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So my dog, Bear, is a big girl who has recently started chewing holes in her paws because she's overly bored. She doesn't even play with toys. I feel so bad for her, I try to take her out as much as possible, but she is very powerful and will lunge for any dog that she sees. Plus when she's on the leash, she will start screaming and wailing if she sees another dog. She was a rescue at 5 weeks old on the side of a highway, now she is 6 and the past year I've been really trying to calm some of her dog aggression. I know it's just from the pure lack of socialization, as when I got her I was overcome with the cuteness and never knew how to train a dog.

I've done extensive research on Akitas, I know they are very territorial, dominant, protective and have a high prey drive. I didn't even know about the breed until I DNA tested her. I can walk her with a muzzle and a rope leash, but a little walk dodging loose dogs every now and then isn't enough for a 110 pound dog. She has excellent recall and loves running in the trails, but there are so many dog owners in my area who also love the trails. Are there any other owners with this dilemma, if so any tips? Suggestions on how to get her used to other dogs?
 

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I'd recommend looking for a good professional. It's possible that the reactivity is leash reactivity rather than true dog aggression (has she ever attacked a dog?). With a dog that big and strong, I'd be afraid, as you are, of exposing her to situations where she might attack. It might be possible to devise a strategy with help from someone who knew what they were doing.
 

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I'm seconding the recommendation to hire a professional. Aggression and reactivity in a dog of that size is not something that can be swept under the rug. A professional can help you analyze the problem and tell you what steps to take.

A possibility to consider is that this is not a fixable issue. Many Akitas are dog aggressive. This isn't a pure lack of socialization. This is her breed and genetics coming into play. However, a professional behaviorist should be able to tell you the extent of the problem you're working with and help you come up with management solutions.
 

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you can work on focus and attention. (not sure but get the feeling Akita are independent breeds (not so easily amused to be interested in repetitious mundane task) finding task that have a purpose example sit before you put their bowl down and wait to be released, wait out side an entrance of a room while you enter the room then you turn to call them to enter ) finding the right motivation for reward food, right type of toy, and even time spent with you. My independent breeds ,one is high prey drive so she was easy giver her soul for anything that involves movement or squeaks lol ..., the other two had just enough of a hint of prey drive in them that I could build on it to and were high food chow hounds to use for motivation to introduce skills through activities, the rest in them is that they bond very strongly with their person. Not the type of dog breed that is going to do training all day long or continuously like other breeds. happy work ethic has to be built from very small quick exposure and it's over to more longer exposure. And that is just for working on introducing and learning to apply individual skills that have a purpose.

find activities that involve team work and leash skills wait skills. weave poles are easy to set up at home, use your kitchen chairs , figure eights . Look into nose work games a tired nose is a tired dog and you are working together , grooming rituals lots of skills and personal interaction.. You truly need to become one with this dog. It's not going to stop the dogs preferences of likes or dislikes but it will make a huge difference in maneuvering through them and out of them...
 

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Socialization, socialization, and more socialization. In their first year, a pup should always socialize with other dogs; some experts say that they need to interact with 100 dogs, maybe even more. If dogs aren't properly socialized in their first year (which many aren't) they will often develop a very aggressive nature to smaller animals, dogs included. Aggressive behavior after the first year is something that is EXTREMELY hard to train out, even for professionals. My advice would be to not take your dog out and around other dogs because if she got off the leash somehow she could do some serious damage because of her size. I know this isn't the answer you wanted, but you must realize how hard it is to get rid of behaviors like this. Akita Inus and Shiba Inus need to be trained in their first year and if not they will always develop an independent and strong willed personality.

All hope isn't lost though because you can still see a professional trainer, but its a long shot.

Akita Inus are a very primitive breed and possibly one of the most ancient breeds out there. Like the Shiba Inu and the Kishu Ken, Akita Inus have a very high prey drive. This is something that can of course be trained out, but again socialization is the key. I have an Akita/Husky mix who is almost 6 months old, but because of proper socialization I can literally take him anywhere.
 

