How to Obedience Train an Akita

Medium
4-12 Weeks
General

Introduction

Your Akita is a smart and strong-willed dog. He is confident. Novice Akita owners might see that confidence as stubbornness, but you can build on your dog's natural confidence and desires to learn and train him to be obedient to you. 

Obedience training has a few basic elements like 'sit', 'stay', 'down', 'come', and leash manners or learning the 'heel' command that are imperative to training your Akita to be an obedient dog. An obedient dog is one you can nurture and love for a long time. When your Akita is trained basic obedience, he will not only listen to these foundation commands, but he will also be open to learning other commands as well. You can give him advanced obedience training and teach him more difficult commands, or you can teach him fun tricks for entertainment. When you work hard with your Akita to train basic obedience, you are building your relationship with him and setting your expectations for how your relationship will be in the years to come.

Defining Tasks

Because basic obedience training builds a strong foundation for any future training, you are going to go about training your Akita several different ways. The first thing you will be doing with your Akita is potty training if he is not house trained. Once he's old enough to socialize with people and other dogs, socialization will be the next step to obedience training. Teaching him the appropriate physicality between him and humans or other dogs sets expectations. Your Akita will need to know how to act with you as well as when you're not around. He will need to know how to behave when he's in public around people and other animals and when he's on a leash or off a leash. 

Set your expectations high with your Akita because he can certainly handle them. Whether you’re starting at puppyhood or with an adult Akita, focus your training on positive input and output and rewards for good behavior.

Getting Started

When you train positive reinforcement with any dog, especially your Akita because his personality is so strong, you will need to have lots of tasty treats on hand for rewarding positive behaviors. When time allows, schedule quiet distraction-free training sessions to work on basic obedience commands one-on-one. Other times during the day, think of moments you can turn into learning opportunities. Your Akita is open to always learning.

The Play and Reward Method

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Step
1
Exercise
Be sure to give your Akita lots of exercise. He's a highly energetic dog and needs to release this energy throughout the day.
Step
2
Playtime with you
Take some time every day to play with your Akita. If the weather is nice, go outside for a walk or play fetch in the backyard. As your little guy releases his pent-up energy give him lots of reward for playing well.
Step
3
Playtime alone
There will be times your Akita needs to play alone, entertaining himself instead of depending on you for entertainment. Provide him with enough toys to keep active whether he is inside or out.
Step
4
Engaging play
As you are playing with your Akita or as he's playing on his own, give him commands and engage with him when you can. This will set the stage for him to listen to you and begin to learn to do what you ask instead of being exclusively independent.
Step
5
Obedient training
Outside of playtime, help your Akita burn off excess energy by scheduling basic obedience training sessions. These sessions should be fairly short but highly energetic and rewarding for your Akita to learn new commands. Focus on building foundation commands such as 'sit', 'stay', leash walking, 'down', and 'come'. Then move to more advanced training, teaching him lots of tricks and fun activities.
Step
6
Treats to come
Be sure your Akita knows any time he is playing with you, listening to you, giving you his attention, behaving well, making good choices, or sitting through a training session and is successful, he's going to earn a treat. Have lots of tasty treats on hand to reward positive behaviors and reinforce obedience training with rewards.
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The Socializing Method

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Step
1
Early on
As soon as you bring your Akita home or as soon as he is old enough and vaccinated, socialize him. Take your Akita on walks with a leash, to dog parks, around your neighborhood, and to pet stores. The more your Akita interacts with other people the better-socialized he will be. A social dog is a well-behaved dog.
Step
2
Basic training
Become your Akita’s master by offering him basic obedience training. Start small and easy with basic commands such as 'sit' and 'down' and then move up to more difficult commands such as 'heel' and fun tricks.
Step
3
On a leash
Take your Akita out for walks and practice your basic obedience commands. Be sure while you're walking your Akita on the leash, he understands your expectation for leash manners. If he pulls on the leash while you're walking together, stop in your tracks and wait for him to redirect his behavior in a positive manner.
Step
4
Introduce
Introduce him to people he will see often. These people can be friends or family outside of your home, pets around the neighborhood, the groomer, veterinarian, or pet store staff. Set your expectation for him to sit before they are allowed to touch him. Be sure you allow them to pet and touch your Akita so he gets used to this kind of handling.
Step
5
Rewards
Set yourself up as the master of your Akita by giving him rewards when you see good behavior, when he succeeds at obedience commands, or is successful performing a trick. By giving him rewards for good behavior, he will begin to understand you are in control.
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The Basic Obedience Method

