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Growling and acting hostile with strangers

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Tika

1255073
 
 
Barked: Sat Jul 28, '12 7:30pm PST 
I rescued a female Akita named Tika about 3 and a half months ago. She's been such a treat. Challenging at times but so far, I think I've done a good job with her training. She's excellent with my little Shih Tzu mix and my 2 cats, as well as my 1 year old. Zero problems in those departments.

However, in the last couple weeks, she's been showing signs of aggressive behaviour towards strangers. Generally when someone new comes to the door, she may let out a bark but seems very uninterested that someone is there. This is still true but when my sister came over recently, she was sitting on the floor and Tika came up to her. My sister pet her and Tika growled at her, although it wasn't instant. It was after maybe 10 seconds of petting. I remember reading you shouldn't sit on the floor to get an Akita so I figured that was why she growled.

A week ago, she growled at my son's babysitter. All the babysitter did was walk by me so I sent Tika in the other direction and she was fine. She appears normal if the stranger just ignores her. But like I said, this is all recent behaviour. She's never growled at anyone before these 2 incidents, and she had met my son's babysitter a handful times before this and never had an issue.

Another incident was when I was walking her on-leash around my neighbourhood. A man got out of his car because he wanted to see her. Normally, Tika allows people to stop and pet her, no problems. This guy was not threatening to me but she froze up and I could tell from her body language that she did not want him to pet her so I asked him not to. She seemed very hostile and protective and I had to hold her in a sit.

And lastly, my brother was in town 2 days ago and met her for the first time. He came in and she realizes that we are welcoming of him so she has no desire to get up from her sleeping spot to meet him. She just lays on the floor (I guess she's a lazy Akita!). He bent down to pet her and instead of a growl, she let out a bark. I'm guessing she did not want him touching her. When I used to take her to a dog park the first couple weeks I had her, she couldn't get enough of people petting her.

Considering this is all very recent behaviour, I'm not sure if it's something she's developed because she's become protective of her new family or territorial and if it's something that will stay or go back to the way it was. Just looking for advice if this is typical and also how to deal with those sorts of situations with Akitas and strangers. With this behaviour, would it be best to avoid letting strangers pet her in the future? Is there anything I can do to show her that certain strangers are ok? Any tips would be appreciated! ^_^
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MIKA&KAI

Akita Pals- Always.
 
 
Barked: Sat Jul 28, '12 10:17pm PST 
Have you been socializing her regularly? Akitas need to be socialized outside of their own territory often and for their entire lives. Taking her places like petco,to parks,not doggie parks but parks that allow dogs and other places where she can meet as many new pepole as possible is very important with Akitas,if not properly socialized they can become too overly territorial and overly protective to the people and things they consider theirs,to avoid any liability issues if you think she might over react or you just aren't sure how she will behave use a muzzle until she is better socialized. I have owned and researched Akitas for more than 16 years and have never not sat on the floor with them. Kai my nearly 3 year old,110+ pound baby boy,still likes to try to sit on my lap. I sit down on the floor with my legs crossed and he sits on my thigh and gives me hugs and kisses and I am not much bigger than he is I am only 5ft and 130 pounds,he is taller than me when he stands up and puts his paws on my shoulders. I really just sounds to me like you haven't been quite vigilant enough with socialization and really need to get him away from the house more and meeting and accepting new people as long as you tell them not to move overly quickly,and let him know that you are not threated or worried by the other person. If you need any further help or advice please feel free to p-mail me and I will get back to you within 24 hours at most.wishes and lots and lots of socialization.
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Tika

1255073
 
 
Barked: Sun Jul 29, '12 10:00am PST 
Thanks for these tips.

I think you might be right. When I first got Tika, I brought her to an off-leash dog park every day. The lady that owns the dog rescue that I got her from exercised her with other dogs frequently and never had issues so I felt comfortable taking her. Once in awhile she would act dominant towards other dogs but not aggressive and definitely no teeth involved. About 2 weeks after taking her to that park, a Lab snapped at her because as the owner later explained, the Lab doesn't like her owner petting other dogs. Well, Tika retaliated and they got into a tussle. So after that experience, it made me too nervous and scared to go to the dog park. So instead, I just take her for a couple long walks per day where she doesn't get to interact with other dogs. A lot of people stop me to pet her and she either lets them or acts indifferent.

As far as sitting on the floor, I've never personally had any problems with it but from my research, I've read that you're not supposed to (maybe this applies to strangers rather than the owner).
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MIKA&KAI

Akita Pals- Always.
 
