"The Turn" (Please Help)

Got a new, young, furry love in your life? This is the place for you to ask all of your questions-big or small! Just remember that you are receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a vet or behaviorist! Most important is to remember to have fun with your new fur baby.

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Barked: Wed Jun 19, '13 11:18am PST 
I posted this in the Akita forum and if nobody here has any advice I'm going to post it in the training forum. I'm really just looking to see if anyone has heard of anything like this before (specifically in Akitas)

We have a 6 month old American Akita named Koga. Koga is really sweet and not at all "aggressive", he's strong willed at times but also easily distracted and manipulated. One of the things my wife & I have done is learned to "speak" Akita- we are learning what his behaviors mean and how to react to them.

However, we've noticed that while walking (and it is almost always while on a walk) that he can "turn" on us. He becomes suddenly aggressive- running hard, pulling on the leash, JUMPING at us and doing a lot of serious biting.

It's clearly dominance behavior, and not specifically aggressive (he never growls, barks etc) it seems more like play from his point of view but it's terrifying from ours.

It seems like a switch goes off in his head and he just can't even control himself anymore.

Once we can calm him down he's fine- but we know that these incidents are going to get worse.

We're planning to start classes with him within the next couple of weeks (I need to get through June before I'll have the time or income), so I know getting him trained is a big part of this. We are still debating the method (I want to do group obedience classes, my wife wants to do the "send the dog away to a trainer for a week" method which I'm not cool with)

But I am curious if other Akita owners have heard of this specific behavior. I've raised Labs, Yorkies and Newfoundlands and never experienced anything like this ever before.

Spooky Mulder
Barked: Wed Jun 19, '13 12:16pm PST 
Considering the age range your dog is in, you are likely 100% correct in your assumption that this is PLAY behavior from an excitable juvenile dog. It has nothing at all to do with dominance or aggression, but rather an overly exuberant puppy with poor leash/walking manners.

Training classes are a great idea, highly suggest you enroll in them and stick with them through the worst of his adolescence. Akitas are large, powerful, bull headed dogs that need consistent, but fair guidance throughout their "spit and vinegar" phase. They are very heady, will likely push the limits of your frustration, but stick with them and remain positive- they mature into fine dogs when given the correct start and proper ongoing handling.

Do NOT send your dog away for training. Ignoring the fact that sending your dog off to someone else for training will do NOTHING for you in your home (dogs are terrible generalizers, just because he works well for X person in X environment, absolutely does not mean he will work the same for Y in Y environment), you have NO control over what happens to your dog outside of your presence and no way of knowing exactly how your dog is being handled or treated. You would also be sending him off at a TERRIBLE time in his development, as these are the most formative months in his life where the groundwork YOU lay for him will be impacting his adult character. Also consider he is an Akita, very one-person/family-ish, and will resent the stew out of being handed off to someone else once he's already bonded with you. This is a dog YOU need to invest the time into, if you expect to get the maximum return this breed has to offer.

You need to work on control and obedience, take some group classes with a good trainer who uses motivational and positive techniques (this is a PUPPY after all, no need for overly corrective or so-called "dominance" training), and enjoy your puppy.

Also consider contacting his breeder if you are unsure about anything. A good breeder should be willing to give you advise and information about their dogs and help you work through these difficult patches. The breeder will (or SHOULD) know how their lines develop, when they start entering what phases of adolescence and so on, and should be able to give you a clearer picture of what's going on.

Serious Face
Barked: Wed Jun 19, '13 1:38pm PST 
Agree, sounds like over-excitement and puppy play (which can look aggressive in breeds like Akita or Shiba Inu). Sometimes Arya gets really excited to be out and all of a sudden starts biting the leash, leaping in the air, rolling furiously, trying to run as fast as she can, and tugging on the leash with this deranged look on her face.

She also does this if she is frustrated that the leash is preventing her from going where she wants to go, but it doesn't sound like that's a trigger for your pup...

When it happens I just stand still until she realizes that no one is playing with her and stops. Sometimes it takes a few minutes, but she figures out nothing is fun about being ignored. Then we can continue walking.

Group obedience classes are a great idea! It takes patience, but eventually your pup will learn impulse control and what the expectations are when walking on-leash. It will also be great bonding time between the two of you and help focus all that energy.

As long as you stay consistent with how you react to his outburts, it will definitely get better.

