I have added this information to my website as I think it is important that everyone who is thinking of owning a Shiba should know their personality. While most of my Shibas are pretty laid back and have an easygoing temperament, dogs react differently in different homes. Shibas are quick to decide if they are the dominant family member and you need to be aware of how to train them not to be dominant and how to control their energy.
If you are having problems with your puppy and training him, you may contact me and I will try to help you! If your puppy is not responding to your training it is very likely that you are not seen as the pack leader and you need to change this to avoid temperament problems. This does not require punishment or rough handling! Shibas are smart dogs and simple obedience training works very well.
How to raise a Shiba you can live with:
Congratulations on purchasing a new Shiba puppy! Shibas can be wonderful dogs and are a very popular breed in Japan! There are some things you should and should not do with a Shiba in order to have a well-behaved adult.
Puppy training begins at birth. Your breeder should have started training and socialization. As a buyer of a 9 week old puppy you have about 3 weeks to continue tosocialize your puppy. Some people are still advocating not taking the puppy anywhere until after he is 12 weeks old. But at 12 weeks a puppies brain changes and the period where he learns quickest has ended. While I do not suggest taking your puppy to a dog park or places where a lot of dogs are present, definitely take him to meet many new people and expose him to the safe things you want him to be comfortable with as an adult. For instance, if you want to take him on car rides, get him used to that with short trips. If you will be taking him on a boat, let him see your boat and get him familiar with it. If you plan to do agility let him see the equipment.
So people ask, why not get a puppy when he is younger so I can have more time to socialize? First most states have laws that prohibit the sale of pups less than 8 weeks of age. Next, a puppy goes through a fear period at 8 weeks and that is really not the best time for him as a negative experiendce between 8-9 weeks of age like a scary plane ride or car trip, or the pup getting away from you and being chased, can make him fearful of similar situations and will require lots of training for him to overcome.
You should know and trust your breeder to properly begin socialization at 4 weeks and spend daily time exposing the puppies to many people and situations. This is where your high volume breeder fail. Most keep the pups in a small pen with few toys and will not let you visit under the pretense that wou will make their dogs sick. They do not want you to see the conditions your future puppy lives in. They will want you to take your puppy at 8 weeks, even though he is entering a fear stage, because it is their goal to get rid of the puppies as soon as they can.
As with any dog Shibas have certain tendencies, some good and some bad. Unfortunately many Shibas are turned over to rescue because their owners did not have them properly under control. The end result, the dog bit another dog or person.
Do not rough house with your puppy and NEVER let him bite hands or feet when he playing with you. This may be cute and fun when he is 5 or 6 pounds but it is not so cute when he is 25 pounds and comes charging for your feet and hands. This is one behavior you should work on stopping without exceptions. No one wants a dog that bites. If your puppy bites pick him up and keep your hands away from his head. Gently hold him and calmly pet him. If he has been playing for 30 minutes or longer, he may just be overstimulated, so put him in his ex-pen set up so he can nap in his bed. Keep track of your pups behavior. If he begins biting after 30 minutes of play, put him in his rest area after 25 minutes. If there are certain games or toys that overexcite him, do not play these games until he is older. If children get him revved up, teach the children to calmly hold and pet the puppy, as running and chasing will bring out his instinct to play roughly with them.
The most common reason Shibas are given up is for nipping. They rarely break skin but a good pinch will leave a bruise and is painful. They will be able to break the skin on a child and while they do not “attack” like a pit bull with the intent to do bodily harm, a bite to a child may require a couple of stitches, as your Shiba thinks he is nipping another Shiba with thick fur.
Teach your puppy to walk on a loose leash with a collar. We start training out puppies at 6 weeks to wear a collar and harness. We teach them how to walk by our side without nipping or jumping up. Lessons are short, but puppies can learn in just 2-3 short lessons at this age with lots of positive reinforcement. You do not want him lunging at other people or dogs walking by.
Do not let your Shiba jump up on you. We teach our puppies that if they want something they should sit unless we invite them to jump up. I do not let them jump up on me when I am handing out treats or when I am setting down a food bowl.
Do get your Shiba used to being touched. We begin handling our pups at birth. They get used to being held in different positions and having their nails trimmed, ears, teeth and tail touched and examined. Shibas raised with little contact tend to be sensitive and can become difficult for even an experienced vet to examine. Touch and massage your pup everywhere including his feet, ears, back legs, tail and mouth. If he gets used to this as a pup it will be much easier to handle him when he is an adult and needs vet work done.
Shibas are very smart and will try to communicate with you in their language. If you can find a good book on dog communication it may really help you to understand your Shiba!
They expect you to know their language! Many people think it is cute when their dog demands food or a walk as they know what he is saying!
Do not let your Shiba “own” things; Our puppies are taught that we give them treats and toys. When they are very young they learn we use the toys to interact and play calmly. However Shibas can be very possesive and to them everything can become “mine” Toys, treats, personal space and even humans. This is bad because at first they growl and hunch over their prize, and the next step is to bite the person who tries to take it from them. Many a child has been nipped for trying to take the dogs ‘toy’ or pet him while he eats. Teach your Shiba that you will give him toys and you get to have them back when play is done. If there is one he seems possesive of put it next to you on a table or chair for a time out. After he has calmed down he may have it back.
Sensitive skin and feet: Shibas for being tough little dogs are very sensitive about bug bites or other skin and paw irritations. A bug bite may cause your Shiba to pull hair out in a large circle around the bite do not be alarmed, it will grow back. I believe this is because they are so clean.
Vocalizations: Shibas can be big talkers. They make a lot of noise if they are upset about toenail trimming, the collar or when meeting other dogs. I discourage this from the start. Most people are not comfortable with the screams or grumpy noises and you do not need to be embarrassed by your dog.
