Some of our Akitas currently looking for new homes.

Akita Behaviour & Temperament - Page 19

Discouraging Fear Responses


So, what do you do when the dog gets into trouble? It can happen anywhere. I've had puppies and young dogs go bananas over a mailbox or garbage sack. One of the worst panic attacks I've ever had was when one of my Shepherds encountered a bronze statue in a neighbor's front yard. She walked up and sniffed it, then freaked out.

Back to my veterinarian's advice, abject terror can only last for so long. An animal has only so much adrenaline, and as the supply decreases, the panic does too. Until this happens, reason is not the animal's strong point, but once adrenaline is depleted, the animal calms considerably. Your best course is to do nothing until the dog's flight response begins to shut down. You can talk to the dog, but make sure you are not sympathetic. The tone to strike is as if someone has told you a mildly amusing joke. If someone else is with you, you can both talk in a normal tone until the dog calms down.

Throughout, keep the dog as close to the problem as possible. In severe panic attacks, you may have to back off, then reapproach. Tell the dog in a no-nonsense voice, "This is nothing to be afraid of. Look," then touch the object yourself or walk up to it. Let the dog see you're not afraid. Eventually, the dog will approach it. Then you can praise him and tell him he's very brave. As young dogs and puppies deal successfully with fears, they will become generally less fearful. Each time they conquer a problem, they gain confidence in their abilities and in you.

Obedience Training

Very few Akitas are actually "spooky." Instead, they are cautious and careful. When these characteristics are coupled with a lack of confidence, the dog can become very unhappy when he is in a strange situation. For these dogs, obedience training is a godsend. Confident dogs can reach into their bag of tricks and find a way to deal with the unusual. The structure provided by obedience training gives the less confident dog a prescribed method for handing stressful situations. As he handles them, his confidence in his abilities increases, and he becomes less anxious.



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