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
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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
Ivy
Akita Shepherd
1 Year
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Ivy
Akita Shepherd
1 Year

My dog Ivy is a new dog in a house of three other dogs. She acts aggressive towards people who try and pet her and to other dogs. She and one of my dogs do not get along great. They've gotten into three fights. We have taken them on walks together and they were fine. How can I fix her aggression with people and dogs?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Juliana, Check out the "People Aren't so Bad" method from the article. I suggest hiring a trainer to help in a more comprehensive way though! https://wagwalking.com/training/train-an-akita-to-not-be-aggressive Aggression between dogs in the same household is more complicated and requires changing a lot in the dog's daily structure, building respect for you, managing the dog's environment, and working on any underlying causes. You need a trainer who can evaluate how you are doing things right now, why the dogs are fighting - what's triggering Ivy, and what type of aggression it is. You also need someone to evaluate why Ivy is aggressive toward people. Fear based aggression can be dealt with by addressing the underlying fear and making people pleasant to change the dog's emotions towards people. The article linked above is primarily for fear-based aggression - which this may not be. Other types of aggression like dominance, possessiveness, protectiveness, lack of socialization, genetic, ect...often need a lot more structure and management to address the dog's overall attitude also. Those types of aggression tend to need a calm, firmer approach, in addition to positive reinforcement. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Ivy are you sure she is an Akita? She looks very similar to a Korean jindo. They are smart wonderful dogs! She has all the physical characteristics of one! Check into it

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Cleopatra
American Akita
17 Months
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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
419 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

WOW, I just brought a 7 1/2 month old Akita home. Cleo and Goku (my pup) look identical. How old was Cleo when he/she killed the kittens? Was he/she a pup?

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Star
Akita Inu
2 Years
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Star
Akita Inu
2 Years

This is a dog I am considering adopting. I have read up on the characteristics of the breed and have experienced my Lucher being chased by one while out walking. Fortunately my dog being a Lucher out paced the Akita despite being at the end of a very long walk itself. I'd like to be able to get to a point where I could let the dog off the lead and be comfortable that I had both control and reasonable expectations that it would not harm another dog if off the lead. Additionally my niece has Chows which have some common traits. If I took an Akita into a situation where it was meeting Chows I expect it would be confrontational. How would you suggest I approach that so that it didn't become territorial etc.
Thanks in expectation.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Laurence, To introduce the Chows and an Akita there needs to be a lot of structure unless all the dogs are just unusually laid back and friendly for the breed. I suggest introducing your Akita to one dog at a time, and gradually adding dogs to the mix as things are going well. To introduce them one at a time I suggest a structured walk together - first using the Passing Approach method until your Akita and the Chow are calm every time they pass each other. When they are calm passing, then switch to the Walking Together method and gradually decrease the distance between the dogs. I would keep the dogs separate until they have gone on several of these walks and are truly relaxed around each other. When all the dogs do well with the Akita separately during walks, then walk three dogs together, then four, ect...(I don't know how many Chows your cousin has). You want to avoid your dog being the new dog with a pack of other dogs - multiple dogs together do increase aggression when one is the outsider - have have the dogs meet one by one. Passing Approach then Walking Together methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Once they can all be together, then while in your cousin's home have all the dogs stay on Place on opposite ends of the room for long periods of time. All the dogs need to be in a structured, respectful, calm state of mind while together. Once they have experienced these types of interactions as the norm for long periods of time - to develop long-term habits and associations around each other, then you may be able to relax the interactions more. I would avoid having food, toys, or competitive activities going while they are together - your goal should be peaceful co-existence, where they simply hang out around each other and not competition or roughhousing. The dogs need to stay calm and to be respectful toward the people in charge so they let you handle things instead of the dogs trying to make and enforce rules for the other dogs - which can lead to fights. Place command - in general have all dogs work up to learning a 2 hour Place command they can maintain around distractions - this is a very important command for teaching respect, calmness, impulse control, and management for driven breeds in general: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo 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
419 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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Skylar
Akita
2 Years
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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
419 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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Noli
American Akita
1 Year
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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
419 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
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Question
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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
419 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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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
419 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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Yumi
Akita
16 Months
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Yumi
Akita
16 Months

