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  #11  
Old 05-17-2011, 01:14 AM
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My brother has one. Ranger is a great dog, but they spent massive amounts of time socializing and training him.

He's extremely intelligent. I'd say he's on par with a lot of human toddlers at the very least in terms of understanding cause and effect, english language, etc.

They are also on par with human toddlers on obedience. Akitas are VERY good at blowing you off if they feel like it. They question your reasons for doing things. In order to convince them to listen to you, you need to prove to them that you are a leader worth following. That does not mean you have to get physical with them at all. These are dogs that can out-muscle most grown humans. You don't want to teach them that it's okay to interact with you in that way. If you alpha roll a thinking, independent strong willed dog like an akita, chances are they will just file that away and remember fair turnabout later on.

You do much better as the resource controller. A good leader provides everything that is awesome and wonderful in the world. Comfy beds, food, walks, furniture, etc. By using all those resources and making your dog work for them, they learn to respect your ownership of those things and respect you as the dealer of those good things when they work for you.

They need massive socialization. Akitas are typically one person dogs, they tend to be aloof with strangers and hostile to folks invading their family's turf. My brother picked a couple of trusted friends who were willing to be dog sitters to be socialized to Ranger from puppyhood. They are the only people he'll allow in the house when my brother isn't there. None of the dog boarding places in his area allow akitas, so that was an important consideration.

They are prone to dog aggression. Ranger is not dog aggressive, fortunately, but it's something you need to be prepared for. If they are going to switch "on", it's not something you can socialize out of them. They'll always dislike other dogs. You can still train them to ignore other dogs and act civil on walks though.

He is really mouthy. I don't know if that's typical of the breed, but he's always given "love noms". It freaks a lot of people out because his mouth is big enough to put your face in. lol But he's extremely gentle about it. He likes to hold my hand in his mouth and lead me around the house when we visit.

He's fed a quality food (Avoderm) and only sheds twice a year. He's also a longcoat, so I don't know if that has something to do with it. When he does shed, it's pretty dramatic. They usually take him in to be professionally groomed and the dead coat blown out with a forced air dryer when it happens.
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  #12  
Old 05-17-2011, 01:31 AM
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Just wanted to add a question here. Is there any big difference in personality between American and Japanese Akitas?
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  #13  
Old 05-17-2011, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by milos_mommy View Post
I would look into some actual behaviorists (and not TV personalities) views on dominance theory and being the "alpha". It's a myth that dogs view their humans as part of a back and you need to be alpha. It's true than an Akita would need boundaries and strong-willed owner to reinforce these boundaries, but they problems come when a dog is allowed to get away with self-reinforcing behaviors, and prevented when a dog is guided into positive behavior.

Also, any dog of any breed that has "aggression issues" doesn't necessarily have improper training or a "weak" owner...genetics, traumatic experiences, or even just a throwback fearful personality can cause aggression issues. Mishandling will make these behaviors worse, but it doesn't ALWAYS cause them. And using "alpha" techniques like physically restraining an uncomfortable dog can cause aggression problems.

