tweaks post-surgery. They could get a little clingy, needy, or vocal. Not to worry, though, as this is your dog’s way of adjusting to her new hormonal state. As her pet parent, it’s time for you to take over:
  • When she’s a well-behaved angel, shower her with praises, treats and attention.
  • When she’s misbehaving, try your best to ignore or redirect her. She’ll quickly catch on to what’s good and what’s not in your book.

Debunking Spaying Myths

A white dog laying on a bed with a teddy bear

Oh, the misconceptions that swirl around spaying your dog– let’s set the record straight! 

Waiting for the First Heat Cycle is Best, Right? Wrong! 

You might have heard fellow pet owners say that it’s wise to let your female dog have her first heat before the spay surgery. 

Here’s the truth– there’s no gold star for waiting. In fact, each heat she goes through is like stacking the deck against her. There is an increased risk of health issues like breast cancer and unwanted behavior. 

One Litter = Instant Calm? Nope! 

Some pet parents believe that having your dog give birth to a litter will automatically make her a calm dog. However, this is not the case. 

As a dog owner, what you really have to focus on is training and exercise. Teach her some basic manners with gentle, consistent training, and don’t forget to let your dog burn off steam with at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. 

The Spay Surgery is a Fix-All for Bad Behavior? Not so Fast! 

As discussed earlier, don’t buy into the myth that spaying turns your dog into a perfect angel.

While it can tame some heat-related behavior, it’s not a one-size-fits-all magic wand. The results depend on your dog’s unique personality, physiology, and past experiences. 

Spaying can help, but you’ll still need to be the teacher and guide her toward polite manners and good behavior. There’s no shortcut to a well-behaved dog. It’s all about the right combination of training, exercise, and a lot of patience.

Other guides and tools you might need when training your dog:


No, spaying a female dog is not painful. Your dog will be under anesthesia during the surgery and any post-surgery discomfort will be temporary and should resolve within a few days.

The best age to spay a female dog, according to experts, is between 6-9 months before her first heat. This also significantly lowers the chances of developing breast cancer later in life.

A female dog should be spayed before her first heat, typically around 6 months of age.

After being spayed, female dogs often become less aggressive, less likely to roam, and have a reduced risk of certain health issues.

Yes, female dogs may show changes in behavior and reduced risk of certain diseases after being spayed.

Wrapping Up 

The decision to spay your female dog is not a one-size-fits-all solution for behavioral issues.

While it can help eliminate heat-related behaviors and provide numerous health benefits, it may not address all behavioral problems like aggression or separation anxiety.

Remember, various factors, including genetics and upbringing, influence your dog’s behavior.

Spaying is just one piece of the puzzle. Proper training, socialization, and a loving environment play crucial roles in shaping your furry friend’s behavior.

So, consult with experts, follow vet recommendations, and be patient in nurturing your well-behaved companion.

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Laura Vinzy
Laura Vinzy is one of our contributors. She is also a certified professional dog trainer & currently lives in San Francisco with her husband and her two rescue dogs.

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