|Purred: Tue May 24, '11 4:34pm PST |
|I always ask what they are looking for in a dog and what their expectations are. Akitas are big, beautiful, impressive dogs and people are often simply smitten by their appearance but have no idea what they are like to own. I always tell people that they are not a teddy bear, they're a guarding breed with protective instincts and they need lots of socialization to become nice dogs. The other part about expectations, if someone is really active and wants a dog to do lots of stuff with I would never recommend them. They are low energy, not athletic, don't do well in heat, and most are not good candidates for dog parks. I think an ideal home for an Akita is a 'cat-person'. Someone who appreciates a calm, clean, dignified, independent dog who is not going to hang on your every word. Someone who isn't bothered if the dog only obeys when it feels like it. If you want an obedience competition star, this is not the breed for you. If you're a control freak, not the breed for you. But the owner still needs a strong enough personality to keep the dog from running the household and prevent any aggression problems from cropping up.
I was talking to a gal recently who had been working with an Akita in a shelter and was convinced this was the breed for her. She wanted a dog for hiking, biking, jogging, dog parks, petco, a dog who would never ever show aggression to any person or animal (she had ferrets and birds), and she wanted to do 100% clicker training. I think she would be so very disappointed with an Akita!
Just like any other breed they are totally ideal for some situations and completely wrong for others. All about making the right match based on personality, lifestyle, and expectations. Not just appearance.
As far as training, with my boys it has been all about finding the perfect balance between a firm hand and generous rewards. If you use all compulsion, too much punishment, the dog will say 'heck with you!' and choose to shut down and not participate. If you use all rewards the dog will mind well most of the time but not really respect you, and you will have no control at all when you need it most. To get consistent, reliable obedience they need to know you definitely mean business (you can NOT be ignored), and also that they will be well compensated if they comply. And it is always an ongoing training process with these dogs, maintaining that good behavior. They are definitely NOT a border collie! Or any other breed. They are an Akita and need to be handled like one.
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