Taming the Furry Terror
June 16, 2014 § 3 Comments
Training a Shiba Inu isn’t easy. This dog may look like he came out of an animated Disney cartoon, but don’t be fooled by the charming way they tilt their heads and the delightful way they prance around – like they’re always frolicking through fields of flowers….. Really. Don’t let them trick you.
Before Grant and I got Romeo, we thought knew what the breed would be like. Difficult – yes, but nothing we couldn’t handle – right? How much trouble could something less than 10 pounds give us?
We read every piece of literature possible and knew that owning a Shiba would be hard work. We knew they had a very distinct personality – but we liked personality. We didn’t want just any old dog. Don’t get me wrong – labs and retrievers are great – but we were up for a challenge, and we wanted a companion, not a robot who obeyed every command.
And we sure didn’t get a dog-bot. We got a sassy pup, folks.
We got Romeo from a breeder on February 12th, 2013. He was the runt of his litter. He was an extremely shy puppy, and he was afraid of most everything for the first couple of weeks we got him. Fortunately he was extremely easy to potty train – he had less than 10 accidents in the house. They say Shibas are easy to potty train because they are really clean dogs, and they groom themselves like cats do.
…This dog may look like he came out of an animated Disney cartoon, but don’t be fooled by the charming way they tilt their heads and the delightful way they prance around…
What we came to understand was that you can’t train these dogs with a tap on the nose and a sharp “no”. You cannot Cesar Milan this type of dog. Shiba owners need to have an insane amount of patience. Shiba Inus are strong-willed and they will not back down. The way you have to train Shibas is with trust…and mostly lots and lots and lots of treats. What we had the most trouble with is getting him used to the harness. Once we hooked the leash up and got his harness on he walked like a seasoned professional. Minimal tugging and leash biting. A forward steady pace. But wrangling that tyke and getting him hooked up? Ruff. (couldn’t resist a good dog pun)
Another thing that we didn’t understand were the tantrums…and the dreaded “Shiba Scream.” He had some resource guarding issues, and we had to move to hand feeding, and still continue to hand-feed, because he will guard his food if it is just sitting around in his bowl and he isn’t terribly hungry to eat all of it at once.
After Romeo got neutered, we had a really rough time with him. He had meltdowns, we had meltdowns, and the three of us were a mess. He hated his cone, he hated that he was hurt, he hated everything. It was like our training completely reverted back to day one and he was in survival mode again. When a dog is hurt, or recovering from surgery and on pain meds, they are going to become somewhat of a different dog. Some get depressed or lethargic, ours just got crazy.
If you are in this situation, please do not get discouraged. It will get better, your dog will get back to normal. I promise. These tantrums are best handled NOT by yelling back/spanking on the butt/physical force but by ignoring them, putting them in a “time out” and trying again and again until they realize they will not get what they want by throwing a tantrum. We had a bad week with Romeo after getting neutered, but now he is (mostly) tame, calm, and even begrudgingly lets us snuggle him.
While we know deep down that Romeo loves us as much as we love him, we have a long-running joke that Romeo mostly just “tolerates” us.
If you are looking to get a Shiba Inu, or already have one and need help, advice, or just want to talk to others that own Shibas, please refer to some of these resources!
- This is a Dogs 101 video that will give you some basic information about the breed: link
- Shiba Inu Forums are a great place to get advice and meet other Shiba owners! They have all truly helped me through some rough training periods with Romeo!
- Shiba Shake is a fantastic resource for everything from training methods to supplies. Use it!