By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013
Are Akitas easy to train?
No, they're not. Training Akitas can be a challenging task.
Let me tell you about two Akitas I worked with – Juneau and Dirk.
Juneau was a gorgeous pinto-colored Akita puppy. Her new owners had never owned a dog before, so they engaged me for a private obedience training program.
Juneau aced all the obedience lessons (as most Akitas do). Oh, she was a little slow following commands (as most Akitas are) and she disagreed (as most Akitas do) over whether "lie down" meant "lie down" on Tuesdays, as well as on Mondays. But overall, she was a solid B+ student.
Four years went by. Juneau matured into a 100-pound beauty with impeccable manners. She was good with guests, good with the children, good with the family cat.
Then, against my recommendations, Juneau's owner brought home another Akita puppy. A family friend stopped by to meet the new pup, bringing along a juicy soup bone for Juneau. The puppy took a couple of steps toward Juneau and her bone, and without any warning, without so much as a growl, Juneau grabbed the puppy and killed it.
It's a tragic story and the moral is certainly not that Akitas are killers. It's that Akitas have strong instincts, deep inside, for dominance and aggression, "primitive" instincts for food possessiveness, and can be difficult dogs for novice owners to read and handle.
Now Dirk's story has a much happier ending, though you might not guess that from the way he started out!
Dirk was a brindle male Akita and wow, was he assertive and obstinate. Dirk destroyed the living room sofa, dug massive craters in his owner's garden, and hauled his owner in every direction on the leash. But Dirk's owner was made of stern stuff and he persevered with his headstrong charge, and after several years of consistent training, this rebellious Akita began to show some respect, which blossomed into faithful loyalty, which never wavered until he died of bone cancer at age 12.
Of course, I've worked with many other Akitas who were nothing like Juneau or Dirk – Akitas who were friendly clowns, or Akitas who lived peacefully with other pets.
So when you ask, "How easy is it – training Akitas?" my answer is, "Usually it's a challenge, but it depends on the temperament and personality of the individual dog, plus your own dog training skills."
That's where I come in. Keep reading my dog training articles (and hopefully buy my book, "Teach Your Dog 100 English Words") and I will help you train your Akita to be well-mannered and well-behaved. I've been working with dogs for 35+ years, as a dog trainer, canine psychologist, breed advisor, and author of 15 books about dogs.
Dog Training – What Works, and What Doesn't
Some dog training methods are based on what makes the OWNER feel good, rather than what on actually makes sense to the dog. For example, "positive-only" dog training is a big fad right now. Now, treats can be great motivators for training Akitas, but if your dog will only obey for a treat, then HE is in charge of his obedience, not you. [read more]
Here are my dog training tips for training Akita puppies and adult dogs:
Keep your Akita securely fenced. Some members of this breed are aggressive toward other dogs, and predatory toward cats, livestock, horse, and wildlife such as deer. These Akitas can be a menace if they get loose. When you own an Akita, you must make sure that he is safely confined behind an ultra-secure fence.
Teach your Akita puppy to respect you. Respect is the key to training your Akita to be well-haved. [read more about Respect Training]
Teach the right words to your Akita. My method of training Akitas includes teaching specific words in specific ways so that your dog not only learns the words but also develops the respectful attitude that makes him happy to obey you. You will need to work especially hard on "Come" (because Akitas are independent and you must have a bulletproof way to get hold of your dog when you need to). [read more about teaching words to your Akita]
Stop searching for dog training tips for each behavior problem. Honestly, one of the most common questions owners ask me is: "How can I stop my dog from doing (some specific behavior)?" They're hoping I'll tell them where to find a secret button on the back of their dog's head that will trigger a MISBEHAVIOR-OFF switch. :-) Alas, my answer is almost always the same, no matter what the misbehavior is. Here it is.... [read more about stopping dog behavior problems]
Start training your Akita puppy the moment you bring him home. But you need to teach the right things in the right ways. If you use the wrong teaching method, your puppy will begin making decisions about how he wants you to fit into HIS life, and that's a recipe for conflict and behavior problems. Here's my recommended schedule (what to teach, when to teach it) for training your Akita puppy. [read more about training Akita puppies]
Start housebreaking right away. Fortunately, Akitas are usually very clean dogs and easy to house train. [read more about housebreaking Akitas]
Socialize your Akita puppy with strangers and other dogs. Akitas can be standoffish, and if you don't teach them early on to be friendly and trusting toward people they don't know, their natural caution can become suspiciousness or aggression. Similarly, you need to teach your Akita puppy to be calm and accepting toward other dogs. However, Akitas can be so aggressive toward other dogs (especially those of the same sex) that I don't recommend keeping an Akita in a mult-dog household. I also don't recommend keeping an Akita if you have a cat. Too many Akitas can be predatory toward cats. [read more about why your dog acts the way he does toward strangers and other animals]
Copyright © 2000-2013 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
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