Pack Leader To An Aggressive Dog

It is especially difficult to become pack leader to an aggressive dog because we will naturally fear our dog’s aggression.

My Shiba Inu used to have the worst bouts of aggressive leash biting. He would jump up on me, grab my jacket sleeve, and shake his head very rigorously, in what I call the kill-move (the shaking, head tossing motion that animals make to kill prey).

The more fearful I got of my dog, the more aggressive he became. He started humping my leg, and attacked the leash whenever I held it. Thankfully, he never broke skin, because of bite inhibition training. Nevertheless, I dreaded walking my dog, or even just being with him.

Here are some techniques that helped me conquer my fear, and become pack leader to my aggressive dog.

1. Practice calm energy

Cesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer always emphasizes the importance of projecting calm energy, especially when interacting with an aggressive dog. If we interact with a dog using nervous, submissive, fearful, or otherwise unbalanced energy, the dog may pick up on that, get stressed himself, and behave badly or start showing aggression.

Some techniques that helped me remain calm include:

  • Taking deep breaths and focusing on breathing to remain calm.
  • Actively thinking of something else, whenever I start to get stressed about what my dog might do.
  • Using the “tsch” from Cesar Millan. No, it is not a magical sound for calming dogs, but it helps to remind me to stay calm.
  • Walking with an assertive posture (shoulders back, head up).

In addition, make sure that we are not putting undue tension on the leash.

The thing that helped me most was to imagine the worst that my dog could do. In the leash biting case, it was a bite to my hand or arm. I decided that for my Shiba Inu, I could deal with some bites. If he did that, I would hold firm, get him home as quickly as possible, and thus end the fun walk. If he continued to bite at me or the leash once we are home, I can put him directly in a time-out area. In this way, he learns that –

Biting on leash = End of walk or temporary loss of freedom,
No biting on leash = Fun walk and exploration continues.

Once I had a plan for dealing with the worst, I became less fearful.

Once my energy improved, my dog’s bad behavior also improved significantly.

2. Have a drag-lead on our dog and keep him on a schedule

When our dog does something undesirable, it is always our reflex to chase after him. However, we will quickly realize that our dog can run much faster than we can!

To get better control of my dog and avoid chasing games, I usually put a drag-lead on him. Initially, I use a longer leash so that I can control him without being close to his mouth.

Only use a flat collar with the drag lead and NOT an aversive collar. Some example aversive collars include the prong collar and choke chain.

Also remember that while dealing with an aggressive dog, safety is of the utmost importance. If necessary, I muzzle my dog with a basket muzzle. A dog can still chew with a basket muzzle, and it is less restraining. To make the muzzling process less stressful, we may want to desensitize our dog to the muzzle, by pairing it with food and fun.

3. Have clear and consistent rules for our dog at all times

In the beginning, we want to be more strict with our dog. Institute more rules so that we have many opportunities to show our dog, that we are the boss.

If my dog does not follow the rules, then he does not get his most desired resources, for example, access of the backyard, walks, yummy dog treats, fun dog toys, play time, and access to pack members.

One of the best ways to become pack leader is to control his resources by following the Nothing in Life is Free (NILIF) program.

This just means that our dog does not get anything, until he does something for us first.

I do not give my dog all of his food on a silver platter. Instead, I use it for dog training, grooming, and other activities. I don’t leave food or high priority resources (e.g. food toys) out for him to use whenever he wants. Being the boss means that I control the key resources, and I decide when, where, and for how long he gets access to those resources. Of course, I also make sure that my dog has many opportunities to work for all the things that he wants.

Some useful rules to establish and maintain pack leadership include:

  • No getting on furniture.
  • Sit calmly before going through doorways, and only go through on command.
  • No jumping on people.
  • No leash biting.
  • No food aggression. Must release resource (food, toys, or other items) on command.
  • Absolutely no growling, barring of teeth, mouthing, or biting of people.

Once we gain some confidence and our dog is behaving better, we may relax some of these rules.

4. More walks of shorter duration

Most aggressive behaviors occur on neighborhood walks because that is when our dog is exposed to the most interesting stimuli (e.g. other dogs, cats, squirrels, people). On walks, we also have less control over the environment, and may not easily and quickly get our dog under control.

When I had troubles with my Shiba Inu, I shortened our walks but increased their frequency.

First, I would walk him in a heel position inside the house. Doing the heel exercise helps to put me in a pack leader mindset, and enforces my leadership status. In addition, if my dog starts any aggressive behaviors, I can more effectively stop him.

Once we are ready to go, we practice manners at the door. This helps to further secure my leadership role. My dog has to sit calmly while I open and close the door. If he remains calm, we can leave and start the walk.

Initially, I walked my dog close to the house, so that I can quickly end the walk, get him home, and put him on a time-out if he shows any aggression. As we started to have more and more successful short walks, I was able to gain more confidence, and control my fear. When things started improving, I slowly increased the distance and duration of the walk.

5. Address aggressive behaviors as soon as possible

A good pack leader is a vigilant pack leader. Watch our dog closely, especially when he is young (< 1 year old). Stop any aggressive behaviors as soon as we see them.

If we do not address aggression issues early, our dog will likely escalate his behavior, and start practicing aggression in a broader range of contexts. Once this occurs, it will be harder to break him of the habit.

I do not let my dog leash bite, show teeth, growl, or mouth at me. Any of these offenses will get him a warning (ack ack). If he continues, he gets a time-out. I carefully manage the everyday details of our time together, so that I set both of us up for success.

Proper management can significantly increase the number of successes, reduce the number of aggressive episodes, and help us  become a good pack leader.

For aggression issues between two family dogs, please refer to Introducing a Second Dog into the Home.

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  1. Kay says

    I have 2 Alaskan Klee Kais and having the following problems –

    1) One of them would pulls and barks with all teeth showing whenever he is on a leash and sees another dogs (especially dogs of his size or bigger than him);

    2) When he is not on leash, he doesn’t bark as aggressive but he would jump towards other similar size or bigger dogs and start nipping on them (again, with all teeth showing). When this happen, my other Klee Kai would join in and started to gang up then the aggression begin;

    3) I also notice they only do that to breeds outside of their own as well as Shiba Inu, is there a particular reason why?


  2. gemma says

    Hi! Great article, thank you.
    I have a nervous 5 year old Shiba from a very reputable breeder.
    He eats grass and when this doesn’t pass properly on his 2 to 3 walks a day, he gets very aggressive until it’s completely gone. For example, he jumps up at me and my partner, bites hard, bares all teeth and snarls. The only way we know to avoid this is to run with him on his lead to prevent further biting and hope that the grass falls out or gives us space from him to allow him to drag his bum on the floor or try to pass the grass. He’s a nervous dog anyway and jumps at the slightest blow of a feather or cyclist riding by. Other than that he’s a friendly, well behaved dog so don’t know what to do :-(

    • shibashake says

      With my Shiba, I did desensitization exercises with him early on to help him get more comfortable with cyclists, skateboarders, etc. The more positive new experiences he has, the more confidence he gains, and the more comfortable he becomes with new things. Similarly, bad experiences will undermine that confidence, significantly set back training, and worsen his fear behaviors. Therefore, I always try to set my dogs up for success and not expose them to situations that they are not ready to handle.
      ASPCA article on desensitization and counter-conditioning.

      As for the grass in butt thing, my Shiba also gets pretty frantic when stuff doesn’t come out all the way. With Sephy, it usually works out best for him to get it out himself. I also don’t let him eat too much grass.

      However, I do not let him bite on me or other people. If he is on-lead and starts to leash bite or jump on me, I fast march him home on a very short lead. I can do this because he has very good bite inhibition, and has never broken skin.
      More on my leash-biting experiences with Sephy.

      For reactive biting behavior, I would consult with a good, positive-based trainer. With my Shiba, I have found that it is best to address undesirable behaviors right away, so that it does not escalate or expand into other circumstances.

  3. Barbara says

    Does the Husky have a left front leg? It’s seen as a puppy, but the newer photos appear to have no left front leg. Maybe it’s just a bad angle. If it is missing, was it due to the shiba?

    • shibashake says

      Shania was born with a slightly crooked leg and it turned out that her leg bones did not connect properly. This was something that we tried to fix through surgery, but unfortunately, the procedure did not take. In the end, the surgeon recommended amputation.

      I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules and supervise my dogs very well during play-time, meal-time, and periods of greater interaction, to ensure that everyone gets along and that disagreements do not escalate into anything more serious.
      More on how I help my dogs get along.

  4. Kathy Strunk says

    My dog was a year old in April. We were having constant trouble with him barking and lunging at the windows when people walked by. We hired a trainer about 5 weeks ago and she insisted that we use a prong collar and control him with that. We used it for about a week and I really did not like it, so we put his regular collar back on. Now when he is barking and lunging at the windows and I am just pulling on his regular collar to get him away from it he starts attacking either me or my husband. He has bite me once and my husband about 6 times. He also does not like loud noises in the house. Outside he does not seem to mind him. I am at the point where I am on edge the entire time I am home not knowing what is going to trigger his aggression. Anyone have any suggestions. I am at my wit’s end

  5. Kellie says

    I adopted a dog about 4 months ago..she is now 9 months old. Every time I take her out she will lung and bite the leash and tug on it snarling and growling. This usually happens after she poops.. My trainer told me to drop the leash and step on it that does not work she will pull and pull until it gets out from other my feet. When she does stop I go to grab the leash and she will start all over again. I have tried to take her back to the house but she makes it impossible because if I am able to grab the Leash she will start biting my hand. Recently I have been bringing treats and making her sit after she poops and while she’s in this state of mind and it worked for a couple days then she started acting up again and sitting immediately With out me saying anything just to get a treat. I have givin her sticks right after she poops hoping she will be distracted but that only works sometimes. I am at my wits end. She is a loving dog in the house on walks usually she’s really good but she does bite the leash sometimes. I don’t know what to do anymore..I try to stay as calm as possible but she doesn’t care.

    • shibashake says

      What kind of a dog is she? How big is she? Have you been out walking with her and your trainer? How does your trainer handle her when she starts to leash bite? Does it work?

      I also had a lot of leash-biting troubles with my Shiba Inu. At the start, he did leash-biting after he pooped. However, after some time, he started doing it more often and in a great variety of contexts, because it brought him good results. I was unable to control him when he did leash-biting, so he got rewarded by getting to do whatever he wants.

      What finally worked for us is to fast march him home. To do that, I first train him to have really good bite inhibition. As soon as he starts to leash bite, I no-mark, hold the leash very close to his collar (so I have good control), and march home at a fast clip.

      Because he has good bite inhibition, he does not do any real damage to my hand even if he does try to bite. However, since I am going pretty fast, he has to focus on walking, and does not have much of an opportunity to leash bite at that point.
      More on my experiences with leash-biting.

      Some other things that helped with Sephy –
      1. I did shorter but more frequent walks. In this way, I can get him home quickly when he starts to misbehave.
      2. I set him up for success by walking him in more quiet areas, so he is more calm and less reactive.
      3. I practice structure and rules before we leave for the walk. In this way, he gets into the mindset of following rules and being calm before we even leave the house.

  6. Elena says


    First of all, thank you for this wonderful site. It is such a sigh of relief to hear from someone who had problems with their pup, but then was able to succeed. Oftentimes, it seems trainers make everything “easy,” and then I feel like an even bigger failure. You give me hope!

    My problem is with my almost-6-month-old Golden Retriever. I read a lot of training information before I brought him home, researched breeders extensively before choosing the breeder I did, and felt confident that I did my homework. Life has a way of laughing in our faces, sometimes!

    I have used ONLY positive training with him from the very beginning. We have done hand-feeding from day one, using it for training, handling exercises, rewarding calm behavior, etc. He also gets food daily in food puzzles and Kongs. I followed Ian Dunbar’s before/after books and made good bite inhibition my #1 goal.

    In many areas, my dog has been a good model of what Ian Dunbar recommends. He happily accepts his crate and ex-pen, is a chew-toy-aholic, and is reliably housetrained. He also has no guarding issues, and we make sure to continue to maintain this by throwing him treats when he has high value items. We trade, we puppy proof so that he doesn’t have to “leave it” or “give” very often. Even on walks, he will often CHOOSE to ignore many items, because he knows he will get rewarded for his choice. (Not when it comes to food on the ground, of course– in that case I try to prevent and pick my battles.)

    We have him sit for everything, and also work on eye contact as a way to ask us permission. We work on impulse control games as well.

    However, I started having an issue with my pup while out on walks about a month ago, when he was nearing 5 months. I always bring his kibble on walks, along with higher value treats. On this particular walk, I started to extend my variable reward schedule, and not treat him quite so often– I was treating him VERY often. He started to jump, hump, and bite.

    I contacted a trainer, and she told me how to fix the variable schedule so that it was less frustrating to my dog, so I thought it was resolved.

    However, he has done this biting behavior (humping has stopped) in other situations, and they are always outside, and always linked to some source of frustration:
    (1) A game of tug in which he suddenly stops tugging on the toy and goes for me. I have heard so many opinions on tug– some people say it makes the dog worse, some say you can use it for impulse control– now IF I play it, we have very strict rules and I make sure I am safe, like playing with him only with a gate dividing us. In any case, I rarely play tug with him anymore.
    (2) During a recall training session with my children (ages 13 and 10). My 13 y.o. gave him some cheese, but when he decided that he wanted ALL of the cheese in her hand, he started to jump/bite.
    (3) During a longer walk, he started to go after the treat bag, jumping and biting.
    (4) Today, at a forest preserve, he wanted to run. I practiced some calming behaviors with him, which he did, but then he started wanting to truly run– and when I couldn’t/wouldn’t comply, he came full force at me, biting my arm.

    I have tried ignoring, and it only makes it worse. Ditto for yelping. In his puppy stage, he rarely went after skin, but now that he is older, he is biting harder (ONLY during these times– he rarely nips in the house, and has a soft mouth when he does), leaving bruises on my arms. He broke skin once.

    People have told me to let him play with dogs to help with his bite. He is very good with dogs! I don’t take him to dog parks because I know they can increase frustration, but I have started taking him to structured/monitored play sessions (he did this as a younger puppy, too), and he is very appropriate, and adjusts his play to dogs, respects dogs who don’t want to play, etc. He is NOT dominant in his play– does not hump– nor is he overly submissive.

