Is the Akita really for me?

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Barked: Fri Jul 26, '13 3:43am PST 
I've been doing tons of research, attempting to really figure out whether or not the Akita is really right for me.

First, let me be the first to say that through research alone, I fully understand how dedicated one must be when raising this breed. In fact, I really did some brainstorming to ensure that this particular breed will fit within the guidelines of my lifestyle. meditate. Therefore, please allow me to explain a few things so that you can get a good idea of my lifestyle.

I live with two other individuals. Furthermore, I currently do not work, but they both do full time. Eventually, I plan on working as well. That being said, is there a maximum time in which this particular breed cannot be left alone? (I know it's common sense to not leave a dog alone for a long time, but I've seen folks leave dogs along for 8 hours due to work).

We do not have a fenced in yard. I have heard of many breeders actually requiring a potential customer to have a fenced in yard.

I plan on being the main caretaker of the Akita.

What if I eventually moved out in my own apartment, found a girlfriend/wife, and had a child? How would this potential situation affect my having an Akita?

Would it be okay to train the Akita to eat in my presence so that if I choose to remove food from in front of him or remove a toy from his mouth, I won't get snapped at? For example, as a puppy, could I feed him by hand from time to time so that he knows it's only okay if I touch his food?

I understand that these dogs are really dominant and they constantly try to challenge the owner. I understand that those owners who are "weak" won't be a good fit for this breed. That said, I see where this could be a problem for many people, but it would help for someone to give me an example so that I can reply accordingly.

I have heard many people say "buy a lab" if you want a dog who wants to constantly please you or cuddle with you. But, I'm sure Akitas can be just as loving.

Maybe someone can ask me a few questions to help me out?

Akita Pals- Always.
Barked: Fri Jul 26, '13 5:57am PST 
1) Please get rid of the idea of dominance. Akitas are independent and willful but do not want to take over, they want and need firm, fair, and consistent training.

2) Being that you do not have a fence, you will have to be extra dedicated not only to taking the puppy outside for potty trips but also several hours of exercise and socialization daily they require at least 2 hours of exercise daily like fetch, and other active games.

3) If you plan to eventually have children possibly while you still have the dog, socialization with children of all ages will be essential and should continue throughout the life of the dog. Socialization should be life long anyway.

4) Hand feeding is also important to help the puppy not become overly possessive of food.

5) Finding a reputable breeder who breeds for temperament and health is also essential. By getting a puppy from a reputable breeder not only do you get a good puppy, you also get a huge asset in advice for feeding, training, and other issues because a reputable breeder will insist that you keep in touch, report any hereditary health issues that may come up, will require notification and approval of a new home if you choose to rehome your puppy.

6) While they can be left alone while you work, Akitas can be very destructive their first year or two and do sometimes suffer from separation anxiety that can also cause them to destroy things out of nervousness. That can be lifelong.

There are multiple threads on this page about people planning for Akita puppies seeking all sorts of advice, including if an Akita is right for them.
Read through them. You don't need to leave a comment or question in that thread but it may help answer some of your questions, or help you to think of new ones. If you come up with any new questions post them in the thread you have started and I will try to answer them for you. Good Luck.

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Barked: Fri Aug 23, '13 7:23pm PST 
The above comments are well said and spot on about Akitas. I think the strong willed part cannot be emphasized strongly enough.

I have an Akita. He is a sweet and wonderful dog, but he is also very strong willed. I agree completely with the statements that you must be both strong willed and calm with this breed if our wonderful Akita is like most of them. For example, he is fond of my mother. When she visits, he will resist going outside for a potty break if she doesn't go out in the yard with him. I've had to literally lift him up by the scruff of his neck and carry him outside because he would dig his heels in when given only normal encouragement to go potty (fortunately, I am big and strong enough to be able to do this). He was not at all aggressive. He just did not want to listen and resisted by digging his heels in until he realized he had no choice but to do as ordered. He will still hide in another room when he doesn't want to go out because it is raining or too hot- he is smart.

We adopted him from the Humane Society when he was estimated to be about 2 years old. There were some adjustment troubles that we had to overcome. We had some aggressive actions targeted at our older lab who was 14 that required us to keep them separate. The older lab seemed to start it and the Akita was quick to react to any dominance behavior by the older lab. The older lab passed away a few months after we got our Akita. It seemed to me that something in the weakness of the older dog also seemed to trigger the Akita's hunting instinct.

This belief was reinforced with an event with the younger lab then aged 8. The Akita and younger Lab didn't get along at first due to the lab's affection for me (I had trained her from a pup as my hunting companion and had been hunting with her for about 8 years at that point so I was her human). The Akita wanted loving and the younger lab was unhappy about the intruder dog trying to get between her and me. They fought briefly but we managed to get it under control and gradually sort this out with reinforcement. About a year later, the lab had to have minor surgery and was still foggy and under the effects of anesthesia when she returned home. This seemed to trigger the same hunting aggression instinct in the Akita that we encountered with the now deceased older lab. It required us to separate them for a while. Once the anesthesia effects were gone and a day or two had passed, things returned to normal.

