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Starting with an older Akita vs. puppie

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Leah

1274645
 
 
Barked: Thu Nov 8, '12 1:48pm PST 
I have had 2 Akita's prior to Leah. I love the breed, and I knew what I was in for starting with an almost 4 mo. old. It was VERY obvious to me she was not socialized, trained, or treated well. She was not aggressive with me so I "saved" her. So far she has bonded well with our family only, she does not trust ppl.. I do take her out and she is very evasive with ppl., not wanting to walk by them ECT. We do a very spacious pet store, walks in the parks. I am not sure if she will accept strangers ever, but she stays away so that is good. One of the most difficult things has been when we come home from being out. She goes hyper, crazy, grabbing you with her mouth, jumping, crying. Never seen anything like it! It takes her a while to calm down. Just nice to have a place to chat about the breed, get ideas and see I am not alone lol.
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MIKA&KAI

Akita Pals- Always.
 
 
Barked: Thu Nov 8, '12 8:24pm PST 
I raised both of mine and my previos one as well from puppy hood. All of them have behaved that way. Is she actually biting when she puts her mouth on you? I'm wondering because mine do not,they mouth. For Akitas that tends to be a form of communication,a way of telling you what they want or need. My Mattie did it when she wanted me to pet her,no teeth involved,just a very soft mouth on my wrist or hand, Mika does it with several people she adores one friend in particular if I happen to be on the second floor she will take this person gently by the hand and guide her to where I am. Kai does it as well,mostly when he wants me to get out of bed to allow him to go to the yard for a potty trip. You can over time break her of that by keeping a stuffed toy handy to give her when you come in. We keep the toybox by the front door for just that reason,if they do not pick one up to share with us,we use one to redirect them from mouthing. It is not something all Akitas do but many of them do. We found it endearing and since they were not using teeth did not bother to break them of the habit. Both my first Akita and Kai were/are very vocal and make a variety of noises,Mika is the only one who does not,and has never "talked" that too varies by personality. Please do try to continue to socialize her as often as you can even if just to insure safety until she is more comfortable and you really get to know her well,you need to use a muzzle.
I know that can seem harsh but you do need to keep trying with the socialization to keep her from becoming overly protective of your home and family which then becomes unsafe for your neighbors and service people such as the mail carrier and delivery people. If she seems fearful you might also want to try a thunder shirt,one of the herbal calming remedies or if you think it is a big issue consulting a behaviorist to help you find ways to work with her that may be more effective,perhaps the rescue you got her from can help as well. You are not alone,there are many here on the Akita Forum and on the regular Forums like behavior and training who will happily help you like Lobo and Kodiak here,and others like Mulder,Asher,Toto,Watson,and Tiller who are behaviorist/trainers with alot of experience with fearful,shut down,or have agression issues caused by former circumstances. They are all wonderful people behind the pups who can recommend things that may help. Lobo is also learning a great deal about behavior and training as well as dog psychology and can certainly recommend things that may be of help. Thank-You for giving Leah a second chance and a wonderful caring home.hugwishes
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Lobo

"Stubborn" dogs- don't need- corrections
 
 
Barked: Fri Nov 9, '12 2:51am PST 
Lobo also went super crazy when I came home. He does nothing but mope around or lay down near the door when I leave... AFTER he cries for several hours.

Although it may break your heart, if you want to stop the behavior, the best, most humane, thing to do is to simply ignore it. Take baby steps, though. If you try to expect her to stop everything all together, it won't happen for a long time.

First, decide if you're okay with jumping and mouthing. Personally, I am. If you're not, start by rewarding for no jumping. You can reward for no jumping by waiting until all four paws are on the floor(and later, waiting until she's sitting). A good reward in this case can be attention. You don't have to use food if you don't want to.

The mouthing will pretty much end with the jumping, especially if she can't reach your hands. But if it doesn't, then pretty much practice the same ideals as with jumping: No attention until she's no longer mouthing.

Crying/whining is also the same, although I recommend training an alternative behavior. Crying/whining/barking/making any kind of noise is self-reinforcing. So if you want to get rid of the noise, you have to show her that doing something else is even *more* reinforcing than that. If you want her to sit when you come in, then continue to practice the above, but with added criteria: No more whining.