    My household is very busy (5 kids ages 3-13 plus 2 cats) but we have all been VERY respectful of our dog. The kids know about calming signals and will stop petting him if he yawns, licks his lips, etc. They also know not to disturb him when he is eating or on his mat, where he is reinforced for calm behavior. He is highly managed with a short lead on, gates, etc. because I don’t trust him around my younger children– not that he has shown anxiety around them, but I don’t want to risk anything.

    My dog does not show signs of fear or that he is very bold. He seems to be a right-in-the-middle dog, where he is curious but does not approach things with his tail up (it’s in the middle)– but will approach them– and is rewarded with a click/treat when he takes a chance to explore. Loud noises don’t bother him (not even fireworks!), nor is he hand-shy, etc. He is friendly to people and such. Does not love petting, but with classical conditioning we have come a long way– and now he does a lot more than he used to. He wants to be by us often, and since I am a stay-at-home mom, he gets a LOT of attention.

    I have taken him to 10 weeks of training (positive only), am going to do more– and he was a star in class. Learned loose-leash walking well except too excited when there are dogs nearby outside. (We tend to cross the street, and he is allowed to sit and watch them– but gets a treat when he checks in with me.) We have started on nosework and I joined Puppy Peaks, though I may cancel now because Susan Garrett uses tug so often, and I’m not sure if it’s appropriate for my dog.

    I had a trainer who has her degree in behavior come, and she was not concerned. He was gentle with her, even in his play. He did not go into his “frustration frenzy” when he was with her, though. It does not happen every day, however.

    My plan is to get a head collar for better control, or a different harness. I thought about a muzzle, too, for walks, if I get a harness. I am also going to be strict with myself and keep walks really short, because the longer walks are when he has issues. (We just don’t allow him free in the backyard now if anyone wants to be active.) But, when he starts to bite when I am away from home . . .I absolutely feel scared.

    I am really frustrated because I feel like as a 1st time trainer, I’ve done so much work and have a not-normal problem. This doesn’t happen daily, but when it does, I get very upset. I called the breeder today, and of course, choke chains and alpha rolls were the advice.

    Any words of wisdom? Thank you for reading my novel!

    • shibashake says

      I had a similar issue with my Shiba Inu when he was young. When he got frustrated during walks, he would start leash-biting and sometimes also bite on my jacket sleeve. There were several reasons why Sephy did this –
      1. He did this because it worked. Every time he started leash-biting, I did not really know how to respond effectively, so he got to misbehave without any real consequences.
      2. I did not have good energy. When Sephy started his crazy leash biting and jacket biting behavior, I got really stressed and upset. He would pick up on my energy, get stressed himself, and his behavior would worsen.

      Some things that helped me with Sephy-

      1. Show him that crazy biting behavior *does not* work and has undesirable consequences.
      If Sephy started his crazy biting during walks, I would put him on an extremely short leash, and fast-march him home. In this way, he learns that crazy biting behavior = very fun walk ends. If he does crazy biting behavior at home, I put him temporarily in time-out. I have a drag-lead on him when I am supervising him at home (only with a flat collar), and I use that to quickly take him to timeout. In this way, he learns that crazy biting behavior at home = temporarily lose freedom to roam and to be with people.

      Once he figured out that the behavior didn’t “work” anymore and actually had undesirable results, he stopped doing it.

      2. Control my own energy, remain calm, and always have a very detailed plan A, plan B, and plan C.

      3. Set us both up for success by controlling Sephy’s environment and excitement level.
      In the beginning, we did shorter but more frequent walks, in more quiet, low stimulus areas. In this way, he stays more calm, we have more successful walks, and I can quickly get him home and put him in timeout if necessary.

      More on my leash biting experiences with Sephy.
      More on controlling my own energy.

    • shibashake says

      *ADD – Oh yeah, I also stopped playing tug with Sephy. I follow rules while playing tug with him, and during play, he would be fine. However, I noticed that he was more likely to do his crazy leash biting behavior afterwards, during walks. Now, he plays tug with my other dogs, but he is not allowed to play it with people.

  7. Ash says

    When I try to give my dog a time out, it gets difficult because he bares his teeth at me and tries to bite me when I try to lift him up by the collar. I’ve resorted to just letting him sit where he is (usually in the balcony) and shutting the doors. He’s very quiet and wants to be petted after being alone for ten minutes in the balcony. There are no more traces of aggression. I’m not sure what to do any more.

  8. Brittany says

    Hello! My husband and I got a Rottweiler puppy named Bear at 8 weeks and he is now almost 7 months old. In the beginning, he had his usual puppy issues w/biting and we really worked on bite inhibition. Never did we have any issues w/aggression, listened to both of us, did great with other dogs, and overall Bear was a great puppy to have around. I am now home w/Bear all of the time due to job loss (have been for the past 4 months) and 6 months pregnant. About a month ago we had to board Bear while we went on a very short vacation because the person who was supposed to house-sit got sick. I was nervous to board him at a kennel, but it was our only option. When we picked him up, the owner of the kennel said Bear did great during his stay and I was super happy about that. That is when things went down-hill. Now all Bear does is jump on me repeatedly, snarling, and biting my hands so badly that they are both incredibly bruised. I have tried staying calm, getting angry, pushing him away, putting him in time-out, yelping in pain, using treats or redirection and nothing is working. He has scratched me horribly, including by the eye. When my husband is home, Bear is a completely different dog and does not act like this at all. Last night my husband was sleeping, so Bear started attacking my hands again, biting and pulling on them. He stopped immediately when my husband woke up. Obviously Bear does not see me as the pack leader or even remotely at the top of the pack. He will listen to commands from me and has no problem of biting his leash when I walk him, but I am really unsure of what to do or where to go from here. Overall he is a good dog and we have no intention of getting rid of him, but with me being pregnant and the behavior in general I am at a loss.

    • shibashake says

      Sephy my Shiba Inu was also very mouthy, especially with me, when he was young. One of the key reasons for this was because I had bad energy. I was frustrated, angry, and frankly, more than a little bit fearful of him. He sensed this, and his behavior got worse.

      Some key things that helped with Sephy-
      1. I had to control my own energy consistently. I try my hardest to be calm not just sometimes, but in all my interactions with him. If I get angry or frustrated, his behavior becomes worse.
      2. No pushing him or physically engaging him in any way. If I push and move around a lot, Sephy thinks it is a fun game, and he will get excited, and bite even more. Dogs are built to be very sensitive to motion. If I need to take him to timeout, I use a leash.
      3. I have to be decisive, consistent, and have a good game plan. What I do when my dog jumps and bites at me.
      4. I set up a fixed routine and a consistent set of rules. This creates structure and sets up boundaries for Sephy. More on what I do to establish structure and teach self-control.
      5. I establish pack leadership by following the Nothing in Life is Free program with all of my dogs.

      Sephy wasn’t biting me because of spite or because he didn’t love me. Sephy wasn’t even trying to dominate me. There were two key reasons that Sephy was biting me and biting me more than others in the household –
      1. My energy was bad. I was always stressed when interacting with him, especially when he starts to bite. He would pick up on my anxiety and fear, get stressed out himself, and act even more crazy.
      2. Biting works. When Sephy bites, he got my attention, he got a strong reaction from me, he got me to interact with him, so biting works. When Sephy bites, I back-off and he gets to break rules and do whatever he wants, so biting works.

      To stop biting, I need to control my own energy and teach Sephy that biting *never* gets him what he wants. In fact, biting causes him to lose resources, to lose my attention, to lose his privileges in the house, and to lose his freedom (temporarily). When Sephy consistently saw that biting only causes him to lose the things that he wants and gains him nothing, he stopped that behavior.

      With Sephy, I need to consistently be calm when interacting with him. I need to be sure of myself and not be fearful. I need to be consistent with how I respond to his behaviors, I need to do the right thing at the right time, and I need to use effective techniques so that he learns the right lessons. All of these things were important and part of the process of both of us getting to a better place.

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, and timing is very important in training. Therefore, during Sephy’s difficult period, we visited with several trainers who could observe and evaluate Sephy within the context of his regular routine and environment. They could also observe and evaluate my interactions with Sephy, and give me advice on energy, timing, execution of technique, and more.

      Based on what you describe, especially with a baby coming, I would consult with some professional trainers. With Sephy, I also read up a lot on dog behavior, how dogs learn, and more.

      My difficult experiences with Sephy.
      How dogs learn.
      How I deal with bad dog behavior.

  9. matt says

    Hi, my wife and I are having some serious difficulties with our 2 year old Jack Russel.. the problems started a year ago with light nibbling and unfortunately we didn’t address it immediately. . Since then it has turned into random aggressive biting, being persistent with the thought of not giving up on this dog because he is family has taken us on a long unfortunate journey of lots of little scars on our hands… for awhile he was doing good until tonight he bit my wife really bad on her finger for no reason(teeth definitely went through) while we all laying down, please help me, what should I do to keep him from biting, I’ve done a lot of the above listed in the article and I DO NOT want to put him down… please help. I’ve also immediately smacked him if he bit on my glove, my friend used to train his dog not to bite this way… is this causing more damage? Again please help

    • shibashake says

      What kind of training is he used to? What is his daily routine like? Is he biting to get attention or does he bite when being stopped from doing something? Does he mostly bite your wife or certain particular people? How is he with guests? How is he with people and other dogs during walks?

      tonight he bit my wife really bad on her finger for no reason(teeth definitely went through) while we all laying down

      Was he sleeping before the bite? Was he sleeping next to your wife? Often, when a dog is in a deep sleep and gets startled awake, maybe when we move or by an accidental touch, they can go into protective mode. This is an instinctual reaction.

      I did that once with my Shiba Inu. He was sleeping deeply by my feet, and I stroked him. He got startled awake and went for my hand. Luckily, he has very good bite inhibition, so it wasn’t a hard bite. However, since that incident, I always make sure to make some noise etc. so that he wakes up first, before I touch him in any way. I believe that is where the expression, “let sleeping dogs lie” come from. :)

      The thing is, dog behavior is very context dependent, so in cases of random aggression, it is best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer. When I had problems with my Shiba Inu, we visited with several trainers. Each of them had an evaluation session with Sephy first, so that they could view his behaviors and body language, and see for themselves what triggers those behaviors. Aggression is complex, and can come from multiple different sources/triggers.

      When I get a new puppy, I do-
      1. Bite inhibition exercises to teach them to control the force of their bites.
      2. I teach them not to mouth on people.
      3. I set up a fixed routine, structure, and daily exercise. This is very important because it helps to manage their excitement level and teaches them self control.

      Puppies do not know that people have more sensitive skins than dogs do, and are usually not very good at self-control, so the exercises above help with these things.

      However, aggressive behavior can be the result of many different things. Therefore, especially in cases where the trigger of the behavior is unclear, it is best to get help from a good professional trainer.

  10. Jenifer says

    Hi my boyfriend and I just recently got a Siberian Husky puppy, Bruno. Today is day 4 with him. Since day one, we have noticed he seems a bit aggressive during the early morning. During the day, afternoon, and evening he is very cuddly and playful. But in the early morning prior to going poop he is very aggressive, wants to jump on us, on the couch or bed, and if we try to touch him he shows teeth, growls, barks, and even bites. After he poops, he is a completely different pup. Because it has been consistent, I am unsure if its the food (Blue Wilderness for pups) or something else :(


    • shibashake says

      How old is Bruno? What is his daily routine like? When he needs to poop later on in the day, does he also show this behavior? What is his body language like when he growls and bites, is it relaxed or stiff?

      My dogs are more excited and energetic in the early morning, and also right before and after poop time. Husky Lara will sometimes do zoomies + jumping in the backyard right after she poops.

      When my puppy is excited, she would jump and play-bite on me, especially when I try to interact with her, because she thinks I want to play. She has a relaxed body posture at this time, and may also do play-bows.

      I teach my puppy to control the force of her bites, especially with people (bite inhibition), because people have more sensitive skins than dogs do. I also train my puppy not jump on people. Dogs interact differently than people do, so I teach my puppy how to interact properly and safely with people.
      More on how I trained my Husky puppy.
      More on how I keep my puppy calm and discourage biting.
      More on how dogs learn.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent, so each dog and situation is different. Therefore, when in doubt, I get help from a good professional trainer.

  11. Janice says

    Hello there, I adopted a male husky pup about a month ago and he’s about 10 months old now. I’d say he’s pretty much at his adult size. I have no idea what he was like beforehand but he is quite aggressive. Here’s a little run down:
    – Extremely aggressive with other dogs and will bite them or growl if he can’t get to them
    – Aggressively bite hands
    – Resource protective (food and toys)
    Thoughts, insights and advice?
    Thank you!

  12. SteveS says

    I wish I would have discovered your site when my Shiba (Duke) was younger! Duke is now 10 months old and about 4 months ago he started acting bi-polar. It’s hard to describe, but here goes:

    He gets very growly and sometimes snaps viciously in random situations. We initially thought he was simply resource guarding his food and bones. But it occurs when he is not near any food or even toys just as often. He often acts this way in the morning. Typically he is sitting on his chair in the kitchen, which is by the window so he can look outside. He’ll just be sitting there and if I go over there (calmly) and start to pet him he’ll start growling. If I don’t back away he will growl more and eventually snap at me. I have put him in timeout in the past, but it hasn’t seemed to have any impact, and it’s kind of scary to try to get him there (I will try using the drag lead). It’s a like he’s just very grumpy when he’s sleepy. He is great with other dogs (99% of the times, there have been a couple dogs he didn’t get along with).

    95% of the time he is a fantastic dog, very smart, friendly and playful. I really need to get him out of this habit. Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated!

    • shibashake says

      What I have observed with Sephy is that he is very particular about his own person and his personal space. In addition, he is confident and sure about what he likes and what he dislikes. If he doesn’t want something done to him, he will say it loud and clear. My Huskies usually just submit when they see that there is no getting out, but not Sephy. If he thinks there is no other way out, he will fight. For things that are important to him, he will not give up and will not surrender.

      I have found that the best way to deal with Sephy is not to challenge him, but to make him think that it is his own idea to begin with. For example, if I want to give him affection, I may called him to me. He knows that when I do this, he will get rewarded with food if he comes. If he is hungry enough, he will come and let me pet him. By making him work for his food and everything else that he wants, I can get him to do a lot for me around the house. Its his own decision, so he behaves. Often, he will just come over on his own.

