Some of our Akitas currently looking for new homes.

Akita Behaviour & Temperament - Page 26

The seminal book for this training method is Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor. In it, she discusses the basic principles governing what is now commonly referred to as "click training. While it shares many aspects of lure training, it relys on the dog's figuring out what you want him to do rather than your forcing him to do them. Thus, he becomes an active participant in his own training. One of the reasons I think this method is so successful with Akitas is that it challenges them--no boredom here! Because of this participation on his part, the dog isn't resentful or sullen because you are making him do something. Instead, he's figuring out what to do which is made easier for him because correct behaviors are marked with a click at the instant it occurs. He keeps working because he is given a reward which can be food, play, or verbal praise and a pat.


Almost everything you'd like to know about this training method can be found on the internet. I've got several excellent sites linked on my web page. Vendors at most shows carry video tapes and other equipment, and seminars are held all over the country by Karen Pryor, Gary Wilkes and other excellent trainers.

Akita trainers I've consulted and my own experiences lead me to think that while clickers, food rewards and lure training are effective tools when they work, expecting them alone to carry you through a complete obedience course may be unrealistic. Therefore, when you pick a trainer look for someone who is willing to combine methods. Above all, try to find someone who understands that not all dogs have the same temperaments, abilities, or tendencies, someone who recognizes that one training technique may not work all the time with every dog and who has more than one to offer.

Unfortunately, not every area has enough trainers for you to pick and choose, in which case, you will have to get additional help. Through the dog training books at vour local library, you have access to some of the finest trainers in the world and a plethora of training methods. The internet offers information on web pages as well as many e-mail lists dealing with training. Don't ignore thesr resources.

Talk to other Akita people who have trained their dogs in obedience. They've already been down this road and can offer you constructive advice.

Untrainable Akitas?

With humor, understanding, and persistence, you can train almost any Akita in basic obedience. For every person who thinks that Akitas are not trainable, I'd point to my house dog. She has never had an obedience lesson, came to us at the age of three from life in a kennel run, and moved seamlessly into our household. My kids and I talked about this today and we can think of three unacceptable things she's done in all that time. She stole a steak off the counter--once and she's run out the door twice.

Like scores of other Akitas, her training has been so effortless, that we can easily say, she's had none. She's trained herself by observing our responses to her actions and carefully fitting her behavior into an acceptable mode with little or no formal instruction from us. Even though she has no CD, she is a very trainable and well trained dog! I think this is very typical of Akitas and one reason they are so easy to live with in a house.

Fearful Akitas

Although Akitas are naturally careful and cautious, few fall into the fearful category which may be the one exception to trainability. Fearfulness may be the result of an inherited temperament and/or severe and early abuse.

Very fearful adults are very hard to deal with. To train them, you must first gain their trust. They become dependent on your judgement and rely on you for cues about their environment. While they may be confident with you, with someone else they may revert to their previous behavior until that person also establishes a bond with the dog. A few dogs may extend their trust to people generally, but most will not.



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