In all of the situations above, you can either go back outside the house if she does one of them, or turn your back. I turned my back, but looking back, I probably would have received less scratches on my back if I had simply walked out of the house.

I also *highly* recommend you practice all of these on a weekend, when you don't have to leave for a couple of days. Go out for literally three seconds, come back in, and reward if Leah is standing there(or ask for a sit and then reward). Practice that frequently, but try to keep it to only a few repetitions a day. Training is already very stressful because dogs have to think, and adding the stress of you leaving could send her over threshold.

If you find that you can only do it once, then don't push it. Only do it once. Stop while you're ahead. Stop practicing even if she's excited/happy about it. You want her to begin to look forward to you leaving.

When she's fine with the three seconds, bump it up to five-six seconds, and again to ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty, a minute, two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes, etc. If you can't go from twenty to thirty seconds, then just do twenty-five seconds. If you're only able to go up a few seconds each time, again, don't push it.

Also, don't always make it harder and harder. If she's already pro at thirty seconds, go back down to three seconds. This tells her that you're not always going to be gone for long periods of time. Sometimes you come back very quickly, and sometimes you're gone for longer. But even if you *are* gone for a long time, it's okay.

Another good idea is hiding her favorite treats around the house or keeping her busy with a Kong. These are both good ideas because she's so focused on finding the treats, that she doesn't even care that you've just left. Again, it's no big deal.

Changing up patterns (put your coat on for five minutes, then take it off; grab your keys, sit down, read a book, then put your keys up, etc.) can also put her mind at ease. Dogs learn patterns *very* quickly, so changing them up will make her curious instead of anxious.

No long, drawn out goodbyes. No exciting, "ERHMAHGERD" returns. These are both good ways to reduce anxiety.

When meeting with people... Don't push it. I can't stress this enough. If you try to force her into meetings, the potential for aggression is quite high.

I highly recommend the site reactivedogs.com, and Ali Brown's books and DVD's for her meeting with people.

Edited by author Fri Nov 9, '12 2:51am PST

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MIKA&KAI

Akita Pals- Always.
 
 
Barked: Fri Nov 9, '12 5:49am PST 
Leah's person,you are not alone,there are several Akita addicts here who are happy to talk Akitas anytime like me. I adore the breed for all their little quirks and how different they can be.Having raised mine from puppies I was able to avoid alot of the issues those that have adopted older Akitas have but in general am good for information about the breed. When I suggested continued socialization I did not mean you should force Leah to do anything,simply getting her out around people and other dogs until she is more comfortable is good if it is the most she is willing to do. It will get better and she will relax more as time goes on. We got Mika at 9 weeks and from her behavior could tell that she had not been socialized as a young puppy and even at nearly 6 years old although she is now wonderful with people of all kinds,big, little,young,and elderly she still has a little fear with new people in our/her home at times. We just continue to work with her and she has especially with Kai's help gotten much better. There was a time early on when I was very afraid that she might become a fear biter but through continued socialization she has become a wonderful,sweet,loving and well rounded girl. She sucks up all the attention and pets she can get when the kids come to trick-or-treat,goes anywhere and handles attention well,and given time comes around to be petted by new people in our home. We have always with each of our Akitas asked people to simply ignore them until they were ready to come and ask for attention from a guest,it has worked very well and it seems to work best for the pups. As Lobo said it is never good to force them to greet someone or to tolerate attention when they are afraid. Given time and patience many of the things that developed from her early negative experiences will solve themselves,maybe not 100% but it will get better. Until then,you can feel free to come and chat with us here or p-mail me if you need to vent,want to chat,or even brag about Leah or share stories of your Akitas past. hugwishes Pam.

I am available simply by clicking M&K's pic and clicking the little envelope that says send this pup a message. Please feel free to do so anytime. smile
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Leah

1274645
 
 
Barked: Fri Nov 9, '12 6:42am PST 
Thanks for the great ideas, we will try them. Yes she is using teeth, enough to break the surface skin. I also forgot to mention that I had to have a hip replacement shortly after getting Leah. So my physical restrictions have not been helpful. That is getting better tho I have been taking her out again and able to play w/ her more. I have been home w/ her not working since shortly after I got her. So far she has been ok when alone, no destruction lol. It is just the return home that is the issue. Will definately try ur suggestions, Thanks so much
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MIKA&KAI

Akita Pals- Always.
 
