Shiba Inu fanciers and owners are devoted to the breed, faithfully committed to parenting and training the Shiba Inu. They love their colorful personalities and take pride in knowing that the breed is charming and charismatic as it trots along proudly with beauty and confidence. A medium sized attractive and sturdy dog, at first glance it seems an ideal companion for almost any individual or lifestyle. However, parenting a Shiba Inu is not suitable for everyone, so understanding the breed characteristics and proper training is important when considering one for a pet.
Shiba Inus are an active, intelligent and independent breed. Originally bred to hunt and kill vermin and small game, even wild boar at times, they are also prey driven. The combination of these traits calls for the owner of the breed to be just as active, intelligent and strong willed while training the Shiba Inu so that the dog will understand proper behavior and the rules of the household. With an innate mindset of “what I want” and “mine,” an improperly trained Shiba can result in a destructive, unsocialized and unhappy dog.
Their requirement for stimulation and satisfaction influences the immediate need for training the Shiba Inu from puppyhood. While they are bright and quick learners, their intelligence and independence leads them to easily decipher what they can get away with when someone isn’t looking. By beginning with house training, leash walking (necessary since Shibas are unreliable off leash), and basic commands (e.g., “sit”), followed by a positive reward such as a treat or “good dog,” ground work is established for learning and gaining the dog’s respect. This makes additional training easier.
Harsh punishment while training the Shiba Inu is unacceptable and must be omitted. Shiba owners must understand the need for patience, consistency and positive recognition of good behavior. Punitive repercussions for unwanted actions, combined with their intelligence and independence, leads to a dog that will become introverted and untrusting toward its owner while reflecting the same behavior on other people, as well. The result is an unhappy and unbalanced dog.
The good news, however, is that simple guidance when training the Shiba Inu (e.g., a firm “no” and redirection for inappropriate chewing), as well as applying consistent, positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior, will produce the desired results. Although Shiba Inus are recognized as stubborn and may still display some independence, the dog will value the request of their owners and become easier to work with, live with, and enjoy once they learn that their actions are appreciated and rewarded.
Equally as important as training the Shiba Inu is socialization with both animals and humans, including children. While they can enjoy other dogs and sometimes even cats, Shiba’s can easily become dominant and dislike other animals if not socialized properly from puppyhood, resulting in aggression during interaction. There will be a chance the Shiba Inu may not care for other animals despite, but continued socialization will lessen this chance. Due to their prey drive, it is unsafe to have other animals, such as birds or guinea pigs, within the household.
Making sure to consistently introduce your Shiba Inu to adults and children is imperative to developing a well-balanced dog. Instructing people, especially children, proper behavior around the dog is necessary to gain the dog’s trust, as well as prevent stress, unpredictability and even biting. People should not approach or touch the dog directly, especially children, but should calmly wait for the dog to approach and accept them. Adults should not allow children to poke, pull or prod the dog. This method will allow the dog to accept new people, leading to a happier and more relaxed dog and owner.
Training the Shiba Inu should be a main goal of prospective owners in order to encourage a sound dog and enhance the bond between the dog and owner. Reciprocated respect originated from training strengthens the relationship, satisfying both dog and human. As a result, the Shiba’s owner will be able to focus and relish the playful, fun character of the breed vs. persistent, unwanted behavior.