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Akita Inus and Shiba Inus need to be trained in their first year and if not they will always develop an independent and strong willed personality.
Well, yes, all dogs need to be trained, in their first year and otherwise, but there are some things that can't be trained out. Breed traits are breed traits for a reason, people have been breeding them to be that way for a long long time. Akitas are meant to be somewhat dog aggressive. While socialization and training can help mitigate that a bit, they are what they are. Once your dog hits social maturity, he may "turn on" and become dog aggressive. Or not. Depending what traits he inherited most. But socialization won't prevent that. Training can help the dog to ignore other dogs, but an Akita will not ever be a Lab.

I agree with contacting a professional. A good trainer can help you to train her to ignore other dogs and not react so strongly.
 

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Socialization, socialization, and more socialization. In their first year, a pup should always socialize with other dogs; some experts say that they need to interact with 100 dogs, maybe even more. If dogs aren't properly socialized in their first year (which many aren't) they will often develop a very aggressive nature to smaller animals, dogs included. Aggressive behavior after the first year is something that is EXTREMELY hard to train out, even for professionals. My advice would be to not take your dog out and around other dogs because if she got off the leash somehow she could do some serious damage because of her size. I know this isn't the answer you wanted, but you must realize how hard it is to get rid of behaviors like this. Akita Inus and Shiba Inus need to be trained in their first year and if not they will always develop an independent and strong willed personality.
While socialization is important, genetics is a huge contributor to temperament - including aggression - which is why those kind of issues can be so hard to "train out", especially where the trait has historically been bred for in the first place.

At 6 years old, this dog is well past the "socialization" window. At this point the issue requires management (LOTS), paired with counter-conditioning and impulse control work. With such a large, strong dog that's having such an intense response to seeing other dogs and a breed history with strong prey-drive, the OP needs to see a professional to work through the problem safely and effectively.

OP, muzzle training is a great idea as a first step to management, as is finding ways to engage her without having to leave the house, like at-home conditioning exercises and brain-games.
 

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Akita Inus and Shiba Inus need to be trained in their first year and if not they will always develop an independent and strong willed personality.
From what everyone is saying you'd think DA was a dominant gene. I would not assume an Akita/Lab is entirely Akita. I have had known many Labs to lunge on the leash at other dogs . . . and then, off leash, it's sniff and play bow. Of course you don't want to take a chance with a 110 lb dog, but I wouldn't assume it's a lost cause. And I'll bet there's a range in Akitas, with some of them being somewhat dog tolerant. you need a professional to help you evaluate.
It's so sad to see a dog bored and not getting exercise. The frustration may exacerbate the tendency to lunge. Maybe a treadmill?
 

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From what everyone is saying you'd think DA was a dominant gene. I would not assume an Akita/Lab is entirely Akita. I have had known many Labs to lunge on the leash at other dogs . . . and then, off leash, it's sniff and play bow. Of course you don't want to take a chance with a 110 lb dog, but I wouldn't assume it's a lost cause. And I'll bet there's a range in Akitas, with some of them being somewhat dog tolerant. you need a professional to help you evaluate.
It's so sad to see a dog bored and not getting exercise. The frustration may exacerbate the tendency to lunge. Maybe a treadmill?
Although there are likely to be a ton of genes that contribute to dog aggression, for all we know it could be a dominant trait. Not to mention that labs are not immune to being DA. Is it less frequent in labs than in other breeds? Yes. But I have met labs that would like nothing more than for all of the other dogs around them to not be alive any more.

Additionally, no one is saying that the OP should just give up and accept it, but IME it is very important to have reasonable expectations, and it is very reasonable that this dog may never like other dogs.
 

