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Handling An Aggressive Akita

All dogs are capable of aggression, from the tiniest Pomeranian to the largest Mastiff. Breeding, personality type, and the original use of the breed do play a role in the modern-day aggressive tendencies of dogs: Akitas, originally bred for dog-fighting and subsequently employed as bear- and wolf-hunters, have a background of controlled ferocity towards other animals which can make them a handful for novice owners. If your Akita is expressing signs of dominance or aggression, it is imperative that you treat them instantly.

This article deals with handling the early signs of dominance and mild aggressive behavior; if you feel threatened or frightened by your Akita, seek professional help immediately (talk to your vet).

What Should I Look Out For?

No dog becomes aggressive without a long, drawn-out path through dominance-related behavior first. Signs of dominance and early aggression include:

  • Food, toy, or furniture guarding (growling when you come near any of the above; won't get off the couch when you ask; stakes a claim to certain toys or parts of the house and guards them from you or others)
  • Sudden disobedience: if your previously obedient Akita suddenly stops paying attention to your commands, this is passive aggression. Your dog is testing you.
  • Dominant behavior like walking through doorways before you; stealing food from your plate or hand without permission; lying on the floor in your way. Again, this is passive-aggressive behavior.
  • Threatening posture: a prolonged stare, especially if accompanied by a motionless body, is extremely threatening in dog-language. Also look out for a tense, alert posture: your Akita may be almost on the tips of its toes, with head low, wide eyes, and 'switching' tail (trembling). This is a real warning sign and you should take it seriously: a physical commitment to aggressive behavior such as this could mean that your dog is prepared to harm you. Don't try and tackle this by yourself.

How Can I Handle It?

The only real treatment for aggressive behavior is immediate, sustained obedience work. You need to reinforce the bond of authority that you have (or had) over your Akita, and make sure he knows that you're the boss. There is no need to panic; all dogs can learn new tricks, even if it means unlearning the old ones first!

  • You may feel more comfortable enlisting the help of a trained professional. If you do choose to employ a trainer, make sure they're a humane, calm, confident individual who is familiar with positive reinforcement training - any punitive aspect to corrections will do harm, not good.
  • Do your homework on dog psychology and how they communicate, as well as the concept of pack hierarchies and alpha status. You have to be in control at all times; no lapses in behavior are to be permitted.
  • During obedience training, you must ensure that you adopt a productive manner. Do not yell at your Akita, or jerk him around: this is a proud breed that does not take kindly to harsh corrections.
  • Train regularly: two sessions of ten to fifteen minutes per day is a good amount. More, and you risk boring your Akita, which is an invitation to practice more disobedient behavior; less, and you won't make enough headway. Arm yourself with tasty treats and a cheery manner.
  • Remember to praise and reward good behavior; bad behavior results in the dog being ignored.
  • Inconsistent behavior is confusing for dogs. If you say, 'No', make sure you really do mean 'No' and not just 'Oh, well, if you insist'. Think of yourself as the boss, waiting for compliance from an underling. No need to be brash or aggressive; but you must actively require obedience at all times.
  • Make sure your Akita gets plenty of exercise: a tired Akita is much more likely to be obedient, as he won't have the energy for active trouble making. This is a low-activity breed, so just a long, brisk walk (forty five minutes to an hour) a day will suffice.

Things To Remember

Make sure that everyone in the house is aware of the problem and see that they know how to deal with it: it's no good spending time on training if someone is undoing all your good work behind your back!

Akitas can be dangerous dogs. If your Akita is exhibiting signs of true aggression - snarling, lunging, snapping - as opposed to 'warning signs' such as passive aggression and dominant behavior, then you must seek professional help immediately. Don't hope the problem will solve itself; aggression will only worsen if you leave it.

For more information on handling aggressive and dominant behaviors, as well valuable information on a host of other problematic behaviors and training tips, check out Secrets to Dog Training: it's packed full of extremely useful, step-by-step procedures on training your dog and preventing/dealing with unwanted behavior - and there's a great deal of information on aggressive behavior!

 

 

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