      With Sephy, it is much better to set him up for success. I manage his environment and do not expose him to more than he can handle. The more positive and calm interactions he has with me, the more well behaved he becomes. If I want to increase his tolerance to certain things, e.g. handling, I slowly desensitize him to it in a positive and structured way. More on how I desensitized Sephy to handling.

      There is an Aesop fable that I like called the North Wind and the Sun. The moral of the fable is that persuasion is better than force. I think that that really applies to Sephy and to Shibas in general. When challenged, he will really dig in and fight like crazy. However, if it is about working for the things that he wants, he attends to those tasks with the same tenacity. Therefore, I try to structure things so that his Shiba energy is directed to working with me, rather than against me.

      More on how I motivate my Shiba by controlling his resources.

  13. Alison says

    I have a 10 year old shiba inu and am at the point of considering rehoming due to his aggression at times!

    Basically whenever I or my husband attempt to attach his lead to go for a walk he’ll snarl and attempt to bite. He has connected on occasion drawing blood and its now at the stage that I dread the lead battles.

    We’ve tried a soft leather collar and a harness but it doesn’t seem to matter what he’s wearing, he simply does not want to go out. Once he IS out, its as quick as he can do his business and straight back to the house. He’ll try and slip his collar if you attempt to take him any further. He’s fine with other dogs so its not that.

    He does have lots of allergies (show me a shiba that doesn’t) and is now on a raw diet to see if that makes any difference but he has several lick granuloma on his paws that the vet keeps checking. He gets an antihistamine tablet every second day to try and help but the vet is reluctant to start steroid injections etc given his age.

    I have a 3 year old daughter and she’s always very good with him (no fur pulling etc). Tonight I went to attach his lead and after growling at me, he lunged with teeth bared and would have bitten had I not managed to close the door quickly and secure him in the utility room!

    He gets a walk morning and evening for between 20-30 mins but as I’ve said, once he’s done his business he refuses to go any further and will issue the shiba scream if you try to cajole him along (not pull I might add).

    He’s part of the family but I will not tolerate biting and either he stops or he goes.

    Ps I’ve also tried giving treats when putting on the lead but he just ignores them / ditto a toy etc as he’s too busy growling to notice.

    The main battle seems to be in the afternoon when I get in for work as I can’t leave his lead on for safety reasons. He has the run of the downstairs living room / kitchen and utility room when we aren’t in so isn’t cooped up in a cage or kennel during the day.

    Any suggestions to teach this old dog that walls are fun and the lead is a good thing? As a younger dog he had no issues but its just in the last year (like a grumpy old man not wanting to go out).

    • shibashake says

      So previously he was good with putting on the leash? Did his behavior change suddenly or did it happen more gradually? Did anything unusual happen at the time when his behavior changed? Were there other changes in behavior, changes in energy level, eating, etc? Is he feeling pain or discomfort from the allergy issues, and could that be causing the change in behavior?

      Does he snarl when people approach without a lead? Does he snarl when people approach with a toy or some other object? Is his aggressive behavior only with respect to the lead? So he is fine with putting on a collar or harness? Does he show aggression in other contexts? What was he like before last year?

      Does he simply not want to go out at all? What about going in the car? Does he go out into the backyard? Is he aggressive about the lead in the backyard?

      Sephy is also pretty picky about going out. Now that he is older, he goes out for a 1 hour walk in the mornings, and then he doesn’t want to go out anymore after that.

    • Alison says

      For the most part he’s a happy go lucky wee guy. Wags his tail at people that say hello on walks, will stand patiently if there are kids or puppies (so much so he’s been at daughters nursery and I’ve had other owners comment on how good he’s been with their puppy – letting it make the first moves rather than jumping straight in to play). We were very careful introducing him to our daughter when she was a baby and he’s very good with her (will let her brush him etc).

      He hates baths (most Shibas do I think!) and will scream like its molten lead on his back rather than water but its all noise – no aggression. ditto with car journeys but he’s been like that since a puppy. I don’t think it’s fear rather that its like a kid not liking school!

      He doesn’t like the vet and will growl if he’s to get an injection but normally doesn’t try to bite (just wriggle to get away).

      He’s had allergies since he was about 6 yrs old and had a thyroid test but came back negative. Last year he had an ear infection and had an operation but that’s been all clear for many months.

      He doesn’t like getting his harness or lead on. He’ll wear his collar ok and it doesn’t appear to cause any discomfort. The only issue is attaching the lead and going outside. He doesn’t get pulled and the collar is a simple leather one with holes and a buckle rather than a choke chain design so there’s little to no tension on the neck unless he’s pulling me. There is no skin sores etc where the collar is though under his legs are red on occasion (with the allergies) so when that happens we have him on the collar rather than harness. I find its easier to attach the lead to the harness so that’s why we tried that as I can often quickly snap on the lead before he starts growling.

      He’s not food or toy possessive and doesn’t growl with either.

      No, it’s just attaching the lead and going out (especially in the rain). He HATES the rain and will slam on the brakes at the door rather than go out. Again, that’s only got worse in the last couple of years. Honestly think he’s just a grumpy old man that doesn’t like getting wet or going out. But he has to go for a wee walk (as our daughter plays in the back garden so can’t let him do his business there – plus he’s never been comfortable doing it in his “territory” – another shiba trait I’ve been told (not soiling his own area). He will happily go out and sit on the grass / step though getting a suntan in the summer (but will come into the house if too warm).

      When he does growl / snap usually 15 minutes later he’ll “apologise” and come over wanting a pat and sit beside me – almost like he knows he’s done wrong and wants the approval of the alpha female again. For the most part he plays the omega role to my husband. He occasionally tries to exert his authority e.g. Sit at my husbands chair and growl if he goes to sit down but my husband tells him “no” and he’ll wander off “grumbling” under his breath (not growling but a shiba noise like “ok, you’re space…”).

      I know I’ve used human emotion terms to describe the behaviour and that its not but just easier to describe that way!

      I can put up with most of his grumbles but the fact he lunged at me with teeth bared and would have bitten had I not closed the door concerned me. My husband takes him out on a Saturday morning and sometimes my daughter wants to go for a walk too and will lift his lead over. I’m worried that if she tries to “help” and put his lead on that he’ll try to bite her. I want him to enjoy his walks out with the pack.

      oh, his paw pads are fine so I don’t think it’s due to sore feet. He’s not as agile as he was as a puppy but can still run around so don’t think it’s arthritis and sore joints. He’ll stretch in the morning once his lead is on but doesn’t appear to be in discomfort when he is out on the walk.

      Only other thing, its worse in the winter months when its cold and wet. When its sunny he’s better and doesn’t growl as much (or at all some days).

      As I said, weird dog!!

    • shibashake says

      That is really interesting. Sephy also hates going out in the rain. Ditto on soiling his own area. He also doesn’t like walking on wet grass.

      In terms of aggression, I went through some of that with Sephy during his early years. Two things that come to mind during my experiences with Sephy –

      1. Persuasion is better than force
      Sephy is extremely stubborn. If I try to push him to do something, he will dig in and really not want to do it. I am a bit like that too, so I understand where he is coming from. 😀 There was this one incident where he did not want to put on his harness, and we sat waiting by the door for 4 hours, before he would allow me to put it on and go for his walk!

      Sephy responds much better when there is no challenge and nothing to fight against. For example, when I want to brush his teeth, I call him to me, and ask him to lie down on his side. I reward him very well for this, and start brushing. If he lets me brush, I continue to reward him well. I use a special treat for teeth brushing and nail grinding, which he only gets for these special activities. At the end of brushing, he gets his dinner kibble ball.

      If he decides he does not want to brush, I leave, ignore him, and go do something else, and he does not get attention, his special treat rewards, or his kibble ball. I try again later, and he is usually in a different frame of mind by then, and more motivated to do brushing. In this way, there is nothing to be stubborn about, and he is not pushed into a position where he feels he needs to fight back.

      I do a similar thing for walks. When it is walk-time, I call my dogs to me. I reward them well when they come, and they have to sit calmly while I put on collar and leash. I desensitize them to collar and leash beforehand if necessary. I reward them for being calm while I put on collar and leash, and then we go for our walk.

      If Sephy doesn’t want to go out, he doesn’t come, and he doesn’t get the rewards or the walk. I try again later on when I am free. In this way, he doesn’t have anything really to be stubborn about because it is his choice.

      I also follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with all of my dogs.

      2. My energy
      Sephy is really sensitive to the energy of the people around him. He was a little spitfire during his youth, and I often got frustrated with him, and sometimes a bit fearful when he started jumping on me and biting my jacket sleeve. Unfortunately, he would quickly pick up on my energy, get stressed out himself, and act even more crazy.

      He was not an angel with others in the family, but his behavior was worst with me because of my energy. I remember this one incident very well where one family member passed his leash to me so that I could take him out, and straight away, he started jumping on me and biting my clothes. Once I changed my own energy, things also improved with Sephy.

      However, as you know, dog behavior is very context dependent, so each situation is different. Given that there is a very young girl in the house, it may be best and safest to consult with a good professional trainer.

  14. Thomas says

    we have small chiuaua dog who goes and sleepsn the den every night, we close the door as soon as he is in, he was out in a shelter for a months and returned home two days back, as soon as we ask him to goin he does but very agressive if try to close the door. Any advise on how to deal with this issue?

    • shibashake says

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, so in cases of aggression it is best to consult with a professional trainer.

      A dog may develop confinement anxiety after going through the trauma of being caged in a shelter situation.

  15. Con says

    My 1 year old Black Lab has been racing around the yard and jumping up to bite my arms and hands. I have usually remained calm and just kept doing what I was doing and ignored him but it is getting worse. His hairs stand up and he races around and barks at me, I tell him No. Tonight he bit my arm and kept coming back for more. He comes up from behind me doing this especially when Im not paying attention to him. He does not do this to my partner nor my babies but I am concerned he may start being aggressive to my children. He does listen to me when he is inside however, this bite has happened whilst my partner has been away for the weekend. I cant even take the rubbish out without being attacked. I don’t know what to do. I am scared of my own dog. have owned many animals including dogs before but have never experienced this.

  16. Diz says


    I brought home an orphaned puppy from a rescue when she was 6 weeks of age. She was hand raised & came with no understanding of dog body language & no idea what bite inhibition is. She’s Aussie Shepherd / Aussie Cattle Dog mix. I’ve had Australian Shepherd mixes for years & know the intelligence combined with the manic energy means working both mind & body so at the end of the day I have a tired & happy dog. She is also affectionate, sweet, adores kids, never meets a stranger & wants to meet everybody she sees.

    She’s four months old now & has learned so many important things, I blame myself for what she won’t learn. She came to me a biter convinced from Day 1 that she’s supposed to be in charge. I won’t get into every problem we’re working thru but there is one leaves me at a loss. Indoors she has absolutely no food, toy, or water bowl aggression & I check regularly. Outside, she becomes very aggressive, seriously aggressive, over mud, wet moldy grass & other animals poop.

    We’ve had tons of rain so when grass is mowed the little clumps the mower leaves behind dry on top in the heat. But turn them over & the grass is wet and slimy. She constantly grabs mouthfuls of mud. And she never misses an opportunity to grab other animals poop. Off leash she then avoids me until she’s finished. On leash, she will clamp her jaws closed. Sometimes she will drop & leave on command but usually she hunkers down, curls her lip, snarls & growls, then lunges at me.

    If anybody can shed a light on why she has this behavior problem and/or knows how to put a stop to any of it, I would be greatly interested.


    • shibashake says

      Yeah, my Shiba Inu showed similar behavior when he was young. He would treat pine-cones, sticks, and other outside objects like they were gold. I think they were really high priority to him because-
      1. He never gets to have them.
      2. I always try to take them away from him by force.

      All my dogs also liked playing with wet grass when they were puppies. I think wet grass has a strong scent, and they like picking it up and tossing it around, in play.

      Ultimately, my Shiba started to protect pine cones and sticks from me, because he knew that whenever he gets them, I would take those objects away. Some things that helped with my Shiba-
      1. I did object exchange and other resource guarding exercises with him. I start with low priority objects, and then slowly move on to higher priority stuff, including outside objects such as pine cones and sticks. I picked a few good ones, brought them home, so we could practice a bunch (in a controlled environment) while we are at home.

      I practiced inside the house, in the backyard, and when he was ready, in other outside locations. I make sure to have him on-leash during these exercises, and I use other safety equipment if necessary.

      2. I taught him the Leave-It command. We would first practice it inside the house, then we would move on to the backyard, and in the end, we practice it during walks as well. When I give that command, I make sure I have good control, and can prevent him from getting to the target object, if necessary.

      With poop, I am especially strict with my dogs. If they try to *eat* the stuff, I no-mark the behavior, and march them straight home. This teaches them-

      Eat poop during walks = Walk ends,
      Leave-It = Walk continues and get rewarded with other chews or a fun game.

      If Shiba tries to eat stuff that he is not supposed to in the backyard, then he loses his backyard privileges temporarily. My Huskies were both interested in eating cat poop, but they stopped that behavior after I marched them home a few times. They all love their walks, so ending the walk is a very good motivator to get them to stop eating poop.

      3. With resource guarding, I have observed that prevention is much better than cure. It is usually best when I can prevent my Shiba from getting his mouth on a particular object. Therefore, I watch him closely and keep him on a short leash in places where there is a lot of temptation.

      If I miss something, then I give him the Drop command (pre-trained). If he drops it, I reward him really well with a favorite game or chew. If he does not want to drop, then I no-mark and start marching him home. I only remove things by force if they are dangerous objects.

      This is because the more frequently I do a forced mouth removal, the more likely he is to start guarding behavior again. Therefore, I want to minimize these occurrences, and maximize successful encounters where I get to reward him for “leaving it” or voluntarily “dropping it”.

      Here is a bit more on my resource guarding experiences with my Shiba.

  17. Cory says

    Hey, I like this site a lot and it has given me some good ideas. I have a 1 year old German Shephard. She was fairly aggressive as a puppy and it has gotten worse. We took her to a trainer and she was doing great but recently has started to regress. She starts biting and nipping especially when I lay down. It is all attention seeking, and I have been told not to put her in time out because the simple act of getting up is rewarding her behavior since she wants attention. I have tried the “tsch” idea as well, and it was working but it has starting being less effective. Thoughts??

