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  Eric Talaska 

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Dog Alterations


by Eric Talaska, Service Dog Trainer and Handler, – Updated June, 2020

Controversial topics carefully summarized with attention to being factual, unbiased and reasonable. The text prints on a single page.

Disclaimer: These are examples of what I would do. No medical advice intended. Consult with your veterinarian and breeder.


Spay / Neuter – Critical for all dogs except for professional, responsible breeding (registered parents with health clearances)

At 6 months If cryptorchid, excessive marking and/or humping. At 1 year if no behavior problems for development benefit.


  • Prevents overpopulation which leads to euthanization, strays, rabies, pain, suffering, starvation, etc.

  • Reduces hygienic problems.

  • Lowers testosterone for less aggression - initiating or provoking fights, less running away to find mate and less urine marking.

  • Allows for more successful earlier training due to less distractions of marking, humping, sniffing everything and other dogs, etc.

Cons – Less development if done at 6 months, but each dog is situational as mentioned above.

Micro ID implant – Critical for all dogs at least 6 weeks old and at least two pounds.

  • For loss recovery and prevention of impounding, re-homing or possibly euthanization.

  • Also always secure an external ID tag on the collar and/or harness using a strong ring, not one that bends easy.


Dew Claws Removal – Priority order: Loose rear, loose front, firm rear, firm front 3 days old or later when spay/neuter by a professional using gloves, sterilizer, autoclaved clamp-off and a silver-nitrate stick. 


  • Prevents snagging and painful injury to self and handler.

  • Fewer nails to trim and file.

Cons – Removal of firm (attached to bone) claws in some cases may reduce agility, traction, gripping, stabilization and raise arthritis risk.

Note – Keep nails short and filed for any claws not removed.


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Tail Docking – For dogs that work, have a long/thick coat or long, skinny tail when 3 days old by an experienced professional using a proper band. Return to mom for a bit before removing dew claws so it can recover from insecurity.


  • Lidacane number

  • Eliminates risks and possible amputation due to broken tailbones, nerve damage, bleeding, bruising, infection, cancer or frostbite which is much more painful versus a 3 day old tail dock.

  • Avoids “happy tail” that hurts self by wagging on hard or sharp objects and knocking things over.

  • Safer and better fit in crates and kennels.

  • Eliminates or reduces matting which is painful to the dog to comb out as it's not possible to untangle.

  • Better hygiene to, in some cases, avoid build up of feces or in rare cases - maggots. Less hair and grooming surface area.

  • Less area for fleas and harder for them to hide around the rear.

  • Least concern reason: More appealing and eliminates unattractive hairless / bony “rat tail” as senior.


  • A tail is one of many ways a dog communicates with other dogs and people.*


  • *Vicious dogs ignore friendly tail communication and attack anyway. Assess each situation.

  • *If docked at the 3rd or 4th vertebrae, communication can still be maintained.

  • Where docking was banned, there has been a significant increase in painful tail injuries.

  • Opposers falsely claim extreme pain, less balance, weight gain/loss, comparable to losing a leg, etc.


1: Pull skin on the top back at a 45 degree angle, cut at a 90, the skin folds back over, covering the bone and heals nicely.

2: Emasculator like used for livestock, with has a crushed system similar to moms crushing the umbilical cords as they chew them off, which reduces risk of bleeding, and then makes an even cut through the tail. This method seems to cause less distress. As well as less mess, and it seals the tail so no needed antiseptics or closing medicines or stitches


Ear Cropping – Optional for working dogs with long ears or breeds prone to ear infections


  • Prevents injuries than can occur in a variety of ways to include self-inflicted cuts from scratching.

  • Allows healthier air canal circulation and easier cleaning.

Cons – Requires anesthesia and weeks of recovery monitoring and wearing a bandage and/or e-collar. Painful. Risk of infection.


Puppy Teeth Pulling

  • If puppy teeth remain along incoming adult teeth after six months (higher risk with toy size dogs), have a professional pull to prevent permanent misalignment and pain and to prevent injury and phobia of an amateur attempt.

  • Prevent this from happening by offering your puppy plenty of chew toys and chew treats all the time.






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