 
Barked: Sun Jul 29, '12 8:46pm PST 
As far as other dogs go there is in most cases some SSA with Akitas and it tends to be worse in females and even if you don't see it early on it tends to set in at around age two or so and get worse. As I said socialization is key,the more they are socialized off property,the less likely they are to overreact on their territory once you say it is okay,also Akitas tend to be a bit aloof with people outside of what they consider family. It tends to take them a bit to get used to new people in their homes and adjust to them and I have found over the years that ours prefer to do this in their own way and their own time,forcing attention on them before allowing them to decide how they feel about your presence usually isn't a good idea. Unless it is someone my pups know well and like that comes into the house,we usually advise people to just ignore that they are there until they are ready to come and show interest and not to pet them until they ask for attention. I appreciate your taking the time and interest to research what you have gotten yourself into,and as I said I am more than happy to help if I can. Akitas are the same as other breeds in many ways but very different in what can sometimes be very important ways,although they also generally have many similar traits,each one is individual and will react to things in their own way. Just like people. Have fun staying one step ahead and out thinking her,I know for us that has been one of the most amusing adventures and greatest joys of owning them for us. They certainly keep you on your toes.wishes
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Tika

1255073
 
 
Barked: Mon Jul 30, '12 6:06pm PST 
Yes, I find that when any new person that enters the home simply ignores her, she will do the same. I think I will simply advise people of that when they come over. I found it strange that I've had her for 3 and a half months now and these behaviours only began in the last month. The vet's best guess was that she is 4 years old.

When I used to take her to the dog park, she would go up to every human, lean up against them while they pet her, and then once they got bored of that, she would wander off to the next one and do the same. It was quite funny cuz sometimes I would have to make her leave the person alone lol. I'm guessing it must be a territorial thing that has made her start her hostile behaviour? How normal is this to develop 3 months into living here?
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MIKA&KAI

Akita Pals- Always.
 
 
Barked: Mon Jul 30, '12 8:43pm PST 
Akitas can take awhile to bond. Given that she was older when you got her,I would imagine she has finally after 3 months accepted your family as hers and knows that your home is hers now as well,so I don't see it as at all unusual.
We got ours as young puppies all between 8-10 weeks,and it still took each one of them several days to as long as a week before they willingly began to come to us and accept our house as their new home. They wer happy that we were feeding them and caring for them and even at times found us entertaining but it took awhile to adjust and accept us completely and seek us out when they needed something. I would imagine given her age that it has just taken until recently for her to finally realize she has found a home and settle into her place in it. As I said they can be very odd and that is why it is so important to find resources to help you both before and after you add an Akita to your home. I was fortunate when I got my mix to have found a place on AOL that no longer exists but there were a wonderful group of Akita people more than willing to help me at the time and along with my own research they were a wonderful asset as was my vet who is the only one within 50 miles of me with extensive experience with the breed and Kai's breeder has also been an amazing asset,I still continue to research the breed as they are always learning new things that can be quite helpful but my vet and Kai's breeder keep me informed as well. I will however be grateful to those people in the Akita world who were more than willing to lend a hand and give me their real world,day to day experience and observations and answer my questions as well.
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Lobo

"Stubborn" dogs- don't need- corrections
 
 
Barked: Wed Aug 1, '12 2:35am PST 
And again, M&K comes to the rescue before I can! laugh out loud One of these days, I promise, I'll answer an Akita-related question first. XD

Anyways, you got some awesome answers from M&K! She has also been helpful to me with Lobo. I hope that one day, I'll be able to be as knowledgeable about this wonderful breed as she is! ^^

I want to add, also, that Lobo LOVES people. However, he is VERY uneasy about strangers coming into his home. In fact, he gets quite stiff and attentive when he sees strangers in general. It is only after he's a few feet from them and gets a feel of them, that he calms down and is more than happy to go up to them and accept attention.

Akitas are better at reading humans than humans are, so, when meeting a stranger, if Lobo doesn't want to meet someone, neither do I. I trust Lobo's instincts completely. Perhaps some people just give Tika a bad feeling?

When people are outside our door and standing in front of our house for too long, he growls. It isn't that these people are bad (actually, they're usually middle school students waiting for the bus) it's just that it makes him very uneasy.

I had to crawl in through the dog door last night (I was at a friend's house later than expected, and my family locked the door) and Lobo heard me come in, and growled at me. OH MY DOG it was the scariest moment in my life! XD After I said his name, though, he was perfectly fine and overjoyed to see me!

