Question from non-owner about JA maintenance and aggression
  • OskyOsky
    Posts: 5
    Hey everyone, first time poster in the Akita forum and possible future JA owner. I have some possible neurotic questions so bare with me.

    I've never been the sole owner of a dog, generally taking care of my mothers for extended periods of time(a few months at one point). I keep with her general routine of things, but at times I've taken a more dominant role towards them as they generally get anything they want from her and have bad eating habits. So as I've researched several breeds and the Akita seems to fit a bit of my personality. I have a high interest in getting one once I get a house.

    After several websites depicting general Akita behavior, and a few anecdotes(some from this website), it seems food aggression and boundaries can be a concern. One that sticks out is food aggression. I haven't really seen anyone talk about how well their Akita does with someone interrupting their eating once they receive the bowl. So, I just wanted to ask how many people have their dogs well adjusted in terms of "food aggression." I've also seen a couple of methods to curb or remove food aggression from dogs in general; both methods being said to be far more effective when the dogs are pups. One method is teaching the dog that the food is yours and that the dog is only allowed to eat when you give permission(several videos depicting dogs sitting and waiting until the command). The other method being just simply introducing your dog to your hand and food at the same time(It's a bit more technical but just in generalization). I was curious which one some JA owners have used, and which they find more useful.

    This is more of a generalized question towards food and feeding. I've got a good idea about 4/5 star foods, rotating portions, grain free, general portion to weight, wet vs dry, and etc. My question is, if you're primarily dry food(not canned), how often can you introduce canned into their dry to mix it up without messing with their stomachs too much? My mother generally does half a portion in dry, half a portion in canned. If I wanted to give them a couple of cans a week or something similar how much could this possibly mess with their digestion?

    The last thing I have on my mind, is dental care. I wanted to ask if anyone actively brushes their JA's teeth. Also, if they used any specific method to get their JA adjusted with being able to stick their fingers in the bitey end. I don't necessarily think this would be too different from any other breed, but most breeder websites(and the JACA) make an emphasis that the dogs can be aggressive and just want to see the opinions and habits of actual JA owners.

    Look forward to your responses.
  • Im not an actual JA owner, so disregard me if you feel you must, but... It's fine and good manners to have your dog sit and be calm or ask for a trick, before giving him his bowl of food, but don't play games with his food while he's eating just to prove a point. You'll create stress that way and give him a reason to worry when he sees your hand coming to take his sustenance away. It only takes him a few minutes to eat, leave him alone and don't put anxiety into it. If you want some preventive strategies for possessive dogs, practice 'trading' a really awesome thing for whatever he has as a pup. i.e.: he's mouthing a toy, ask him to drop it and give him a tiny piece of chicken. give him the toy back, go back to read a book or something non dog related. Repeat randomly. A good book about possessiveness is MINE! by Jean Donaldson. This works with any breed of dog. Someday you might really need him to drop something he should't have in his mouth and not defend it or bolt it down the hatch, so practice cooperation and positive interactions so when you say Drop It! he thinks "Yeah! Time for the chicken game- I KNOW this one!"
  • @WrylyBrindle already said what I wanted to say.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 4541
    Yep, what @WrylyBrindle said.

    I never understood why people felt the need to be able to put their hand in a dog's food while s/he is eating. I know if someone put their hand in my food while I was eating, they would probably get stabbed with a fork.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
  • In my experience JA are very good natured but I have encountered food aggression. This shouldn't be an issue if you have a pup though. I had an issue with our Shiba as a pup, it didn't take long to stop him being aggressive though, our dog trainer advised us to allow the others to eat first and tell him to wait. If he goes near the bowl just push him out of the way and tell him no. Now days he sits and waits for the Chihuahuas to finish their dinner before he even tries to eat it. You just wanna get them so they let you mess with the bowl without tensing up.

    I had a foster Akita Inu adult bitch once who was really nasty around food though, it's definitely something you wanna work on if they seem snappy as a pup.
  • OskyOsky
    Posts: 5
    Yep, what @WrylyBrindle said.

    I never understood why people felt the need to be able to put their hand in a dog's food while s/he is eating. I know if someone put their hand in my food while I was eating, they would probably get stabbed with a fork.

    Ah, my main concern was the ability to take anything away if he/she happened to grab anything they're not suppose to. Coincidentally, I had seen a youtuber with a JA doing exactly that with their food and poking their fingers into the food. There wasn't another video with the JA and was rumored to be removed because of "behavioral issues."

    But thank you everyone for the replies.
  • You take away bad things from a dog if and when they have a bad thing. You don't make a habit of "practicing" it - because that just teaches the dog it "needs" to protect its stuff and that's how resource guarding starts. At any other time (when its not critical that you take something away immediately) you should practice trades for something better. The dog should always willingly release what it has to get the other thing, not have it taken away from him.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    Post edited by PoetikDragon at 2015-11-04 01:49:15
  • @poetikdragon is right about the trading. Teaching a firm drop it and leave it will do you a world of good and those are always done with lots of reward.

