How to Train an Akita to Not be Aggressive

How to Train an Akita to Not be Aggressive
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-6 Months
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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The Gradual Immersion Method

Most Recommended

2 Votes

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Most Recommended

2 Votes

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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.

2

Start with lowest stimulus

Produce as low a stimulus as possible, like a dog or person walking by outside

3

Distract

Distract your Akita by waving a treat in front of her. As soon as she follows it, give her the treat.

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.

5

Gradually increase stimulus

Gradually increase the stimulus, stepping back to the last stimulus level if you fail to get your akita's attention.

The Socialize to Success Method

Effective

1 Vote

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Effective

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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.

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.

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.

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.

5

Work towards removing muzzle

Once your akita is very comfortable and friendly with everyone she meets, you can work towards removing her muzzle.

The People Aren't So Bad Method

Least Recommended

2 Votes

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Least Recommended

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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.

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.

3

Unfamiliar place

Train your Akita in a location that she has not established as her own.

4

Calm, still guests

Have your guests stay relatively still but still act natural.

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.

By Coral Drake

Published: 04/20/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Alpha

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Akita Inu

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2 Years

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Question

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Alpha is a very affectionate and playful dog, however he tends to be aggressive in some situations such as; 1- Strangers who come close to pet him, once my cousin placed her hand on his head and he turned aggressively and bite her hand. 2- When he gets annoyed from children or small pets playing around him.. he either gets nervous which triggers the aggression or sometimes he just doesn't like it. 3- When he meets a new dog either male or female, he gets out of control starts to bark, howl and jump ready to attack the dog.

June 28, 2022

Alpha's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mishael, I highly recommend hiring a professional trainer to help you in person with this. First, pup needs to be evaluated to determine what type(s) of aggression are present. For example a dog who is fearful is trained a bit differently than a dog who has learned to use aggression to get what they want or a dog who is acting possessive of something. It sounds like pup is probably using aggression to get their way, is a bit fearful, and lacks impulse control and tolerance. Often treating aggression involves building the dog's general trust and respect for you and those who live with you, through things like having pup work for everything they get in life by asking pup to obey a command like Sit before you give them anything. It involves giving pup a lot more boundaries and rules to follow to build structure and predictability into their routine and help them make better choices. Often a basket muzzle is introduced gradually using food rewards so that pup can wear that to keep you safe when interacting with pup, until things improve. If pup has a low tolerance of something or fear, like the dogs, kids, and strangers, then pup would also be desensitized and counter conditioned to what they are unsure about using food rewards to reward pup for good responses, very gradually increasing his exposure to whatever he dislikes right now. This would need to be done with proper safety measures like a back tie leash or basket muzzle in all situations, to ensure pup couldn't get to the other person or dog. Those practicing around pup should also know what they are doing around aggressive dogs - like training staff pup doesn't know yet pretending to be strangers around pup, and practicing counter conditioning, and the training staff's well trained dogs being used to train around for the dog aggression. If pup lacks impulse control, then you would also work on commands that specifically help pup increase their level of control over themselves gradually. There may be other specific things that need to be addressed as well. Look for a trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression and fear. Since pup is aggressive toward strangers and other dogs too, you will need a trainer who works with a team of trainers and/or has access to other well mannered dogs, like the trainers' dogs so that the training can be practiced around a variety of people and other dogs, to help pup generalize what they are learning to people and dogs in general, and not just the trainer and yourself. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 29, 2022

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grace

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American Akita

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3 Years

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aggressive toward other dogs, and people walking in front of home. plays rough with our german shorthair of 10 years. help

April 29, 2022

grace's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Doug, I highly recommend working with a trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression in person for this issue. Look for a trainer who works with a team of trainers and has access to other well trained dogs, so that there are multiple people to practice the training around who are "strangers" to pup and know how to interact safely with aggressive dogs. This process typically involves things like gently building pup's overall respect, trust, and listening with you so that their behavior is easier to manage and so that they feel more secure and can defer to your leadership when in situations that make them uncomfortable. It also tends to involve gradually desensitizing pup to people, one at a time, with safety measures like a back tie leash or basket muzzle in place (introduced gradually ahead of time using treats so it's not just associated with the training and stressful), starting with people being further away at first, and working on pup's obedience with you around the people in the background to help pup remain calm and not get overly aroused and fixated on the other person. This can sometimes also involve interrupting pup's aroused state, but that should only be done under the guidance of the trainer and with proper safety measures in place, because with any aggression there is always the risk of the dog redirecting their aggression to whoever is closest when stressed. Once the aggression toward people is improved, then a similar counter conditioning process is repeated with other dogs from a distance, gradually decreasing distance and changing out the dog to end up practicing around many different dogs, one at a time. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 3, 2022


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