Akita Training & Behavior

Training any dog requires time, patience, consistency, and gentleness. Akitas require all this and more. They are an intelligent, independent breed, not given to obeying commands simply because they are asked. They want a reason, a motivation to obey. Akita training requires the owner to be especially patient and creative, since insisting that an Akita do anything can only lead to frustration on both sides.

Alpha Personality

Akitas

Akitas are also a dominant breed, which means a firm hand is necessary for their training and upbringing. Do not give them something for anything, as they will come to feel this is their due as the alpha dog. You must be alpha or risk turning your Akita into a belligerent, possibly aggressive rival rather than a well-behaved companion. As with most alpha breeds, Akitas may constantly feel the need to test their limits. You must be consistent, firm but fair in your approach to corrections and generous with praise. Akitas also do not respond well to physical punishment and may react with some aggression.

Early Training and Socialization are required

It is also essential that training begins early. This breed will grow very large and powerful very fast. If you have not established control and your position as alpha early, when it’s easier to physically control the puppy, you will run into difficulties later when you’re suddenly faced with a 100 lb. ball of determination who does not want to do what you ask him. Early socialization is also required with Akitas so that they do not grow up to be anti-social and a possible danger to themselves and others. Introduce them to as many children, adults, other animals, and as many different places and situations as you can. This way, you can be assured that your dog will not be overly aggressive or shy, and will react with proper equanimity when faced with a new situation.

Using the Temperament is the key to the Effective Training

Akitas puppies

Akitas are natural guard dogs, so no special training in this area is required. Some believe training an Akita to guard can have detrimental effects on his temperament, bringing out the latent aggression in the dog, and making him harder to control and predict. This is already ingrained genetically in every Akita; it is not necessary to encourage this side of their nature.

Control the Aggression

It should also be expected that an Akita has a high prey drive and be dog aggressive. This is not the same thing as human aggression. Akitas should in no way, shape or form be allowed to be human aggressive. That is the incorrect temperament for this breed, and that dog will have to be watched carefully, or he may end up hurting someone. But dog aggression, especially same-sex dog aggression, is something that has been bred into this dog. Bearing this in mind, you will have to keep your Akita secure when you are not with him, and he cannot be allowed to roam freely. They are known as escape artists and can be very determined when wanting to get another dog or animal, so their run or kennel must be maintained regularly and kept secure.

A properly trained Akita can only be an asset to his owner, as his loyalty and protection values are unsurpassed by any other breed.

Some usable advice before you start training your Akita

Do you have an Akita or are you thinking about getting one? Then continue reading.
Note, you DO NEED a good dog training and knowledge of natural Akita behavior to raise a good-tempered Akita. Get into that doggy brain and learn how to motivate your Akita into learning new things. That way it is much more fun for him and much more fun for you. Double fun!

Many views exist on Akita training. Some people refer to this dog breed as being dominant but the wrong conclusion would be to act dominant when training the Akita:

  • Ignore undesired behavior from your Akita. Don’t punish, but ignore!
  • Using training snacks is very effective.
  • Be respectful towards your dog and he will reciprocate.

Dog owner relationship

Being your dog’s owner by law or by payment does not mean your dog will acknowledge that fact. You have to deserve being the alpha, the guy or woman in charge! And you may want to look into the alpha in wolf packs: it’s about harmony. According to Cesar Millan, the “Dog Whisperer”, you should maintain a healthy relationship with your dear Akita via this formula: 50% physical exercise, 25% discipline, and 25% affection. Exercise, including playing with your dog, establishes and confirms your and his position every time.

The basis is communication

A good dog training method will teach YOU how to understand your dog’s language and how you can communicate in such a way that HE will understand YOU.
Often the owners just keep on repeating commands or even worse: raise their voice and repeat the command over and over again. But if the Akita simply hasn’t learned the command this approach is never going to work. It will only frustrate both parties.
The key ingredient is to learn how you can get your Akita to learn new things. And this may surprise you: repetition is NOT key! Especially with an Akita, and in this respect, they do differ from other dog breeds.

Teaching to use the leash

Akita Training for lash

In order to be able to enjoy exercising your Akita and take him out often for long walks, he (or she) should learn to behave well on the lead. This also implies you should learn how to use the leash well. Too many dogs are just being dragged around on a leash.

Teaching an Akita, or any dog for that matter, to walk gently beside you on a leash requires patience too: it really pays off!

Imagine a young Akita is pulling the leash to make you go faster. Of course, you would not let him have his success. So every time he pulled the leash, you would just stop. And you would wait and wait until he stopped pulling. Only then you continued walking. This way could take 30 minutes to walk 50 meters.

Try to change your method. Every time the puppy would pull the leash you would walk in the other direction. This must have looked very strange to people on the street but this worked. Your puppy noticed he did not succeed when he kept pulling the leash. And every time he walked beside you on a loose leash, you would praise him heavily. Good dog!

Another method you can use is substituting his dog collar for a halti. A halti looks like a muzzle but your dog can still bark, bite, eat, drink, and lick. A halti can work miracles but only when you use this tool correctly. You can never apply any pressure for this can cause severe neck injury. You just continue using the halti until your Akita pup is ready to walk with his regular dog collar again. Akita puppies are fast learners so you could make the switch within a couple of weeks.
Back using the dog collar a puppy can sometimes relapse but then 5 minutes with the Halti (which was always can be in your pocket at that time) he remembers the lessons and behaves like a very nicely educated Akita again.

Don’t use any aggression or force when you train your Akita – it won’t work!

Think about elephants or horses being taught tricks. By no means, a man can force an elephant to do something he doesn’t want. There is no aggression or force involved. Only gentle instructions and motivational rewards, and a lot of patience.
Remember this when you train your Akita puppy. No matter how small the animal to be trained: don’t use force! It will damage your relationship and work counterproductive. If you feel the urge to do so, then bang your head against the nearest tree and start over.

Shorter training sessions are better

Play Akita

An Akita typically won’t be happy when you ask him to SIT – LIE DOWN – SIT – LIE DOWN – SIT – LIE DOWN etc. Train for success. This means you only give a command when you know he’s going to obey. So yes, he’ll sit down: perhaps twice in a row just to do you a favor. Not that he thinks it’s very useful.
Don’t just flood an Akita with commands just because you can, that’s not respectful. Especially with these intelligent Akitas, your commands need to be functional. It can seem your Akita gets personally offended when you ask him to do things ten times in a row when he has perfectly demonstrated the first two times that he understands the command and is willing to obey you. So just don’t push it! Would you repeatedly do the same stupid thing? Come on. Give the Akita brain some credit and respect.

Akitas require independence

Perhaps you understand – and appreciate – this trait more if you know that Akitas were bred as rather independent hunting dogs. They worked in pairs and had to make decisions on their own. Only after they found and cornered their target, the hunter would show up. So much less cooperation between man and dog as compared to some other dog breeds.

Training lessons might be helpful

If you run into serious trouble with your Akita and you’re afraid you will lose the battle then seek some personal advice. Get e-mail support or private lessons at your home. It’s so worth it and dog behavior can change in an instant (or well: within one lesson!) when your behavior changes.

When you’re still thinking about adopting an Akita, you may want to ask yourself: is this the kind of temperament I really like and appreciate? And if yes, then prepare to train your Akita in a respectful way with patience and love.

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