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Other important aspects of pet care

Information and advice about training, neutering and pet insurance.

Brown cat relaxing on a purple blanket

Dog training

All dogs benefit from learning a few basic commands like sit, stay, leave and come. Knowing these commands, along with how to walk nicely on a lead, will help your dog (and you) enjoy your time together. Training can also be fun. If this is your first time owning a dog, if you are out of practice or if you need help with more than the basics, you may wish to look for a trainer or training class. 

There are many people who call themselves trainers and behaviourists, but some use outdated, harsh methods and training aids which inflict pain or discomfort, cause anxiety and distress and may exacerbate the problem. At L.A.A. we only use reward-based training and we recommend that you look for a certified trainer who uses positive reinforcement, too. We're always happy to offer advice on training and behavioural issues, and recommend trainers, please call us. Don’t let little issues build up until they become hard to manage. 

Please contact our advice line on 01455 888257 or find details of our recommended dog trainers on our further support and advice page.


Neutering is an operation done under general anaesthetic to permanently prevent reproduction. In males, it is called castration and in females, it is called spaying. It usually has many health benefits for pets.

Why neuter your cat?

Many of the cats that arrive at our Centre pregnant or with kittens are very young. Female cats can become pregnant from around four months old. If your cat is going outside, it is important to get them neutered. Unneutered females are also more likely to suffer from pyometra in later life, and can also spread infectious diseases to their kittens.

Unneutered males may spray in the house, be very territorial and even behave aggressively towards their owners. Males may also be more likely to stray, and get into fights, if they have not been neutered. Fighting males are also more likely to spread diseases such as FIV and FeLV, and develop abscesses from fight wounds.

Cats adopted from L.A.A. will already be neutered or will be sent home with a neuter voucher for kittens when they are old enough to have this procedure done. This voucher provides a discount on neutering costs. If you are on a low income, you may be able to get help neutering your cat from one of the Cats Protection and PDSA.

Why neuter your dog?

As with kittens, every year, thousands of puppies are abandoned across the UK often as a result of unplanned breeding. It is challenging to find homes for a litter and it is not uncommon for L.A.A. to see dogs that have had several homes in a short space of time. Dogs do not recognise family groups and may mate with their close relatives. This can increase the likelihood of birth defects. Wanting a ‘copy’ of an existing dog rarely produces offspring that are identical in looks and behaviours. 

Neutering will not stop all undesirable behaviours, but it can help with dogs that are roaming, mounting humans and furniture, some types of aggression and marking indoors. Male dogs can smell a female in heat from up to a mile away, and may roam to try and find her. There is a real danger of road traffic accidents. Un-neutered males should be microchipped (as with all cats and dogs) in case they roam.

The age at which neutering can take place depends on the breed of the dog so it's best to discuss this with your vet. Neutering typically costs between £140 and £205 for a male dog, depending on its size. For a female, it is £184 to £326. There may be assistance available for people on low incomes from the PDSA.

Pet insurance 

The younger your pet is when you insure them, the better; the pet is less likely to have any existing conditions when they're young, and, if your pet needs any treatments in the future, you're more likely to receive help if you start early. 

Not all pet insurance is the same and it's important to choose the right one. There are different types of policy and the level of cover varies. The four main types of policy are as follows: 

  • Accident: provides cover for accidents only and no cover for illness.
  • Time-limited: provides cover for a set amount of time only (usually 12 months). 
  • Maximum benefit: provides cover up to a maximum amount of money per condition and once this limit is reached the condition is excluded. 
  • Lifetime: provides a set amount of money each year, which is refreshed each time you renew the policy allowing you to continue to claim for ongoing conditions. This type also provides cover for accidents only and not illness .  

Sometimes, the cheapest insurance costs more in the long run. Unlike other forms of insurance, it is not easy to switch pet insurance as any pre-existing conditions your pet has are likely to be excluded. So, it's important to do your research. When shopping around, ask yourself the following questions: does the policy cover congenital, hereditary, hip-related, dental and behavioural conditions? is there a time or monetary limit on how long this policy will cover ongoing conditions? if I claim, will my insurance go up?