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to have a dog acting within it's breed (Akita) shouldn't be a shocker or something wrong with the individual dog. Not a breed designed for taking to an off leash dog park. If i am not mistaken it's a hardship because the OP didn't know this was a possible trait of the mix they obtained. My vet was a lab breeder/exhibitor so there were plenty of wall to wall lab days at the vet clinic and left unchecked for manners and encouraged, can be very obnoxious individual dogs though they are thought by owners to be docile angels that are ((( cute ))) when they act aggressively in public. Op has some work a head of them for management. Never going to take my CO's to an off leash dog park an they did change as they matured and they had a positive social start. All is well for being in a crowded vet clinic minding their own business , sleeping, waiting their turn, until the idiot comes in letting out his lead for his happy excited Golden to start to rush up on him sleeping on the floor, the fact that Arka stiffened raising his head with a hard stare at the approaching dog was enough to send the Golden sliding on the floor back peddling That is what you could hope for... in a breed not designed for liking strange dogs.. confidence and self control out in public to ignore that they not important, good working relationship with the owner.. Not focused on they have to like or be able to play with every dog or any dog...
 

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Yup. Some Labs are DA. Breed-ism commonly leads to false conclusions, both positive and negative. There is no substitute for having a professional evaluate a behavioral problem, in person.

The word "Akita" provokes a knee jerk assumption of DA dog for many people, just as 'pit bull' provokes a knee jerk assumption of vicious musclebound dog for many people.

IMO, forum chatter is no substitute for professional evaluation; this is only slightly less true for behavioral problems than for health problems.

I don't want to discourage the OP from trying. If you start out with the attitude that something is unlikely to work, it's hard to put your heart into it. Leash reactivity is often confused with aggression . . . at very least, regardless of breed or supposed breed, it is important to differentiate between the two behaviors.

And I truly feel sorry for a dog that has taken to chewing her paws out of boredom. If there is a do-able fix, I don't want to preclude it.
 

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agree with getting "professional" help but CM is a self proclaimed "professional" and that would be the OP and OP's dog worst nightmare.. lots of nightmare self claiming professionals out there to want to find the right one. (do we have a sticky somewhere for what guidelines , questions to ask in interviewing a professional) Thought I saw a link posted with listed certified professionals can some one post that link. I also suggest the OP contact specific breed rescue weather they are locally or not and ask questions, or if they have any recommendations in your state or area for professionals that know the breed.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you guys for the help. I appreciate it. Bear is like two completely different dogs when she's in the house and when shes out. She's so sweet and has such good manners when at home. I've started wrapping her paws in gauze to keep her from chewing them. I tried her off the leash, but muzzled with my neighbors Cattle Dog but every time he'd come close to sniff her, she'd freak out and lunge for him. She was fine when he was away from her doing his own thing. Plus, she has been fixed since she was 2 so it couldn't be hormonal. Just the other day I took her out for a 2 hour long hike. We walked so far into the trails that we got lost. It's only in the far woods that I feel safe enough to take her muzzle off. Though for her size, she would need that amount of stimulation and more every day. I may try a treadmill if she will take too it. If I had my time back I would have given her a lot of socialization instead of cooing over an adorable puppy. I will most definitely find a professional in my area who can teach me how to work on her aggression. She is already 6, so if training doesn't work out it may be something we'll have to live with I guess. She's my baby girl haha.

 

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Could it be that her chewing her paws is a food allergy and not boredom? She obviously does have other issues to work on, but I would consider the paw-chewing a separate issue. Have you changed anything in her diet lately?

As for her aggression issues, I agree with the others that a professional is needed. Like you said, you may just have to live with it; she is who she is. However, you can work on improving things, even if it's just a little bit.
 

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You say: " I tried her off the leash, but muzzled with my neighbors Cattle Dog but every time he'd come close to sniff her, she'd freak out and lunge for him. She was fine when he was away from her doing his own thing."

To me this sounds hopeful, more like she doesn't know how to react and freaks out when a dog approaches . . . not like she is deeply aggressive. Sometimes dogs who haven't been socialized need to be coached on how to get along with other dogs, including learning that being sniffed over is not dangerous. Just because she is big doesn't mean she isn't afraid or timid.

A skilled dog behaviorist may well be able to help. As others have pointed out, finding the right person is crucial; there are come crackpots out there. CM, btw., stands for Cesar Milan . . . as someone above pointed out, someone who will try to get the desired behavior by dominating Bear and forcing her to behave 'correctly' , as will people in the Cesar Milan camp, is not going to work. I'm not a trainer . . . maybe someone else can describe the sort of approach you want to find.

p.s. vet wrap is a lot easier to work with than gauze. You can buy it at any large pet or feed store.
 

