Some of our Akitas currently looking for new homes.

Akita Behaviour & Temperament - Page 4



Many Akitas have soft mouths, probably from crosses to native dogs that were retrievers. Their bites may be more like nuzzles and may never cause you pain.

As adults, soft-mouthed dogs may have the same toys for years. They may never cause problems to your furniture or shoes. Don't be fooled, though. They can still inflict serious damage on people or other dogs, because when they want to bite hard, they can.

Hard-mouthed dogs have a slightly different jaw structure, so few Akitas have the same bite strength as a German Shepherd or Rottweiler. If your face is being bitten, however, this distinction will be of little concern to you. All bites hurt.

Strengthening Bite Inhibition

You can strengthen bite inhibition throughout the dog's life. Not letting him bite you or your clothing is the first and most important step in doing this. If you currently roughhouse by offering your arm as a target, switch to a lambswool or rawhide toy, a towel, or a ball. Throw it or drag it for him and then let him play with it. You can pick it up (few Akitas will actually bring it back, so don't be disappointed when your dog proves to be a "getter" but not a "returner") and throw or drag it along the ground. Any time the dog tries to play-bite at you, switch him over immediately to one of these toys.

If your dog has a firmly entrenched habit, yelping may not work. As an alternative, you may firmly take your dog's muzzle off your arm or clothes if he puts his mouth on you. Hold his mouth shut, but don't try to hurt him, and with a very low, growly voice, firmly tell him, "No."

Don't strike the dog or shake him. You may also be battling a dominance problem, which is covered in another section of this discussion. Trading aggression for aggression may get you into an escalating spiral that can cause the very problem you're trying to avoid!

Insist that your children and any visitors not play chase allowing the dog to pursue them. If dogs could talk, they'd probably call this game "Chase the Prey." Given the right set of stimuli--the right movements, the right sounds, the right smells--this can become pursuit in deadly earnest.

When you send your charges on to new home, you don't need to scare your buyers to death, but you should make them aware of appropriate behaviors. Give them a book like Terry Ryan's Alphabetizing Your Dog or Carol Benjamin's Mother Knows Best and ask that they read it before they pick up their puppy. The expense is negligible when you consider the tragedies it can prevent.



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