The Circle game. Shibas like to play territorial games, One of these is to place a favorite toy or treat on the floor and draw an imaginary circle around it. When a cat or person crosses the boundary they chase it off and may even nip. If you pup seems to be starting this, immediately take the object and place it next to you. When your Shiba approaches say NO! MINE! In a loud voice and make him understand that you are in control and he only has the object when you allow him to. It is also a sign that he needs more exercise and a good idea to find a new game to play. Shibas love to bat balls around like a cat so a hard plastic ball may work. They are treat balls that dispense treats and even doggy videos.
Dog Dominance. Most Shibas play well with others until they are 12-18 months old. Then they decide they need to be boss. Typically the Shiba suddenly turns on a big playful pup at the dog park all teeth and snarls until the big pup screams and rolls on its back. They will rarely physically hurt another dog, but many people see it as a dog fight and will label the Shiba as aggressive. Once your Shiba gets to this age it is best to introduce new dogs on leash and let him get to know them before they play. Shibas hate to have another dog rush at them and try to bowl them over and will only play when they want.
Cleanliness. An adult Shiba likes to stay clean and dry. Some will not even go outside to potty if it is raining or sloppy but prefer to hold it until better weather. This partly explains why they do not like to have other dogs bowl them over or slaver on them and also why little bug bites irritate them so much!
Training Problems: We want you to have a Shiba that is a well mannered family member. If you are having training or behavioral problems, please contact us ASAP. We will always take a puppy back if it is not working out for you, but we prefer that our puppies stay in their homes as it requires additional time, training and cost for us to re-home your dog if it has learned bad habits.
Most problems start out at 4-12 weeks of age!
There are many trainers and methods out there, but success always involves being consistent and spending time doing some training, usually 10-15 minutes twice a day. Everything you do with your dog teaches him something and he is constantly learning and growing, so be careful not to sned mixed signals as to what is acceptable and what isn’t. Common sense should always be a factor and training should be done with love, praise and positive motivation, not physical abuse.
Shibas and Children:
Adding a dog to your family is a big decision, and if you have children you want to make sure they have a pet they can play with and enjoy. Shibas are good with children if the children are supervised and learn to play calmly with the puppy. If you allow the puppy to play bite and grab clothing the dog will continue to bite as he grows older. Kids like to run and scream and dogs like to chase and puppies under 6 months easily get overstimulated and start to play bite. Not a good situation for a Shiba. On a young child a bite to the face or hands is traumatic and painful. You need to make sure your child understands how to treat a dog and you need to supervise their interaction and train the puppy to be a good family member. Any of the behaviors listed above should not be tolerated with children! If yours is a busy family and you do not have time to spend training a Shiba is not right for you.
The Shiba Scream:
Shibas have become infamous for what breeders started calling the "Shiba scream" It was originally aimed at the tantrum a Shiba would throw when having his/her nails trimmed or during lead training. A 12-14 week old pup would test the owner by rolling over and screaming like he was being tortured or killed. The result would be the nail trimming stopped or the pup was picked up and carried and the Shiba got his way. Breeders quickly learned that it was better to remain calm and quietly insist on finishing the job, or at least getting the pup to tolerate one more nail or walking a few steps. An overly excited or extremely tired pup is much more likely to have a tantrum. This is not the same scream as a spoiled pup that does not want to be in a crate or wants attention he or she is not getting. This unnecessary screaming and vocalizing is not normal for a Shiba. It is a temperament seen in Huskies and I have avoided using dogs that scream and carry on in my breeding program. The Japanese are very specific about the temperament in the Shiba. They describe the Shiba temperament with three words. Kan-i, bold, dignified, strong character and a noble presence. ryousei: faithful and obedient, a trust and partnership with their owners and soboku: a natural beauty, and sober elegance. An adult Shiba should be calm and dignified, not screaming and jumping to get attention. As temperament is hereditary I would recommend meeting the breeder of your pup and seeing how the adults act. A young dog, under 1 year may be more active and excited, but adults should have a manageable personality.
A puppy's instinct is to keep his bed and play area clean. However he has little baldder control before 12 weeks of age. Each pup is an individual, and just like children, some are able to control baldder and bowel movements earlier than others. We keep our puppies clean. A puppy raised in dirty conditions is already used to stepping in his own poop and will be harder to housetrain. Many toy breeds raised in puppymills are almost impossible to train.
Set up an area with a crate with the door open and an ex-pen for your puppy. Have a puppy pad or litter tray in one area, and provide him with toys and treats. This area should be large enough that he has room to play without having to step in his potty area all th time. This will be his rest area and where he sleeps for the next few weeks. When you are not able to watch him, he should be in here. Take up his water 1 hour before bed and his food 3 hours before bedtime. Make sure you take him out right before bedtime so he can pee.
Get up after 5-6 hours. Once his potty area is clean for 5-6 hours you can begin to close the crate door when he sleeps. During the day take him out frequently and praise him when he goes. Puppies usually have to go immediately when they wake up -10 minutes after they start to play and 15 minutes after eating. If you are playing with your puppy and he moves away from you he has to go and you should take him out.
NEVER SCOLD OR SPANK YOUR PUPPY! Many people still believe that this negative reaction will teach your puppy he is doing something wrong. To him he HAS to relieve himself, but he learns that if you see him go you frighten him. He will not associate that it is going inside that is the problem, but rather will avoid your scary reaction by hiding and doing his business when it it safe and you are not watching. This means that if you take him outside he will purposely “hold itand avoid going in front of you at all costs so you do not yell at or scare him. He will wait until he can get to his safe place where he can hide and then relieve himself.