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Your Shiba Inu has been a welcome addition to the home. Sparky is energetic despite his relatively small size. In fact, holding onto him during walks can prove challenging. Understandably, he's eager to stick his nose into everything. However, that can cause problems. For example, it’s not easy holding onto your Shiba Inu when you have a stroller to push or shopping bags to carry. So training Sparky off leash could prove invaluable. It would mean you’d have more hands and less to worry about.
This training is particularly useful if you are older or have an injury as you don’t want to risk being pulled to the ground. This training will also instill discipline that can be used in a range of other situations, so you may find it easier to stamp out other bad habits. Not to mention, this type of close-contact training will only enhance the bond between you.
Most owners are surprised to learn that training a Shiba Inu off leash isn’t as complicated as it looks. The trick is using obedience commands and incentives to keep them close to your side. Those instructions will soon get them into the habit of following your lead. You will, however, need to gradually transition from on-leash to off-leash.
If your Shiba Inu is still a puppy, then they should soak up all information. This means training could take just a couple of weeks. But if they’re older and used to having total freedom on walks, then it may take a number of months. Stick with training and before you know it your Shiba Inu will be the easiest member of the family to leave the house with. You’ll also have more time and hands to deal with noisy children, car keys, and more.
Before you can start training, you need to check you have a few essentials. The main component will be food. You can use treats or the dog's favorite food broken into small pieces. You will also need a short training leash.
Set aside around 15 minutes each day for training. You can start practicing at home, but you will then need local fields and parks to practice in. Try and train at a time where you can both concentrate, free from distractions.
Once you have all that, just bring patience and an optimistic attitude, then work can begin!
The Recall Method
Start at home
Call your Shiba Inu’s name in a high-pitched voice regularly throughout the day. If you don’t want to use their name, you can use a command like ‘come’. Just make sure it’s given in a playful tone.
Once they do come to you, hand over a tasty treat or play with a toy as a reward. This will get them associating staying close to you with positive consequences.
Now you need to start practicing out in the yard. However, secure the dog to a long leash to start with. Then call them over regularly as you were before. You may need to hold up a treat or toy to lure them over.
Up the stakes
Now start taking your dog out for walks but continue to frequently call them over to you. This is the most challenging step so don’t get frustrated if it takes a little while for them to catch on. Keep it upbeat and playful and they will want to come back to you.
Lose the leash
Once they are in the habit of staying close by, you can lose the leash when you take them out. Then continue to call them over until it’s no longer needed. At this point you can gradually cut out the rewards.
The Full Package Method
Always be happy
It’s important you’re always happy to see your Shiba Inu. If they associate you with smiles and play, they will happily return to you and stay close by. If you’re grumpy or indifferent when you see them, then building off-leash reliability will prove challenging.
Don’t end play with a recall
You can’t end play time with a recall. This will get them associating returning to you with negative consequences. Instead wait for them to wander back to you of their own accord.
Hide and seek
Have your dog wait and then go and hide from them. Now call them over in a high-pitched voice and reward them with a toy or treat when they find you. Shiba Inus learn best when they are playing a game, and this is a fantastic way to build up recall trust.
You must watch your dog closely at all times. Even though they are off-leash, you still need to be in control. So call them back whenever they wander too far or you’re in a busy area.
Don’t punish them
If you want your Shiba Inu to stay close by and respond when you call, then don’t use punishment. If they are scared of you then they will be less eager to stick around. Instead use positive reinforcements.
The ‘Heel’ Method
Secure your dog to a leash and head out for a walk as you normally would. However, keep the leash relatively short and be ready to react. You may want to fit the pup in a body harness as well, as this will reduce the strain on their neck and give you more control.
As soon as they do walk ahead and pull, issue a ‘heel’ command in a firm voice. You can use any word or phrase you like for this instruction. In fact, Shiba Inus can learn hundreds of different commands.
As you give the instruction, stop and wait for the dog to return to your side. It may take a little while for them to catch on at the beginning, but they will soon wander back to you. At this point you can hand over a treat and then continue to walk.
Now comes the time-consuming part. You need to react like this whenever your Shiba Inu pulls. This can make walks long and painful to begin with, but your pup will quickly catch on. And the more frequently you take them out, the quicker they will learn.
Lose the leash
Soon enough your dog will be in the habit of always heeling. At this point, you can lose the leash. Just use the command whenever they wander too far and they will return. Before you know it you’ll have a well behaved Shiba Inu who remains closely by your side even off-leash.
Written by James Barra
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 04/25/2018, edited: 01/08/2021