 
Barked: Fri Nov 9, '12 11:18am PST 
Once you are more back on your feet and able to give her more exercise she should calm down considerably as well. I understand how hard that can be,I was in a serious car accident in 2004 and took a very long time to recover,I still suffer from some chronic pain and other issues,so I when mine were younger and even now,although they have settled considerably have had to break up play times,training,and other activities into manageable time blocks. I am fortunate that my hubby is able to get them for at least one if not two daily walks. We also have an easy to supervise fenced yard where they can play and tire each other out. Take Care of yourself and get well soon.wishes
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Leah

1274645
 
 
Barked: Fri Nov 9, '12 12:19pm PST 
Leah has a fenced ( 6 ft. privacy ) yard, and she actually entertains herself at times. I was just watching her chase leaves, and play with her kong ball. And I go out every day and throw the kong for her. She loves to chase, not good at bringing back lol. Today we went for a car ride which she loves. My hubby has only had one dog and he just kinda trained him by accident lol. He gets frustrated w/ Leah and she behave's badly w/ him. She mouths him terrible and grabs his clothes. She does not do this so much w/ me anymore. I have had 3 Akita's and large dogs my whole life. Loving this forum.... seems like good people for the better of the breed.
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MIKA&KAI

Akita Pals- Always.
 
 
Barked: Sat Nov 10, '12 6:56am PST 
I did all of the training with our 3 Akitas as well and wouldn't you know,Mika although she listens to me,worships the ground hubby walks on.
We got Kai for two reasons, one being that Mika moped terribly when hubby left and wouldn't even play with me very often and the other being that I missed my Mattie terribly and just couldn't get motivated enough with Mika,I worked very hard with her but during some severe bouts of depression she was content to be independent and await hubby's return. Kai on the other hand is my boy and very demanding when he needs to be and even from a very early age taught himself to be a service dog of sorts for me,he knows how to kick my butt in gear when I need it,and knows as well when I just need a comforting companion but makes sure that his and Mika's needs are met as well. He has been an amazing help and comfort to me and extremely good for building Mika's confidence and helping her be more active and happy while her person is away.
I think that the majority of us here do care deeply about the breed and want them to be seen as the wonderful dogs they truly are when people care enough to raise them properly. They are a truly amazing loving and loyal breed when in the hands of those who like you,take the time to know what you are getting into and do what is best for them and not try to fit them into a situation that just isn't workable for them,expecting them to adapt to things they simply weren't meant to do,then become frustrated,disappointed,and give-up on them because they don't. All too often I hear stories of how awful they are from someone who got them for looks without understanding the effort they require. I'm glad that you like it here. It truly is a good place in most circumstances,there will be times it can be contentious but in most cases we can simply agree to disagree or just know that what works for one may not be right for another. I too grew-up with large dogs that for stupid reasons,usually media potrayal had bad reputations like GSD's and Dobes.
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Lobo

"Stubborn" dogs- don't need- corrections
 
 
Barked: Sat Nov 10, '12 10:01am PST 
Oh, I didn't mean that you were suggesting that, M&K. It's just something I always say when people are dealing with fearful dogs.

The methods I suggest earlier can work with hubby, too, Leah. (: As long as he's willing to put in the work and try not to be so frustrated. Leah may not ever listen to him like she does you, but she can learn boundaries just the same. Just remember - respect goes both ways. You can't expect her to respect you, if you can't respect her(this just goes for everyone).

I think it may also benefit Leah if you learned about 'calming signals'. That way, you can better identify when she's too stressed.
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MIKA&KAI

Akita Pals- Always.
 
 
Barked: Sat Nov 10, '12 8:10pm PST 
Lobo,certainly not aimed at you. Just clarifying my own post. At times I have written without quite working out how the other person might take something I said. I was actually agreeing with you that they should never be pushed into doing something they are not ready for.hug No worries,all is well.
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