Socializing a Shiba Inu to Other Dogs

Shiba Inus tend to know what they like and dislike and they are not shy about communicating this information to their owners.

Shiba Sephy is particular about his food, how and when he is touched, how he is held, stepping on puddles and wet mats, and of course …

he has his own ideas on how other dogs should or should not behave in his royal Shiba presence.

Here are some things I have noticed about Shiba Sephy when it comes to meeting dogs.

You’re not the boss of me

Shibas are rebels and do not like having a boss – human or canine. They may sometimes decide to follow certain requests from their human companions but only when there is cheese on the line.

When it comes to other dogs, they do not usually get along with dominant personalities – and this includes other Shibas!

  • Shibas are not submissive and will not surrender even to a larger dog.
  • Shibas like to play rough and wrestle.
  • Shibas will bully other dogs if they can get away with it.

As a result, socializing your Shiba to other dogs can often be a challenge.

Size *does* matter

Shiba Sephy gets along much better with larger, playful dogs, who also like to play rough. I never let him play with smaller adult dogs because he will very quickly overwhelm them.

Puppies seem more tolerant, are more submissive, and usually like to wrestle, so Sephy has fun playing with smaller puppies.

To the right, my little Siberian puppy is showing Sephy who is boss!

If you are thinking of getting a second dog, make sure to get one who will be a good playmate with your first dog.

The “Human” factor

While socializing your Shiba, you must also deal with other dog owners, and many people are uncomfortable with the rough and tumble style of Shibas. During play, a Shiba can appear quite fierce, showing lots of teeth and making Shiba war-cries.

It is best to keep your Shiba away from fearful people and their dogs as they will likely project bad energy that may trigger extreme behavior in their dog and possibly even in yours. Do not socialize your Shiba with unbalanced dogs and unbalanced owners, as they may teach/cause your Shiba to engage in bad interaction habits including fear aggression and mouthing on people.

Just as it is important to screen your children’s friends, it is important to screen your Shiba’s friends.

Shiba Sephy is very sensitive to my emotions and to the emotions of the people around him. He quickly picks up on fear, frustration, anger, or excitement, and gets even more crazy.

While meeting other dogs, stay calm and do not put undue tension on the leash.

Personal space

Shibas do not generally like having dogs come unannounced into their space.

Many other guard breeds, such as German Shepherds, feel the same way.

If your Shiba has this preference, you should protect him from strange dogs. Tell other dog owners not to come too near because your Shiba is wary of new dogs. Suzanne Clothier describes this issue very well in her article "He just wants to say hi".

My Shiba is reactive to other dogs so I am very careful during dog-to-dog greetings. He is always supervised when he is with other dogs, and he is not allowed to bully or hump. He also does not enjoy new dogs sniffing his butt without permission, so I will body block dogs from going into his buttockal region.

For reactive dogs, it is best to introduce them slowly to other dogs and have one-on-one play dates. One-on-one play sessions are easier to supervise and there is less excitement and uncontrolled behavior.

On-leash vs. off-leash

A Shiba may display different behaviors when he is meeting dogs on-leash or off-leash.

The leash can sometimes create fear (Shiba can’t run away) and barrier frustration (Shiba can’t get to the other dog). As a result, a Shiba may show more aggression when he is on-leash compared to when he is off-leash. Nevertheless, it is useful to teach a Shiba polite greetings whether he is on or off-leash.

If your Shiba is only aggressive on-leash, then you can use off-leash time as a reward for good on-leash behavior. If you are unsure of your Shiba, first start desensitizing him to dogs from a distance and slowly work your way towards a greeting.

It is also possible to use a muzzle, but that may cause the same fear and barrier issues as the leash. Shiba Sephy does not like the muzzle and shuts down when he has a muzzle on. Another possibility is to let the dogs meet from across a fence, but this can also cause barrier frustration.

Desensitization from a distance has worked best on Shiba Sephy.

Spaying and neutering

Spaying or neutering can also help with the dog-to-dog socialization process.

Un-neutered males may posture more when in the company of other dogs. This can lead to dominance displays, which may escalate into dog aggression. Female dogs that are in heat should always be separated from all male dogs, as she may trigger competition among the males and cause a dog fight.

Some owners may be reluctant to spay or neuter their dogs because they are afraid that the process may change their dogs’ personality. According to the Humane Society of the United States,

A dog’s personality is formed more by genetics and environment than by sex hormones.

This article by the Dog Owner’s Guide also has useful information on spay and neuter surgery.

Socialize your Shiba slowly

Start socializing your Shiba by walking him on-leash in your own neighborhood. See how Shiba reacts to calm dogs, fenced reactive dogs that he can’t see, and then fenced reactive dogs that he can see.

Desensitize him to each of these situations slowly so that he does not practice any aggressive behaviors.

Remember to maintain calm energy when meeting other dogs. If you are tense, your Shiba will pick up on that energy, and get tense and reactive as well.

Once Shiba is calm around the neighborhood, you may want to take him to a nearby SPCA and desensitize him there. At the SPCA there are usually fewer dogs around than in a dog park, and SPCA dogs are usually handled by trainers or trained volunteers. There is less danger of things getting out of control at the SPCA.