My Akita puppy is GREAT with her little brother Rottweiler, 1 month younger and is AMAZING with her sweet, sweet 7 year old Samoyed sister. I live in the mountains where we don't have a leash law and have socialized her abundantly since she was 7 weeks old; on the trails outside, in multiple dog friendly shops and stores, with many other dogs and tons of people - strangers, friends and family. She's been perfect - quite opposite of what you read about the Akita breed. HOWEVER, within the past 3 months she has been displaying TONS of dog aggression to those canines whom are strangers. In an instant she will snap and go after another dog for no apparent reason: Docile, calm dogs, small ones, larger breeds - there is no discrimination. So my questions are, 1.) WHY NOW after a really good 1'st year with loads of people / dog socialization and, 2.) WHAT can i do to correct her aggressive behavior with other dogs please ? The odd thing is that she's not antagonistic with ALL dogs, although the aggression is becoming more frequent, displaying zero discrimination in whom she feels like attacking. YIKES ! Can you help with these 2 questions please ?

Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-an-akita-to-not-be-aggressive

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Derek, Aggression can be a genetic trait, so unfortunately despite socialization some dogs do still display aggression - although socialization severely decreases how many dogs develope aggression issues. Between one and 2.5 years many dogs reach mental and hormonal maturity (even spayed and neutered dogs) and issues like aggression, resource guarding, protectiveness, fear aggression, ect will often become most apparent around 1-2 years of age. There may have been warning signs before or it might just be related to a mental and hormonal shift where she feels less tolerant of others and wants to control her environment or protect you. Something also could have happened. If she is off leash without you around she may have gotten into a fight with another dog that lead to fear aggression and a general dislike of other dogs, even if the fight didn't involve blood that you would have noticed. It may have been traumatic emotionally for her. Honestly, you need to hire a trainer to help you in person with this case. It will require a lot of management for a while too because she cannot be allowed to continue attacking other dogs - not only for their own safety but because it will make her own aggression worse probably. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Thanks Caitlin ! My thoughts exactly: Genetics Akita's are well known for this behavior :( . Fortunately when she's off leash she's never more than 50 - 100 feet away so i can't think of any time at all where she's been in a situation on her own that would've been traumatic; and, after her first signs of aggression - boom! Leash Time! At least in areas where there may be potential to encounter other people & their pets: I live way up in the mountains so it's easy to go where there are no peeps around. I did keep her in front of as many dogs as i could from 7 weeks old until now, alas now she's leash-bound if i go where i know there will be 'temptations' ! Thank you for the advice regarding a 1:1 trainer - that thought has already and still does register in my thoughts & planning processes. Gratefully, she gets along GREAT with the other two dogs in the house whom she's been with since she was only 7 weeks old; so i was and continue to be surprised when she gets salty around others :( Fortunately, she's only really "attacked" 2, which i've been lucky enough to end it in seconds.....What i do not understand is her selective aggression: about 1 or 2 out of every 20 dogs we come across she'll get pissy. So hey, Thanks again; 'looks like more training and definitely some dedicated focus is in order ! Thank you for the candid & informative feedback !!

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Question
Bear
Akita
4 Years
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Bear
Akita
4 Years

My dog almost killed my neighbors dog and then almost killed another dog all in five minutes. This only happens when he escapes the yard. He becomes very dangerous

