Some of our Akitas currently looking for new homes.

Akita Behaviour & Temperament - Page 8

Responses to the Test


Akitas are not usually strongly attracted to strangers, so their behaviors on the social interaction tests have a wide range. Some do not come at all and will not follow the tester. This does not mean they are hopelessly anti-social. Such behavior reflects instead a strongly independent nature.

More typical for the breed in my experience is a puppy that first busies himself exploring the area, looking around and sniffing. This is probably a displacement activity, a face-saving advantage which gives him something to do while he makes up his mind. After a few minutes of this, most will "suddenly" notice your calling them or your walking around and they will come or begin following you.

How they come and what they do when they get there tells you something about the puppy. So does how they follow. If the puppy approaches and/or follows with his tail down and the ears held back slightly, you are witnessing a submissive response. The average puppy approaches the tester with his tail up. Confidence in meeting a stranger is indicated by his demeanor and by a wagging tail. The more assertive puppies will paw at your hands or even your face and the most assertive will bite at them also.

When they follow, average puppies walk along beside you. As they move up the scale in assertiveness, they will get between your feet, wandering purposely through them and may even paw at your feet or bite at your shoes. Less social puppies may balk at the come but warm up to the tester by the time he is walking about. Again, tail down and/or ears back are the more submissive indicators.

Most of the Akita puppies I have tested are mildly attracted socially. That is, they go to the tester, either with tail up or down after some exploratory behavior. They may greet the person and immediately wander off. They may follow for a few steps and then drift off to explore. Little holds their interest strongly.

Many of the herding breeds I've tested are put off by the strange surroundings. They seem, however, positively thrilled to see a person, even though they don't know him, and bound over to the tester. In contrast, we've had Akitas who have resolutely refused to participate. None of them grew up to be intransigent monsters, but they were very independent dogs. They were not eager to meet strangers but tolerated them.

Turned on their back, most Akitas lie still, carefully looking away to avoid any hint of eye contact. This is a submissive response and very acceptable. Others lie still for a second, then struggle briefly before calming again. These might glance quickly at your face, but as soon as they see you are looking at them, they deliberately look away. This is a moderate response, indicating a slightly more assertive dog but well within acceptable parameters.

Akita puppies lifted in the air invariably just hang there. Their bodies are usually relaxed, although they might be stiff. More assertive responses on these tests range from flailing and struggling to whining, pawing, and biting. A very assertive puppy may also make eye contact.

The middle test tells you something about the puppy's acceptance of correction and willingness to forgive. As you might expect, many Akitas are less than enthusiastic about undergoing unpleasant experiences and are not apt to easily forgive the responsible agent. With no real attachment to the tester, many Akita puppies just stalk off. Others remain with the tester but stare off into space. A few of the more forgiving will nuzzle the tester's hands. Assertive responses include pawing or biting at the tester's face and hands.



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