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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.
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.
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
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.
Start with lowest stimulus
Produce as low a stimulus as possible, like a dog or person walking by outside
Distract your Akita by waving a treat in front of her. As soon as she follows it, give her the treat.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Have your friends give your Akita food and affection as it is safe until you Akita learns that being with strangers is good.
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
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.
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.
Train your Akita in a location that she has not established as her own.
Calm, still guests
Have your guests stay relatively still but still act natural.
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