Member Since
Barked: Wed Jun 19, '13 1:50pm PST 
Nothing do do with "dominance" at this age. Its sometimes referred as "Zoomies" by puppy owners. Most larger breeds go trough such phase when around 4-7 months old. Its just a phase in a line of many changes in your growing dog. When your Akita will be about 1 year old, he may show other behaviors.
As mentioned above, training and playing - (keeping the pup busy) are the usual prescription. (Some mastiff and German Shepherd owners complained that their dogs are doing it mostly in the evening, when the puppies are either tired or over excited. They start with biting on the leash and from there the way to the owners hands is short).

Ice cubes? YES- PLEASE!
Barked: Wed Jun 19, '13 3:16pm PST 
Our chihuahua does something similar while off-leash. It is basically an under-stimulated, bratty teen puppy behavior. No dominance, just being a little pain for some giggles. That would not warrant such an extreme measure as sending the dog to boot camp. It certainly wouldn't in a human child.

Just show him an exaggerated "I'm ignoring you because you hurt my feelings, you meanie!" kind of motion as you stop and show him your back for up to 30 seconds after he stops acting out (it should vary based on the severity of offense). Then continue walking and reward with calm, happy voices to show him that you want him to give you good manners.

It works for us. smile

Backtalking- sassface
Barked: Wed Jun 19, '13 6:44pm PST 
Its not dominance. Dominance theory has been debunked and even deemed harmful when relating to dogs. wink Study done by University of Bristol. http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2009/6361.html smile

It sounds like either redirected aggression, which doesn't sound right due to him being so young.. Or just very excited inappropriate play.

Barked: Thu Jun 20, '13 4:45am PST 
Thank you all for the responses! I don't want to send him away-- I feel like it's the doggie version of brainwashing. Even if it did transfer over to us, I'd be worried he wouldn't be the "same" dog. I love my boy's personality and I don't want him to completely change, just get a little better. Everyone who has met him says he's really sweet "especially for an Akita" (other owners of great dogs with bad reps will get why that's in quotes). He only has this behavior with myself, my wife and my parents (whom he also spends a lot of time with).

Thank you all for the encouragement. We'll be trying to find a class next week, as I said to my wife (the one who wants to send him away) last night, "Koga deserves for us to TRY everything we can first. He deserves for us to do the work."

Barked: Thu Jun 20, '13 5:00am PST 
Actually just knowing the term "zoomies" has made researching this a LOT easier so double thanks!

Barked: Thu Jun 20, '13 6:41am PST 
After spending the morning researching "Zoomies" and "FRAP" I've come to accept this is what's happening. I've seen a lot of great advice out there on this, but two specific questions if anyone can help:

1) Often it says to "get out of the way" or put the dog outside in a fenced area or put them in a room. What about if you are out in the middle of nowhere? Should I let him off lead to just go blow off steam? I worry he won't come back to me if I do. Koga isn't allowed off lead unless he's indoors.

2) His Zoomies involve a lot of directed biting. It's different than his normal puppy bites because he actually responds to reprimands when he does that.

You guys are right that it can't be him trying to "be the boss" if only because when my wife & I are together and this happen he goes after whoever is *not* holding the leash, which probably does mean it's play of some kind (just scary play).

So what do I do when he gets Bit-Zoomies in the middle of the woods when we're at least a mile from his crate or anything else that can dissuade him.

My wife for a while counteracted this by keeping a bullystick in her pocket. The problem with that was Koga decided now he has to bite EVERYBODY'S pockets- not out of aggression, but because he thinks any object in anyone's pocket is a bullystick. Should I just use a regular stick on the trail as a toy/distraction and hope he outgrows the worst of this?

Akita Pals- Always.
Barked: Thu Jun 20, '13 7:19am PST 
Rather than allowing him completely off lead, try a long line like 50 ft. and let him get rid of his excess energy. As others have said being firm, fair and consistent, so that the same behavior always has the same reaction from you is extremely important. Akitas must be owner trained and all dogs should be anyway, I know of people who sent their lab for training, she listens well to me and to the person who trained her but pays no attention to commands/requests issued by family members. You actually described the behavior you are concerned about much better here than on the Akita forum. Here I can now see he is truly trying to engage you in play although rougher than you like or are used to. You also might want to try a tug rope instead of a bully stick. I was unable to reply to either of your posts yesterday because our internet service was down for a day and a half due to a storm causing a power outage that led to technical difficulties. Good Luck.
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