How to Train an Akita to Hunt

Hard
1-6 Months
Work

Introduction

Passers-by are always keen to stroll over and say hello to your Akita. The large breed that originates from the mountains in Northern Japan simply isn’t that common in the West. Plus, Leo looks cute and full of love, especially since his tail wags as soon as someone looks at him. However, while you love his soft nature, you had other ideas when you welcomed him into your home. You’d like to train your Akita to hunt! 

It’s not that you don’t love heading out early in the morning with your rifle over one shoulder and optimism on the other. It’s just that you’d like some company. Then there’s also the fact that with Leo by your side you might increase your hunting success rate. Akitas are strong, powerful dogs which can be invaluable on the hunt, no matter what your quarry may be. Training your Akita to hunt will also drill into him strict obedience and any number of useful commands. If that isn’t enough, it will simply make for an enjoyable way for both of you to bond while doing something you love! 

Defining Tasks

Training an Akita to hunt is no straightforward task. You’ll need to get him familiar with his future prey from as early an age as possible. You’ll also need to use games to develop his natural hunting skills. Training will consist of getting him used to being in a hunting environment including any sights, smells, and sounds. You'll need to lead by example and show your Akita how it’s done. But all of this will be possible if you have a mouth-watering incentive on hand.

If Leo is just a puppy, then he should be at his most receptive. This means you could see results in just a month or so. But if your Akita is stubborn and lazy, well, then you may need several months before you see consistent results. 

If you can master training, you’ll make for a formidable hunting team, capable of tracking and bringing down prey with the utmost precision. 

Getting Started

Before you and your Akita companion can get to work, you need to check that you have a few things. Treats or toys to motivate him throughout training will be essential. You’ll also need some decoy toys and scent spray of his future prey, both of which can be found online. A short training leash will also be required for one of the methods below.

Time will be the other most important ingredient. Set around fifteen minutes each day over the coming months. You’ll need to train in a yard and local fields. 

Once you’ve got the above, just bring patience and a pro-active attitude, then work can begin!

The All Around Method

Effective
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Step
1
Obedience classes
The first thing to do is enroll your Akita in group obedience classes. This will teach him a range of useful commands you may need later on, from ‘Wait’ to ‘Down’. It will also help socialize him with other pets and people which can be valuable when hunting with others.
Step
2
Fetch and tug of war
Spend a few minutes each day playing fetch and tug-of-war with a decoy toy. This has a dual purpose. Firstly, you’ll get Leo familiar with his future prey. Secondly, you’ll naturally develop the hunting skills he will need later on.
Step
3
Always reward
Make sure Leo gets a reward every time he chases prey, even if he comes back empty-handed. This is particularly important at the beginning. If he doesn’t get a reward, he may quickly give up trying.
Step
4
Hunting environment
Start taking Leo out in his future hunting environment, from as early an age as possible. Get him used to the sights, smells, and sounds. You don’t want your Akita sprinting for the hills whenever he hears a gunshot. Start slow and work your way up.
Step
5
Avoid punishment
Do not use punishment techniques to train your Akita to hunt. Akitas can grow up to be big and strong, and you don’t want an overly aggressive dog that you can’t control. Akitas respond far better to positive reinforcements.
Recommend training method?

The Watch and Learn Method

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Step
1
Out on the hunt
Secure Leo to a leash and head out onto your hunting ground. Keep him close to your side and quiet. Keep an eye out for prey. Once you find some, point, whisper, and try your best to draw your Akita’s attention. It may take a while to start with, so don’t get frustrated and give up.
Step
2
Charge
Once he's followed suit and is watching the prey, start charging towards it, arms outstretched. You can even shout as you go to get him worked up. Hold the leash as you run so he has to follow you.
Step
3
Consistency
Now you simply need to do this regularly, at least several times a week. This technique works because Akitas mirror their owners behaviour. So when your Akita sees that you always get worked up by the prey, he will too.
Step
4
Reward
It’s important Leo always gets a reward when he gives chase. To start with, give him a reward even if he doesn’t succeed. You can use treats, his favorite food, or you can play with a toy for a minute. If you use a clicker when you train, you can also click as soon as he returns.
Step
5
Lose the rewards
Keep practicing until your Akita actively seeks out prey by himself. At this point, you can stop running towards any yourself. It will now have become habit for Leo. You can then gradually phase out the treats. The chase itself will be stimulation enough.
Recommend training method?

The Follow Your Nose Method

Effective
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Step
1
Scent spray
Apply scent spray to a decoy toy. Spend ten minutes or so each day playing around with it. Really try to get Leo worked up by being animated and playing tug of war and fetch. You can even leave it in his bed at night. You want to get him familiar with the smell and itching to get his mouth around the decoy whenever he sees it.
Step
2
Preparation
Now head into your yard with the toy. Apply some scent spray and then wipe it along the ground around the yard and hide it somewhere. You’re going to teach your Akita to sniff out prey.
Step
3
Starting line
Secure Leo to a leash and take him to the beginning of the trail. Get low to the ground, point, and whisper to draw his attention. He will soon catch on and start following the trail. If he gets distracted, gently pull him back on track and encourage him.
Step
4
Reward
Make sure your Akita gets all the way to the end of the trail and finds the toy. It’s important he knows there is always something waiting if he keeps looking. You can then shower him in verbal praise, give him treats, and play with a toy. Remember, the happier he feels afterwards, the more eager he will be to play again.
Step
5
Mix it up
Now you simply need to make scent trails a few times a week. However, make them harder each time and have them run through fields and large spaces with distractions around. Continue to create them until your Akita starts actively sniffing out prey all on his own. At this point, your work is done. Simply be waiting with a generous reward for when he returns.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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