Having an aggressive dog can be a very upsetting and stressful situation for both the dog and the owner. Your Shiba may be displaying aggression or you may be thinking about getting a Shiba Inu and be worried that they are an aggressive breed.
Shiba Inus are no more aggressive than other breeds of dogs. They do however have a lot of energy and can be very independent and stubborn. Without proper socialization and training as a puppy, these things could lead to aggressive behavior later in life. The good news is it is avoidable with the right training both as a puppy and later on in an adult Shiba.
No dog breed is ever born aggressive. But some breeds do have certain traits that without being channeled properly could lead to aggression. With Shibas this is that they have a lot of energy, are strong-willed, and have a strong prey instinct.
None of this will necessarily lead to aggression by itself. It does mean you do need to spend a bit more time making sure that you train your dog well and give them lots of fun exercise.
Of course, knowledge is vital in properly raising a dog and to understand aggression, where it comes from, how it’s displayed, and what to do about it. First, we will need to go deeper into the mind of the Shiba by studying its temperament.
Understand The Shiba Inu Temperament
Shiba Inu are great dogs, they are not any more aggressive than any other breed. But they do have a particular temperament that it is good to be aware of and sculpt your methods of handling accordingly.
Shiba Inus were originally bred to hunt small birds in Japan. It is from this unique purpose that many of their personality quirks come from.
As bird hunters, they had to be able to operate independently from their owners. Their prey may change their behavior faster than their owners could respond so the Shiba Inu had to learn how to “pick up the slack” so to speak.
From this their natural origin we can understand that these are very independent and fairly stubborn dogs. For this reason, coming at them straight on with aggressive measures will not work well on them.
Anything like that will probably only increase their aggression over time. When we handle them we want to be as calm as possible and usually want to use positive reinforcement. This means giving them rewards for being good as opposed to harsh punishments. You may also redirect away from the behavior you want to discourage and towards that behavior we would like to see in them.
This can also mean that they have definite boundaries. For example, they may not like at all another dog getting too up into their business and so that might set them off. This goes for people as well of course.
Due to their origins as hunters even if your Shiba Inu never does any hunting they will still have that natural instinct and drive in their genetics.
So we will want to be aware that a Shiba Inu may be more likely to be aggressive towards small animals like a cat or a pet bird. We will need to take this into account and plan accordingly.
Whenever dealing with our beloved Shiba Inus we need to keep these three things in mind.
- Shiba Inus are proud, independant dogs.
- Do not use harsh punishments like choke chains, shock collars, harsh leash corrections, alpha rolls as these methods are not effective with this breed.
- They have a strong prey drive, so be careful with any small animals you might own like birds, rabbits, hamsters and all manners of small creatures.
Understanding The Reasons Your Shiba Inu may Be Aggressive.
Aggression in dogs refers to attacking and biting people, other dogs, or other animals. All dogs that display aggression will usually have certain situations that are more likely to set them off.
If you can try to figure out what it is in your Shiba Inu that sets them off and once you know that you will be much closer to knowing how to solve it.
When you don’t know why they’re getting upset it’s almost impossible to get them to stop so this is a very important step.
- Aggression over territory: Sometimes your Shiba Inu could be getting aggressive over defending its home and yard, whatever it considers their territory.
- Your Shiba Inu could have protection aggression: It is natural for a dog to want to protect its family and all those people and things that it considers part of its pack. This can also be displayed by dogs that are mothers, and they may display this style of aggression if someone or something they don’t fully trust gets to close to their puppies.
- Shiba Inu getting aggressive of things they consider their own: This style of aggression is somewhat common in pet Shiba Inus. This is where the dog feels very possessive over their bone, chew toys, food, and any items that they highly value.
- Fear aggression: This happens when your Shiba Inu is scared and has high anxiety. This is, of course, a natural reaction if there is a true threat but it can be dangerous when it is being displayed when there is no real threat. This would mean that the Shiba Inu is in actuality safe but it does not understand that and feels unsafe.