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, my dogs are also more likely to come over and lick me when I lie down on the floor. They see it as an invitation to play or interact. 😀

      We took her to a trainer and she was doing great but recently has started to regress.

      What type of exercises or methods did the trainer suggest?

      I have been told not to put her in time out because the simple act of getting up is rewarding her behavior since she wants attention.

      I am not sure I understand. Is the suggested solution for us to simply lie there, do nothing, and say nothing? Such a strategy does not seem effective to me, but perhaps I am missing something. I would need more details before I can comment further.

      This is what I do with my dogs to teach them not to bite on me –
      1. I start with a no-mark to let my dog know that it is an undesirable behavior. Then I tell my dog what to do instead, e.g. give a simple command or redirect him onto a toy.
      2. If he redirects, then I make sure to reward him well by playing a fun game with him, with the toy.
      3. If he continues biting on me, then I withdraw my attention by standing up, folding up my arms, and turning away from him. In this way he learns that –

      Following commands and biting on a toy = Get to play a fun game,
      Biting on me = No games, and lose a fun playmate.

      4. If he stops biting on me, then I mark the behavior and reward him by giving him attention again.
      5. If he escalates his behavior by jumping on me or biting on my clothes, then I say “Timeout”, and calmly put him in a very low-stimulus timeout area. In this way he learns that –

      Being calm and not biting = Get attention from people,
      Jumping and biting on people = Temporarily lose access to people as well as freedom in the house.

      What works well for my dogs is to not only tell them what not to do, but also teach them what *to do* instead.

  18. Ajerry says

    hello! I have a lhasa apso/ shihtzu mix. He’s about 1 and a half years old and i noticed that he seemed to be getting more aggressive. But it’s mostly only towards bigger dogs. Any dog that’s smaller than him (boy or girl) or the same size he’s fine with. But there are 2 big dogs that he seems to be fine with. A husky and a lad. They’re both fairly old. Jerry, our dog, would growl and try and jump at the bigger dog pulling me. I watch a lot of Cesar Millan so i know you’re supposed to remain calm in situations like that but i’m not exactly sure of what to do when we see another dog. Do we make him sit down until he is calm? It’s really hard to snap him out of it. He’ll kind of just sit and stare until the dog gets closer and he’ll start to bark and pull at the lead. I usually grab him from his harness and make him face away from the dog but that doesn’t work. I’ve also tried that “TSCH” noise with the touch but it doesn’t seem to work either. I don’t wave treats in front of his face when he does this because i feel like that means i’m praising him for his actions.

    We do bring treats on our walks so whenever he does something good we give him a little chicken biscuit. But when we sees another dog it’s like nothing else matters! I would love to know how i can resolve this problem I know that our family has to be the pack leader of Jerry. We’re just not sure how to get started. And he is neutered already.

    Please help! Thank you (:

  19. says

    You have a lot of good tips and information here, but there are some “bad” notes too.

    For example: You specifically discuss not allowing the dog access to things like “play time” when he is not behaving. While this seems reasonable on the surface, consider that it also denies him access to a way to drain excess energy – and that can make issues worse.

    You also mentioned in Tip 1 that your plan would include bringing the dog home and putting him in a time out area if he bit you. Again, seems reasonable, but serves absolutely no purposes.

    In order to correct a dog’s bad/unwanted behavior, the ideal time is at the very onset of that behavior. The next best time is during the bad behavior and the least effective time is immediately at the end of the bad behavior. Once the bad behavior has stopped, you can no longer punish because the association between behavior and punishment is lost forever.

    One tip that I didn’t happen to notice from you is the concept of “ending on a high note.” Regardless of what happens during play time, a walk, etc. you should attempt to create good behavior at the end and terminate the exercise that way. There should always be a good memory for the dog so that they want to engage again. If activities end on a bad note, it will create bad memories, and the dog will stop wanting to participate.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Mark,

      Thanks for pointing out the problem areas in the article.

      1. Play time –
      As you say, timing is very important in training and we should only reward a dog for good behaviors, whether it is with treats, affection, or play time. Certainly, we should also give our dog many opportunities to earn the things that he wants or needs. That is what Nothing in Life is Free is all about.

      2. Timeout area –
      Absolutely, we need to time consequences as close to the target behavior as possible for true results. You are right that this was not made clear in Tip 1

      3. End on a good note –
      Yes, I agree that we want to try to end things on a positive note. I talk about this in some of my other articles, where it seemed to fit better. Couldn’t find a good place for it here.

      Thanks for your very useful input and for helping me improve on the article! If you have more suggestions, please let me know. Good luck with your training business.

  20. Jay says

    Hi, I currently have a spayed canadian eskimo dog named Meeka. I got her at 14 weeks and she has been a handful since then. I feel as if we have not formed a bond and I am also not seen as pack leader. Living with 4 people it is hard to keep the rules all the same since everyone seems to believe their way is the right way, and nothing will change that. I do all the little things that i’ve heard help establish you as leader, walk in first ect.. I would like to be able to establish a healthy loving relationship with her but I don’t seem to know how. She often puts her mouth around my arm or legs and she will not listen when I give her commands. I have brought her to dog school and have participated in over 16 classes. I don’t know what else I can do to improve our bond. We are now getting another male canadian eskimo and I’m afraid that her behaviours will rub off on him. She is allowed access to her yard at all times during the day, since she prefers to be outside. She also has a unlimited supply of toys at all times. He will be also in the same situation. I feed her twice a day, and the second feeding is by hand. I plan to teach them to mush so i feel that our relationship needs to work together before i can do so. Your work with your dogs is magnificent and I would really appreciate some helpful tips and answers to my problem. Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, I also had troubles bonding with my Shiba Inu in the beginning. With Sephy, it is difficult to gain his trust, but once he gives it, he is very loyal and true.

      Here are some things that I do to build a strong bond with my dogs.

      With Sephy, I waited for about a year before getting a second dog. I wanted to properly bond with him, and train him first. There are many challenges that come with a second dog, and it will be difficult to deal with everything at once. As you say, dogs will also learn from each other, so I wanted my second dog to learn the right lessons from Sephy.

      In terms of training, dogs learn from us through a process called conditioning. They repeat behaviors that get them good results and stop behaviors that get them undesirable results. Timing and consistency are both very important. We want to time our rewards right next to the target behavior, consistently reward good behaviors, and make sure *not* to reward undesirable behaviors. I set up a consistent set of rules and a fixed routine with all of my dogs.

      If a dog receives mixed messages from the people around him, he will not know what we expect of him, and what he can expect from us. If he can play-bite on people sometimes, then he will just keep trying because the next time may result in a fun wrestling game. When the rules keep changing, it is simply not possible to learn the rules.

      Here is a bit more on dog dominance and how dogs learn.

  21. Catherine says

    Im just wondering if the old adage stands with shiba’s “cant teach a old dog new tricks” Mines almost 7 years old and still has aggression issues. it just seems that he has no interest in learning because hes set in his ways

  22. dani says

    awww they are so cute that i melt everytime i see them, i thought they were my ideal dog, but after reading they can be agressive with me, make me stop wanting this dog. I have a very good space for him and im devoted to my pets, so i would love him very much but im searching for an faithful intelligent medium size dog that can alert me in case someone tries to break into my house in the night. In your wise experience with shibas do you think this dog can make that? I dont want a dog that may be agressive with me or could harm my cats. And im about to buy a shiba or a border collie, but the price is way higher so i have to be sure this is the perfect dog for me

    • shibashake says

      Hello Dani,
      All dogs need to be trained so that they know how to properly interact with people, other dogs, cats, etc. Some dogs will be harder to train than others. Shiba Inus are a stubborn and independent breed, so they are more difficult to train than many other breeds.

      Border Collies are bred to work with people, but they are *very* high energy dogs. They need *a lot* of structured exercise or they need a job to do that will keep them very well occupied.

      After I got Sephy, I had to spend a lot of time and effort training him, supervising him, and giving him proper daily exercise. Keeping a dog is also very expensive. There are vet bills, vaccination shots that they need, training bills, training classes, food, equipment, and more.

      As for cats, this was my previous response in case you missed it.

      Good luck! Post us some pictures of your puppy if you decide to get one. 😀

    • dani says

      Thanks! you are very nice, i read the article and i think is going to be a bit difficult due to my cat characteristics, he is very territorial and he is old enough to get used to the dog.
      The collie isnt my kind of dog since i dont have a ranch and i have to go to work everyday so i dont have all my time for him. and also for a shiba i can train him only after work :(, so maybe is not enough since i cant watch him all day but Ill keep looking for a good option and if i end buying a shiba ill sure post photos of the puppy.
      Thank you!

  23. stacie says

    I am hoping you can help me. My 10 month old Golden Retriever/Husky is extremely aggressive with me when I am with him in our backyard. He jumps, bites and barks at me nonstop. He does this inside as well but not as often. He only does this to me. He occasionally will go after my 7 year old son but never to my husband. He stops dead in his tracks if my husband even looks at him. Why does he act this way towards me? If I am sitting on the couch watching TV he goes after my feet biting and barking at me. But the strange thing is that he follows me everywhere. He is definitely more attached to me than anyone else. Please help me figure out how to correct this. It is so frustrating . I feel like a prisoner in my own home.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Stacie,

      I went through a similar experience with my Shiba Inu, Sephy. I remember this one incident where he was sitting nicely when my partner was holding his lead. However, as soon as it was passed to me, Sephy started leash biting and jumping on me. It was not a good feeling.

      In my case, there were two key reasons for Sephy’s behavior –
      1. My energy.

      I was more than a little afraid of Sephy because of his crazy behavior towards me. I did not trust him, and I feared what he may do every time I had to walk him or interact with him. Sephy is very sensitive to the energy of the people around him. He picked up on my stress and fear, got stressed himself, and acted even more crazy. This made me get even more afraid, and things just went downhill from there.

      After I took steps to change my own energy, Sephy calmed down a lot as well, and his behavior improved.

      2. My response.

      Dogs repeat behaviors that get them “good results” (according to them), and stop behaviors that get them bad results.

      Sephy often jumped on me or started to bite because he wanted to initiate play. I would get afraid, push him back with my arms, and start shouting at him. This is a lot of motion, and a lot of noise, which gets Sephy even more excited about playing. From his point of view –

      Jump on me = Fun wrestling game commences,
      Don’t jump = Get ignored.

      A lot of motion can also trigger a dog’s prey drive.

      Another important aspect of changing Sephy’s behavior, is to change how I respond to him. For example, when he jumps –
      1. I stay calm, and no-mark the behavior.
      2. Then, I redirect him into doing something else (e.g. alternate command, or alternate activity).
      3. If he redirects, then I reward him by giving him attention and playing with him.
      4. If he does not listen, then I withdraw my attention. I stand up, turn away from him, and totally ignore him (no talking, no touching, and no eye-contact).
      5. If he calms down, then I reward him by giving him attention again.
      6. If he escalates his behavior by jumping on me more and biting on my clothing, I calmly say “Timeout” and remove him to a timeout area using his drag-lead. (Note – I only use a drag lead with a flat collar and only under supervision).

      In this way, Sephy learns that –

      Jumping and biting = Get ignored or don’t get to be with people,
      Following commands = Get attention, play-time, and more rewards.

      Here is a bit more on what I do to control puppy biting.
      Here is a bit more on how I trained my Husky puppy.

  24. cocker owner says

    Our dog is 18 months old , he listens to my husband and obeys every command given . when its just me and the dog he is fine and listens to me , however when my daughter comes in who is 9 he constantly jumps up her pulling at her clothes and socks. When I tell him no he just barks and growls at me leaning into my daughter if I go to grab his collar he looks to bite me. We have taken our dog to training which was great but really could do with some advice. Please help to explain why he does this for me and only when my husband is at work thank you

    • shibashake says

      Initially, a dog will not understand the word “No”. We teach a dog what “Yes” and “No” means by tying it to consequences. Here is more on the yes-mark and no-mark.

      Here is a bit more on why dogs jump and how I deal with it.

      Finally, collar grabs do not generally work well. I did that with my Shiba Inu, and it made him very sensitive to his collar, and also to people touching him. Grabbing a dog’s collar while he is excited, may also cause him to redirect his excited energy onto us. This is also called “redirected aggression”. When my dog is still learning house rules, I use a drag lead (only with a flat collar and only under supervision) to better control him.

      As I described in the article, our dogs are also very good at sensing our energy. Dogs will respond better to a calm person. If I am angry, frustrated, fearful or otherwise not calm, my dog will pick up on that energy, become more agitated himself, and act even more crazy. In order to calm a dog down, we must be calm ourselves.

      Finally, training is a lifetime process. I started training my dogs as puppies, and we still continue to do old commands, new commands, bite inhibition exercises, grooming exercises, play-time exercises, and more. People learn and change all through their lives, and so do dogs.

  25. A M says

    I’ve just adopted a Rottweiler puppy, she was 8 weeks when I got her and is now 9 weeks. I spent several years searching for a dog with the goal of going through training and eventually having the dog become a Certified Therapy Dog. The first few days after I brought her home she was great, eager to please, even learning quickly to fetch the ball and bring it back. However, she is starting to adapt worrisome behaviors that I do not know how to correct. I know leash training can take awhile, at this time she only does small steps when walking away from the house, she will lay down and refuse to move , walking home she will run the entire way as I think she smells or senses we are returning to the safety of the home. My biggest concern right now is she’s starting to bite my socks and legs, sometimes aggressively. When I attempted to take her for a walk today she grabbed ahold of my jeans and would not let go. I attempted to hold her down on the ground until she submitted, but did not hold her there that long. She is also jumping up on the gate and knocking it down, despite me telling her no and redirecting her attention to her toys. I’ve tried putting her in a seperate crate from the one she sometimes sleeps in as punishment when she bites my socks or knocks the gate down, but im worried that is the wrong thing to do as I don’t want her to think being put in a crate is a bad thing. She has no respect or fear of me right now and I don’t know what to do. I tried the “Fake” bite Millan teaches, it initially had some effect, as I think it startled her, but now has no effect at all, it seems the more i pull her back the more aggressive she becomes. It’s important this dog is on her best behavior and respects me as I hope to bring her to vulnerable places such as Hospitals. Please help me. Thanks.