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Shawna, You need to hire a professional trainer who specializes in aggression to help you. Be very honest with the trainer about his level of aggression, his bite history with dogs, and any human aggression he has ever shown - your trainer needs to know the full extent of his aggression before they meet him so that they can take the appropriate precautions to keep themselves, any other people or dogs working with them, and him safe. You also need to take extreme measures to prevent him from getting out of the yard. I suggest either burying an electric fence one foot in front of your physical-wood fence and having him wear the corresponding collar, so that he will not approach the wooden fence to begin with and even attempt to get out, or having him wear a basket muzzle while in the yard in case he were to get out. To get him used to wearing a basket muzzle (basket so that he can still open his mouth inside while wearing it): Introduce a muzzle by first placing it on the ground and sprinkling his meal kibble around it. Do this until he is comfortable eating around it. Next, when he is comfortable with it being on the floor with food, hold it up and reward him with a piece of kibble every time he touches or sniffs it in your hand. Feed him his whole meal this way. Practice this until he is comfortable touching it. Next, hold a treat inside of it through the muzzle's holes, so that he has to poke his face into it to get the treat. As he gets comfortable doing that, gradually hold the treat further down into the muzzle, so that he has to poke his face all the way into the muzzle to get the treat. Practice until he is comfortable having his face in it. Next, feed several treats in a row through the muzzle's holes while he holds his face in the muzzle for longer. Practice this until he can hold his face in it for at least ten seconds while being fed treats. Next, when he can hold his face in the muzzle for ten seconds while remaining calm, while his face is in the muzzle move the muzzle's buckles together briefly, then feed him a treat through the muzzle. Practice this until he is not bothered by the buckles moving back and forth. Next, while he is wearing the muzzle buckle it and unbuckle it briefly, then feed a treat. As he gets comfortable with this step, gradually keep the muzzle buckled for longer and longer while feeding treats through the muzzle occasionally. Next, gradually increase how long he wears the muzzle for and decrease how often you give him a treat, until he can calmly wear the muzzle for at least an hour without receiving treats more than two treats during that hour. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bruce
Akita mix
19 Months
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Bruce
Akita mix
19 Months

Hello, we got our newest dog Bruce at the end of August when he was approximately 11 months old. We also have a 4 year old terrier mix and two 11 year old cats that he gets along with very well. Recently, he has been showing aggression/anxiety around my 6 year old son. The aggression seems to be isolated to a specific time and place - around 5pm if my son is in/near the kitchen. The anxiety is usually from 5-7pm. Bruce is about 50 lbs, so when he jumps at and attempts to bite my son, it’s serious. Oddly, he is fine when my son wakes up in the morning and when he gets home from school - tail wagging, giving him kisses and letting himself be pet.
We have done basic obedience and he did very well. He has good impulse control in general and is very easy to train (he learned sit, down, stay, wait, leave it and roll over in a day each). It’s just from 5-7pm that he gets unruly. Unfortunately I’m so nervous to have him around my son now that they basically live in shifts, one in a room while the other is out. On the advice of a trainer he wears a leash around the house so there aggressions can be prevented, but I would love to find a way to socialize him to my son again. When we first got him he was fine - they would snuggle in my bed or on the couch and there was no problem.
Is it possible that this is part of his “naughty adolescent” phase, and that with careful and consistent desensitization they will be able to be buddies again? Or is this an issue that will end in rehoming? I love the dog, he is brilliant and funny and gorgeous, but I have to protect my son.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jessica, It sounds like this could be a form of food aggression since it is associated with dinner time. He may be being possessive of the kitchen in general - since the evening is associated with cooking dinner, and he likely respects your son the least out of everyone. If this is food aggression, then respect training to deal with him trying to control your son needs to take place, with your son as part of the protocol, but with safety measures such as a back tie to keep him from being able to reach your son, or a soft silicone basket muzzle to prevent a bite, in place. You would also need to work on conditioning him to associate your son being in the kitchen with good things on top of correcting the possessiveness and building respect. Check out the video linked below for some examples of counter conditioning a dog to a child. The protocol that is demonstrated would need to be practiced near your kitchen around dinner time, while your dog is firmly tied to something secure, then corrected for aggressive behavior and rewarded for tolerance and calmness when your son is in the kitchen (but not able to actually get to your son to bite him). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYs76puesAE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9n0_27XY3z4 Unfortunately the behavior is probably not just adolescent behavior that he will grow out of. It may be worse at the moment and it may have been encouraged by mental maturity and hormones increasing, but it also is behavioral and needs to be addressed through training for it to change. Without being there to evaluate the dog in person I can't give you a firm answer on how treatable it is. I can say that life with your son and him should probably never look as unstructured as it was (like rolling on the ground together or sharing a bed). There will probably be a long term need for more boundaries and structure with Bruce to give him directions and keep his focus and respect for you. He may never be a dog that you can spoil so to speak. Many dogs with these types of issues can do well though and learn to listen, be more tolerant, and cope better. During mealtimes I would teach him to stay on a "Place" for example, so that he is not even allowed in the same space as your son while food prep is going on, but he also wouldn't have to be locked in another room if the aggression had been addressed at that point. I would not suggest ever pushing things too far though. I would maintain clear, long term boundaries for him and make him work a bit more in life and give him predictability, even after a more intensive program to deal with current aggression issues and anxiety. Since the issue is also happening mainly in the evening I suggest a trip to your vet. There are some conditions that can surface in younger dogs that can effect hormones. For example, a drop in serotonin in the evening can lead to aggression and anxiety. Mention to your Vet that he only seems to have issues that time of the day and you are wondering about hormones possibly. (I am not a vet so seek their advice on this matter). https://wagwalking.com/symptom/why-is-my-dog-aggressive-at-night Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Akoni
American Akita
3 Years
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Akoni
American Akita
3 Years

