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

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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
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
154 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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Question
Courage
Shepkita German Shepherd/ Akita shepherd dominant
5 Months
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Question
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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
154 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
Skylar
Akita
2 Years
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Question
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Skylar
Akita
2 Years

I have owned 7 Akita’s and and currently have 10 year old male and a two year old female. I got all of them as puppy’s but my two year old is quite a challenge. She got along with my older Akita till recently. They use to eat bones together now she fights with him. I’ve taken them away because I do t want them to get hurt. I’ve noticed that she is getting more aggressive as time goes on. She has already been in two dog fights ending in myself and my mother getting bit. She has been also trying to claim dominance over my older male and he won’t tolerate it. Occasionally she will be food aggressive also. Most of this I have encountered with my other Akita’s except she also doesn’t tolerate people in my house very well. She almost seems fearful and any quick movement makes her jump. She is getting worse as a time goes on. She is very unpredictable and that worries me. She’s well trained and has been socialized since she was little. She just doesn’t tolerate animals or people. I’ve had to take my older dog out of the house to my moms just to keep the peace. I don’t want them fighting and getting hurt. Not sure where to go from here

Melissa

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
154 Dog owners recommended

Hello Melissa, You need to hire a professional trainer to help you in person. Look for someone who is very experienced dealing with aggression cases, and specifically aggression that is not just fear-based. Look for someone who can give client referrals or comes recommended in other ways. Ask a lot of questions about how they train and how they would probably deal with those issues you are having in general, to get an idea of whether that trainer understands aggression well. This aggression sounds genetic since she was socialized, did not have a scary experience, and it is so broad, including resource guarding, dog aggression, and people aggression. You likely have a dog who needs a ton of structure, boundaries, and consistency. A trainer needs to show you how to gain her respect and give her clear guidance without too much physical confrontation, mainly using the things she wants in life as motivators for her to do obedience commands for you before she gets something, giving her a lot of structure, and working her mind. Check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training. He is based out of Rhode Island and specializes in hard to solve aggression cases. He has a free youtube channel, as well as lots of other online locations. He can be a bit abrupt, and all of his advice will not apply to you, so I suggest watching several of his videos to get a broader view of how he deals with training aggressive dogs. He often incorporates a lot of structure, boundaries, working for life rewards, using treats and positive reinforcement to address fears, correcting non-fear based aggression, and does a ton of obedience. His training covers more than just a simply fix, but is a more comprehensive program, which is needed for certain dogs. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Noli
American Akita
1 Year
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Question
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Noli
American Akita
1 Year

We have a two year old male Shiba Inu and one year old female Akita. Most of the time they get alone. Recently, when I was talking with a visitor outside the door. My two dogs stayed in the house and got into fight. Maybe they both wanted to see what was going on.Shiba is a bit pushy so Akita was grabbing his neck for maybe less than 1 min but I had to physically use my hands to break the fight. Only Shiba got minor wounds on his neck. My parents were visiting and witnessed this and don't not want to deal with akita anymore. I really would like to know how to break the fight more easily. It seemed to me my Akita cannot hear me when she is a fight. Thank you!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
154 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lycurio, Check out the article that I have linked below for how to break up a fight more safely. Using something like a pillow or chair between the dogs, dumping water on them, or getting really large and making a lot of noise are my go tos before I try to physically break them up with the wheel barrow method. Any time you try to break up a fight there is a very real risk of getting bitten. Dogs will transfer their aggression to those who get involved because they are in such an aroused, defensive mode and not thinking about who is trying to break the fight up, so be very careful. https://www.vetwest.com.au/pet-library/fighting-how-to-break-up-a-dog-fight For the fights, you need to hire a professional trainer with a lot of experience with aggression to help you right away. A lot needs to happen with general attitude for both dogs. Both dogs essentially need to be in doggie boot camp with tons of structure and boundaries. Neither should believe they are running house. Neither gets to compete for anything because you are in charge of everything. Look for someone who trains with tons of boundaries and structure and not just treats (treats are great but not what's needed here). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bella
American Akita
2 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Bella
American Akita
2 Years

