Training of Japanese breeds

This topic is not quite simple - but not because it would be extremely difficult for an ordinary person to raise a dog, but especially because we are talking about natural (indigenous) breeds - and because there are many perspectives on ways and education itself.

It is also because each owner has a different idea of the ideal final behaviour of his dog - what is desirable, acceptable for him and what is not. Therefore, even exchanges of views on training will never cease, as the object of discussions will be not only ways (methods) to achieve that goal, but also because the owners themselves have different ideas in the goals themselves.

The topic of training is extensive and will take the current and future owners quite a lot of time - in this article it is our effort to give at least a suggestion - what all we need to think of before getting a puppy and help us better understand the dog's nature, needs and set up right communication with him. This is always an important assumption for successful training itself.

photo:, female puppy, breed: Shiba,  Pai Amaya Kamiwaza

Japanese breeds and their personality are quite difficult for the layman to understand. To understand their minds, seeing of the world and the very needs of the dog to raising a balanced individual. It is precisely this topic that we encourage future owners to pay attention to before they decide for a puppy.

The Japanese breeds are very intelligent, but people often confuses intelligence for obedience. Obedient does not automatically equal high intelligence - Japanese breeds are born individualists, they are very wise dogs able to think and act alone. Typically, Shiba, for example, worked in hunting and guarding homes (or hunting rodents) separately, they are dogs that survive great winter due to the dense undercoat but also hot summer, they can catch food (or they are at least convinced that they were used in the past ) - why would people need us? Here we come to the basic question of willingness to cooperate with us. Why do these dogs need us? To satisfy what need or motive will they be willing and happy to cooperate? What kind of master do they want and need? How should we approach their personality and communication itself?

Typically mentioned "stubbornness" is a common feature of Japanese breeds - the question, why are these dogs actually stubborn and what do we imagine under stubbornness? Willingness to obey? Well, these dogs always ask the question "And what do I get out of this?" or else "Why should I listen to you?" ... the question "whether it is worth for them" always comes to their minds and who says a command. What relationship and respect they have to that person. At this point, it is probably right to underline that every dog ​​exchanges its behavior for getting something it wants or needs - for meeting its needs. None of us go to work for free, not even our dogs. Japanese breeds weigh their "salary" twice than other dogs. Proper motivation / reward and communication is the key to a willingly cooperating dog. Rather, the word "obedience" has a "police work" essence - let's call it willingness to voluntarily and with pleasure obey our commands or rules. Our goal is a Japanese dog who will like to cooperate. The motivation as a reward for cooperation is, however, always accompanied by the above mentioned respect for the master - we build it more or less our whole lives. It also plays an essential role in the willingness to cooperate and obey.

Photo: Jana Stančíková, Aneko Bezdrevská Perla, breed Shiba

An example of our various views on dog training:

For some, it may be an idea (goal) that his dog can respect that he can not take food from a living room table or take a plate or bowl from kitchen board, even though they are still within easy reach. Others do not mind if dog takes them and if someone does not want it to happen, they don’t leave anything within dog’s reach. Someone does not want his dog to bite even one leg on an old chair, for others, the "vintage-adjustment" of furniture can be acceptable and it is "normal" in connection with the dog.

What is unacceptable to one may be acceptable or at least tolerable to the other and vice versa.

The discussion about training should therefore focus not on the very outcome of training (goals), but on the possibilities and ways to achieve these results (i.e. training methods and ways of communicating with a dog). It is up to each owner to decide how the behaviour of his 4-legged Japanese friend should look like and accordingly lead his dog to this goal. Something is given by the temperament, nature and breed itself - but many things are in the hands of every owner who can and will continue to work with them. Therefore, we do not want to affect the views of the owners with advice on how they should raise their dog - what should be right / desired and what is wrong / unwanted behavior. It is up to each owner to decide.

Among the owners of Shibas and Akitas are also supporters of minimal formation of the dog by "some general education".

Their usual arguments are:

  • Shiba / Akita is stubborn and self-confident - yet it is not worth raising it, it doesn't work ...

  • the nature of the breed (allegedly) predetermines its natural characteristics to behave in a way that cannot be greatly influenced

  • Shiba / Akita knows what is right for her ...

  • Shiba / Akita training badly influence the dog’s temperament, attempts to "shape" the dog have a negative impact on her

  • Shiba / Akita, who commits various "shenanigans" (for example, destroying things at home) is cute and fun, we don't mind if she is the boss of the clamp, we tolerate her not wanting to trim the claws, destroying the garden, nicety in food.

Instead of destroying things or intolerance to other dogs, it is possible to substitute this behaviour for any other behavior:

(Not)coming when called, (dis)obedience, (not) good relationship with strangers, children, noise, places ... For each of the above it is true that the dogs are on one and the other counterpart and many somewhere in the middle of the imaginary scale. Behavior, however, is not fully given inherited by nature or breed itself! The influence of the owner's training is essential. Sometimes the ignorance of training is mistakenly confused for finding certain behaviors of a dog that is "given by breed / nature / temperament / coincidence ..." and is therefore, according to this judgment, unalterable and / or inappropriate to change.