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Step
1
Easy commands
Start basic obedience training with a few easy commands such as 'sit', 'down', 'stay', and 'come'. Be prepared with lots of treats to reward your Akita for good behavior and for mastering obedience.
Step
2
'Sit'
Hold a treat up over your Akita’s head slowly move it back towards his tail and watch as he sits in anticipation of getting the treat you're holding over him. When he sits, say the command and give him the treat. Keep practicing until he masters this command.
Step
3
'Down'
Start training the down position by having your Akita sit first. Once he's in a sitting position hold a treat in front of his nose and slowly bring it down to the floor, pulling it closer to you and away from him. He will likely lie down when he sees the treat down low and pulling away from him. When he does this, say the command ‘down’ and give him the treat. Be sure to practice a lot with rewards.
Step
4
'Stay'
They will take a little bit of practice. Put your Akita in a 'sit' position. Tell him to stay and take a step away from him. If he comes towards you, repeat. If he stays, even if only for a moment, give him the treat. Practice this a lot moving farther and farther away from him once he understands what you're asking him to do.
Step
5
'Come'
The 'stay' command typically joins with a 'come' or 'release' command. Once you put your Akita in the 'stay' position, he will need to know when he's free to go. Typically this will happen when you step away and offer him a treat if he comes towards you. Use the command to 'come' each time he moves towards you and reward him. Practice a lot, so he understands the command.
Step
6
Leash manners
Leash manners take a lot of practice and a lot of walks. Start your walks off short with lots of rewards as your Akita walks next to you and is well-behaved. Increase your challenges with longer walks and more distractions as he understands your expectations.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Nedas
American Akita
3 Years
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Question
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Nedas
American Akita
3 Years

When a friend comes over, my dog is very protective and he doesn't really allow strangers inside, he nearly bit my friend so i want to teach him the difference between a threat and a friend

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
424 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nedas, Many dogs who seem protective are actually being possessive of their owners and guarding them the way a dog would a toy. A truly protective dog that bites friends is often either not socialized well around other or being possessive of their owner. If the dog is protective and really can't tell the difference between a friend and stranger a lot of desensitization around people in general is needed so that he learns what looks normal in human behavior and what is not, likely while wearing a basket muzzle for safety - this is best done with the help of a qualified trainer who specializes in aggression and behavior issues and has a large enough stuff for the dog to get to know various "strangers - i.e. the staff" and be desensitized to them. If pup is possessive, which is more common, then this is partially a respect issue. Check out Thomas from the Canine Educator, Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training and Sean O Shea from the Good Dog on YouTube. They all have tons of videos on aggression. I HIGHLY suggest hiring a professional to help you through this process with the aggression. The protocol will likely involve having pup work for everything in life by doing a command like sit first -like being being petted, fed, walked, played with, practicing a lot of obedience that builds respect, trust, self-control, and calmness, like a structured heel, long Down Stay, Place, crate manners, not rushing through doorways, Sit Stay. Desensitizing pup to the presence of other people while he is doing something like heeling or Place and calm. Carefully doing things like the video linked below to discipline outbursts and reward calmness around people. Using tools like a basket muzzle and back tie leash to keep everyone involved in training safe. Always take safety seriously. Any truly good trainer is serious about safety. Check out this video by Jeff Gellman, who specializes in aggression. Here he demonstrated safety measures (a back tie), when to have people reward a dog (during calmness and not during aggressive displays), and how to appropriately use punishment when treating aggression (with good timing, calmness, and in combination with positive reinforcement for calm behavior and with the appropriate safety measures for your guests). Aggression video: https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Possessive dog drop off at training: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tiHairtYUc Same dog after a lot of structure, protocol like the first video linked above, lots of obedience, and gradual desensitization: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8juiJ-Hq8dI Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Mika
Akita
4 Months
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Mika
Akita
4 Months

Hi! Ive been reading up a lot on Akitas and stuff to watch out for/how to train them and I just came across a few questions. My dog is 4.5 months old and very obedient. He knows sit stay and come and were working on down/leash training. He barely is obstinate with us. We also make sure he meets a few new people a day and he is constantly in a social environment as of the moment. He is also crate trained. That being said, I go back to work soon so he will be alone around 8 hours or less a day during the work week. Do you think this will affect his temperament? Also, am I socializing him enough or should I do more? I am just very concerned because he is SO mild mannered now, but Ive heard that can change from when he's a puppy to when he is an adult