We established dominance and food control immediately with the Akita by making him wait until given permission to eat after we put the food down. We also routinely put him on his back while taking a dominant position over him. The result is that I can take his food bowl from him while he is in the middle of eating his meal. He will look at me with big beautiful pleading eyes but never reacts in any other way. However, he does not tolerate food sharing with the other dogs nor does the Lab. I feed them in separate bowls with a basket dividing the eating space. The only time there was a problem was when my wife didn't feed them at the same time. The Akita thought the Lab was getting extra food and went over to investigate and get his share. The Lab snapped at him. The Akita snapped back but was more aggressive and grabbed hold of the Lab. I ordered both to stop and they did, but the Akita wouldn't release his hold. I wound up prying the Akita's jaws open by digging my fingers in his mouth between the teeth and separating his jaws to force him to release the Lab's ears. I tell this to demonstrate the dominance part. Most people will tell you that was dangerous but the Akita knew I was in charge and would never snap at me much less bite me. Because I could take his food away, I was confident he would never bite me.

I also noticed that he can wrestle all day with a fellow dog friend but he can turn vicious in an instant in a real fight. Both the above food fight and another incident with a friend's dog proved that to me. I know that he would be brutal if defending me or my family. The friend's dog is well known as an instigator of dog fights. He decided to push it with our Akita and started a fight while the other dogs were playing. The Akita had him on his back and his whole head in his mouth in less than a second. He could have killed the other dog. I ordered him to stop the fight and he did. We took control of the other dog while the Akita calmly waited to be sure it was all over - happy to re-engage if needed or go back to playing and being petted.

I tell all of this not to scare you but to let you understand that a 110 pound Akita is both a sweet loyal and devoted dog as well as he can be a handful requiring a strong willed and occasionally physically strong person. He is just as affectionate as the lab and loves to cuddle with us as much as the lab. This is our first Akita but I would not hesitate to get another some day in the future if the one we have doesn't live forever. smile


Akita Pals- Always.
Barked: Sun Aug 25, '13 7:00am PST 
I have had more than 16 years of experience with Akitas. I raised all of mine from puppyhood and only on two occasions did I ever have to resort to any type of physical corrections. The Ceasar Milan type methods of training you were using are absolutely not the methods I would consider with a puppy. Mine learned the same things with a more NILIF approach mixed with positive reinforcement. I have found that mutual respect and trust are key to a good relationship with an Akita. Several issues that you mentioned are quite common/normal to the breed. For example, same sex agression,if one of the labs or both of them were the same sex the Akita was less likely to tolerate them from the beginning. They do sense and exploit weakness not only in other dogs but people as well. With people who can not be firm and consistent,they will not listen or form the necessary respect. Akitas also like to be the center of your universe because their person is the center of theirs,again mutual respect and trust. Akitas are absolutely not known for being willing to share food with another dog. Mine can eat side by side with a water dish and nothing more between them but do not and will not share the same food dish. I'm glad you have had so much sucess with your Akita and completely understandthe desire to have another. I too became addicted to the breed and their wonderful devoted relationship with their people.

Member Since
Barked: Sun Aug 25, '13 9:41am PST 
Thanks for the comment.

This was our first experience with an Akita. With my experience training labs and no experience working with Akitas, I relied on my lab experience mistakenly assuming a dog is a dog. I was very wrong about that idea. I noticed that some of the techniques that work great for labs are not as effective with Akitas and can even be counter productive. Of course, we also don't know his history so his reaction may also be tied to abuse he suffered before we were so fortunate to get him.

I noticed that my training voice (harsh sounding) seems to scare him where it is interpreted by the lab to mean that dad really means it so i better do it. I almost never use my "Lab" training voice with him. Firm but not harsh gets a better response from him.

I eventually did some research on the breed and found that most of his behaviors made perfect sense once you understood the breed. Using that info and modified training techniques helped a lot.

Akita Pals- Always.
Barked: Mon Aug 26, '13 7:00am PST 
I think the idea that an Akita is and should be treated like any other breed is one of the biggest mistakes that can be made. Doing some research before getting one is the biggest favor you can do for both yourself and your Akita. Nearly all of the research and profiles on the breed do state that they need to be trained and handled differently. The reaction your Akita has to a harsh voice is quite normal.
When training mine I rarely use more than a conversational voice and a simple change in tone with no change in attitude or volume lets them know and understand that I am not pleased. Although willful and independent they are very sensitive and tend to respond badly to harsh treatment. I had many years of experience with many different breeds and none of them really prepared me for an Akita. They are a breed all of their own class. The three best pieces of training advice I can give you are, always begin as you mean to continue,teach them they can trust and respect you from the beginning and teach them that whatever they have is yours and they only have it because you have allowed it and they must give it back when you ask. Also, the entire time you are dealing with that sweet little 10-15 pound puppy never forget what it will be when grown. Letting them be puppies is fine but when it comes to training without firm,fair,consistent training and making sure that they understand the limits then will ensure that they understand and comply when they are that large 80-120 pound,powerful,awe inspiring creature they were meant to become as well as an amazing,loving, wonderful family member.