This section will discuss Akita training, offering tips for all sort of issues. If you are looking to housebreak, you will want to read our comprehensive Akita Puppy Training section.
Understanding Nature Before You Begin
To be confident about what you are doing and to find the fastest, most effective route to success, it is vital to first understand characteristics of this breed that will affect training. It is only a matter of following a method that fits this particular breed.
1. In regard to repetition (going over a certain command over and over until they understand it ) that works. The Akita is different. They have a very low tolerance for this and quickly become bored.
The fix: The key to this is to offer short drills in intervals. One tip to remember is that it is best to choose at least 2 different exercises and switch back and forth to keep his or her attention. More is ahead with details.
2. Behavior during training is unpredictable. Expect this. They are independent and will often experiment with different answers to your commands.
3. With even basic commands such as “Sit” an owner may need to teach this several different way. For example, when he or she is standing next to you, when they are in front of you, etc. Many times, it is only then that there will be a true understanding that the command means to “Sit” no matter where they are positioned in relation to you.
The time period between 2 months and 4 months is a short one, but a very important one. When broken down into important behavioral phases, this is a critical time of the socialization period. It is a time of intense bonding. This is when he or she will soak in as much of the world as they can. It is imperative that your puppy be taken out into the world to experience as much as possible and to be exposed to as much as possible.
The socialization that is learned at this young age will be a foundation for life. Since what is learned basically lasts forever and will be the basis for all future knowledge, rules should be taught now. This includes teaching him or her that you (and other humans in the home) are the boss. If not, this breed will assert himself as leader and be very difficult to training.
Leadership to a puppy is established a bit different than when reinforcing it when they are older.
Aside from the basics of humans taking turns with feedings and with all people entering and exiting the house first, with a young pup, you will also want to create a bond.
This is done with a lot of loving, gentle, firm regular handling. The puppy should be handled quite frequently and on a regular basis by all members of a family. His mouth should be gently opened and his teeth examined (this is vital so that he or she will allow for dental cleanings later).
He should be lifted up onto tables, his feet should be handled gently, nails trimmed… coat brushed, baths given…. All of the elements that will be a part of his daily (or weekly) life. If he is shown that this is normal, he will go along with it all as he matures.
There are many misconceptions, mistruths and stereotypes regarding the element of training an Akita such as:
• They are not able to learn
• They are too stubborn to be taught
• An adult cannot be taught new tricks or commands
But the biggest myth is that you should not begin teaching a puppy until his is 6 months old. This simply is not true.
The 7 or 8 week old has the same capacity as the 6 month old. He does lack a bit of adult level stamina, coordination and concentration, but NOT the ability to learn.
What a pup learns during the first 6 months is most lasting and enduring than at any other time. Whether you purposefully choose to train him or you do not, he WILL be learning. Therefore, when left alone, he will “learn” that he can do whatever he wishes and that humans do not give commands. Therefore, it is important to purposefully train him.
If You Waited
If you thought that you were doing the right thing by holding off until an older age, do not worry about it…what’s done is done…all is not lost. It may just take a bit more patience on your part…it may take a bit longer for training to be at a level of expected success, but it can be done. All that is needed is your commitment. If you give up, your Akita is not going to give you a pep talk or continue on his own. So take charge, find that enthusiasm and be confident.
Your job is to direct in a consistent and encouraging atmosphere. Your goal will be to guide your Akita through the progression of executing a new behavior, rewarding baby steps along the way. Keep sessions short. 10 minutes for 1 command. 15 minutes if you will be switching back and forth between 2.
You can do this more than once a day…2-3 times, spaced out over the entire day will be just fine. The only rule is to not do this closer to bed time than 1 hour. At that time of night, you will want to encourage an easy atmosphere of winding down, with lights lowered…to encourage sleep.
One of the most important tips is to give reward immediately, at the very second that they listen to what you commanded. The mistake that many owners make is rewarding 10 seconds after…as this may be seen by the Akita as receiving a reward for a completely different behavior or action on their part!
A motivator, or reward, can come in different forms… a food morsel, a toy or praise. Food is enjoyed by all, is quick to dispense and be swallowed…and is a clear way to signal a correct response.
You will want to keep motivation going by having the treat be something really special. It will not do much good to have it be a snack that you would be giving to him or her anyway, right?
The key to keeping a dog motivated is to keep him or her challenged, and achieving regular victories. Try to not let your Akita be wrong more than 2 or 3 times in a row. If they are “wrong” more than 3 times, they can quickly become discouraged and not wish to listen to you. To do this, if he or she is struggling and cannot do something after 3 attempts… go back to an easier step for a while so that he or she can receive a reward for doing something correctly.
Remember, that progress can be slow… keeping an even temper and consistent training method requires patience. Do not expect your Akita to comprehend unless you have learned how to be consistent and patient.
Your Akita needs to understand at which times they are under your control and at which times he or she has been released. When instructed to go “Down” or to “Stay” for example, your dog is expected to stay in that position until you “release” them with your “release word”. After all, you won’t want them to sit for hours! “OK” is the most frequently used release word. When a session has ended, saying “OK” releases him or her to play or do any activity independently.
For details on the basic, important training of:
• Come… You will want to read the comprehensive Akita Dog Training section
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