Shiba trainability?

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Barked: Fri Jul 11, '08 10:14pm PST 
This is copy/pasted from training/behavior...because I wanted Shiba owner's advice. I understand if this post needs to be deleted...I just want to ask the right people.

I'm looking into getting a smallish dog. I have alot of experience training and working with many dogs, and I intend to become a trainer for petco, which may require I have a well-trained dog. I have been in love with shibas for years (my experience with them has only been a couple hours at a time), and love almost every thing I know about them. I am slightly concerned, however, about their trainability. I am very willing to spend alot of time with the puppy, socializing it and training it at a very young age...but I don't want to get a breed that will not be very well behaved and pick up new tricks. Please don't give me shiba advice unless you or a family member owns one and you have experience with training them...if I wanted 2nd hand advice from someone who didn't train their dog early...I'd just search google. But if you have a different dog breed suggestion, please feel free to suggest.

May be a fox
Barked: Fri Jul 11, '08 11:39pm PST 
Shibas are well mannered as far as dogs in the household go. I haven't yet heard of one eating the sofa or digging through a wall during a thunderstorm.

As far as tricks though, they learn them very fast, but to get them to perform the tricks is an ordeal in itself. Be ready for bribery.
Emi Chanel- Prosser

West Coast- Canadian Cutie
Barked: Fri Jul 11, '08 11:50pm PST 
They are very trainable, and very smart...but very much on shiba time. Unlike a lab or border collie, who see it as a job, shibas see you as the job or task laugh out loud.

My Emi is just over 8 months old now, we started her training at home right away at 8 weeks old, we started with clicker and positive reinforcement. We now also use more dominant techniques in order to instill in her head that WE ARE THE LEADERS and BOSS, as they really do believe they are the end all be all in the animal kingdom. I think if you are committed and BELIEVE it can be done, then you will have success, just do not show any signs of frustration or impatience as they are very smart and quick to pick up on this energy and likely use it to manipulate youbig grin

I honestly can't imagine owning any other breed, but they are not right for everyone....every breed has a human out there to match their style and personality.

What is so appealing to you about the shiba? And what is unappealing? I think that is a good list to find out if it is the right dog for you, if mostly size and look is the plus, then DO NOT get one, but if you adore the stuff most people shy away from then you may have found your next dog!
Hope that helps!wave


I'm a snuggly- boy!
Barked: Sat Jul 12, '08 5:27am PST 
Shibas are very headstrong and intelligent. This seems to be the case with most spitz breeds. My Alaskan malamute is the same way. They are a breed that makes you work and they get bored with constant repetition. So, you may have to change up what you are training him in order to keep him interested.

I had Tetsuya in flyball classes for 8 weeks before and several times he was like, "No, I am bored with this." Then the instructor changed up the task. He enjoyed agility classes much more because of the variety of obstacles. This isn't to say a shiba can't do flyball, etc. You just have to keep them interested and change things up a bit.

I reiterate that they are not the breed for everyone. I personally love dogs that have a mind of their own which is why I have a malamute and two shibas. So, if you like a challenge and you like the temperament and traits of a shiba then it might be the dog for you.

Humans are so- hard to train
Barked: Sat Jul 12, '08 5:51am PST 
Everyone is giving you good advice so far. The one thing I'd like to add is that Shibas can not be trusted off lead. They will follow their nose and you will be chasing them down. If you like a dog with a mind of their own, who is independent and very smart but equally stubborn, then they might be for you.

This is me- ignoring you!
Barked: Sat Jul 12, '08 5:59am PST 
o.k., just a reminder that Shibas are the closest genetically to the gray wolf, along with Akitas, Chow Chows and Basenjis. They are highly instinctual and reactive. Shibas are hunters (not retrievers), bred to be independent thinkers and highly intelligent. Intelligent and independent in the way that they can demonstrate they learned a new trick in 5 minutes, but then decide they will not perform the stupid trick at your whim. They are not lap dogs and they are not working dogs, you are not necessarily the center of their universe. They can be quite content spending hours by themselves and are quite capable of entertaining themselves. Your training methods may need to be wholly different from what you are used to.

Tikka learned to shake, rollover, lay down and sit very quickly when she was about 11 weeks old. You will be amazed at how well they can learn things. Tikka was the star of obedience training, until she decided she was bored and it was more fun to embarrass the trainer. As Tetsuya said, repitition is boring. My dog would not repeat a behavior more than four times in a row before she just walks away.

Recall is a whole other story. She know s the command, just refuses to follow it. You will have to work really, really hard on that one.

Know that in training, Shibas are not especially food motivated or toy motivated. They will turn away from everything when they have made up their mind not to comply. If you get frustrated or upset or you use negative techniques, they will easily "shut down' on you and you will disappear entirely from their universe. You have to be very creative about finding things they will respond to. They are a lot like cats and respond to moving things or anything that triggers their hunting instincts.

Having said all that. With a lot of patience and time and the right techniques, I think it is possible to have a really well trained Shiba that can do tricks etc. Just make sure you are ready to make that commitment and not get rid of your Shiba because he/she didn't turn out the way you wanted. They are incredibly loyal dogs, it just wouldn't be fair to your Shiba.