Well, to each his own with training methods, I'm not basing what I said or do on a "tv personality", it's based on lots of experience and research and observation. Why do you say it's a "myth"? You have proof of this I asume? Geeze, I'm new to this forum, but definatly not new to working with dogs, I've worked as a vet tech for many years and have studied canine behavior and different training techniques and had dogs all my life. Someone was asking about the personalities and general temperments of a breed I own and am quite familiar with, I was telling them what I know, I certainly didn't offer them my insight to be shot down by someone with different training method views than I have. What I stated about the breed is fact, and someone who is thinking about getting this breed needs to know that they require a strong owner. Do I use positive reenforcement? ABSOLUTELY 99.99% of the time, but as wonderfull as this breed is, they do require someone who enforces rules consistantly right away. I was just trying to make it clear that this is not a breed for everyone. I was explaining my experience with Akitas, including the one I own who I've had since she was 9 weeks old, not trying to argue over which training method is right or wrong. I have no problem with a healthy debate, but that's not answering the original question that the poster was asking. I'm sure there's a "Cesar or not to Cesar?" thread somewhere here Bottom line is, I think Akitas are one of the most amazing breeds, but they require an experienced dog handler, whatever "method" they use is up to them.
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Old 05-17-2011, 08:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tahla9999 View Post
Just wanted to add a question here. Is there any big difference in personality between American and Japanese Akitas?
Well, some will say yes, but honestly, I've been around both and the only difference I could tell aside from just basic differences you see between different dogs of the same breed, is the Akita Inus(Japanese) can be a bit more "intense", but then again I wouldn't necessarily say that's always true.
It really is a big debate in the Akita world whether or not the two should be considered different breeds altogether, but in the U.S.(according to AKC), they're all just Akita. The main difference is looks. I supposably have a Japanese Akita, but she has a black mask which is considered a "fault" for the Inu type, but her body structure is that of the Akita Inu, not the shorter, bulkier, thicker boned look of the American Akita. Idk, doesn't matter to me and I think that "in general", they have pretty much the same temperment. If you look on Akita forums, you'll se this debate go back and forth, so there's no really answer.
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  #15  
Old 05-17-2011, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by JL'sPack View Post
Why do you say it's a "myth"? You have proof of this I asume?
If you've worked in veterinarian science and have studied dog behavior (at least in a scholarly setting, I know plenty of trainers who learn from other trains DO support dominance theory) I can't imagine you wouldn't have seen proof of this. Look up studies on dominance theory in any veterinarian/behavior journals. I have never seen evidence of it being true, at least not evidence that isn't easily disputed.

Here's one article from the American Veterinarian Society of Animal Behavior:
http://www.avsabonline.org/avsabonli...0statement.pdf

If you'd like to see actual studies, I can give you the names of some later.
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Old 05-17-2011, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by milos_mommy View Post
If you've worked in veterinarian science and have studied dog behavior (at least in a scholarly setting, I know plenty of trainers who learn from other trains DO support dominance theory) I can't imagine you wouldn't have seen proof of this. Look up studies on dominance theory in any veterinarian/behavior journals. I have never seen evidence of it being true, at least not evidence that isn't easily disputed.

Here's one article from the American Veterinarian Society of Animal Behavior:
http://www.avsabonline.org/avsabonli...0statement.pdf

If you'd like to see actual studies, I can give you the names of some later.
ETA: That's not to say being a firm leader isn't necessary with breeds like the Akita, or to say certain training methods associated with dominance theory don't work....they just don't work for the same reasons people think they do, and doing things like eating before your dog or making them walk behind you to show you're the "alpha" is not going to make a difference, because dogs don't understand that concept.
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Old 05-17-2011, 01:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milos_mommy View Post
ETA: That's not to say being a firm leader isn't necessary with breeds like the Akita, or to say certain training methods associated with dominance theory don't work....they just don't work for the same reasons people think they do, and doing things like eating before your dog or making them walk behind you to show you're the "alpha" is not going to make a difference, because dogs don't understand that concept.
I agree, there are times when taking a dominance theory training style is more appropriate and other times when positive reinforcement is better. I personaly use a combination of both (I don't eat before my pets (I do make them sit before I'll give the food though), I tend to their needs first always and I also don't make my dogs walk behind me, just heal so they aren't dragging me down the street). What I do know from raising our Akita and I've also learned it from others who own them, you do have to show them that you are dominant, otherwise they will be and that's setting up for disaster. Honestly, the only time I've really used a strong dominance technique is once when she was a puppy - she was chewing on a nylabone and my son was 3 at the time, he just walked by her and she growled pretty good. At that moment, I felt it 100% necessary to "claim dominance" for that specific teaching moment. Of course, she was a puppy so it wasn't anything harsh at all, but it definatly would be considered a "dominance" or "alpha" technique. It worked, she never did it again and I truely believe that moment right there set the stage for her to understand that I was in charge, not her. Some people would have hit their dog for that, I didn't and never have/would. Like I said, I'm always up for a healthy debate just trying to make it clear, that like you just said, Akitas need a firm leader. Maybe you took my wording the wrong way since I'm new and you aren't familiar with me. I've read many books on behavior (yes, some of them in a scholarly setting) and I know that some don't agree with dominance teaching, but some do and I personaly like a balance inbetween based on my own personal experiences. There's just no way any human can 100% know what a dog is thinking, so I honestly don't think anyone, no matter how educated and professional they are, can claim they have the only right answers (including veterinary behaviorists). My dogs are well behaved and are extremely affectionate and happy, so I think I did pretty good. The Akita definatly required a more "dominating" approach at first though (however it was combined with positive reenforcement and lots of it) now (at 3 yrs. old), that's not necessary. Now my little Yorkie on the other hand, I've never taken a dominant approach with her, it's just not necessary, she's very eager to please and quite submissive with just verbal commands and corrections. I will read the link you posted I'm always eager to learn and consider other ideas
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  #18  
Old 05-17-2011, 01:50 PM
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Note: I don't dislike the term "alpha" in and of itself. It essentially means a higher-ranking animal, one who leads the group. I dislike the connotation it now implies (thanks to a few choice trainers) - forceful, dominating, alpha-rolling, etc.