We have 4 Akitas; awhile back our two males Akoni and Theodore became very aggressive towards eachother while our oldest female O'hana was in heat. They got in a very bad fight once (hurting my step father as collateral) and can't be near each other. How could I reduce their aggression towards each other so they can be around both each other and other people. They are very good dogs otherwise but separating these two in particular is very tasking.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nicholas, You need to hire a professional trainer who is very experienced with high drive dogs and different types of aggression to help you. First, both dogs need to get used to wearing a basket muzzle for safety, then both dogs need to be desensitized to each other and rewarded for calmness and focus on you in the presence of the other dog. Having two people take the dogs on a walk, where each dog is on a different sidewalk, walking parallel with each other a few feet apart down the street, and being rewarded for being calm while the other dog is in view. Second, work on obedience with both dogs together, with several feet between them and each dog being handled by a different person. You want both dogs to simply get used to being around each other again, while doing something calm and focused, and receiving rewards for good behavior so that those rewards are inadvertently associated with the other dog's presence also. Finally, work with a trainer on having the dogs in the same space while both wear a muzzle. Teach both a Place command and firmly require each dog to stay on their place in the same room while you supervise. You want the dogs to get used to simply being around each other again without touching each other or being confrontational. Feed both dogs in their own locked crates and the next time your female goes into heat, separate the dogs - ideally by sending them away to stay somewhere else for two weeks if at all possible. In addition to the above, neutering both dogs can also help prevent future fights - but by itself will not resolve the current aggression. Place command video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Lucky
Akita Inu
1 Year
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Lucky
Akita Inu
1 Year

Hi I have a 12 month old Akita puppy that is a male. He is not neutered as of yet because of growth plates and the vet said something to do with hormones being involved at this time. He was socialised extremely well as a puppy and is exceptionally friendly normally to strangers, however the last month or so he has started growling at people that smooth him on a walk and has never done this before . I am worried as I said he has been so friendly and not sure what the next move is thanks
Sarah

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sarah, First, I suggest hiring a private trainer to help you in person. This is something that is best dealt with immediately by someone who is very experienced with aggression. This is a common age for dogs to display aggressive behavior due to a potential fear period around this time and increasing desires to be dominant, possessive, protective, or territorial. If dealt with right away there is a good chance it can be improved since he is just starting it and it wasn't related to something traumatic. If left unchecked it can get worse. For that reason, I recommend hiring someone so there is no wasted time. Look for someone who specializes in behavior issues, is very experienced with aggression, has good referrals or reviews from clients, and will use a lot of structure to build his respect and calmness without doing rough things like alpha rolls (respect should be earned through consistency, confidence and teaching a dog's mind, not things like flipping them onto their backs). Certain tools can be beneficial when trained with properly but those tools should still be used in combination with things like positive reinforcement, calmness, and consistency - not anger. Check out the article linked below for some more details on how to help a dog be calm and respectful. If your dog has ever shown any aggression toward you, hire a trainer before you begin any training. Dog Training Do’s https://www.solidk9training.com/sk9-blog/2016/09/08/the-ten-commandments-of-dog-training-and-ownership-do-2 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 Also, if the trainer has a larger staff, then the below is one good exercise for socializing nervous dogs. Your dog's behavior could be fear/suspicion related if he is in a fear-period. It is more likely related to something else like dominance or possessiveness of you. Notice the backtie and tape line on the floor to keep the dog from being able to get too close to the person practicing this. Also, notice that the dog is only rewarded while calm and not while aggressive (you get more of whatever you reward). Notice the timing of corrections - right when the dog explodes or starts to show signs of aggression. Aggression video: https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Ryker
Akita
9 Months
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Ryker
Akita
9 Months