As for not sitting on the floor... Um, well, I guess I've broken that rule a few hundred times. We've had strangers in our house sitting on the floor before. Lobo checked them out, and was confused, but he wasn't concernered - and yes, there's a difference. He doesn't mind people we allow in the house, but until we let them in, it's very unlikely that anyone will be coming through that door.

I want to commend you for reading your dog! applause You saw her stiffen up, and you recognized that she was uncomfortable. That's AMAZING of you! Too many people don't know how to read their dogs, so I'm happy that you were able to.

Other than that, M&K has covered everything!
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MIKA&KAI

Akita Pals- Always.
 
 
Barked: Wed Aug 1, '12 7:29pm PST 
Lobo,funny you should mention your little adventure of coming through the doggy door,I have on occasion locked myself out,or had Kai lock me out by turning the deadbolt while trying to turn the doorknob,yes he knows how to open doors, I have been wise enough to call to the pups first before trying to put my foot through the front window,it is always wiser to let them know you are the one coming in before you try it,that is unless you are not all that fond of whatever part of you you are putting in the window,dog door,or other entry point,that is not where they expect you.laugh out loud
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Lobo

"Stubborn" dogs- don't need- corrections
 
 
Barked: Thu Aug 2, '12 1:00am PST 
I usually try to keep quiet when coming back, because my grandpa is a really light sleeper, so I wasn't thinking. I've climbed through the dog door before (a couple times, actually... heh...) and Lobo didn't usually seem to notice, so I didn't think much of it. But here lately, he has been a little bit on-edge. We've come in contact with really, um... let's just say people who give off a really frightening vibe, as well as some immature teenagers who recently moved in on our block. It scares me to have to take Lobo out at night, but I have to weigh the pros and cons. I either take him out in 100+degree weather during the day, or risk it and take him out when it's cooler.

It's also why I now force my daddy to walk with us! laugh out loud

Oh! Another story I just remembered!

One time, my friends and their youngest sister stayed the night. Their sister was under the covers, and as she was getting up, Lobo completely flipped out! I think if I hadn't grabbed him, he would have been on top of her in no time at all. But as soon as she took off the covers, Lobo immediately calmed down. But oh goodness, I was so scared! She was... twelve at the time, so all I was thinking was a big fat lawsuit because Lobo's impulsive and didn't use his nose right away.

I swear. I love having such an intense dog, but it is a chore to make sure he's extremely well-socialized and well-behaved. I feel like if we skipped out even a little bit on getting him out and meeting people, he could have easily turned into a territorial nightmare.

OH! I HAVE ANOTHER STORY! (lol I'm full of those tonight!)

I found a dog one day. Old dog. I think Chesapeake Bay Retriever. She didn't seem to mind Lobo's presence, but she was a little... TOO curious of Poppy. Lobo AMAZED me this day, because he doesn't like Poppy. He likes Poppy less than he likes my younger brother, and that's really saying something. But the old dog went for Poppy with a far too intense look. I KNEW I wouldn't make it there in time if she did have an attack in mind(it didn't LOOK like she was going to; it really did just look like she was TOO curious, and perhaps too nosy), and I was on the phone with the shelter. Well anyway, Lobo put himself between them so fast, and he STARED this dog down. I was thinking a fight was about to ensue, but nope, the old female just walked away. After that, though, I separated them. I should have done that from the very beginning, but Poppy is really good with other dogs, and Lobo's obedience is really good, even around other dogs, so I wasn't THINKING.

But, like I said, Lobo managed to defuse the situation and I leashed up the female and took her out front to wait for the shelter to come pick her up. I wouldn't have minded keeping her until we found her owners, but it's not my house.

Anyways, I don't think Lobo's protectiveness will ever cease to amaze me. I always wondered if he would ACTUALLY protect the family, and he's shown me on multiple occasions that, yes, he would.
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MIKA&KAI

Akita Pals- Always.
 
 
Barked: Thu Aug 2, '12 1:25pm PST 
Usually even a whisper is enough to let them know that they know who you are.
Mine are very well socialized and absolutely amazing with other people off property but they will protect what they feel is theirs. My mix Mattie did not like,sunglasses,hats,or jackets that slipped over your head,she seemed to feel that the jacket was attacking the person and would try to pull it off of them. Hats ans sunglasses were fine if she knew you but if you wanted to be introduced you had to remove them,they seemed to for some reason interfere with her ability to read people properly,so we had to have anyone who wanted in the house that she didn't know remove their hat or sunglasses if they hoped for an easy introduction. Just Akita Quirks.
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