- Prey instinct: In this form of aggression the dog exhibits classic signs of predatory behavior. This can sometimes manifest when somethings runs like a small child or a bunny rabbit. The dog’s natural hunting instincts kick in and it starts to think that the thing running is actually its prey.
- Dogs can sometimes redirect their aggression: This happens when a dog is very upset at something but for some reason is blocked from reaching the source of its aggression. In some cases when this happens the dog might redirect its aggression towards a nearby innocent object or person.
The Signs of Impending Aggression From Your Shiba Inu
Though it may sometimes seem like dog aggression just comes out of nowhere, this is generally not the case. Dogs can be extremely expressive of their emotions and feelings. Instead of speaking them verbally as people do, instead, you can see it in their body language.
So its good for any owner of a Shiba Inu or any breed of dog for that matter to be aware of a few classical physical signs that your dog is anxious or may about to take aggressive action.
- Growling and showing its teeth, or making snapping motions into the air. This is usually a very strong sign and you should immediately back away without turning your back to the dog.
- When their body goes very rigid along with a quickly wagging tail.
- If you noticed that their fur is raised.
And here are some signs that the dog may be very scared, and so might be about to engage in an aggressive defensive action.
- If they’re cowering and tucking their tail underneath their body.
- If you see the whites of their eyes.
Methods You Can Use To Calm An Aggressive Dog.
If your Shiba Inu is displaying signs of aggression or you fear they might then don’t panic. Here are some basic helpful tips that might be able to get you and your Shiba Inu’s relationship on the right track.
- Be calm
Your Shiba will pick up a lot of its behavior from you and your energy. This is just an easy way to say that dogs take their cue from the body language of their leader. So if your all nervous and anxious your dog will be too.
Think of it as if you were a child and your parent was upset, you would most likely be upset too. It is the same with dogs. So try to be calm and relaxed and this will hopefully help your dog to do the same.
2. Talk to your vet.
Sometimes dogs get upset because of something wrong beneath the surface in their body. This is called pain-elicited aggression. Think about the times you were in pain, you were probably a lot crabbier with the people around you then you want to be. Dogs can do this too sometimes, especially since they can’t talk.
So take your dog for a check-up at your trusted vet just to make sure their isn’t an underlying injury of some kind.
3. Neuter or spay your dog.
Dogs that haven’t been spayed or neutered are often more aggressive and likely to display dominance along with a host of other types of aggression. While this may be greater or lesser of a problem depending upon the unique personality of your pet.
Still, if you do not intend on breeding your Shiba then it is probably best to spay or neuter them. This usually calms them down and so could potentially help with any aggressive behavior they may be showing.
4. Give your Shiba lots of exercise.
Sometimes dogs may be aggressive simply because they just have too much energy with far too little to do. This, of course, can drive any person or animal crazy. Shiba Inus can especially have this problem as they are relatively energetic dogs, so it’s a must for them to have a healthy outlet for all that energy.
Make sure to take your dog for walks and play exciting games with them like fetch or chase.
5. Be consistent.
It’s important to provide your dog consistency with the rules and boundaries that you put up for them. Not doing this could leave them upset and confused. Unfortunately dogs generally only understand whether something is bad or good. They don’t really understand the whole “not now” or “you can jump up on the couch but not when I don’t feel like it”.
So its good to set firm rules for your relationship with your dog. Of course, what these rules and boundaries might be will vary based upon your own personal lifestyle. But some good ideas for rules are the following.
- Stay off the furniture
- Don’t jump on people
- No aggression with food or treats.
- Absolutely no biting, not even small nips.
If You Feel It’s More Than You Can Handle Seek Professional Help Before It Gets Worse.
If you find your Shiba having aggression issues that you feel are getting out of hand, and beyond your ability to deal with it yourself, do not hesitate to seek professional help.
Dog aggression can be very serious and lead to a lot of pain and suffering for both you and your dog. So don’t feel any shame about getting help as it could be thing that saves your relationship with your beloved Shiba.
Here is an excellent resource of trainers and other dog professionals in your area. The association of professional dog trainers.