My Akita has a few behaviors I would like to ask about. 1. He is obsessed over human food. We do not give him it, but sometimes he can capture it out of the trash. If we try to take it from him he shows aggression. This is the ONLY time he is aggressive with growling and snarling. 2. He is still very mouthy and with him being quite large, this is becoming an issue(especially with my 5 year old)

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kandi, First, I suggest booby trapping your trashcan. If you have a trashcan with a lid that he is getting off, then you can purchase door alarms made for letting you know when a toddler has gotten outside or a pool gate has been entered. They are two magnets that go together and loud alarm sounds when the two magnets are moved apart - such as when a door is opened, or a trashcan lid bumped off. Set up the booby-trap and put something that smells good in the trashcan, like meat, then leave the room while you spy on him from another room using a camera, such as two phones or tablets with Skype on mute, baby video monitor, security camera, GoPro with Live app on your phone, ect... If your trashcan doesn't have a lid, you need a new trashcan right away - all homes with taller dogs need lids on trashcans or cans put somewhere inaccessible. You can also booby-trap counter tops with things like scat mats, or noise makings that the food is tied too. For him, I doubt the noise makers will be enough though. For the resource guarding you need professional help from someone who specializes in aggression. Check out the video linked below. He needs a protocol like the video linked below but this can be dangerous if you don't know what you are doing with aggression so you really need to hire a professional for this. Doing it wrong can make aggression worse. Food Resource Guarding - notice the very strong back tie leash and line that the trainer stays behind most of the video to avoid being bitten if the dog reacts - this type of training is series, so again get professional help from someone who has dealt with aggression a lot and comes well recommended by previous clients - ask questions about their experience and ideally find someone who is very experienced with e-collars so that this can be done more safely and calmly: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-out-command/ Before you start the above food protocol you need to work on building respect in general though, in less confrontational ways. Hie behavior suggests a lack of respect, and the mouthiness could be partially related to that too. Work on teaching the commands linked below and follow the tips from the dog training Do's article - keeping in mind safety measures to avoid any chance of aggression. If you see any signs - even subtle, of aggression while working on the obedience below, then wait until you are working with a trainer before you do those things too. 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 Dog Training Do’s https://www.solidk9training.com/sk9-blog/2016/09/08/the-ten-commandments-of-dog-training-and-ownership-do-2 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Goku
Akita
11 Months
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Question
1 found helpful
Goku
Akita
11 Months

We owned an Akita before and he was very quiet, unless truly necessary. Recently we bought an Akita puppy from a breeder and this puppy barks a lot, which I thought was not an ordinary trait of an Akita. My parents, brother, and sister owned several Akitas and none was as verbal as the one that I have now. The biggest concern is that he bites all the time, even with corrections. I have tried different methods to curb his biting, like putting him in his kennel as soon as he bites to let him know that biting is not an acceptable behavior. My grandson, the one in the picture is scared to rub him, we never know when he'll let you rub him or if he's going to bite us. What should we do to STOP this behavior?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Gwin, I am guessing you meant 11 weeks old and not 11 months old based on the photos. It that is the case, then I suggest following the Leave It method and the Pressure method from the article linked below. Teach Leave It first, then use the Pressure method if he disobeys your Leave It command - if he doesn't know Leave It first he will probably just think you are wrestling him when you use the Pressure method, instead of understanding it as discipline for disobedience. He needs to develop impulse control through practicing Leave It - he is a pup who probably needs to practice impulse control more in general due to his personality. Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Also, work on teaching him Out (which means leave the area) and use Out when he won't leave your son alone. Use the section on how to deal with pushy behavior to enforce Out once he has been taught the command. Get between your son and pup when he is biting if he doesn't stop when told to, and walk toward Goku until he backs out of the area. Check out the article linked below for details: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ For the barking work on desensitizing him to the things he barks at using the Desensitization method, and teaching him the Quiet command so that you can tell him to stop using the Quiet method from the article linked below. Barking article: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark I also suggest teaching him a long Place command and working up to him being on Place for an hour at a time...This is to help him learn an off-switch inside, learn to cope with anxiety or pushiness, learn self-sooth, self-entertain, and learn impulse control. All of these skills help deal with root causes of barking, but are also important skills for him in general. Give him a dog food stuffed chew toy on Place when he is there for a long time. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Because he may have a stronger personality that your past dog, I suggest spending a lot of time socializing him and working on more structured obedience at an earlier age to earn his respect and trust, and teach boundaries, calmness and self-control early. Crate Train him, enroll in high quality puppy class, take him places to socialize him - give treats to make it fun and instruct people to be gentle. If my assumption was wrong and he really is 11 months and not 11 weeks, and the biting is not mouthing but actual dog aggression, then you need to hire a professional trainer who is very experienced with behavior issues to help you in person. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Mika
Akita
1 Year
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Mika
Akita
1 Year