I definitely agree that we need to be the leaders of our dogs. However, being a leader, or even being "alpha", if you will, is NOT being physically dominating. It has been shown that in wolf behavior (where this alpha-dominance theory originated), the higher ranking alpha/leader wolves do not physically "roll" the other wolves - there is no force. The other wolves know their place, and they offer the roll as an appeasement gesture.

Being a good leader is controlling the resources. And controlling the resources is not things like not allowing the dog on the furniture or the bed, making the dog eat after people, making the dog walk through doors after people, etc. Controlling the resources means making the dog understand that all good things in life come from people. Food, water, toys, attention, everything. If you want food, you have to sit first. If you want to go for a walk, you have to walk nicely and not pull. If you want to play fetch, you have to drop the ball so I can throw it again.

Being a good leader is also making it so the dog listens because it wants to please you, not making it so the dog listens because it's afraid of what will happen if it doesn't. Reward positive behavior with treats, praise, attention, toys, whatever works for you and your dog. Ignore the negative behavior, or, better yet, ask for/teach a behavior that you WANT instead. For example, if the dog is chewing on the table leg, don't yell/scream/hit the dog. Hand it a chew toy or a bone, and praise it for doing the right thing.

Every person is capable of training a dog and being the leader. Every dog is capable of being trained and being led. However, not every person is able to be physically dominating, and not every dog is able to be physically dominated.
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  #19  
Old 05-17-2011, 03:01 PM
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As a groomer I have had multiple experiences with akitas. I have done a few longhaired akitas -- for some reason these dogs seems much softer, sweeter, and better with people. These were always our best akitas to groom. Only one had dog aggression issues (with other females).
However, I have had very few good experiences with regular akitas. I think that it's crucial you find a breeder that breeds for temeprament. I have only groomed two akitas that were not snapping turtles, and they were both owned by a woman who took training and soclialising very seriously; The dogs were lovely.
We were never a shop to muzzle dogs unless it was absolutely 100% needed; But the rest of our akitas were muzzled by the owners before they even made it into the shop, because they could not be touched by us unless this was the case; We would get instantly nailed by the dog. We had one akita X that was a doll until the nail clippers came out, and then it was a wrestling match and someone would get bitten. She unfortunatly knew what the muzzle was and would bite as soon as she saw it.
Definatly not the dog for someone who isn't willing to put in some time and effort. They need a good pack leader, good solid training, lots of socialisation -- and if you want the dog professionally groomed, definatly something to start young. They can make great pets, but certainly are not for everyone!
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  #20  
Old 05-17-2011, 03:03 PM
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JL'sPack....it sounds like you have pretty similar ideas about training to me. I just think someone reading that original post is going to think their dog things that they are a part of a pack and if they behave like the "alpha dog", the dog will respect them.

Also want to add - you don't say how you handled it exactly, but showing "dominance" over by either taking resources, alpha rolling, or pushing for growling, a resource-guarding dog is very likely to increase the behavior...you're very lucky if it didn't, in your case. It's recommended to never punish or reprimand a growling dog, because next time, they won't growl as they were taught - they'll just bite.

Making a dog sit before you give them food doesn't have anything to do with being an alpha, it has to do with them not being spoiled. If you control the resources, they're more likely to want to listen to what you have to say. They know it gets them good stuff.
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