So, what kind of dogs would it take to perform that job? Certainly dogs with intelligence, the ability to make decisions on their own, speed, strength and a strong bond to their humans.
This is the Shiba Inu.
The Shiba Inu’s outstanding hunting ability and independent, aloof nature can translate into behavior problems unless the dog is heavily socialized with people as well as other puppies and puppy-friendly adult dogs.
They can bond beautifully with their family and become quite the guardian and announcer of all perceived interlopers, so the ideal Shiba family should be well-versed in dog training and socialization skills.
To repeat: Shibas must socialize, socialize and socialize some more!
Training Shiba Inu Puppies
Until your veterinarian says it’s okay to take your puppy outside (after appropriate vaccinations), it’s critical to have a lot of people come over and interact positively with him. Have visitors feed, play with and help train him (using the tips below).
Mix it up so your Shiba sees the widest variety of people possible – men, women, boys, girls, people wearing uniforms, hats, visors, sunglasses, using canes and wheelchairs – so he develops a strong social foundation in this critical period.
The raw truth is, the once-in-a-lifetime period for dogs to be exposed to, draw conclusions about and later react to social and environmental stimuli ends when they are 4 months old. After that, your dog will have more of an adult dog’s view of new people and things. He will be out of that stage of seeing everything as potentially wonderful and will be more tentative about new things. This is a natural process, based on survival.
Shiba Puppy Training Tips
Train your Shiba puppy early, frequently, in short sessions and with a great deal of enthusiasm!
Start training your puppy when he is very young, ideally at 6 weeks old.
Shibas bore very easily, so keep the training sessions short. If your puppy doesn’t see a good reason to pay attention, particulary as he gets older, you risk losing his attention, so lots of enthusiasm and attention training is a good idea.
You should teach your Shiba the “Go To Bed” command, which will prevent him from running out the front door when it’s opened, and will teach him to greet visitors appropriately. This particular command is a necessity for all dogs, particularly independent-thinking hunters whose instincts can nudge them right out the door if they’re not taught an alternative behavior at an early age.
Training Adult Shiba Inus
Older dogs can be socialized, but it will take longer, and depending on the dog’s history of social encounters, may not get quite where a puppy would. If you adopt an adult Shiba, it’s a great idea to consult with a trainer to get direct guidance on how to safely socialize your dog. To find a trainer near you, visit the Association of Pet Dog Trainers website.
Like their cousin the Akita, the Shiba doesn’t warm up to strangers quickly or, sometimes, at all. Many people will approach your dog to pet him, so the need for socialization cannot be stressed too much. It’s crucial that your Shiba learns to enjoy the approach of strangers.
Adult Shiba Training Tips
An adult dog’s true personality starts to shine about two weeks after adoption. During their first weeks in a new home, adult dogs usually hold back a bit to see who’s who in the family. Again, it’s a nature thing – it’s safer to keep a low profile while discovering who’s kind, predictable and consistent (trustworthy); who feeds, walks and plays with the dog; who can be taken advantage of; who takes the most interest in the dog; and who to keep some distance from.
Introduce neighbors and friends to your Shiba each day during this adjustment period.
Encourage good behavior. When your dog sits to greet someone, have that person give him a treat.
Keep a box of dog treats outside your front door so visitors can grab a treat and give it to your dog after entering your home and closing the door. If your dog is doing well socially, have your guests ask him to sit before giving him the treat.
Call a trainer for an evaluation if you’re not sure about your Shiba’s social skills with people and other dogs. In-home training sessions can get you started with any behavioral modification and specific training needs your dog may have.
Silencing the “Shiba Scream”
Shiba Inus are a pretty vocal breed. They can make some hilarious noises that sound like a howl/bark/whine/growl combination. They have what many of their pet parents know as the “Shiba Scream:” a high-pitched, dramatic-sounding complaint that’s bloodcurdling to those who don’t know the breed.
If your Shiba’s loud complaints are about something insignificant, like dropping a favorite toy out of reach or trying to get the cat down from the counter, the most effective way to convince him to abandon the loud behavior is to tap into his desire to be with you.
Read my training advice for the dog who barks non-stop when someone’s at the door and the dogs who bark when anyone walks by their house to learn how to teach your Shiba to shush. Be sure to stick with it until you get the (quiet) results you want, and don’t skip any steps. Your dog’s desire to be with you will quickly override his desire to complain if you follow these steps.