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
424 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kyra, First, be aware that a puppy can only hold their bladder for the number of months they are in age plus one - meaning that at four month of age he can't hold his bladder for more than five hours during the day, so you will need to plan for a walker or come home during lunch. - You may already know that though s it sounds like you are being very conscientious - which is great. As far as your other questions, leaving him alone shouldn't effect temperament too much as long as you are very intentional during the time when you are home. Continue to make socialization a priority during the first 18 month of his life. The first 4 month are the most crucial but for a breed like an Akita it needs to continue intensively until adulthood, and ideally by adulthood he will be well mannered and social enough you can continue taking him places for the fun of it for the rest of his life to maintain it but it won't have to be quite as intensive by then. It's great that he is mild mannered and he very well may grow up to be more mild mannered than some Akitas but a lot of the temperament issues associated with really driven breeds are related to sexual and mental maturity that happens closer to 1-2 years of age - meaning it's early to tell for sure, but being mild mannered now will likely make it a bit easier. Once he reaches adulthood, if you have a relationship of trust and respect with pup, have prevented socialization issues, and taught obedience before then, then pup is far more likely to listen and be more relaxed as an adult - it's not that the issues and drive aren't potentially still there but that the dog trusts you and lets you handle situations instead of trying to take charge themselves - leading to less possessiveness, aggression and reactivity. With a driven breed, socialization is super important and obedience is important, but equally important is to give pup structure and boundaries - teaching things like impulse control through a long Place and Down command, a structured heel where pup not only doesn't pull but also walks slightly behind you and actually follows your leadership, learning to focus on you and obey around distractions, enforcing rules the first time you give them with consistency. None of this should require anger or harshness - but a calm, consistent, confident attitude, where pup knows that when you give a command you mean it and you will calmly enforce that command every time. The socialization you are doing now sounds great. I would add joining a puppy play group or kindergarten class that sets aside time for off-leash puppy play with other puppies under 6 months of age. The play should be moderated - interrupting puppies if things start to get too rough or a pup feels overwhelmed, until they all calm down, then letting the more timid pup go first to see if he feels like playing again, before letting the rest of the pups go again too. The benefits of these classes are mostly for socialization than just obedience - as a trainer I attended someone else's puppy kindergarten class with my youngest dog for the purpose of socialization, even though my pup already knew all of the obedience and I later off-leash trainer her myself - it made a huge difference in her confidence and gentleness around other dogs later in life. Puppies play with other puppies differently than adult dogs do, so they learn important skills interacting with puppies, plus if you can find a class that practices having owners handle each others puppies and give treats that can help with stranger socialization and getting used to touch. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
?
Akita Inu
1 Day
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Question
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?
Akita Inu
1 Day

Hi we are looking for our first puppy as a family. We currently have 2 cats and 1 child aged 8 who is used to dogs. We fell in love with a American akita at a rescue shelter. I’ve heard a lot of stories on how hard Akita’s are to train, but once trained they are rewarding dogs. Do you think it’s wise to get a Akita as a first puppy. We are all animal lovers but these to us seem to be another level of dog. We are more than happy to put the time and effort into training but we also both work. My wife who is a teacher will have six weeks off in the summer and that’s when we plan to purchase the puppy.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
424 Dog owners recommended

Hello Chris, Not knowing you personally I cannot say for sure. I can tell you that Akitas do tend to be more prey driven and not all of them are alright with cats, even when raised with them. They can also be more dominant, strong-willed, and have more of a tendency toward aggression toward people and other dogs if not raised with enough structure, socialization, and consistency. They can be a lot of dog, but they can also be very loyal. That loyality can be wonderful but it can also make friend's kids coming over difficult if your dog feels protective of your child. Akitas were orginally bred to hunt powerful, large game like bears. Each dog is different though. The Akita at the rescue may not fit the typical characteristics, and might turn out to be mild mannered, but that is very hard to predict in a puppy without knowing the parent's temperament. It might be worth contacting members of your local Akita club if you have one, or a pure bred Akita rescue and asking honest questions about the temperament from those who have them to help you decide. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
luna
Akita
1 Year
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Question
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luna
Akita
1 Year

My girl akita is a year and a half old and is very attached to me....she sits, does paw, and comes to me when we’re in the house. if we are outside and she gets off of a leash she does not come i have to chase her. she barks at friends and family coming in the house and will not stop until they leave which makes everyone very uncomfortable. i don’t know how to make her stop barking at people who are not a threat.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
424 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alison, For the Come, check out the Reel In method from the article linked below: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall For the barking, first work on adding more structure, self-control and boundaries into her routine. Things like a long Place command and structured heel, so that she learns to let you handle things more and listen to commands even when she doesn't feel like it. Certain types of obedience exercises can be a good way to increase respect and trust without being overly confrontational: Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Working and Consistency methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Especially work on a structured heel and a long Place command, where he can stay on place when you walk in and out of the room and around distractions. Place can help manage behavior when guests are there and teach self-control and calmness. Look for someone who is very experienced with aggression and different types of aggression to help you implement the training related to guests - many trainers are only experienced with fear based aggression and you likely have some dominance- based, possessive, or territorial aggression going on too, and they are treated a bit differently than fear. People Aggression protocol video- notice the back tie for safety (your guest should never be put at risk. Only train with the correct safety protocols to keep everyone involved safe. https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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