However, future owners should be aware that the nature and innate characteristics of Japanese breeds often do not allow the same sex to be tolerated, especially males. There are both Shiba and Akita males, who tolerate the presence of another dog or even close contact with it or play, but are rather in the minority. Rarely can male Akita stand close contact to another male (uncastrated) Akita or other Japanese breed. Of course, it also depends from the temperament of the dog (other breed), on its size, behavior, proximity and so on.

To better understand what Japanese breeds are by nature and personality, what their predispositions are and what they need for their happy life - it is good to mention the interesting characteristics of the Shiba breed. This is how Shiba is seen and created in her native country - these traits are typical features of other Japanese breeds. To describe the summary features of Shiba, Japanese people have three terms:

KAN-I - fearlessness, courage, boldness

RYOSEI - good character

SOBOKU - naturalness, spontaneity, openness

These are the three mental qualities that every dog of the Japanese natural breed must have (G. Hasket, S. Houser, 2003).

photo from the left: Zumi Wakizashi of Tianito, Yoshiko Wakizashi of Tianito @ Kimi Wakizashi of Tianito, Uma Od Troch tabiel, photo on the left: Viktor Adamov, photo in the middle and on the right:

RYOSEI - good character

The literal translation of RYOSEI is "good in nature". The expression means that the individual is peaceful, friendly, faithful and loving. A good Shiba must be not only a good guard dog, but also a pleasant companion who is intelligent and immediately responds to commands. He must have pervasive senses, but at the same time he must be obedient and respectful of his master.

This is the original and general idea of ​​the nature and behavior of the dog according to the Japanese. Each owner can have his/her goals in training and thus shape the dog according to their ideas. All owners of the breed will agree that there has to be respect for his own master and confidence in him.

The image of a well behaved dog may be a Japanese dog that has all or some of the following characteristics:

  • is a typical representative of his breed

  • cheerful, confident, proud personality - balanced and satisfied dog

  • is an individualist but also loves his master and his family

  • trusts his master and respects him

  • and if he can lean on him and feel that he understands him,

  • he will do for him things even when they are meaningless for him at the moment - unless it's too often

  • does not destroy things at home, tolerates other dogs at reasonable distance or proximity if they do not behave aggressively or dominantly

  • or is friendly and happy to meet favorite friends for a typical "rough" game or chase,

  • to be more or less territorial and protect your home, family and resources

  • is our good partner, who we can leave alone at home but likes to go with us on a trip, hike or other adventure

  • and when his beloved owner calls him, he comes! :)) (sometimes with a little help ...)

Maybe it sounds like an ideal dog to someone ;)) Another may have a different idea - it's okay.

Training begins before the owner brings the puppy home – it will be easier to train a puppy that is confident and well prepared (knows the home, other dogs, pets, the breeder made crate training, cage, transport by car, contact with strangers and children, etc. More worries about this initial socialization and training will have the owner whose puppy is not prepared or is partially prepared, or is not a prototype of a self-confident individual, behaves rather cautiously and needs more time. It is not possible to train and present the "world" to that puppy at the same pace as with his self-confident sibling. But it is also true that training of this self-confident individual will be more demanding - perhaps a little and maybe significantly - and it will be exhausting. And not only the first months.

Consider your mental and time options and consult how to choose the puppy with the breeder even after the litter. Do not limit your selection of the puppy to what sex and color you want - it is not as crucial as its nature and temperament in the final! And the breeder already knows about those characteristics from first weeks of their life.

The basis of training is thus influencing the behavior of the dog in the desired direction - forming. The basic way a dog learns something - some behavior will be repeated or will not be repeated is the consequence and their feeling. If after some activity comes a state in which they feel good, then this behavior / activity will like to repeat in the future. On the contrary, if the consequence for the dog is subjectively more or less unpleasant for him and / or do not get what they want, the behavior that preceded it will not repeat.

However, this is only true with 100% consistency. Strengthening the desired behavior can be praised - rewarded in the form of our enthusiasm (emotions), physical touch (stroking, scratching), as well as reward in the form of games, interesting toys or other items, food or specifically a treat... The reward strengthens the puppy’s repetition of behavior after which it has acquired it. This is one of the basic principles of training.

photo from the left: breed: Kishu - owner: Nikola Navrátilová, Daichi Z Jenštejnské bašty, owner: Vladimír Belák, photo: Jiří Křivánek


A precondition for training any dog, including Japanese breeds, is their early and correct socialization. For example, it is impossible to teach Shiba or Akita to walk nicely at your leg (not pulling on a leash) if he is stressed in the environment, he was not familiar with such an environment in that time, is upset, insecure, trying to escape from there. Try to train a dog to walk at your leg while he is trying to get out of the place under stress ... It's logically impossible.