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Could it be that her chewing her paws is a food allergy and not boredom? She obviously does have other issues to work on, but I would consider the paw-chewing a separate issue. Have you changed anything in her diet lately?

As for her aggression issues, I agree with the others that a professional is needed. Like you said, you may just have to live with it; she is who she is. However, you can work on improving things, even if it's just a little bit.
Yeah

I am not unfamiliar with dog-aggressive dogs. None of them chewed their paws or did any such self-destructive behavior even when we had limited out of the yard time. I would agree with considering allergies or irritations in that regards.

One of the most useful non-training related things I did was search the area for places that are open to the public but are not parks, not areas likely to attract dogs etc. I found that places like a business district/downtown or business park after hours were very quiet, a fairgrounds area when not in use for fairs was quiet, I even had people offering me the use of their pastures if needed (never used) because they understood the DA and exercise issue. Even things like the parking lots of community colleges ( while maybe not truly public, it is unlikely that a school would object to you wandering the parking lot and perimeters) or some hospitals (one I know of has a public walking path around it but few people use it)

I also had fair bit of success with the training stuff in the sticky on leash reactive/aggressive dogs (which is why I posted it to begin with of course)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Now that I think about it, she has been scratching the past couple months. The paw chewing could be from an allergy. I have her on Dog Chow but I'll try finding something else to see if it is the food. She won't them them heal, ugh.

Today's walk was a bit of a task, when I had gotten down the street with her someone's Terrier mix came running out of nowhere. Bear started freaking out and screaming, she even cut her nose trying to get the muzzle off. I am pretty sure she acts like this because the other dogs usually come at her barking and are too excited for her to handle at once. It's probably also a protectiveness as well. Though there may be hope, as she is okay with calm dogs if they are not around her. She gets overwhelmed and reacts when they want to sniff her. I haven't tried her without the muzzle just yet. Hopefully one day she can be able to meet and play with other dogs confidently. I'm in the process of finding a legit trainer near me who can help, there are a lot of fakes out there. Thanks for the help guys.
 

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Now that I think about it, she has been scratching the past couple months. The paw chewing could be from an allergy. I have her on Dog Chow but I'll try finding something else to see if it is the food. She won't them them heal, ugh.

Today's walk was a bit of a task, when I had gotten down the street with her someone's Terrier mix came running out of nowhere. Bear started freaking out and screaming, she even cut her nose trying to get the muzzle off. I am pretty sure she acts like this because the other dogs usually come at her barking and are too excited for her to handle at once. It's probably also a protectiveness as well. Though there may be hope, as she is okay with calm dogs if they are not around her. She gets overwhelmed and reacts when they want to sniff her. I haven't tried her without the muzzle just yet. Hopefully one day she can be able to meet and play with other dogs confidently. I'm in the process of finding a legit trainer near me who can help, there are a lot of fakes out there. Thanks for the help guys.
Have you tried using a medical collar? also known as "cone of shame" or "e-collar" (not to be confused with electronic collar) to prevent chewing? Sometimes breaking the cycle of itch-chew-raw spot-chew raw spot-itch-ouch is enough to get some relief for the dog and set up some new habits or really, lack of chewing habit.

Dog Chow? Like the name brand of Dog Chow? If so, that is really really low quality food with a lot of potential allergens. Grass, pollens and other stuff outdoors can be allergens and are probably even more common than food allergens but food is easier to change than grass and flowers outside. I'd look for a simple formula of one protein and one carb. If you let us know where you are buying food and what your budget is, we can probably suggest something to try that will fit nearly any budget and availability.

And as for on-leash or intentional interactions with other dogs during walks, I just don't see the need or reason. My dogs meet dogs I know, they meet dogs we have a reason to interact with, Chester is allowed to meet puppies and small dogs on-leash, Eva is not expected to meet any dogs in public. Not worth it. Loose dogs are another thing and yes, can be very hard to deal with but there are management techniques to reduce the chances of encountering them and working with a trainer can help for those times when you are forced to deal with a loose dog.
 
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