HELP!!! 2-year-old adopted Akita aggression

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Member Since
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 10:40am PST 
My husband and I adopted a 2-year-old American akita from our local pound last week. He grew up with akitas, but I have no experience with them. (I didn't even know what an akita was until we got married...) I did what I feel like is a good amount of research before adopting her, so I knew we would probably have some behavioral issues since she's 2 years old and being rehomed.

We have a 5-month-old terrier mix, Toby. He is very well-behaved as we've devoted SO much of our energy to training him over the past 4 months. He is a little hyper, as any puppy would be, especially a terrier, but listens well. Kuma, our new akita, HATES him. She growls at him when he gets too close, she attacks his throat every time he gets near her food. We've tried forcing them to socialize, which is fine as long as my husband is there coaching them. But when it comes to interacting on their own, nope. We can't leave them in a room alone or there's a good chance Toby would not come out alive.

Here's our dilemma: We are more than willing to work with Kuma and train her to keep her in our family. She has exactly 0 aggression toward humans, and is otherwise pretty well behaved, she just seems to have issues with other dogs. However, my husband is active duty military and we are moving across the country to our new duty station in 2.5 weeks. We simply don't have the money to hire a trainer right now, though we'd like to. I've contacted just about every trainer within a 30-mile radius of us asking for help, but of course nobody wants to help without $$. I have done internet research but can't seem to find any concrete aggression tips, and I know that akitas don't respond to every type of training. I'm hoping to get some insight from an akita owner who maybe went through the same thing or something similar with an adopted dog.

I was lucky enough to come across Kuma's original owner's info in her vet records. I contacted her owner, who's been very helpful trying to give me as much info about Kuma as possible. The owner had given her to another woman (who surrendered her to the shelter for unknown reasons), despite her vet encouraging her to put Kuma down because akitas are so prone to behavioral and depression issues when separated from their owners. However, she said that Kuma grew up with a terrier mix and got along with that dog perfectly, and used to love playing with other dogs.

Does anybody have experience with this? Tips or insight? We adore Kuma and want to keep her in our family, but we don't want to put Toby in permanent danger. Toby has been very patient with Kuma so far, despite the fact that she's drawn blood on him, but I don't want his personality to change completely because he's afraid of her.

Akita Pals- Always.
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 7:02pm PST 
It sounds like Kuma has developed some food agression issues. Please keep them separated when any type of food is involved. Also try hand feeding her to help her bond with you and reward her for good behavior with Toby. Akitas tend to take a bit longer than some other breeds to completely adjust to new situations and new surroundings. Is there any way you can gate or crate her away from your other dog? I would like to help more but I also need your help.
I have raised all of my Akitas from puppyhood but Mika did have some serious food issues even when we brought her home at 9 weeks,they were much worse to the point she was growling at me for simply walking past her food dish. We corrected it by making sure I was the only one that fed her,gave her treats or any other typre of food items. She took awhile but is now to the point where I can put my hand in her food dish while she is eating something like scrambled eggs and help her to get them unstuck from the corners without any issue. When we got Kai,Mika was nearly 3 and absolutely did not want him near her food dish and would attempt to bully him out of his,he was only 8 weeks. We went back to what worked before,we found a high value treat(hotdogs) and I would feed her bites of those,cut very thin as long as she behaved and let him have his food. We still do use two separate bowls and not right next to each other but they are fine now,Kai still defers to her in letting her decide which dish she wants to eat from but will simply go to the other. What I need from you are a few simple answers so I can help with a plan.
1. How long have you had her in your home?
2. Is food the only trigger for her behavior?
3. How do you feed? scheduled mealtimes? food always available?
4. Do they each have,or is it possible to make them a space away
from each other?
5. Can you tether her to you for more supervision so that if a
problem does start you are right there to stop it?
If you can give me some backround on you basic routines I will work with you as much as necessary to try to make thing work,but without having these basic answers it is hard to formulate a training plan to keep both Kuma and Toby safe and happy members of your family. You will need to consult a professional trainer or behaviorist when you reach your new post but I will happily work with you and do my very best to help in the meantime and get you started on a better path. As I said,I have raised mine since puppyhood but I do have about 17 years experience with the breed and have dealt with issues.
There are also several other people here who post fairly regularly who have dealt with adopting older Akitas who I'm sure will chime in and offer to help as well.wishes Hoping to hear from you again soon.

"Stubborn" dogs- don't need- corrections
Barked: Thu Dec 6, '12 11:27pm PST 
Alright, first, I'm going to try to get you in contact with someone I know who should be very willing to help. She's helped me through many problems, and the information she provides is invaluable. The only thing we need from you, is to keep a very open mind.

Second, you can't force socialization. That is a sure way to make things go downhill - and fast.

Did Kuma's previous owner tell you if Kuma was raised with other dogs? If not, it's natural for her to have some dog-aggression. It also wouldn't be that strange for her to have resource guarding problems.

And even IF she was raised with other dogs, it is very much normal for dogs to have some resource guarding.

But as I said, I'll try to talk to my friend and ask her to help you. She doesn't have an Akita, but I do think she's very intelligent and knows what she's talking about.

Also, I feel that dog breeds such as Akitas respond the best to positive reinforcement-based methods. M&K and I both do a form of marker (clicker) training with our Akitas.


Akita Pals- Always.
Barked: Fri Dec 7, '12 6:20am PST 
Lobo-wavehug Nice to see you. As you can see I responded the day this post showed up but have gotten no response. I am hoping that we hear from this person soon. Aside from some very basic control measures I have been unable to further advise without response. I really do appreciate your chiming in as well,I would really like to make this a safe, happy situation for everyone involved.

Kuma's person,please respond ASAP if you still require help.hugwishes

"Stubborn" dogs- don't need- corrections
Barked: Fri Dec 7, '12 8:23pm PST 
Hi! It's nice to see you as well. (:

Yes, Kuma's momma, please answer. (:

Barked: Tue Dec 11, '12 3:39am PST 
It can be difficult to put Akita's (especially older) with other dogs. I have an older smaller dog and Leah gets overly excited with him. Unintentionally hurting him while playing d/t her size/ strength. We have to keep them seperated securely when unattended. And frequently seperated when we are home. Depends on Leah's mood. I am trying to teach her to "leave it" but it is a work in progress for sure. Good luck.

Member Since
Barked: Tue Jan 20, '15 9:50pm PST 
Hello, I had a question and couldn't find a thread better to post because you guys seem to know what you're talking about lol. Me and my girlfriend are considering getting an akita from a local breeder but my girlfriend has some concerns because she has a shizu/Maltese/ poodle mix. She's afraid that the akita won't take a liking to her. I know about same sexton aggression and planned on getting a male akita because the little one is a female. So I guess my question is do you guys think these dogs will match up well? If you guys can provide some insight I would be very grateful of you could email me at atr262@gmail.com