How to Train an Akita to Not be Aggressive

Medium
1-6 Months
Behavior

Introduction

The Akita is a magnificent, powerful, ancient breed that originated in Japan. Akitas tend to think for themselves, and are wary of strangers although they are extremely affectionate with family. Akita is one of Japan's oldest dogs. 

They were developed to hunt big prey like wild boar and bears. Helen Keller was inspired by the Akita's loyalty and bravery, and brought the first few Akita back to the US. Military people serving in World War Two also were impressed by the Akita and brought the dogs home with them. 

Akitas require a skilled and devoted owner. Their power and tendency towards dominance with other dogs, as well as their strong guarding instincts and independent nature, can make them difficult for a novice dog owner to handle. That said, your Akita is an extremely intelligent and adaptable dog capable of learning new ways of doing things, even late into life. 

Defining Tasks

Before you can begin training your Akita not to be aggressive, you must get a reasonable measure of how and why your powerful friend is expressing aggression. If you are starting with a puppy that has never shown aggression and are training preventatively, your job will be easy as long as you are consistent with socialization.

If your Akita is showing guarding behavior around you on walks or when visitors come to your house, but is behaved with visitors and strangers once introduced, you need only give your Akita instruction in how and when guarding is appropriate.

Akitas tend towards aggression with same-sex dogs and dominance in with dogs in general. There may be a limit to how much restraint you can expect from your Akita, so be realistic in your training goals. 

Getting Started

The Akita is a powerful dog who sometimes behaves in ways we don't expect, as a result of her having her own thoughts, as well as strong impulses and instincts. Keep the safety of your best friend, as well as any people and dogs involved, forefront in your mind. Muzzle train your Akita with peanut butter or another delicious smearable treat so that she can be muzzled for safety if necessary during training. 

Learn what motivates your Akita. Find a food that has a smell that will distract her from whatever she is focused on, or see if she loves tug enough to play instead of behaving aggressively. If your Akita has very strong guarding instincts, you may have more success teaching her when to be aggressive than overcoming aggression altogether. 

The Gradual Immersion Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Food motivated
If your Akita loves food and can be distracted easily by the smell of a treat, you can use food to teach your Akita how to behave in situations where she may otherwise be aggressive.
Step
2
Start with lowest stimulus
Produce as low a stimulus as possible, like a dog or person walking by outside
Step
3
Distract
Distract your Akita by waving a treat in front of her. As soon as she follows it, give her the treat.
Step
4
Practice and add command
Keep practicing, adding a command or sound to have your Akita watch you in anticipation of a treat whenever you make the sound.
Step
5
Gradually increase stimulus
Gradually increase the stimulus, stepping back to the last stimulus level if you fail to get your akita's attention.
Recommend training method?

The People Aren't So Bad Method

Effective
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Step
1
Fearful guardian
If your Akita is constantly guarding you from your guests at your house and from strangers on walks, you can teach her that there is nothing to fear from these situations.
Step
2
Muzzle for safety
Muzzle train your Akita in stress-free situation so that she will learn to enjoy wearing the muzzle. Rub peanut buttter or some other desirable paste on the muzzle so that she can have fun licking it off.
Step
3
Unfamiliar place
Train your Akita in a location that she has not established as her own.
Step
4
Calm, still guests
Have your guests stay relatively still but still act natural.
Step
5
Mingle
Let you Akita mingle among the guests, staying with her on a loose leash as she wanders. Have you guests drop food for her so she learns to enjoy being around them.
Recommend training method?

