The character of Akita can be even more fascinating than its appearance. We know that Akita was a hunting dog, also fighting and great protector with a highly developed territorial instinct and quite a distrust of anyone outside its pack. We know also that Akita is strongly attached to its family, especially to one person, whose leadership is unconditionally accepted.
It’s difficult to describe all aspects of the Akita’s nature.
Generally it’s a dog that could be described as a conditionally domesticated wolf.
Why? Well, none of the most ‘velvety’ condition won’t diminish its adaptive skills or hunting instinct or territorial protection instinct.
An Akita can live in a ‘cozy’ environment for several years, but whenever an opportunity arises, it will hnt, even if it has never done so before (most wild animals living in unnatural environment lose their instincts or physical abilities to hunt). The Akita is creative; if it deems itself unfit to hunt larger prey, it will find a way to hunt smaller, less vigilant animal. Their chasing techniques and ingenuity are remarkable; as is their cleverness and rapid assessment of situations, inlcuding evaluating the capabilities of potential adversaries.
An Akita can be friends with a cat or simply tolerate one, but any unfamiliar cat that enteres its territory will be pursued.
Akita will never lose its instinct to watch over its territory.
The territory can also include a car or any place its pack stays for a little longer.
When hiking in the woods or mountains and someone appears in a distance, the Akita will always let us know that we’re not alone.
However, it never makes any sound when it sees wild animal.
The Akita is a dog that doesn’t bark unnecessarily; it can get used to a heavy traffic or passersby near to its backyard. But if someone slows down, starts looking around, or walks back and forth waiting for someone, they will be immediately watched by the dog and any suspicious behavior will be announced.
In addition to barking, the Akita uses a wide range of sounds/ It’s a talker and a debater, but most of the sounds the Akita uses in everyday life are reserved for its family and pack only.
Only an Akita can roar with a joy, performing its ‘dance’ at the same. During this, it needs some accessories, which can be a toy, or, if none are available, anything within reach like a sock, a slipper, or even a leaf or tiny piece of papers. The ‘dance of joy’ is one of the most characteristic features of Akita, and what’s amazing is that many Akitas cannot perform this ritual of the ‘roaring dance’ in the presence of strangers. It’s as if they have two faces: one for their paick and another for strangers.
Akita is rarely warm and cheerful towards strangers, but it will behave properly when its owner is nearby. However, this applies only when the owner is present.
It’s advisable not to leave the Alita alone with your guestsDo not leave it alone with your guests, because Akita immediately becomes the boss and its tolerance has an end – ceases to be a nice dog and usually turns all the present in the “dummies” until the return of the owner. I’ve experienced such situations and I can assure you – it is one of the most incredible experiences – Akita is so suggestive and strict that I don’t know anyone who would dare to oppose it. Actually Akita doesn’t do anything special, just with one look can express everything – that nobody has right to touch anything or to move, because any movement can end badly, if someone does not comply – Akita gives to understand that it’s not a joke. Akita has a habit of lying on some dais on its territory to have an eye on everything.
Akita takes life very seriously and esteems it highly – the own life as well as life of people it loves. However, it treats an intruder or a victim ruthlessly and without mercy. The hierarchy of the pack once established is sacred, however when the pack is changed the hierarchy is to be established again. Akita reads body language of human or animal perfectly, you could say it is an excellent psychologist and strategist, which gives it amazing capacity for adaptation – can observe the behavior and read intentions.
Akita that happens to get lost (it may happen on a trip in the woods chasing animals), will always return to the place which you started from, even if it took him few days – and most interesting is that an inborn distrust towards strangers won’t allow it to be disclosed – Akita observes without being seen – come out only when it sees the owner being restless in his/her searches. Sometimes, if it’s not far, who knows – maybe the dog will get home sooner than the owner looking for it.
Akita adapt perfectly to any environment, which it’s bringing up in. It’s important for a dog to learn as much new things as possible from an early puppyhood, if we want it to accept without any fear surrounding environment. Akita can learn almost everything, maybe it would be only a problem for Akita to herd animals. You can level its inborn distrust of people outside its own family, it can be friends with many different animals, which it would simply prefer to hunt if it was without our participation. You can teach him quiet behavior on a strange territory (the Akita know that there’s someone else ruling on foreign territory, someone that could attack it or its family). If it’s not enough familiar with the atmosphere of e.g. dog show, it may behave fearful or aggressive – it’s also related with the degree of intimacy with the leader and with hierarchy, which is among them. If the owner is a weak man that couldn’t take the leadership of the pack – Akita will feel uncomfortable, expecting an attack and it feels responsible tor its owner and obliged to defend its uncertain member of the pack. And then Akita always behaves nervously – and either it provokes itself a fight with other dogs (assuming that attack is the best form of defense) or behaves timidly.