    • shibashake says

      Re: Leash Training

      While leash training my puppy, I start inside the house or outside in the backyard. In these areas, a young puppy feels a lot safer, and there are also fewer distractions. In this way, I can get my puppy accustomed to the collar and leash first, and then focus fully on leash training without having to deal with the outside environment, other dogs, moving cars, cats, etc. Puppies also go through several different “fear periods”, during which I try to keep Lara’s environment calm and positive.

      Also, I only started walking puppy Lara outside, after she was fully vaccinated. A puppy has a weaker immune system, and can become sick if exposed to infected poop from other dogs or other animals.

      Here is a bit more on dog anxiety.

      Re: Puppy biting

      With puppy biting, timeouts work well for my dogs. Here is a bit more on what I did to train my dogs not to bite on people.

      I attempted to hold her down on the ground until she submitted, but did not hold her there that long.

      This technique is also known as the alpha-roll. It was something that I tried on my Shiba Inu, Sephy, based on the recommendation of our vet tech. at the time, as well as Sephy’s breeder. It did not work well on Sephy at all. He became extremely sensitive to handling, he became very distrustful of people, and he would fight back every step of the way.

      I later found out that the technique is very risky, can make a dog fearful of people, and can also encourage aggression. Here is more on alpha rolls.

      I now stay away from aversive based training methods, especially pain based and dominance based methods.

      Re: Crates

      I think you are right in terms of not wanting to use crates for punishment.

      My dogs sleep in their crates at night, they sometimes eat in their crate, and we may also transport them in crates. Therefore, I only want them to associate their crate with safety and positive experiences. For timeouts, I use a boring but safe room, such as my laundry room.

      Re: Pack Leadership

      When I first started training Sephy, I started with aversive training techniques. In particular, several people recommended that I follow Cesar Millan (including Sephy’s breeder) so that was what we did.

      What Millan says about calm energy, I think, is very true. Having a routine, structure, and consistent rules for my dogs were also very good. Exercise is also important. However, the aversive methods, including the finger jabs, alpha rolls, leash jerks, flooding, and more, only made things worse with Sephy.

      I found that pack leadership is best achieved with the control of resources and by using the Nothing in Life in Free program.

      Here is more on my early days together with Sephy.
      Here is more on dog dominance and bad dog behaviors.
      Here is more on how I trained my Husky puppy and how dogs learn.

  26. Nicole (Romeo) says

    Hi! Your site has helped me so much in training my 4 month old shiba (Romeo) . Of course he is a little crazy and has an attitude sometimes, as all shibas seem to do. He even shook for a treat today! I was so excited! But there is a down side to him lately. Just recently today, when I go to work I have to put him in his cage so he doesnt chew up my rental house. Well he ran from me, underneath my bed and started barking like crazy. I figured he thought I was playing until he started snapping at me. Well I got him out from underneath my bed and closed all the hallway doors so when he ran back there again, he was stuck. I caught him and he immediately flipped onto his back and started biting me. The day before he got loose outside and when i caught him he bit me then too. It was not playful at all. How do I stop this behavior before it worsens? I dont show fear towards him. Once i caught him, i usually take him by the collar and make him walk to his cage, however he has been biting me and if we are outside and my hands are cold it hurts! This time i picked him up and swatted his butt. We have been using the time out method, but he has caught on that he will eventually be let out.. Ho do i beat him at his own game? Thanks for trying to help!

    • shibashake says

      Heh, Romeo sounds a lot like Sephy when he was young.

      Sephy would also run under the bed, and under chairs. Then he would proceed to bite on the wooden underside of the bed or chair. If I went after him, he would just go farther in, or he would start biting on hands.

      I find that the best way to get Sephy to do something, is to work with his innate likes and dislikes. For example, Sephy is very curious, and he is a good guard dog. If he hears some unusual noise, he will definitely come to check it out. Therefore, to get him out from under the bed, I just go somewhere else, and make some unusual noises. He will come over to check out knocks on the door, the doorbell, etc. I make things interesting and always try to do something new. Curiosity will get the better of him, and he will come to investigate. I reward him when he comes over and then I go close the bedroom door. 😀

      When Sephy was young, I also put a drag lead on him. I only use a flat collar (*not an aversive collar*) and I only do it when I am around to supervise. The drag lead is useful because if Sephy tries to run away, I can just step on the lead and stop him. It also gives me better control, my hands are far away from Sephy’s mouth, and I can take him to timeout without much of a fuss.

      Some other things that help with Sephy-
      1. I do timeouts in the laundry room. This is because I want him to only associate his crate with positive things. He sleeps in there at night, and goes in there while in the car, so I want the crate to be a relaxing and happy place for him.

      2. I follow the NILIF program and make Sephy work for all of his food. This helps to motivate him to follow house rules, do obedience commands, figure out interactive toys, etc.

      3. I don’t physically engage Sephy with my hands or arms, to punish him. If I do so, he will respond in kind, and that gets him into the habit of using his mouth to keep people away. I just stay calm, pick up the drag lead, and use it to take him to timeout if necessary.

      4. I try to always set him up for success, so that he practices positive behaviors rather than negative ones.

      5. I try to always stay very calm. If I am frustrated, stressed, or angry, Sephy will pick up on that, and become more stressed-out himself. (It is not just fear he picks up on).

      Dogs are very good at observing us and their environment. They will quickly figure out that when we put them in the crate, it means that it is boring alone time. Once Sephy figured this out, he would not go into his crate, not even for great food rewards. This is because for him, even sausages or cheese are not worth it, if he has to be alone in his crate.

      Therefore, I only use his crate very rarely and I did a lot of crate desensitization exercises with him. In the beginning I would only start with very short crate times. Then once he is comfortable and relaxed, I slowly increase the duration.

      When I need to leave the house, I find that having a larger enclosure, e.g. kitchen, works better for Sephy. That way, he can still roam around a bit, but he does not have access to the whole house. Also I make sure his enclosure is totally safe and does not contain anything that may be dangerous. He has water, safe chew toys, frozen Kongs, etc. to keep him busy. He spends a lot of time in the kitchen with me anyway, so it is in his routine to hang out in there and work on his toys. I make sure he is well exercised, and I make sure to set up a very fixed routine so that he knows that I will be back after a couple of hours.

      Getting help from a professional trainer can also be very helpful. With dog training, timing and context are very important, so having a trainer come over to observe Sephy in his home environment helped a lot.

      Good luck and hugs to Romeo!

  27. Runr says

    Our dog is 8 mo, German Shepard Mix. She appears highly intelligent and @8 wks, was already house trained. She has loving ways, but also unwanted aggression. Particularly is outside on her lead, when we go to bring her in after (30 mins), she jumps up high, gets in a low crouch, encircles whoever it is to bring her in, and has bared her teeth. (My husb. says he has seen her foam), however, I have not.

    When we are in the house, she is a totally different dog (nice, attentv & licking us on the way in to say, i’m sorry about what just happ); when brought in the house from her lead area (it appears she knows the diference in territory-what she believe is hers and ours.

    We believe we provide attention; clean after her 2-3 times day to ensure her environment comfortable; regular vet visits; meals, snacks, neighb. walks, outside play. Please help as biting will not be tolerated.

    • shibashake says

      Hmmm, can you elaborate a bit more on her “lead area”?

      Is it in the back or front?

      What does she do while in her lead area? When does she go into her lead area?

      How long is the lead? Does she bite at the lead? Does she prefer staying in the house?

      Is there a lot of surrounding activity that gets her excited?

  28. Kit says

    Thank you for your article. We have a 4 yr old blue doberman. About 1 1/2 years ago we brought a trainer in work with him as he was being possessive of his kennel and also had bit both of us. We applied what she said and things went smoothly until yesterday. My husband put his hand down to pet the dog and he bit it and then started growling at my husband as he walked away. Two things to note: he has been acting sick (tired/glazed eyes) and at the time (seconds before the incident) I was having extreme anxiety about him biting my husband. I know the later did not help at all. We immediately told him to sit and lay down and he did just that. My husband thinks the dog is mental. Do you think reestablishing our dominance will solve the problem? We really want to be able to enjoy and not fear him.

    • shibashake says

      What sort of techniques did the trainer suggest to address his kennel guarding behavior? When you apply these techniques, what is the dog’s response?

      There are many reasons for dog aggression. While dominance may sometimes be a contributing factor, often, aggression is the result of negative conditioning, fear, stress, guarding, health, or something else. Here is a bit more on dog aggression.

  29. Kristin says

    3yrs ago I bought my husband a 1 yr old boxer/pit mix frm a shelter. This dog was really sick with stomach issues & under weight. He had a sweet disposition but had anxiety issues. We have nursed him to health & my husband has spoiled him to the point that now at 3 yrs of age,I’m seeing him slowly trying to become dominant. Not listening, refuses to sleep on floor, will whine if ignored & eventually growl at u. My husband doesn’t think much about it but we have a 20 mo old son that he has also started growling at & has also snapped at him & since baby’s eye-level with our dog, its his face the dog snaps at. I’m so nervous as I had a friend who’s family chow bit her 2 yr old & that baby had to have plastic surgery to repair the damage that dog caused. My husband gets irritated when I say if I have to choose, guess who goes. I have noidea what to do at this point, this is cause to be wories correct? Can this be remedied safely with this type breed & age?

    • shibashake says

      Dogs will often repeat behaviors that are rewarding to them, and stop behaviors that are not rewarding. Often, dogs show bad behaviors – not because they are trying to be dominant – but simply because –
      1. They do not know that we find those behaviors to be undesirable.
      2. They get rewarded (inadvertently) for those behaviors.

      Here is a bit more on my own experiences with training my dogs.

      In the situation you describe, getting a good professional trainer to come over for a visit, can perhaps be helpful. A professional trainer can identify the trigger events that are causing the snapping and growling, and perhaps also convince everyone in the family to participate in retraining the dog. In dog training, consistency is very important, therefore, it is best when everyone is on the same page.

  30. Jessie says

    Hi. We have an 18 month Leonberger. She’s 130 lbs, bigger, stronger, and faster than I am. She’s a sweet, friendly dog, wouldn’t hurt a fly. But, she has begun growling at me when she has something she’s not supposed to have. I think she grabs things she knows she’s not supposed to have to get my attention. Once I see her and say “no” or “drop it” she runs away. If I ever do catch her, she growls at me. I try and open her mouth to take it and she growls and clamps down so hard I can’t open her mouth anyway. I don’t think it’s a REALLY aggressive growl, however I don’t think it’s quite all play either. I think she’s testing my authority and I’m not quite sure how to handle it. Another trainer suggested I not yell at her or chase her, since that’s what she wants, but instead to go get a treat and trade. I did that for a while and of course she drops whatever for a treat, but I think she does it more now because she knows she’ll get a treat out of it. I don’t see how running to get a treat when she has something she’s not supposed to have is enforcing my authority, even if I give the “drop it” command first. So I’m not quite sure how I should handle it when she does this? My husband does spank her and she respects him much better, but that doesn’t seem to work for me. Thanks for your help!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Jessie,

      I think it would depend on the source of the behavior.

      When my Shiba Inu was a puppy, he would pounce on absolutely everything while we were out on our walks and treat pieces of tissue like it were gold. Often, I would forcibly remove what I considered to be “trash” from his mouth because I didn’t want him eating the stuff. What I failed to realize, however, was that I was inadvertently teaching him the wrong lesson – which is that when people came near him, they will likely steal away his valued possessions by force. As a result, he started growling to keep people away, and he would also run away from people and hide in corners so that he could keep his “treasures”. This is also known as resource guarding.

      In this case, what worked best was to teach Sephy the Leave-It command and prevent him from getting the trash in his mouth in the first place. I also dog-proofed my house by removing anything dangerous that Sephy could get to. Then I spent a lot of time teaching him what things are ok to chew on, and that books are not chew toys. 😀 When he chews on a something undesirable, I would no-mark him (Ack-ack) and redirect him onto something acceptable (e.g. his toy). If he redirects, I would reward him well with attention and his favorite game.

      Here is more on my experiences with resource guarding.

      Another thing that Sephy absolutely loves, is to play chase. To start a chase game, he would steal the t.v. remote controller and start running around with it at high speeds. My instinct, of course, was to chase him. However, that turned out to be the wrong thing to do, because that was exactly what Sephy was hoping for. Instead, I put a drag lead on him (**only with a regular flat collar and not an aversive collar, and only when I am at home to supervise). When he starts his chase hijinks, I would just step on the drag lead and put him in a short timeout.

      Sephy quickly figured out that stealing things in the house got him nowhere, so he stopped doing it.

      In the two situations above, the end-behavior is similar, running away with something in his mouth. However, in the first case, Sephy was trying to protect his possessions, while in the second case he was trying to start a chase game.

      Finally, I also want to mention that Sephy is very sensitive to my energy. If I am angry, frustrated or fearful, he picks up on my turmoil, gets even more stressed, and acts out even more. When I am calm, it is much easier to get him to calm down and listen to what I am “saying”.

  31. Kelly says

    I first want to say that I love your sight and the many articles on here. It’s helping me and my family get a better understanding of our own Shiba, Pebbles. Our female dog is very stubborn, my husband and I are still trying to figure out a way for her to come inside the house after we let her go outside to go potty and/or play time in the backyard. I regret letting her outside in the backyard because afterwards she never wants to come back inside the house, no matter how much we call her or get upset. She is overly excited and a couple times my daughter has accidentally let her out the front yard where there’s no fence and Pebbles just takes off. When this happens my husband has to go chase her down cause she never comes to us when we call her, so when he finally finds her the only way to get her back is to show and shake her favorite treat bag and then she comes running to you. Is there any way to get Pebbles to come to you when you want her to come or come back inside the house? Oh, is there a way for her to quit jumping on you and to quit biting on shoes or children’s toys?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Kelly,

      Shibas are really not the best when it comes to recall training. My Shiba Sephy will come when he feels like it, or when I have something that he truly wants. Therefore I never let him go off-leash in an unenclosed space.

      For recall training, I usually use a long-line. In this way, I can reel him in if he decides to ignore the command. Here is a bit more on how I do recall training with my dogs-

      is there a way for her to quit jumping on you and to quit biting on shoes or children’s toys?