The Socialize to Success Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Ready to act out
If you Akita seems to always be on a hair trigger, ready to act out in aggression, you can enable her to feel comfortable with people so she will lose these aggressive impulses.
Step
2
Muzzle for safety
Get your Akita comfortable wearing a muzzle by rubbing peanut butter or other delicious substance on the muzzle and having your dog wear it in relaxed settings.
Step
3
Babysit
Have friends and volunteers babysit your Akita in various situations. Being removed from a familiar setting and you will inspire your Akita to approach problems differently.
Step
4
Gentle encouragement
Have your friends give your Akita food and affection as it is safe until you Akita learns that being with strangers is good.
Step
5
Work towards removing muzzle
Once your akita is very comfortable and friendly with everyone she meets, you can work towards removing her muzzle.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Courage
Shepkita German Shepherd/ Akita shepherd dominant
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Courage
Shepkita German Shepherd/ Akita shepherd dominant
5 Months

I’m really trying to get the dog aggression out of him and I need help I’ve owned German shepherds before but never a Shepkita and this is a challenge. Already know we will have to rehome before a year old so we’re just giving it a try but I already love him and want him to be safe for my family which includes an infant my wife and I. As well as frequent visitors of all ages. I just need help with his aggression and dominant nature.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
112 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cesar, I would need more details about the type of aggression he is displaying to be of much help. What types of behaviors is he doing and is it just toward other dogs, or towards family members, towards strangers, or towards other non-dog animals. If he is acting aggressively toward your own family, then that is a very serious situation with an infant around. At five months of age, serious aggression already is very serious. If he is simply dominant and pushy and rude towards other dogs, that can turn into aggression certainly but it will be much easier to deal with and the long term outcome is a lot better for him. If his aggression toward other dogs is not serious yet and he has not harmed another dog, drawing blood, yet, then look for a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area. A G.R.O.W.L. class is a class for dog reactive dogs who all wear muzzles and are intensively socialized and their aggression tackled in an intensive environment under the supervision of a qualified trainer. That class will allow him to catch up on socialization and have his dog aggressive behavior addressed early on. Check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training. He has a free YouTube channel and several other educational resources online. Specifically start following his obedience structure. His general rules and structure for dogs. He works with highly aggressive dogs and uses a lot of structure, consistency, and mental stimulation to help these dogs. A dog that is naturally very challenging towards authority needs a lot of structure and consistency. Watch Jeff's videos and notice his methods for walks, crate time, doors, obedience training, calmness, dog-to-dog interactions, and "Place" commands. If you feel like your family, and especially your baby, is endanger, then I would seriously consider re-homing now. I never state that lightly but an infant with a dog that is showing true aggressive tendencies towards him at only five months of age and is a large breed is a very serious situation. If your dog has not shown aggressive tendencies toward your child, then work on the G.R.O.W.L. class, SolidK9Training structured obedience and manners, and getting your dog used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle to safely practice socializing him around others. When you socialize him around other people, use the "Socialize to Success" method for up-close interactions. While Courage is wearing the muzzle, you can have your guests poke long straws or thin sticks in peanut butter or soft cheese and poke the food covered straw or stick through the muzzle's holes for him to lick off as a reward and to make interactions with these guests fun for him. When he is not ready to approach the person yet, you can also slip small treats through the muzzle for him to make the presence of the guests fun for him. A basket muzzle should allow you to do this and it will let him open up his mouth while he is wearing it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Cleopatra
American Akita
17 Months
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Question
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Cleopatra
American Akita
17 Months

Cleo is a great addition to my family, she is the second one I have had. But we have cats that live outside, Cleo sleeps inside with us. She has killed two kittens in the last few months. They usually will hide or climb a tree but when they are too lax she kills them. Can I stop this behavior? My previous Akita also did the same thing, no other signs of aggression just doesn't want to see any cats.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
112 Dog owners recommended

Hello Julie, You would need to create an avoidance of cats in order to stop the behavior from happening. Because she is killing them due to prey instinct, you cannot change the underlying cause, instinct, but you can manage the behavior by teaching her to avoid cats in general. Look up Jamie Penrith from Take the Lead Dog Training's Youtube Channel. He has several good videos on stopping chasing and live stock killing behaviors. He uses remote electric collars to teach avoidance of those animals so that the dog leaves them alone even while the owner is not present. You can use gentler methods to stop the behavior while you are around, which he also demonstrates a bit, but few things are effective at stopping killing behaviors outside of remote electric collars. If you choose to do this, then hire a professional trainer who is extremely knowledgeable about remote collar training and who uses both positive training and fair discipline in his training. You will need both as well as clear communication. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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