1. How is it with Hachiko and the Akita inu? Do Akitas generally decide themselves whether they obey or do people need to “make them obey”? Or, maybe to put a question in a bit different way, will Akita obey their master after it builds a respect for their master?
Matúš Matula: Many people know the Akita breed as “Hačiko” which comes as a result of the movie that was filmed about this breed, which is why I do not fancy the movie. People do not usually know how complex this breed is from the temperament perspective. This breed cannot be trained by using pressure. Training must be done using positive reinforcement, whether you use food or some other reward (each dog has their own individual perception of rewards). Like this we can control the behavior of a dog that will try to behave in a way that will bring him a reward. Positive methods used during the training will also help to shape the bond between a person and their dog and also set clear boundaries.
Martina Černayová: Akita that has a proper training, obeys /that counts for every dog breed/ it is just a matter of using a proper training method => a positive reinforcement method.
Zuzana: Our dog does not listen to us as much as we would like. Well, she does, but she only listens when she knows she will get a “bribe” (which is usually some kind of food). She certainly does not obey the way how I would wish i.e. 100%, that is why she is sentenced for life walking on a leash only, and we will probably never be able to enjoy the walk without the leash. She knows all the standard commands “Sit!”, “Down!”, “Up!”, “Stay!”, “Come!”, etc, but she obeys only from time to time. Without a reward, it is around 25%, with a reward when we are at home it is 80% and when we are outside with a lot of different noises and impulses, then it is around 0-60%. She has just a limited respect for us. Well, she is a princess, isn’t she! … :)
Soňa Strýčková: My experience is that the Akita is a very smart dog, it understands very quickly but requires a consistent training and mutual respect in the relationship with its master and family.
2. Does Akita inu belong to the breeds that are keen on obeying their master or not? And why is it like that?
Matúš Matula: I think the Akita belongs to the breeds that do not like to obey their master blindly and that might be because it is a very dominant and stubborn breed. But it is not like that with every Akita, it all depends on the training and raising of the dog since puppy age and on the relationship you have with the dog. My dogs must obey at all times.
Martina Černayová: They tend to obey less, it is a natural, primitive breed / not by the state of intelligence, but from the domestication level point of view/. It is up to the individual dog, there are stubborn individuals which is perhaps a majority of Akitas, but there are also Akitas that will do anything in the world for a proper reward.
Zuzana: The Akita is one of the breeds that might be difficult to control. As a primitive spitz breed, which is less domesticated and overbred by a human, it is a bit different from other breeds and have still some more of their wild ancestors running in their blood. Thus they might be more difficult to train but that does not mean they are untrainable. With the right approach and training that comes from the early puppy age, it is of course manageable. They indeed require a lot of patience and BEING CONSISTENT, otherwise they find a way around. Socialisation with other dogs and people is very important, it is best to start right after you bring your puppy home.
Soňa Strýčková: Akita is an individual who evaluates the situation independently. It is defined in where they come from and how it was used for hundreds of years. That is why I think it is harder to make them obey.
3. May I expect - as a future owner - that I will be able to walk my Akita off the leash and it will not run away?
Matúš Matula: I’m sure you can. It is all about the training and choosing the right approach as I already mentioned above. My dogs are walked 90% off the leash and I can recall them in every situation. It is important to teach a dog a recall properly.
Martina Černayová: It is again probably about having 100% recall. It is just that Akita has a strong prey and hunting drive so it is more difficult. I don’t walk our dogs off leash.
Zuzana: With our female, that is a music of the future, but we aren’t finished hoping yet :). We should have been more precise when she was younger. We made some mistakes that are harder to remove. We haven’t been consistent enough but we still believe we will fix it. And of course, there are exceptions. Our friend from Czech Republic posts regularly beautiful pictures and videos of her Akita pack, running happily and free in the woods, full of different smells.
Soňa Strýčková: Not in our case…
4. Which dogs do Akitas like to play with? Smaller or bigger then them - or is it always only individual preference without a general rule? Do adult Akitas even want to play with other dogs at all?
Matúš Matula: I think this is very individual, every dog is different. My female can play with only one dog, it is a Labrador. Except our other dog, with whom they live together in our yard, she does not allow any other dog to get close. But that does not mean that she starts the fights. My male also does not allow any dogs to get close (males or females), but also must know how to behave and not to raise the conflicts.
Martina Černayová: I think if an Akita likes other dogs, then they do not distinguish between small or big ones. Also adult dogs want to play, in our pack, male is more playful, females are more serious :). At the same time I think that the proper upbringing and socialisation in its own pack with mother and litter mates are crucial for the puppy within its first 10-12 weeks of life. Therefore I think puppies should not leave this pack weeks earlier.
Zuzana: None! :). I can’t compare since I have only one Akita inu. She didn’t have an opportunity to be socialised with other dogs since in our area there are only small ones (Yorkshire, Poodle, Maltese, Pomeranian) that get hysterical just from seeing us in the distance and they are immediately raised up by their human mommies when they are passing us. Then there are some giant ones (3 Central Asia Shepherds, 2 Dogos Argentinos,..) which our female does not like and wants to fight them, so we avoid them. She used to tolerate smaller dogs or dogs of her size until she was 12 months old, but she does not like any dogs including puppies in our village ever since. We used to train her on a specific trainings with more Akitas for half a year, but it did not get better anyway. One trainer told us that she thinks our Akita takes the entire village as her territory and that is why she behaves in such a way. On the dog shows and outside of the village she is doing relatively OK. She smells the dog but does not fight. But if I should evaluate, she does pretty well with dogs like spaniels, and also she does extremely well with an adult Akita male of friends of ours’. She likes walks with him a lot and there are no issues.
Soňa Strýčková: Our male has issues with tolerating other adult males. In our pack there is an 11 year old mix of Maltese, and he is respected by my Akita. They play, eat and sleep together, with no problems whatsoever. Also, he is OK on walks when there are small dogs...
5. How does it look when the Akita: is happy, calls out for play (how do Akitas play), doesn’t like something or is afraid of something?
Matúš Matula: My dogs start to jump, get excited, they grab things into their mouths and want to chase. When they are afraid, they keep walking around nervously and pant.
Martina Černayová: Mine start to jump, twist around, make funny noises / everything but barking/ our dogs are not afraid. Well, Hime does not like strong smokers, so if she smells one, she backs off, she might even growl and tries to avoid that person.
Zuzana: Our Akita is excited, mostly about the dinner :). That is the highlight of the day for her. She is not so excited even for a walk, sometimes she does not even want to go for a walk at all and just wants to sleep in :). She used to play when she was younger, mostly with toys that made squeaky sounds or she used to chase balls. A lot of balls were destroyed in history… Now she plays only seldomly. As for fear, she is afraid very weirdly. She does not want to go to a pet store. She loves seeing a vet. She is afraid of a big market place in Nowy Targ (maybe because of plastic stands???) She does not mind fireworks, thunderstorms or lightning at all. I actually have not seen her to be afraid of anything yet.
Soňa Strýčková: When he is happy he jumps, “sings” - makes funny noises, runs in circles around the spot. The same when he wants to play. Once he did not like a person. Then he growled and tried to challenge them but luckily he was leashed. I have not observed fear yet. However, he likes his spot and when he wants to be left alone, he goes there to have some rest.