Another example: you want to teach your Japanese buddy a "wait" command (e.g. short or long delay). You try it at home - you’re successful. You come outside and try it there - he starts to lick, salivate, breathe, and can't sit on the spot if you move even 5 meters away, and he won't even sit there for a while ... Again, it's because of the discomfort environment. He did not fulfil the command not because he did not know him or did not want to, but the conditions in which he was supposed to fulfil the command were too difficult for him. Again socialization ...

Training therefore goes hand in hand with socialization and if the future owner of the puppy should choose between them - so he should choose socialization - early and correct. Training and the resulting obedience can be reached practically quite well at a later age, socialization can not - it is due to the mental and physiological development of the puppy at his early age. Of course, it is ideal and right to socialize and train a puppy at the same time.

photo:, from the left Diego Z Posvätného hája, Yoshiko Wakizashi of Tianito

Principles of good communication with a dog

  • we raise ourselves first and then the dog (own education and knowledge)

  • understandable communication for a dog means first to learn and then to require everyone at home to have equal approach and equal following of rules (clarity and predictability)

  • 100% consistency (bring each command to a successful end, repeat the command only once)

  • require only what we have taught the dog and we are sure he really understands it

  • rewarding only desired behavior

  • talk less, act more: the puppy is jumping on you and barking because he wants you to throw him a ball - instead of explaining "Don’t jump!; Go down!; Sit down!; Sit down, what do you do?!" and another flood of words saying that he can’t bark and jump on us, we throw him the ball only when he stops barking (we can help by prohibiting command "no / yuck / don’t" - but if the puppy does not know the meaning of those words it will not bring the result) - then puppy gets the ball after become quiet (we wait at least 1-2 seconds when he's silent and throw it to him - so he combines getting the ball with "not barking")

  • another example: the owner trains the puppy to stay alone in the room / apartment - the puppy starts barking when the door is closed: the owner has 2 options - if he comes back he will strengthen the puppy's behavior "I want you to come back”. Next time the puppy will demand the arrival or “not leaving” of the owner as well - by barking. With our reaction (coming), we strengthen the strategy in his head: barking = coming / not leaving. Our arrival is a reward for the dog - so we should come only when the puppy (at least for a while) is silent. Then he will understand that only if he will stay silent we will come back.

  • rewarding only the desired behavior of the dog (the desired ways of behavior). In training a dog it is essential to always think of what the dog wants / what is the desired reward for him - our behavior determine how the dog gets to it. He can "force" our arrival by barking or being silent. He "can force" throwing the ball by jumping on us or sitting on the ground and looking at us, etc.

  • the reward for the dog is therefore not just a toy or a treat, but our attention, presence or any of our behavior / actions that the dog WANTS

  • we do not punish the dog, we do not forbid or denounce him by saying his name by different voice intonation - we are all accustomed to human communication: our mother or father in childhood looked at us in some way or said our name and we knew we are in trouble... you have to forget about this when you train dog, it's wrong

  • Do you know what is the most important word for a dog? It is the name of a dog - when a dog hears it, he has to rush to us, to his beloved master. We can reach a dog by name if we want something after him and is interested in something - before we say what we want (command), we get his attention. Name = dog's attention, only when he perceives us we tell him what we have in mind ;))

  • It means that if a dog does something we don't want to, we don't punish him for it and don't stop him in it by saying his name with negative / threatening intonation - it's wrong. There are different ways to end unwanted behavior - but it should not be a dog's name with an unpleasant undertone

  • if the puppy lives in a family with more than one member, including children, it is more than advisable to agree in advance on the basic rules of what the puppy will be allowed to do and what not. In problematic situations, the puppy needs to feel confidence in you to make sure someone is there who understands him, who keeps situation in his hands and does not have to worry about it on his own - if there are more members of the household, the rules should be 100% followed by each member. There is nothing worse for the development and formation of the behavior of the puppy when the rules change with each household members

  • we encourage future owners of puppies of Japanese breeds to start training before the puppy arrives - to start from themselves. By that we mean gaining knowledge about the breed, the education itself, proper communication with the dog, its needs, its correct physical and mental activities, communicating between dogs and so on... it’s great to be at least clear about these things before the puppy actually comes to us. His pace of development is fast and in a situation when we go into it without a good education, he can easily overtake us - then we will more likely be unteaching how "not to do” things, than teaching how “to do”. Our site and the experience of other owners of these dogs will be a good support in gaining knowledge. Practical experience is priceless.

puppies from kennel KAMIWAZA (CZ), breed: Akita

photo:, breed: Shiba, female Aya LG-noble kennels, Dogdays with trainingschool DOGTRAINER