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Akita Aggression

One of the most important things for an owner to understand is that a lot of Akita aggression problems can be totally averted if the dog is not placed into a situation in which their instincts cause them to act aggressive.

Akita aggressiveIf one does that, one is doomed to fail. Both owner and dog must be in control of themselves, and it is the owner who will help the Akita find and maintain restraint.

Despite proper training, humans cannot completely undo basic nature of a canine. The Akita is a guard dog; and has been bred for centuries to be a hunting dog. This sort of deep trait characteristic cannot be taken away. 

Potential owners and owners who have not yet seen any disturbing behavior wonder if this breed is dangerous.

They can be, but 99% of the time, it depends on the environment that he or she lives in, to what extent there is bonding and socialization and if a person takes the time to properly train.  A 20 year study by the CDC led to the Akita being listed among dangerous dogs; though there were 4 fatal dog bite attacks. 

 The facts are that this breed is loving, loyal, easy going and has many wonderful traits that make him a fantastic companion and family dog.

With this said, if one understands the characteristics that make up the instincts and with proper training and socialization, an Akita does not need to be a fierce dog with no control over himself.

Understanding the Basic Nature

This breed exudes a confident superiority that is backed up by the ability to enforce it.  The main traits in this breed dictate that the dog will be aggressive toward:

Another Akita of the same gender (if both are not fixed – spayed or neutered- this increases).  However, one must not forget the guideline that and 2 of this breed, same gender = there will be issues.

An intact Akita cannot be in the presence of a strong, bossy dog of the same gender, particularly if they are of a comparable size (if so, he or she will be considered to be a worthy opponent).

Strangers (of all ages), including children – Anyone considered to be trespassing may be met with aggression and this breed often considers this territory to be any place that he is…This means out at the park, at the beach, anywhere.  For this reason, he must be on leash at all times.

Cats – This is often a misunderstood characteristic – An Akita's aggressiveness toward a cat often manifests if the feline is not a family member.  If part of the household and a calm, mature cat, then it is often a different matter and the 2 will usually tolerate each other just fine.

With this said, if 2 of opposite genders grow up together, they will often get along just fine.  Also, if 2 of opposite genders are introduced at a later age, they may get along.  

This breed may get along with a smaller dog, particularly of the opposite gender, if that smaller dog immediately allows the Akita to be the dominant one.

Note: Sudden, unexplained aggression may actually be a sign of thyroid problems. You can read more about this in our Akita Thyroid section.

are Akitas dangerousThe Rules

Once an owner knows the above rules, it is only a matter of setting up the environment so that no issues arise.  Knowing which animal that you can and cannot have in the home is the easy part.  Dealing with outsiders is harder.

At Home -  It is imperative that an owner takes the time to check the home to make sure that when his Akita is indoors that he or she cannot break away to run outside no amount the amount of  determination.  When people enter and exit, they must do so with this in mind, not allowing their puppy or dog to be able to squeak by and run out of the door.  Owners must be diligent to make sure screen doors latch when closing, etc.

When outdoors, in your own yard, unless the area is enclosed with good fencing, the dog must be on leash.

When in public, the Akita must be on leash with the owner paying enough attention so that the leash does not slip out of the hand if the dog decides to lunge after someone or something.  Wrapping it around your wrist a few times can be helpful.

We do not want people to get the wrong idea:  This is not a terribly vicious breed that is a danger to have, always out on the prowl to attack.  He can be kind, relaxed, calm and a pleasure to have as part of the family.  With this said, there are certain “triggers” and an owner must be willing to help his dog avoid them…and the issues that will follow otherwise.

Visitors to the Home

It is great to have a guard dog that is also a wonderful companion…It makes you feel safe in an unsafe world.  It offers you peace of mind that you have protection against possible intruders on your property.  With this said, you also want to be able to have friends and extended family members over to your home without having to worry about biting or other incidences.

In most cases, this can be done with aggression training.  Some will choose to implement the help of a professional trainer – If so be sure to choose someone with a proven record of success with this particular breed (not just other dogs that are known for having similar traits).

If you opt to train at home, it is a matter of teaching commands and training the dog that it is you who will decide who is a threat or not.

While there are always exceptions, generally speaking there are warning signs that are given before the dog bites.  One must only understand what they are. The key is to step in and take control at the first sign.

When someone comes over, the owner should command the dog to sit/stay.  Then, the tone of your voice means a lot. Your Akita may seem calm, but he or she is quite aware of the presence of another person and will be listening carefully to the conversation.  All parties should speak in a happy, easy going, calm manner. This sets the tone that no one is seen as a danger.

Once inside, do not isolate your Akita.  This should never be the rules of what happens when guests come over.  It set a terrible guideline and will lead to no good.  Only proper socialization will train this dog to find and maintain control.

While you are chatting with your friend(s) take note if your Akita:
  • Sits between you and them
  • Stands between you and them
  • Looks quickly back and forth between you and them
  • Forcefully breaths out of his nose (almost a grunting noise)
  • Growling (obviously)
If any of the above happens, immediately command him to sit/stay in a spot close by but not in the middle of you and your company.  If he gets out of the sit, instantly command him back into it.  This should be done in a firm voice, but certainly not in a fearful one, as if you are worried that without it, he would immediately attack.  One must be confident, assured and assertive.   The human must show that they are in control, that they are the true leader of the pack.

Once the dog is sitting, continue to go about your business. Speak in normal tones.  After a few minutes, if your Akita is calm without showing any of the above warning signs, you can then give him or her a small treat and then go back to your visit.

It is important to NOT say anything to sooth him.  This includes “It’s alright”, “It’s okay”, “Take it easy, everything’s alright”…Without the ability to understand all of your actual words, the dog is understanding the tone…and this is interpreted as praise.  Additionally, never give a treat until he is calm.

Once your dog has “met” someone 5-6 times and all has been fine each time, you can now have that same person offer a treat if the behavior is as you expect.  Once you reach this point, if it is someone that you see on a regular basis, there should be no problems.  Your Akita will always be quietly listening and observing, but should not step in unless hectic behavior were to ensue.

Showing That You Are The Leader

This breed has the personality of a leader, by default. An owner must take steps to show that it is the humans in the home who are in charge.  To do otherwise is asking for major problems.

The best methods are the easiest. This should be followed at all times:

  • Every person in the home should take turns with feeding.  Made to sit first, only then should the bowl be placed down.  Whoever gives the food is king, therefore it should not just be 1 person in a multi-person household.
  • All humans should enter and exit the home first, with the Akita following. To canines, this is a clear signs of the pecking order.
  • Commands such as Sit, Stay, Come and Down should be taught during proper training and reinforced regularly.

The Akita is a dominant dog and it is important that an owner clearly establishes the fact that it is the human who is in charge.  If this is not done, this breed can take over.  Can you imagine a dog this big, walking around as if he is the leader of the home?

Training is best done during the puppy years.  For this breed, it is recommended to begin training at 8 weeks, although beginning at any age is preferable to no training or inadequate training.  More than any other purebred, specific methods must be followed to: Teach proper behavior (housebreaking, commands, socialization, and inhibit destructive behavior) while at the same time establishing your leadership.

The following resources are highly suggested for you to achieve this.

Highly Recommended Resources for Akita Puppy Training Needs (All on Amazon - both hardcopy and Kindle) and written by Faye Dunningham:

                           Training                                    Socialization                            Chewing and Nipping

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