This dog has twice attacked my dog 6 months apart as we walked past its house. The front door was open and the dog ran out of the house onto the street and jumped on my retriever. On both occasions the attack was unprovoked and on the 2nd occasion the dog ran across the road to get to my dog. The owner has dismissed the attacks, says their dog is not dangerous as it hasn't attacked a human and that the clear teeth marks into my dog's flesh were only a hold. My dog has gone from being completely calm and relaxed to being extremely stressed when on the lead and seeing another dog in the distance.Please advise what I should do with respect to the Akita and its owner.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
154 Dog owners recommended

Hello Gerard, I am not a lawyer, but with that said generally the first step is to report the dog to your local animal control authority. The owner will likely be given a warning notice since this is the first report and be told to keep the animal on leash or physically confined to the house or physical tall fence. If an incident is reported a second time by someone then the dog will be taken away from the owner in most cases. I highly suggest finding a training facility that has great experience with and client recommendations for treating fear in dogs, with lots of other dogs on property that the trainer can work with you with to re-build your dog's confidence around dogs, and also do a few follow up sessions specifically working with your dog in his own neighborhood too. I suggest avoiding that neighbor's home even after reporting it because unfortunately, if they do not care about the incident now they may not be careful with the dog even after being warned by authorities and the dog may have to be taken away for the issue to stop. Your responsibility is simply to report it though so that if it happens again something else can be done next time. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

thank you

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Question
Keanu
Akita Inu
11 Months
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Question
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Keanu
Akita Inu
11 Months

Hello. Recently our dog started to attack same sex dogs, he usually behaves and plays with others, but time to time Keanu begin bites within the play stronger than usual others and it turns into the fights. He is very friendly to the people, loves to interact with every dog he sees on the street, but when we go to the parks and let him off the leash he either chases the dogs or becomes a bit aggressive towards them (not to every dogs, but only few specific). We always separate them and put him back on the leash and take him to the home. Should we start wearing a muzzle? what else can be done and how we can make him to be friendly towards those dogs (again doesnt attack all of the dogs, just two labradoodle and pitbull who he has been playing before)

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
154 Dog owners recommended

Hello Olga, First of all, if you are taking him to a dog park and this is happening there. STOP. Every time that he attacks another dog, his behavior is being rewarded and it will get worse. Also, every dog that he attacks is more likely to become aggressive themselves because of fear-aggression from being attacked. This makes the problem worse for everyone. The aggression might be happening because of his age and hormones - even if he is neutered. When dogs reach mental maturity strong behavior traits tend to surface more. Things like aggression, territorial-ism, fears, dominance behaviors and competing. Dogs also begin to play differently than puppies do around this time. He is likely competing with those other dogs. The play looks innocent enough but the dogs are actually sizing one another up through play and asking one another to submit to the other. When a more dominant dog refuses to submit to your dog, or vice versa, a fight breaks out. Another dog might also be acting rude and not listening to clear signals from another dog to stop - so the dog escalates the threat to a fight. Your dog could be the rude dog that the other dogs are intolerant of, or the dog that is intolerant of rude dogs in this case. Quite simply, unless you have access to an extremely controlled situation where all dogs are muzzled, highly trained and responsive to owners (even during play and excitement), and you can control scenarios, he needs to interact with dogs in a completely different way from here on out. No more dog parks. Instead, work take him to obedience classes where he can practice his obedience around other dogs - a great way to socialize, teach control around other dogs, develop obedience around distractions, and teach calmness. A G.R.O.W.L. class is a great class to start with because it will be specifically for dog reactive or aggressive dogs, and be focused on developing socialization and manners around other dogs in a controlled setting where all of the dog's wear muzzles. You don't want to simply set him loose in an environment, like a dog park, with other dogs who might start a fight and are un-muzzled. He may end up getting attacked and then be even more reactive due to fear. Going on structured walks with other dog owners and their dogs is also a great way to continue to get him around other dogs but to promote a better attitude and help him look to you for leadership, instead of trying to control other dogs himself. The walk should be structured, meaning that he heels and is focused on you during it, to help his attitude be in a following mode and not looking for a fight. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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