      When my dog jumps on me –
      1. I no-mark him (Ack-ack).
      2. Then I ask for an alternate command (e.g. Sit)
      3. If he does this, I reward him with attention and a fun game.
      4. If he continues to jump, then I withdraw my attention by folding up my arms and turning away from him.
      5. If he escalates his behavior and starts to bite on me and my clothing, then I say Timeout and put him in a timeout area.

      In this way, he learns that-
      jumping on me = lose freedom
      no jumping = attention, games, and other rewards.

      Here is more on dog jumping.

      When my dog bites on an unsanctioned item –
      1. I no-mark him (Ack-ack).
      2. Then I redirect him to bite on a sanctioned item, e.g. a favorite toy.
      3. If he does this, I reward him by playing with him or by adding food to his toy.
      4. If he continues, then I tell him to “Leave-It” (previously trained)
      5. If he complies, then I reward him really well with his favorite treats, and maybe even a food toy.
      6. If he ignores me, then I either body block him away from the object, or lead him away using his drag-lead.
      7. If he keeps going back to the unsanctioned item, then he loses his freedom temporarily with a timeout.

      Note that it is important *not* to take items away from a dog too often by force. If we keep taking items away, then our dog may decide to protect his stuff using aggression. I try to communicate clearly and consistently with Sephy and give him many alternate behaviors to achieve success. Here is a bit more on food aggression and resource guarding-

  32. DIVINA says

    Hi, my friend’s Shiba inu had been an obedient dog, but after she went on a vacation which lasted about 3-4 weeks, her Shiba would bite her feet when she takes her dog bed away, because she usually bites her bed and swings her head around aka “kill move” when she’s bored, my friend tried to timeout her, but it didn’t had a great impact, so what can she in order to stop her dog biting her bed and how can she correct her dog for biting her feet (EXCEPT FOR TIMEOUT)??? My dog doesnt usually get bored, but she said her dog gets bored easily, so is there any activities that you recommend (except for fetching)?? Please reply me asap
    PS (More info): I helped her to train her dog before, but it took a long time to correct a lot of her bad behaviors (about 2 months), but this time, her father is considering to remove the dog from their family/pack, because her father said that if the dog doesnt stop biting her mattress and attacking her daughter then we will give the dog away, so I am looking for a faster method, and timeout doesn’t seem to work in this case… THANKS!!! I REALLY APPRECIATE THE FACT THAT YOU ARE HELPING A LOT OF PEOPLE :DDDDD

  33. Divina says

    I really enjoy reading your articles and posts, I found out that, there is an easy way to solve majority of the problems, which is to become the pack leader, and its the little things that makes you become the pack leader, going out the door first, eats meals first etc. But does your shiba dislike water??? Sometimes when I bring her to the beach, I swim with my shiba, but after a while, she just goes back to the shore and run around, and sometimes she stares at the beach and when she is about to swim, she runs quickly, is that normal???? Is she scared of water??? Or does she just dislike it? Lol thx 😀

    • shibashake says

      But does your shiba dislike water???

      LOL! Yeah Sephy is not a fan of water. When it is raining, he usually does not even like going out on his walks. He will go on a short walk and then want to come home.

      The only time that he tolerates water is when there is a fun game involved. For example, when playing in the park, he is totally fine with rain, mud puddles, and more. Also, he likes playing the water hose game, so that is how we give him baths.

      after a while, she just goes back to the shore and run around

      Heh, she is probably just excited and probably trying to get warm and dry. When I used to bathe Sephy in a tub, he would do crazy Shiba running afterward.

      Sephy dislikes getting wet, but he will tolerate it if I make it worth his while. 😀

      Here is a fun thread on the Shiba inu forum where a bunch of people weigh in on Shibas and water-

  34. Stephen says

    THANK YOU SOO MUCH :DDDDDD I also want to ask you something, my dog sometimes run in circles and then growls, so is that dog aggression or is my shiba inu just playing, to add on, sometimes she bites me hard and sometimes she play bite, so what do you usually do when your dog bites you??? AND HOW DO I KNOW IF MY DOG IS TRULY AGGRESSIVE???? the tie down is a good idea, but i wonder if i put my dog on a tie down, then will she whine and bark??? because sometimes when im at home and im doing work, I tie her with her leash under the sofa legs and she will whine if she can’t get her toy because the leash is not very long, so if I use the tie down will she whine??? and HOW DO YOU CORRECT THAT BEHAVIOR????? However I tie her for a short period of time, so is there anything that your dog likes and can keep her company??? Any suggestions eg toys???? My dog also likes to play with the toys roughly so she usually jumps around so after i tie her with her toy she will shake her head and then when she is not close enough to reach the toy she will whine again and then bite her bed, and she usually rip off the eyes and then eat the stuffing inside the so is there any durable toy you have for your dog??? Any suggestions??? AND ANY IDEA ON HOW TO CORRECT THOSE KIND OF BEHAVIORS?A MILLION THANKSSSS YOU :DDD

  35. Stephen says

    Hi, When i tell my dog to fetch a toy, she fetches it but she never gives it back to me, and then she will (my shiba inu) play with it by herself, and when I go over and take it, I say drop, then her ears goes back (like behind her head) and her eyes becomes bigger, and then when I do the aversive technique (the touch like cesar millan does) she bites my hand really hardly, I did some research and some say to use reward base training but cesar millan uses aversive techniques so which one should I chose and how should I correct my dog????? Have you dog ever bit you??????????? THANK YOU, also when Im doing work at home, I tie a string (her leash) to the sofa legs and then she just keeps on biting it and 3 leashes were broken. SO WHAT SHOULD I DOO???

  36. David says

    Hi, when your dog bites, jump on the couch, you will say tsscht or ack ack right?? But I saw a tv show today, I think its called Cesar Millan and He would touch the scruff(dogs neck) with some pressure, and sometimes he will flip the dog on his side, so will it work???????? Or do i just stick with timeout… and why does he do those moves and what does those moves mean??????? THANK YOU

  37. Sking says

    My dog is a HUGE PROBLEM whenever it comes to going in her cage, she will refuse and bite me whenever she goes near the cage and she will also move backwards and bite the leash and my jacket. My dog will also lick my hand for A LONG TIME AND ITS VERY ANNOYING, but overall she is a good dog but sometimes she just is short tempered she doesnt have patience, whenever i train her, she will walk away and when I say ack ack she will bite me and my clothes.

  38. King says

    Hi, I don’t know why my dog always bites me whenever I correct her, my shiba inu is now 8 months old and she also likes to bite her bed if she is bored, and she will do the killer shake (the head movement) and then keep on biting it and I can’t stop her, to add on, sometimes at night I need to put her back to her cage and the problem is SHE DISLIKE HERR CAGEEE, when we go close it, she will jump and bite me really hard, and sometimes she will run around the house very fast in circles. PLEASE HELP ME… thank you

  39. STEVEN says

    My Shiba Inu will bite my clothes and bite me and my shiba inu is now 8 months old, whenever I correct my Shiba Inu, she will bite my clothes, and does that mean that Im not the alpha and she does not trust/respect me, if no then what can i do????? Also, I think she is pretty bad tempered, sometimes when she wants to go play some toys but Im still training her or when she is still in the Timeout section, I wont let her play her toy, but then she starts biting my clothes aggressively, so im wondering how do i make my shiba inu trust me and accept me as a pack leader???????… Thanks for your tips I really appreciate that. :DD

    • shibashake says

      Hello Steven,

      One of the things that helped with Shiba Sephy when he was young is a drag-lead. The drag-lead gives me better control of Sephy, and also prevents him from starting a chase game. Make sure to only use it with a flat collar and only under supervision.

      In terms of time-out, I use a very low stimulus, and safe area. I make sure beforehand, that there is nothing in the timeout area that Sephy can chew on or play with. No one is allowed to interact with Sephy while he is in timeout.

  40. kia says

    hello i really enjoy your wedpage thats why im applaing to you because i see you got plenty of experience with dogs.
    i got a shiba inu puppy of 3 and a half months she is really iperactive and im a bit worried because she bites too often than normal and she is making sounds like she is was about to bite i know she is just a puppy but like we had some probblems with a west white terrier when he was in the teenage “period” with bitting im afreid she could do the same may be im doing something rong i am realy esigent because i read that shibas are realy difficult to train so maibe im over expetting her. thank you
    ps: i lov your dogs they are so cute

  41. molly says

    Hi, i recently got a maltese shih tzu at 6 weeks.the most adorable thing.i can’t put her on aleash because she ‘s s just too small.i admit before i knew about pack leading iwas playing chase games where she would begin to growl and bark at me and then she would bite(has little teeth)..ignores me sometimes when I give her a command.she is really jumpy .I have decided to just ignore her for a few days feed her on time but ignore her .will it work?

  42. MM says


    I was doing some research online on how to deal with a Shiba situation in my home and was wondering if you can help me? My male Shiba Hiru is 5 years old and we just bought a new Shiba female Keiko 9 weeks old, and just wanted some advice from someone who is familiar with the breed specifically instead of some of the local educators who are more accustomed to Golden Retriever/lab type dogs. I’ll be happy to provide more details if we can get an email conversation going. I hope you can help me!

    Thank you,


    • shibashake says

      Hello MM,
      Congratulations on your new Shiba puppy Keiko.

      Please feel free to post your questions on this page. It is usually better to post questions and comments on-site because there may be others who have better answers who can chime in, and there may be others who have similar questions who can benefit from the exchange of information.

      Here is an article on my experiences in introducing a new dog to my Shiba Inu-

      Hugs to Keiko and Hiru!

    • MM says

      Thank you for your reply! I was concerned about my post/questions being too long. The question I have is, Hiru was always a very good Shiba, up until 2 possibly 3 year ago – he became dog aggressive. He does great with people, no food aggression, and hasn’t ever bitten me. But he becomes a completely different dog when another dog is introduced (ferocious sounding guttural growls). How can I differentiate whether his reaction is aggression…or fearful, or possibly even something else? I feel that once I can differentiate, I can then handle the situation accurately. We have Keiko in an exercise pen so they meet through that, but then he does his growl (but tail wagging). I’m quite confused – and because I am confused am not able to deploy the right correction necessary and just end up observing.

    • shibashake says

      Hello MM,
      As I understand it, tail movement could indicate a variety of things. I like this article on canine body language from the ASPCA-

      Turid Rugaas is also well-known for her writings on dog communication-
      On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals

      In general, I try to look at the entire body of my dog, including the surrounding context, to try and read what he is trying to say.

      With Sephy I make sure he never gets over-excited. When that happens, he can lose control and things can get out of hand. I make sure to have a lot of breaks during play so that Sephy has a lot of chances to calm down, and refocus on something else.

      When Sephy is feeling uncomfortable, he usually has a very stiff posture. For example when dogs try to sniff his butt, he stands very still, and if I do not intervene, he will start with a lip curl. Now I make sure that new dogs don’t even come near to his rear-end. I try to nip things in the bud so that Sephy does not feel the need to use aggression.

      Another possibility is to get a professional trainer to come over for a couple of sessions. I had a fair number of problems with Sephy when he was young and visiting a good professional trainer can be helpful. The good trainers I met were able to spot things that I missed, and suggest new ways for dealing with some of Sephy’s behaviors.

      Hugs to Hiru and Keiko. Let us know how it goes.

    • Anonymous says

      Thank you ShibaShake!

      I’ve already purchased the book you recommended and read the other article in the link above. I will also find a professional trainer to help us to work on this issue and will update you as soon as possible. You have a wonderful website, and I feel so blessed to have stumbled upon it.

      Sincerely, MM

    • M M says

      Hello Shibashake,

      Just wanted to update that with the new puppy situation Hiru is doing fine with Keiko. I would love to say it was me, but after I finished doing all my research and reading – it looks like they figured it out on their own through their own doggie language.

    • shibashake says

      LOL! That is good to hear. In any case, researching doggie language is always fun, and will help with many other things down the road. 😀

      Hugs to Hiru and Keiko!

  43. Steven says

    What should I do if my dog bites?
    Do I physically stop it, or do the tscht thing like Cesar, but it only works for a short period of time(few seconds). If I physically stop her, then how do I do it? What should I do, my Shiba inu sometimes bites and always pull/bite her leash so what should I do, thanks for giving tips, I appreciate it…

  44. rose jennings says

    What a wonderful questions and answers web-site. I have a 9 month old castrated male whippet : I have a problem with his on leash walking as he will suddenly turn on the leash and me and start biting along the leash, up to my arm and bite at anything which seems to include me. Apart from this he is a sweetheart of dog for his age.I am getting worried as these tantrums seem to start for no reason. I could not print off your pages that dealt with this : can you assist me in downloading these . I will pay any admin costs as I found them so helpful and would like to refer to them on paper.

    Many thanks


    • shibashake says

      Hello Rose,
      Would you like to print this Pack Leader article? Or the article that is on Leash Biting?

      One thing that usually works for me is to save the page as a HTML file. In Internet Explorer I just click on the “Page” menu on the toolbar at the top of the browser and choose “Save As”. Then I either select a Web Page (HTML file) or Text file (If I just want text) . This saves the page onto my local computer. Then I open the file using Microsoft Word, and print the document from there.

      Hope this helps.

  45. Judy says

    Have to comment on the first two pictures you used for ‘aggressive’ dogs… the body language in those pictures is not of aggression… the second is most definitely play. The dog in the first one may be slightly annoyed, but I get the feeling this smiling is something he does in some situations. It may be a calming signal if he’s in a position he doesn’t like… It’s hard to tell from one picture. Perhaps you could use a picture of truly aggressive body language so that people don’t get freaked out by normal play behavior.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Judy,
      Thanks for your very interesting comment.

      Dog aggression is an overloaded term. Likely, my definition of aggression will be different from everyone else’s.

      1. Normal dog behavior.
      Almost all of the aggression we see today with our companion dogs is a result of normal dog behavior. Food aggression, for example, is a dog telling the perceived “food thief” to back off. Over excited play can also quickly turn into something more intense.

      As you say, context is very important and it is simply not possible to tell from a single picture if a dog is being “truly aggressive” assuming that we mean the same thing when we say “truly aggressive”. Much of what we use to read dog body language is missing. Faces may not be visible, parts of the body may not be visible, and there are no motion or verbal cues.

      Even with multiple pictures it can be difficult to tell. This is why it is dangerous to follow techniques that we see on television because it is difficult to tell what circumstances are appropriate for which techniques.