She is a very protective dog and growls whenever someone new enters the home. Some people that she has known since she was little she is okay with but if she has never met them or barley knows them she will bark and growl and won't let anyone get near her. How do i stop her from acting in this way

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nicholas, I highly suggest hiring a trainer who specializes in aggression and behavior problems, and has a ton of experience with multiple type of aggression - not just fear aggression, which this probably isn't only. People possessive dog protocol example - pretraining (most protectiveness is actually a dog resource guarding a person): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tiHairtYUc Structure obedience drills: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8juiJ-Hq8dI&t=501s Structure and boundaries - Place around distractions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ilf3G76oncc&t=87s Structured heeling and daily structure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpJAHhPKvC0 Further in the process - decreasing distance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sRSu3xFjUw Even further in the process - adding touch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-22Fkkzjc68&t=69s Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Dosha
Akita Shepherd
2 Years
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Dosha
Akita Shepherd
2 Years

I recently rescued an Akita from an owner how was just keeping her because the original owner is going to be in prison for a very long time. He had her in a large garage on a farm, mostly alone and by her state, I can tell she was pretty neglected as he was busy with his 4 other dogs and various other farm animals.

The issue with Dosha is that she has shown aggression toward my boyfriend dog (Chubs) who lives with us. He is a ten year old Australian Sheppard mix who is mostly indifferent to other dogs but is used to being the more dominant dog.
Yesterday she bit his ear because Chubs wanted a toy she was playing with. I've been keeping chubs in his own room while letting her out in the living room. If I put her in a room she scratches at the door and ruins it. I'm willing to work with her of course but I just don't know how to go about it. I don't want her to keep attacking Chubs

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jessee, It is likely that the issue is actually both dogs. Your Australian Shepherd's pushiness and demanding attitude - his body language toward her is probably part of the issue. His lack of impulse control, lack of socialization, and intolerance. You will probably have to run a tight ship if you keep her - meaning that there needs to be a lot more structure for both dogs to establish rules, boundaries, structure in the household, and for them to look to you to handle situations and learn that it is not their place to handle it. This is an overhaul, not just one thing if you decide your up for it. For example, you be the one to deal with one dog trying to steal another dog's toy, trying to resource guard, being pushy with people, not letting the other dog in a certain area, ect...More structure like both dogs eating in locked, separate crates, both learning to do a long Place command and staying on their own Place beds on separate sides of the room - regardless of what you are up to and what the other dog is doing - you will need back tie leashes at first for safety, you may also need a basket muzzle - which can be gradually introduced with treats. Both dogs being expected to heel in a really structured way, where both dogs are focused on you and not competing, scanning for other people or dogs or things to react to, and staying a bit behind you so they are actually following you instead of trying to be in front leading the way. Both dogs need to defer to your direction, instead of trying to make the other dog follow their own rules. 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 Consistency method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Check out Jeff Gellman from solidK9Training, Sean O'Shea, and Thomas from the Canine Educator on youTube for how to type videos about aggression, structure, and leadership. All of this doesn't mean you can never have fun with the dogs but right now things are more serious so there needs to be a lot of boundaries. When in doubt I would look for a trainer like one of the trainers above, who is very experienced with aggression and uses positive reinforcement and fair corrections but not illogical things like alpha rolls, to help you. Trainers who use discipline need to use it with as much or more positive reinforcement combined in the overall training program. They should also train in a way that is calm, intelligent, keeps safety in mind, and it should make sense what they are doing when they explain it to you - dogs are intelligent creatures, and people even more so. One of the most important ways to gain a dog's respect is mentally through training that is structured, intelligent and consistent. Consequences should make sense to a dog. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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