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Akita > Is the Akita really for me?

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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.
» There has since been 1 post. Last posting by MIKA&KAI, Aug 26 7:00 am

Akita > Is the Akita really for me?

Member Since
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
» There has since been 3 posts. Last posting by MIKA&KAI, Aug 26 7:00 am

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