    The other thing that you might want to think about (and this is an opinion that might be a little more controversial) is after teaching a good basic foundation leave it, is to also teach a release word. We use leave it and go get it as the release. Personally we found that alternating a trade with double rewards (if our dog does both a leave it and a go get it, she gets both the trade item and the original item back) has made for an incredibly solid leave it. That way she observes the command even in the face of items where I can't possibly top the value (for instance, lobster bisque for my seafood obsessed dog) and I can safely leave a food item on the coffee table if I need to run into the other room to get, for example, an eating utensil. This also has worked effectively for me when a really high value item has been dropped; for instance, when some fool dropped an entire grilled chicken breast and just left it in the middle of the sidewalk and my girl actually dropped it and walked away from it when asked despite me not having treats on me during that walk.

    Personally, I view positive training as teaching a dog to always want to choose the path you lay out for them because they enjoy it more, rather than tolerating the alternative, or being scared of the punishment. That way, even if they are with someone else (being watched by someone less dog savvy) you can trust your dog to make good decisions. You always want to make your preference the most enticing possibility. I also second the suggestion by @wrylybrindle about Jean Donaldson's Mine! book.
  • T_DogT_Dog
    Posts: 331
    Changing the diet is bad. It should always be the same. I don't think soft food is good for the teeth. I have been taught by my breeder that changing food is bad for the digestive system and can cause bad things like bloody stool. What ever breed you get. Follow the instructions of the breeder on food and do not change it with out asking. Things like protein levels and calcium levels and grains and many other things are to be considered. This will affect how your puppy grows in a major way. To much calcium can cause bone problems. There are things a first time dog owner will not even consider a problem that can cause big trouble. Each breed is different. Mixing two foods together makes it hard to know the content of the ingredients. I am feeding Taste Of The Wild. I am also giving glyco 3 and vitamin C. All with the advise of my very capable and wise breeder. To much of certain ingredients can make them grow to fast and possibly fuse their growth plates together to soon. To much protein could cause them to gain to much weight at to young of an age causing stress on their joints and ligaments. To much exercise can hurt them as well. Not enough exercise can be bad for joints to. Brushing teeth is always a good idea. But start them young and make it taste good. Cuz if you only do it once in a while they won't really like it. Gotta get them used to it as puppy's. Also Akita are known to have food aggression with other dogs so its best not to let them share a bowl. I feed my dogs kibble by hand as pups. Not everytime. But often. Sometimes I asked them to sit or lay down. This worked very well for my Shiba. He really enjoyed working for his food. Every so often as pups I would pick up their bowl for a second or two then move it over a few feet and set it down. They would look up at me and watch me there was no stress. They figured out quickly that I was gonna give it right back. I also teach them release with the release word being "release". I also made sure to check teeth and open their mouth often. I have my hands in their mouth alot. This way i can get in and take our a small pieces of what ever they might have that they should not have. Like a broken pencil they found. My dogs are so used to me getting in their mouth that it dont bother them. Cuz i do it daily. Lift their jouls check their teeth i open their mouth and look inside. They are a very mouthy breed. In fact it is said that if you dont like the idea of your wrist in your dogs mouth dont get an akita cuz they will want to mouth you. Some ppl teach their dogs not to mouth. I dont. They have soft mouths. They have very very good control. My Shiba can bite fast and very precise on pressure. He has left indentions on my skin but never broken it. Even when I accidentally get my finger in the back teeth during play. I should mention I have 2 JA 1 AA and a Shiba. They eat in their own seperate Kennels. Akita are OK with other dogs if they grow up with them. But the key thing to note is that the other dog had better be willing to submit. Cuz one of them will have to and it will very likely not be the Akita especially around 9 to 11 months old when they switch from puppy to teen.
  • My JA has never been food aggressive. Our shiba takes things right out of his mouth sometimes and I have to yell at her. I have to separate them when they eat or the shiba will eat all of his food. >.< He has a really good "drop it" command too, because he loved to eat tissues as a pup. Then if he ever had something he wasn't supposed to, I would say "drop it." and give him a treat when he did. He now enjoys giving me things and will often bring random stuff to me looking for a treat. I'm trying to teach him to put my husband's dirty clothes in the laundry basket. lol.
  • JunJun
    Posts: 31
    We have a JA and a cat. When the dog was little she used to growl if we tried to take away anything she liked, foods, toys... She doesn't do that to us anymore, we can take away anything from her anytime (including foods). She doesn't guard anything else from the cat: toys, water, beds, favorite spots in the house, the two of them share all of these stuff, and the cat can take away any of these from the dog. We do feed them both human food as treats, things like boiled eggs, meat, fruits... normally in small portions, as long as it's the stuff they can have. When we feed these treats we hand feed them both together, usually the cat first, then the dog. The dog would sit there waiting patiently for her turn, she'd not take away these treats from the cat, even if it's very high value to her. There's only one thing the dog guards from the cat, it's the food in her food bowl. The cat likes to steal kibbles from the bowl and the dog would growl or show her teeth. I don't know why the dog guards it, she doesn't even seem to care about kibbles. They've never had any fights over the kibbles, it's always the cat steals -> the dog shows up with an angry face -> cat walks away and that's it.

    Food wise, we feed the dog Acana kibbles, it claims all made locally here in Alberta, Canada with good ingredients. We get the biggest bag but rotate different flavors. The dog seems more interested every time she gets a different flavor.

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