      2. Truly aggressive dog.

      I am not sure what a truly aggressive dog is. If a dog growls to warn somebody away from what he perceives as his food, is that truly aggressive? If a dog bites based on the command of his owner, is that truly aggressive? If a dog bites because he is redirecting his over-excited energy, is that truly aggressive?

      A truly aggressive dog, or a dog whose intent is to do extreme harm or kill a human target, is very rare. Indeed domestication is all about breeding out these tendencies, and we have been very successful at that with our dogs.

      3. A bite is a bite.

      Whether a dog is truly aggressive or not, his bite will still hurt and may cause damage. For this reason, we all do our best to observe, train, and manage our dogs so that they do not find themselves in a bite-situation or really in any situation where they may inadvertently hurt others. Often a jump or a strong body bump can cause significant damage as well especially to the really young or elderly.

      One time I was knocked down by a young pit bull that was playing with my dog. I was standing still and a strong body bump knocked me off my feet. That hurt a lot and would have been worse if I were much younger or much older.

      Most of the time bites or other dog related injuries do not occur because of true aggression, but simply because of insufficient control or management.

      To me, the important issue is to make sure we are in control and that we do not expose our dogs to situations where they may accidentally cause harm to others and to themselves.

  46. Georgia says

    I just go my shiba inu puppy 4 days ago and so far its going pretty well except that he started humping me! When he does I put him in a time-out but it really bothers me and I don’t understand why he has started doing it all of the sudden. So far he has only done it to me and one random guest I had, but not my spouse. Also, he will sometimes bark right in my face when I’m holding him or even make a nasty growling noise. This last time he started humping me it was right after he barked in my face and it startled me. Is there anything else I can do besides putting him in time-out that will prevent him from humping? What did you do? And is there anyway I can stop him from barking or growling in my face? And when he does, how should I react?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Georgia,
      I went through a very similar thing with Shiba Sephy. In our case, it started because he started mouthing on my hands and arms, and biting on my jacket when we were out on walks. I became quite afraid from him because of this, and the fear caused him to become even more crazy. I was able to manage him in the house because I would just calmly put him in timeout but when we were outside, I started to feel stressed, and Sephy would become a crazy wild thing.

      For us, the most important and hardest part was to control my own fear and stay calm when Sephy was misbehaving. When Sephy started humping my leg, I would non-mark him – Ack, ack. If he does not stop right away, I calmly take him by his drag lead to timeout. The drag lead (only on a regular flat collar, not an aversive collar) is very helpful because it allows me to control him without him mouthing on my hand. Then I always ask him to do a simple command for me before letting him out of timeout.

      I remember that I felt lousy and somewhat betrayed when Sephy did his biting and humping on me. He didn’t do it to my partner. I thought to some degree that Sephy did not love or even like me and that was very hurtful. But later on, I realized that these behaviors have little to do with like or love and more to do with my own feelings of fear and uncertainty. Sephy is a very sensitive dog and he picked up on my stressed out energy. This caused him to get stressed as well, so he starts to act in an erratic fashion. This in turn made me even more fearful and so on. It was a pretty bad cycle.

      Other things that helped –
      1. Having a very fixed routine and a lot of house rules.
      2. Following the NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) program. This just means that Shiba has to do something for me first before I give him anything in return (even affection, opening doors, etc.).
      3. Bite inhibition training.

      Here are some of the things that helped with Sephy when he was a puppy –
      Here are some of the trials and tribulations (mostly trials) that I went through with Sephy in the first 6 months.

      Also check out the Shiba Inu forum. There are many Shiba Inu owners there with a lot of good information.

      The initial first few weeks are the worst with a new puppy. Things will get better once a routine is established and Shiba starts to understand the rules and boundaries in the house.

  47. Scarlett says

    I really enjoyed your blog about Shibas i have a 13 week shiba male and I am finding it very hard to discipline him when it comes to his agression. I feel like whatever method I use, he becomes more nippy in the moment. Can you give me some advice on what to do, to make sure he know we’re in charge not him.
    Thank you so much!!!!!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Scarlett,
      With Shiba Sephy, timeouts worked best for him. Trying to physically engage him only made him more crazy and mouthy.

      This article outlines some of the things that helped with Sephy. Some other things that helped –

      • Following the NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) program. This just means that Shiba has to do something for me before I give him anything.
      • Having a very fixed routine and schedule. Shiba Sephy needs and likes to have routine and structure.
      • Exercise and play time. Shiba Sephy works for all of his food.

      Here are more things I did with Sephy when he was a puppy –

  48. Emily says

    Things are not going so well, actually. Our fight is usually over the leash. Every time I go to put it on him, which has never been a problem before, he attacks me. Unless he is just very excited to be going outside. His behavior is so strange to me. This is a dog who has never bitten me in his life. A dog who would sit patiently and allow me to put his leash on him at the door any time I wanted. And now he’s completely different. I’m very afraid of him, so I leave his leash on all of the time now so I don’t have to clip it on him. It’s a ridiculous method for covering up the problem, but he hasn’t attacked me since then either. I’m really very unsure of what to do with him. I would like to re-home him, but it’s impossibble to find someone who has the skills, or is willing to take in an aggressive animal. I love my dog very much. I’ve had him since he was a puppy, and we’ve never had problems before. But I just don’t know how to handle his behavior anymore.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Emily,

      I think I know what you mean. I was in a very similar place with Sephy not too long ago. Your comment really got be thinking about my dark times with Sephy so I wrote about it here –

      It is my own personal story so much of it may not exactly match your situation, but hopefully some of it will help.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Emily,
      The best way to reach me is to leave a comment on the website. I check it most often.

      You can also send me e-mail at –

      However, I don’t check and answer e-mail as often so there will probably be a larger delay in response time.

      How are things going with your Shiba?

  49. Emily says

    I recently moved, and this seemed to awaken my shiba inu’s aggressive behavior. He attackes all of my friends, and even me. I’m not sure what to do with him. I’m afraid to put his leash on him, or even spend time with him anymore.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Emily,
      Yeah, I experienced some of that with my Shiba in his younger days. Every time he got excited or when I stopped him from doing something, he would get wild and start jumping and biting at my jacket. I started really dreading our walks and became afraid of his wild behavior.

      Fear is really the Enemy though. Sephy’s behavior worsened the more fearful I became of him.

      The steps I took above really helped me during this time. The thing that helped me most is to get as much information as possible on the behaviors that I was most afraid of. I also observed him carefully so that I knew exactly the triggers that would cause those behaviors. Finally, I came up with a series of detailed steps that I would take whenever he started his wild jumping and biting.

      Once I had a plan, my fear lessened because then I knew what to do, and I would just focus on the steps. Not all of the plans worked, but if they did not, I came up with alternative strategies and something usually works out. This helped me become more confident, and as I gained confidence, Sephy’s behavior improved significantly.

      Observe Shiba carefully and see what his triggers are – does he attack when he is touched? approached? when people enter the house?

      As you described, moving is a big deal to a Shiba because it is such a big change to his routine. Dogs, especially Shibas really need their routine, so a big change like that could cause significant stress. Has he been more stressed than usual? Is he eating less? How does he act when he is alone? Has anything else changed – e.g. your schedule, your friends, frequency of visitors?

      Finally, his behavior could also be due to something physical. If he has accidentally hurt himself (hurt paw, tooth issues, etc.) it can also cause a change in behavior.

      A professional trainer can be very helpful in situations like this to help you identify the source of Shiba’s aggressive behaviors. A good trainer can also come up with a plan to help Shiba get over his stress and redirect his negative behaviors into something more positive.

      It will get better.

      Things got better with Sephy once I started getting more information, worked on controlling my own energy, and developed a variety of strategies to redirect his energy.

      Good luck – let us know how it goes.

  50. Lisa says

    Hi again!

    My Shiba Inu’s previous problems are mostly fixed now after lots of hard work but now he has taken to trying to bolt out the door by squeezing between your legs and the door frame. We have had him sit EVERY time he enters or exits our home from the time he learned how to sit to try to teach him boundaries. This did not seem to help obviously because now, in the middle of his 8 Month old adolescence, he decided there are just too many new things to find on his own and I’m in fear of him running off or worse, getting hit by a car or biting someone who tries to catch him.

    I need help! He is in obedience training but the trainer could only suggest what we’ve already been doing. I looked up some other websites to help me but they all taught dogs through negative reinforcement which we all know will never work on a Shiba…

    Thank you for any response in this matter!

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba Inu’s previous problems are mostly fixed now after lots of hard work

      Congratulations! That is very good to hear. The last really serious issue I had with Sephy was his leash biting and it felt so good when I finally got it under control.

      now he has taken to trying to bolt out the door by squeezing between your legs and the door frame.

      Some things that may help –
      1. Double gates/doors. I have installed double gates on my backyard – kindda like what you see in dog parks. Double gates are a great way to do door training because when Shiba squeezes through, he gets nowhere except straight to a time-out. It also makes things very safe. Some people set up a temporary pen right outside the door during training.
      2. Drag lead. Sephy always has a drag lead on (only on a flat collar). That way I have a better chance of catching him when I need to. When I was doing door training, I put on a longer drag lead on Sephy. When he tried to escape I would just step on the lead. If he didn’t try to escape he gets to go on a nice walk and I also played with him outside. This way he learns that –
      Try to escape = No walks and don’t get to go outside, Sit and wait = nice walk in the great outdoots.

      In general, you want to – a) prevent Shiba from getting a successful escape and b) reward Shiba for waiting nicely on doorways. If Shiba escapes, then he gets to be free outside which is a big reward from his point of view. This will definitely spur him on to try more escapes and be more creative in his escape maneuvers. However, if he keeps getting thwarted, and loses his walking privileges, he will think twice before trying anything.

  51. Going Mad says

    I have a year old female Shiba Inu. She has great energy and is extremely intelligent. In the house, I can pull things out of her mouth, I can stick my hand in her mouth, I can pull her bowls away from her while eating and invade her space without problem. However, once we’re outside, her “protect my things” switch is flipped. I don’t bring any toys outside with me. But she always tends to find something and claims it. In the dog run, if someone will a ball comes in, I leave. Otherwise, she will grab hold of the ball and become viscous with anyone, even me. She has bitten my boyfriend numerous times when he was trying to get something out of her mouth. Her possession aggression outside of the home is getting very dangerous. HELP!

    • shibashake says

      Sounds like you already did a great job with her in terms of training her to “Leave-It” inside the house. Now you can just use similar techniques to train her outside. Dogs don’t tend to generalize commands across different locations – so a Leave-It command inside the house just means Leave-It inside the house. To them, Leave-It outside the house is a totally different command.

      I found that playing the object exchange game is a great way to get my Shiba to voluntarily give him stuff. I also practice Leave-It commands with him outside.

      When I first got Sephy, I used to take things out of his mouth all the time because he was always trying to eat something crappy off the sidewalk or road. This made him get even more possessive about objects when outside, because he associated me coming near him with taking stuff away from him (when he is outside). He was fine inside the house because he usually doesn’t get anything bad inside the house, and I didn’t have to go into his mouth.

      After doing a fair amount of retraining with Sephy he is better outside, but I try to make sure he doesn’t get the chance to pounce on anything bad. In general, it is best to reduce occurrences where you have to forcibly remove objects. In this way, Shiba associates taking away an object with getting something else back that is even better, rather than with losing a prized possession.

      Another thing that helped me with Sephy a lot is bite inhibition training. This really saved me later on when Sephy started doing crazy leash biting and sometimes biting on my hands when he redirected his frustration.

      In the dog run, if someone will a ball comes in, I leave.

      I think that is a very good idea because then, she does not practice her guarding behavior. The less guarding she does, the less likely it will become a habit.

      I would definitely consider getting a trainer to help with this. A trainer can help with timing and setting up training exercises, structure and routine so that we minimize the number of guarding episodes and increase the number of successes. In this way, Shiba learns that people coming near her does not mean that she will lose her items but instead, she will get something even better. Proper management is important so that she is protected from other people who might reach down to her when she is guarding.

      Let us know how it goes.

  52. Chris says

    My Shiba inu hates walking on grass and is perfectly content on the cement. When we take him outside we have to lead him onto the grass to eliminate and then directly after he will fight and pull to go back to the cement. Sometimes I know he has to poop but he refuses to sniff around to find a spot so he ends up holding it for long periods of time. I know they like to be clean but is this a little extreme?

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba inu hates walking on grass

      That is very interesting – Sephy is also like that but only for wet grass. He doesn’t even like playing on wet grass, so in the morning, he will only play inside the house. In fact, after it rains, he will avoid stepping on the wet door-mat when he goes out – lol.

      Sometimes I know he has to poop but he refuses to sniff around to find a spot so he ends up holding it for long periods of time.

      Yeah Sephy is very particular about pooping as well. The stars and moon have to align in exactly the right way before he will do it. He almost never does it in the backyard, and when we are out on a walk, there are only particular places that meet his standards of toilet excellence.

      If there is another dog or person about, or something is not quite right, then we must try again in the next spot – lol. I usually take note of all the good spots.

      I think it is another Shiba quirk 😀

  53. Lisa says

    Charlie actually enjoys being in his crate… He almost prefers it. Then again about 2 months ago he broke his leg and wasn’t allowed to move at all other than his outdoor business so he had no choice other than liking it because he was in there 24/7 for about 7 to 8 weeks. Something that helped him cope with it, I believe, is because we put a blanket over his kennel so he couldn’t see out which prevented him from seeing any desirable reason to want out. He is crated at night and while we are gone but if we don’t cover his kennel he will whine to and yip for attention to come out.