Akita as a puppy
As a puppy Akita is careful and must be thoroughly acquainted with everything new before it starts to behave naturally in new situations or towards newly met people or animals. During puppyhood, under supervision of the mother and with human guide, Akita learns very quickly thanks to innate caution and mind focused on everything that’s new; and great sensitivity to unpleasant sensations. Usually, after one try it keeps in memory what’s pleasant and worthy and what’s not. You have to treat it very firmly and gently at the same time, discipline must be limited to pulling a fold of skin on the neck (like a mother does), you can use verbal reprimand at the same time, e.g.: ‘don’t!’ and it’s enough for little Akita not to try such thing ever again. For example, when a puppy takes to mouth something forbidden, reprimand it and just after that give some toy (Akita should have many toys – it learns quickly to use its ‘stuff’ and not to destroy those belonging to a man). In the future, just verbal reprimand with firm tone will be enough for an undesirable behavior. It’s very important to remember that the puppyhood is crucial in creation of dog’s personality, so what the dog will learn as a puppy will stay in its mind.
It’s unacceptable to ‘sweeten’ and to be affected with everything that little Akita does; to reward all the time only puppyish behavior with bursts of joy. From the very beginning you have to demand, to give it different activities and praise when they’re accomplished properly – also the uniform treatment is important – the whole family has to arrange the same activities and praise at the same time (and never pity a dog when it’s reprimanded by someone else!), not to stupefy little Akita by totally different attitude of different members of family. What’s more, one must constantly keep in mind the needs of the dog adequately to the age , such as: amount and quality of meals, frequency of physiological needs, amount of sleep, walks, play and training. And what’s also important – we decide, not the dog, when to start and end play and other activities.
Akita is a dog that does not trust unconditionally and does not forgive everything – also doesn’t like too complicated ‘jokes’. It’s not easy to get absolute trust of Akita, but it’s worthy to try – surely it shouldn’t be left alone, not to let it have ‘free hand’, because Akita will soon consider itself as a boss and then it begins to decide and in result command as well.
Akita can be a wonderful companion and friend of the whole human family, can finely tolerate company of strangers, our friends, and even those who we’ve just met. Akita can behave very dignified in the company of stranger animals and not provoke them to fight; can live with cats and other animals, which we will introduce properly; can be extremely tolerant and sensitive towards even very little children, and play with those bigger one not doing any harm. You just need to be able to raise it well and what’s important in proper education is the knowledge of Akita behaviorism and you have to communicate this knowledge clearly.
You could say that Akita is a very sensitive gentle dog avoiding, during puppyhood, situations that little Akita instinctively reads as dangerous. Because of inadequate socialization of a puppy may cause wildness, distrustful and even fearful reactions to new things – you have to socialize puppy carefully and here there is lots to do for a breeder. We must remember that the key period to build a strong and wonderful Akita’s psyche is the period between 3rd and 7th week.
There are few important stages in Akita’s life:
Between 3rd and 7th week when puppy starts to make first steps and get to know everything.
Between 3rd and 5th month when Akita, in spite of earlier proper education and courageous actions even in new environment, becomes again cautious, even timid (it’s important not to make young Akita meet unpleasant sensations caused by people or animals, because it’s the time of intense distrust towards the whole outside world. It’s connected with awakening of consciousness that every new territory has its leader). During this time puppies often fight with each other creating new hierarchy. You have to be very patient, because puppy can often react with fear to many commands and it’s important to make the commands with calm, but still categorical voice and not to make too forceful movements during it.
Adolescence, which begins around 6th month, but in most cases during 8th month. Then waking up hormones cause that young Akita begins to be cocky and sometimes even too impertinent; on the other hand it has states of anxiety often because of unclear reasons. I’ve met with definition of ‘ghost period’ describing this time in Akita life, often the Swedish name so the period between 15th and 18th month of life. It’s important at this time to establish finally the place in pack that Akita takes and not to force to stay in certain places that makes the dog feel bad. At this time also, after a rapid growth, Akita should be fed with high-grade food with minerals and micro-elements (very important are Magnesium and Calcium), since appetite of dog increases much.
The attitude to children depends on whether the little Akita had contact with them, and on the way the contact was made. Also very much depends on the parents of children and on their parental abilities. Those who are able to raise a child consistently, will also be able to bring their dogs up properly and make right relationship between a child and Akita. We have to be aware that you cannot leave Akita alone with the children and their friends, as most children by Akita are down in hierarchy; Akita will love ‘its’ children and care for them, but friends might be taken as intruders.
text: Jolanta Talaga & Zuzanna Chade
photos: Zuzanna Chade
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