Barked: Sat Jul 12, '08 7:23am PST 
"What is so appealing to you about the shiba? And what is unappealing? I think that is a good list to find out if it is the right dog for you, if mostly size and look is the plus, then DO NOT get one, but if you adore the stuff most people shy away from then you may have found your next dog! "

What I like about the shiba and hopefully can find in another dog:
-I need a smallish dog.
-I love spitz dogs...and cannot stand the little prissy lap dogs (maltese, shihtzu, etc are among disliked dogs)
-Big dog personality
-not a barker
-I enjoy this kind of coat and taking care of it (used to work in a groomer's) and don't want anything that will mat

Things that I also want that shibas probably wont offer:
-extreme trainability (my last dog never used a leash, but walked at my left side reguardless of distraction, knew dozens of impressive tricks, was trained not to leave certain rooms in the house, etc)
-not a chewer
-can be left alone when nessecary

If you have any suggestions that match these better than the shibas, let me know!

Are you gonna- eat that?
Barked: Sat Jul 12, '08 8:29am PST 
Here's the thing with Shibas - there is a wide variation in their personalities. For example, my two are NOT chewers and can be left alone for extremely long periods of time without them doing anything they shouldn't. They cannot, however, be off leash.

I've seen a number of well-trained Shibas. As everyone has said, it's easy - really really easy - to TEACH them tricks, it's hard to get them to DO what you want when you want it done. Having said that, though, they are very loyal to their masters, and with my guys if I make it seem like doing the trick is something that *I* think is fun, they will usually do it for me b/c they like to see me happy.

I will say, too, that some Shibas are barkers. My little one for example, barks and talks all the time. He's very loud. If you really want a dog that doesn't bark much, you should check out the Basenji. They are like Shibas in a lot of ways - a primitive breed, a spitz, they are beautiful dogs, they are high-spirited and very smart. Now I don't know this for SURE, but my impression from those I've seen at the dog parks is that they are not as ... um... obstinate as Shibas. I THINK they can be off leash, too, but don't hold me to that.

Hope this helps!

I'm a dedicated- napper.
Barked: Sat Jul 12, '08 10:24am PST 
I agree 100% with what others have posted here. Ronin is super smart & easily bored. He could be the star of his obedience classes one minute, then attacking my shoes, or sniffing around the floor the next, because there was too much repetition & waiting around.

I'm sure it could be possible to teach some shibas reliable recall....I just don't really see one walking dociley at someone's side without a leash though. They are just waaaaay too easily distracted. The prey drive is unreal. Bugs, shadow, leaves, birds, squirrels, rabbits, trash, anything might might move or appear to be moving, will at least steal their attention if not start a "chase".
So....You might be able to train them to come back from one of those chases, but I think the prey drive is too deeply ingrained to get them to ignore it.

I think any of the threads here can help you get a sense of what it really is to share your home with a shiba. Here is a slightly condensed place to start:
Emi Chanel- Prosser

West Coast- Canadian Cutie
Barked: Sat Jul 12, '08 12:57pm PST 
Wendy there are a few quizzes you can do online to help decide the right breed for you.

One breed that kind of comes to mind, maybe its just because I love this breed...even though I am not a terrier fan normally is a border terrier. I'm a dog walker, and walk one who I just adore he has so much personality, and is very much independant but also loves to be with you, trustworthy offleash, and he just makes me laughs, he is a bit of barker though (as most terriers are I believe)

As mentioned here already by a few us, shibas sort of come in their own unique blend of personality, they are like snowflakes no two shiba's are the same. They have a similar common ground, but no personalties are the same, where most breeds are pretty true to their type.

Emi I do not yet trust to be on her own in the house, she is crated (she is 8 months) she has never been destructive, she does not even chew up her stuffed toys, BUT the one day he crate did not get latched properly at my bosses house, she tore up part of the linoleum flooring. I trust her off leash, at the beach, on trails/in parks, dog parks, but never would I trust her off leash walking around the neighborhood, they are easily distracted....and when we are at the dog park/beach or hiking she is so distracted by the other dogs or hiking with us, that I know she will not just take off. She has pushed her limits and tested us a few times, but for the most part she always in eye sight,and comes running at you when called....but usually does not stop and sit in front of me big laugh juts keeps running past hahaha..but hey I will take that recall over most others recalllaugh out loud

She is quiet, except if she senses something unfamilar in the yard, or the one time we had people working on the windows (I live ina basement suite, and she was barking at them not a yappy bark, just a low gruffy bark, I took her out to meet them and voila no more barking. But I KNOW she cries in crate occasionally through the day....I think only when her tummy has been upset and she needed out, but I am pretty sure she is quiet...even with my landlord being home now that its summer(he's a teacher) and working on the house she seems to not mind.

I think Tikka had some very good points and a few others about the variety. That is what I need to start doing with Emi, she is starting to be a little more "i'm on shiba time" with her commands.

The only thing that had me hesitant about the breed was being offleash, and now that have her, its really not that big a deal, sure sometimes it would be nice to not have to leash her and stake it in the ground, but then I'm a protective mom and all dogs wonder at some point, so this way I know where she is at all times (camping, baseball games, beach, when we are swimming)

I think if highly trainable is important to you, and you seem to sort of want that "eyes on you, what do you want me to do next" behaviour the shiba is NOT the right breed, that is actually our hardest command, it was one of her first and she did amazing at it at 10 weeks old "focus" eyes on me, but now big laugh we need to retrain that in a different waythinking but I would not say to just omit the breed yet, if you still keep coming back to it, try to see about meeting with some breeders and hanging out with them, or seeing if their is a meetup near you, if I lived close I would offer meeting Emi
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