  54. Lisa says

    I have a Shiba Inu/American Eskimo Dog (I think he got more shiba genes than eskimo (: ) He is 6 months old this month and he is really well behaved as far as not biting or chewing on non-doggy friendly items or jumping on my 21 month old daughter… BUT if there is a situation that he does not like or if I reach down to him for any reason he unleashes the worst scream I’ve ever heard and even if I don’t let him go and I ignore the behavior until he stops he will do it for up to 10 minutes sometimes… I’ve heard the “shiba scream” in online videos and things but none of them shriek as loud and evil as he does. I wouldnt normally care and we would just ride it out and hope that it goes away when he is older but we have problems with our next door neighbors. They are very picky and look for every little thing and anything they can call and complain about… I fear that they will begin to complain about Charlie and force us to find him a different home. Sometimes he starts doing it outside at me and I have to bring him in quick because I swear it can be heard for miles lol. Does anyone have a similar problem or any advice on how to distract him from screaming without rewarding him for it? HELP please!!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Lisa,
      Yeah, Sephy used to do the Shiba scream with our dog walker. Being a dog walker, having a screaming dog in tow is definitely bad for business, so she would get pretty frustrated when he did that – which made him do it even more. Sephy is very good at sensing our inner energy and pushing the boundaries when he can 😀

      BUT if there is a situation that he does not like or if I reach down to him for any reason he unleashes the worst scream I’ve ever heard

      Hmmm, many dogs, especially smaller dogs can feel threatened when we reach for them from above. Here are some of the things I did with Sephy to desensitize him to handling when he was younger –

      Depending on the situation and reason for screaming – I will sometimes also use the time-out technique for Sephy. If he is just screaming for me to open the door for example, rather than as a result of stress, I will just ignore him or put him in time-out. Initially, he would scream in time-out but after a few times, he learned that this had little effect so nowadays he just gives me the depressed look even though I let him out after a couple of minutes.

      Just make sure the time-out room is far away from the difficult neighbors 😀

  55. Bart says

    thanks for the website.
    I think we’ve realized that our shiba is not a dog that can be crated!
    he does value his freedom way to much and its torture to leave him in there.
    so, we’ve gated off a room and he gets to stay in there while we’re at work. he can look out the window and run around and he likes it better. we leave his cage in that room so he can go in and out as he pleases.
    luckily he is not destructive and doesnt use the bathroom indoors.

    the only thing im worried about is that he will claim that room as “his”. he is very dominant sometimes. he’ll nip at your feet when you’re not doing what he wants. but then he gets punished.. either leash correction or time out. but from what ive read, this is typical shiba. he’s such a little brat sometimes, but i love him!

  56. Bart says

    Have you ever encountered any aggression when crating your dog?
    We just started (about 3 weeks now) crating our shiba when we leave the house and at night to sleep. He HATES the crate, even if we bribe him with a kong or other high value treats. He bites when you take him to the room with the crate. Then, once he’s in there, he’ll scream for hours. Any tips to get him to like it?

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, crate training can often be very difficult, especially for a Shiba because they do so love their freedom.

      The thing that helped most with Sephy is to go very slowly. Many times during the day, I would just give him the crate command, he would go in, get rewarded, and I’ll let him come right back out. I did this until he was comfortable with the process, then I would close the door, and open it a few seconds later and let him come out.

      Then I very very slowly lengthened the time he stayed in his crate. After a while, he was comfortable eating a Kong in his crate and staying the duration. Nowadays he goes into his crate on his own at night.

      This article from the Humane Society has some good information on the crate training process –

  57. Colleen says

    You posted in comment on here that you taught your Shiba to be “Quiet”….How on earth did you accomplish this? Reptar doesn’t scream (that has only happened once at the vet), thank goodness!! But man, he sure is a vocal little thing especially if we’re not giving him what he wants when he wants it. We ignore him and eventually he stops, but it would be wonderful to understand how to teach him “Quiet”.

    • shibashake says

      Hi Colleen,
      So good to see you.

      But man, he sure is a vocal little thing especially if we’re not giving him what he wants when he wants it.

      LOL – yeah Sephy can be very vocal too although he has quietened down a lot now that he is older.

      In terms of Quiet – it is just like any other command and Shiba will decide whether he wants to follow it or not. To first teach the Quiet command – do something that you know will trigger a vocalization but that will not trigger too extreme a reaction. For example – ringing the doorbell works for a lot of people. Let Shiba vocalize a bit then say Quiet and wait for him to stop. As soon as he stops mark the behavior and reward very well – then keep repeating until Shiba knows what the command means.

      After that it is just a matter of rewards and consequences in terms of whether Shiba will listen or not. There are also several different scenarios in which Sephy vocalizes – e.g. guard mode, whine mode, excited mode, etc.

      When in guard mode he will usually stop once I come to check out what he is barking at. Once he has alerted us, he has done his job so he stops.

      In whine mode – he will stop if he knows I really mean it. Another thing that helps here is to give him something else to do – e.g. go to your mat and stay. If he stays properly for long enough, he gets a good reward. Nowadays, he just goes to the mat on his own when I ignore him. I make sure to reward him when he does that :)

      Excited mode is the hardest so I usually just remove him from the stimulus.

      Strength of stimulus also really matters. When the stimulus is too strong – it is best to leave and that will usually help to quiet things down.

      How is Reptar? How are things going with finding him a girl? 😉

  58. Alecia says

    First off, I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading your article. But I was curious if your Shiba has ever had a problem with aggression towards other dogs? My boyfriend recently adopted a female Shiba Inu (about 2 years) and she is very sweet and great to take to the park and has never shown aggression towards either of us. The only problem is that I too have a dog, a female lab who is generally never aggressive (though fairly dominant). They walk side by side with absolutely no problem at parks or around the neighborhood, but with my dog off the leash the Shiba Inu turns into a completely different dog (growling, snarling, lunging at her). We are trying to deal with this behavior but we are having some difficulties. Please let me know if you have any advice for this- I feel as though we’re never going to be able to have our dogs off leash together.

    • shibashake says

      Hi Alecia,

      But I was curious if your Shiba has ever had a problem with aggression towards other dogs?

      Yeah – Shiba Sephy can be particular about his dog friends. In general, Shibas do not get along with other dominant dogs. There are also certain things that Shiba Sephy does not like – for example other dogs sniffing his butt. I later learned that especially for dogs that do not know each other well, this can be seen as a dominance move.

      One thing I noticed with Sephy is that he will not try to dominate other dogs, but if other dogs try to dominate him – he will not back-down and will not surrender.

      Some things to look out for –
      1. When both dogs are off leash who is the first to initiate interaction?
      2. Are there particular triggers/behaviors that Shiba dislikes? Sometimes it could just be an invasion of personal space. Shibas are pretty good guard dogs, and like other guard dogs (e.g. German Shepherd) they may not like other dogs crowding their personal space unless invited.

      When I meet outside dogs with Sephy I make sure to only greet more submissive playful dogs. I try to greet often but keep each greeting short. I also watch out for butt sniffing behavior and body block the other dog from doing it.

      For at home, I make sure that there is no bullying, and I interrupt play if it looks like things are becoming too high energy. House rules are that they must play nice and according to my rules. If they don’t, play stops and the one that went overboard gets to go to timeout. I also do not allow humping.

      One thing that may help is to leave drag leads on both dogs (only with a flat collar – *not* aversive collars). In this way you have more control and they may also act differently. It seems like they understand that when the leash is on, there is more structure and they know what the rules are. Similarly, it will be helpful to set up similar rules and structure for off-leash time.

      Here are some of Shiba Sephy’s experiences with other dogs –
      Socializing a Shiba Inu to Other Dogs
      Dog to Dog Aggression
      Getting a Second Dog

      The important part of keeping the peace at home is to carefully observe the situation and correctly identify which behaviors are causing friction. Often it can also be helpful to get a trained professional to come and observe the dogs interact. A good trainer knows how to read body language and can help accurately identify key stressors.

  59. shibashake says

    Hi Phillip,

    Should we try to do something about the first dog’s screaming?

    It may be best to stop it now before it becomes a habit.

    If she screams and you open the door for her after she has screamed for a certain duration, then she learns that – if I keep screaming long enough I get to go out. This encourages her to keep screaming and for longer periods of time. Your other Shiba may also observe this, and start following that behavior.

    What worked for me is to let my Shiba only vocalize once, then I tell him to Quiet (you may need to teach her the command first in a separate session). As soon as he quiets down, I ask him to sit, then I open the door for him. Then you can slowly increase the time that she has to stay quiet.

    If she continues to scream then just ignore her. It is best not to give her anything (even your attention) when she is displaying undesirable behaviors. If she escalates and starts jumping on people or biting people then calmly put her in timeout.

    In this way she learns the if she stays quiet she gets to go out, and if not, she doesn’t get anything.

  60. Phillip says

    We have two Shiba Inus, and one of them will scream to get outside and to get back inside. We think it is fine that she makes a loud noise when she wants in because that is probably the best way for us to know that they are ready to come back in, but do you think it is something we should stop within the house. She only does it to get out, and the other Shiba never does it for anything that she wants. She’ll just prance around and look up at everyone in the room. She easily makes it clear that she wants to go outside without any noise. She also will wait for someone to walk by the door, then run to it to alert us that she is ready.
    Should we try to do something about the first dog’s screaming?

  61. Derik and Kitsune says

    I guess in the end, I want to have him follow my rules without making him fear me. It sounds like too much to ask but I think it is possible. I just need footing to gain some momentum. Just to let you know this behavior really shows it’s face when he is extremely hyper or when a friend of mine plays with him. For some reason he just goes crazy around her!

  62. Derik and Kitsune says

    Hi, I love your site, it is extrememly helpful!

    I just got a 10 week old Shiba pup and I’ve had him for a few days now and I want to train him right. Now, he doesn’t do this to me except when I let him out of his crate every now and then, but how do you correct for a puppy jumping on a person even if it is in joy? Also, when he does this he sometimes becomes quite mouthy, what should I do? Also, from what I’ve noticed, when I tell him no, like when he chews on my hand or something he isn’t supposed to chew on, he responds negatively and summons the dreaded Shiba scream. Is this him challenging my authority as pack leader? If so, how should I respond to this beavior? And I really don’t have a room that I can use as time out, what method would you recommend for correction?

  63. shibashake says

    There is a lot here – so please let me know if you have more questions.
    Oh yeah, energy is extremely important with a Shiba. Shibas are very sensitive to the energy of the people around them. Calm is the best energy for a Shiba when they are acting out – anything else will make them go even more nuts. :)

  64. shibashake says

    Hello Derik,
    Congratulations on your new Shiba pup :) As you have noticed, they are small in size, but large in personality.
    1. “how do you correct for a puppy jumping on a person even if it is in joy?”
    When your puppy jumps, simply tell the person to ignore him and turn away from him. It is important to practice no talk, no touch, and no eye-contact (no eye-contact is very important because that can be seen as attention). Just fold up your arms and turn away. It is also important not to step back because that will encourage the puppy to keep jumping forward. Just stand in place and turn away. As soon as he displays good behavior – i.e. non jumping behavior, mark him (Yes), and reward him with affection. As soon as he jumps again – go back to ignoring. This will teach the puppy that jumping gets him ignored but not jumping gets him attention.

    2. Mouthiness
    Shibas are a very mouthy breed. This article deals with puppy biting –

    3. Time-out
    If you don’t have a good room to put him in on time-out you can also try putting him on a tie-down. Just have a tie down in a boring place in a house where he can’t get to anything. I used to have a tie-down in my kitchen. So whenever I had to do a time-out, I would just clip his collar to the tie-down.

    4. Shiba scream –
    Shibas can also be somewhat vocal. Firstly, try to understand why Shiba is vocalizing. Sometimes Shibas will vocalize to alert you to strange noises or to something else being wrong.
    Sometimes however, Shibas use the screaming and whining to get what they want and to get attention. My Shiba has used it on dog walkers, dog trainers, etc to good effect. Don’t give in to the attention-seeking Shiba scream. Just ignore it, and Shiba will stop after he gets no response.
    I don’t think that the screaming is a challenge. The Shiba puppy is just trying out different behaviors to see which ones get him the best results. Many people give in to the Shiba scream, which will make Shiba practice that behavior more and more. If Shiba does not get a response, he will move on to something else.
    Here is an article on my training experiences with my Shiba –

    5. Shiba play
    It is best not to do any rough-play with a Shiba Inu, especially in the beginning. I don’t do any rough-play with my Shiba. I also do not play tug-of-war with him.
    Here are some ideas for Shiba play –

    My Shiba likes playing the flirt-pole and the water-hose game. Make sure you have strict game rules though, and make sure to stop very often and ask him for obedience commands so that he doesn’t get over-excited. The obedience commands will also teach him that play is contingent on doing what you want first.

  65. rchicaferro says

    Lots of important points! Well done!

    This ties in very nicely with your other HUB on not treating your pets like people – As much as we love our dogs they are not people and they require a lot of time and training to make their lives (and ours) more enjoyable.

  66. shibashake says

    Absolutely :) Thanks for all your comments rchicaferro. They provoke much thought, and that is an invaluable thing!

  67. shibashake says

    Quicksand! I haven’t seen you in ages. Been missing your ugly mug :-)

    What have you been up to?

  68. shibashake says

    Good to see you Peggy. Yeah I really regret how things went with my first dog. I think it would have turned out better for everyone if I did A LOT more research before getting a dog.

    At least the second one got a smoother ride. I guess it is always toughest to be the first – in most things :)

  69. shibashake says

    Thanks Tom. I don’t think you will really need it. Most dogs come with a pretty good temperament and it is usually the dog owners – like me :) – who inadvertently make them aggressive.

  70. Peggy W says

    It is debatable whether we have EVER been the pack leaders but fortunately for us we have had a number of sweet and lovable dogs. Good article.

  71. Tom Rubenoff says

    This is a great article. We want to get a dog someday, so I will keep this as one of the reference I will use during training.

  72. shibashake says

    Thanks Iphigenia! Sadly, the aggression was primarily my fault. I did not do enough research initially and used the wrong dog training methods with him. Luckily, he is a small dog, so although it was not very pleasant, I was at least able to handle it :)

    “he and his owner go everywhere together – the owner on rollerblades being pulled by the dog…. ”

    lol – gotta love Siberian Huskies. I usually jog along with mine, but I think rollerblades are probably more her speed. And Sibes can *really pull* 😀

  73. Iphigenia says

    Whilst I found this interesting – and so well written, researched and illustrated to your usual excellent standard – I could not imagine ever coping with an large aggressive dog. I have two dogs who are not submissve but have never displayed aggression. They have just accepted me as their food provider and carer – they seem to trust me implicitely and do what I say … but that is not because I have been good at setting myself up as the leader of the pack – I have been lucky in the dogs that I’ve homed.

    Thanks for another great read – BTW – there is a beautiful Siberian Husky in one of the neighbouring villages, he and his owner go everywhere together – the owner on rollerblades being pulled by the dog….

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