Taking a dog obedience class is also a good way to socialize your Shiba and have him focus on you even when there are other dogs around. A class is also a good way to meet friends that you can later invite for play dates.

Options for dog-to-dog socialization

1. Dog Playgroups

Dog playgroups are usually organized by training facilities or dog daycare facilities. The advantage of a playgroup compared to an enclosed dog park is that these sessions are supervised, and owners are usually very conscientious about cleaning up after their dog, and making sure that their dog is behaving properly.

Dogs in these playgroups tend to be more balanced because they are more socialized compared to the average neighborhood dog.

The disadvantage is playgroups usually only occur weekly or monthly, and at a specific time; whereas a dog park is open at all times.

2. Dog Daycare

While Shibas may be aloof and independent, they generally like being with their humans. At a daycare center a Shiba gets to enjoy dog and human company all day long. This will help to socialize Shiba and increase his confidence when facing new people and dogs.

Make sure to thoroughly check out the daycare facilities and their staff before enrolling your Shiba. Ensure that the dog playgroups are not too large and are well supervised, otherwise fights may occur or your Shiba may get harassed by the other dogs.

Here is more on what to look out for in a daycare center.

3. Enclosed dog parks

Shibas really need to have off-leash time to do their Shiba running and get rid of excess energy. If you do not have a backyard, an enclosed dog park may be a good place for your Shiba to run free.

On-leash walks alone (3 hours daily), were insufficient to drain my active Shiba. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to find a good dog park with responsible dog owners. Unless you find a good dog park, your Shiba may get into fights, get injured, or pick up bad behaviors from the other dogs at the park.

4. Group Dog Walking

Group dog walks may be a good way to socialize your Shiba if he is uncomfortable being in a large group of dogs. Dog walks usually have a maximum of about 6 dogs per walk and is a less stressful social environment for a Shiba.

Walks are a lot more structured, well supervised, and conducted in an interesting environment (e.g. an outdoor park). This means that Shiba has other things to focus on, and need not obsess on dog-play the entire time. Finally it is good training for Shiba to feel comfortable about walking with a pack of other dogs.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find a good dog walker who can handle a Shiba without resorting to forceful aversive techniques. Here is an article from the San Francisco SPCA on choosing a good dog walker. If you cannot find a good walker, it is best to stick to the dog playgroups and daycare.

Socializing a Shiba Inu to other dogs

If your Shiba is showing aggressive behaviors, do not push him too quickly in the socialization process.

Socialization is now a popular buzzword in dog training, but do not force your Shiba into becoming a social butterfly if he is not comfortable being one.

It is important to teach your Shiba good manners when greeting people and other dogs, but do not force him to interact or play if he prefers not to.

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Comments

  1. Kate says

    Hi there! I currently have a change of getting a lovely little Shiba Puppy, but I have a 7 year old male toy poodle. He is fantastic with other dogs, but he’s quite small and definitely a more dominant dog even though he isn’t aggressive at all he’s definitely the type to be on top.

    Would it be a bad idea for me to get one in case the shiba acted aggresively towards him?

    Many thanks!

  2. Taylor says

    I had a very quick question. We have an 8 month old Shiba and she is doing great making great progress walking, potty training, commands, and even biting finally. The only issue now is socializing with other dogs. At the dog park she gets along with everyone humans and dogs. The smalls ones don’t usually hold her interest and she loves playing with bigger dogs. The problem is at home. We have a duplex and our upstairs neighbor has a nice older boy dachshund. Often they will play together and for tug of war or chasing each other it works great but Shiba’s run out of energy after a few hours of play while the Dachshund is done after about 20 minutes. He will lay down and she keeps biting to get him to play which gets him to whine and whine a lot. I was wondering if the proper method to deal was this was what I am currently doing. I try redirecting her by throwing a ball or another game with my Shiba or I put her in her timeout zone if she is being very overly aggressive and eliciting screams from the dachshund. Is this a good approach or no?

    • shibashake says

      At the dog park she gets along with everyone humans and dogs.

      Wow! That is really great. Sephy was always a bit on the extreme side when visiting dog parks.

      In terms of play at home, one thing that helps with my dogs is to have some safe zones, e.g. their bed area, t.v. room, etc. If a dog goes there, my Shiba knows that he is not supposed to pester at all, or go near the other dog who wants to rest. If he tries to go near, I no-mark and then body block him away if necessary.

      Sometimes, I may set up an enclosure around the dog who just wants to rest so that I remove the temptation for Sephy, and it is more relaxing for the other dog. This is assuming that the other dog is ok with enclosures and such.

      Big hugs to your Shiba girl!

  3. Tristan says

    I have a 5month old female Shiba, she’s super mellow, loves me, follows me around… doesn’t necessarliy come when I call her.. She seems timid of people, including my husband.. she doesn’t seem to care what treat he has either.. and this goes for most people.. She isn’t aggressive, just aloof.. we are very social, she meets many people, we even have 2 kids.. (she will play a little, when she wants to)..and other animals, whom she has gotten along with great so far. Also suggestions would be appreciated, thanks!

    • shibashake says

      I did people desensitization exercises with my Shiba to help him get more comfortable with people greetings.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/how-to-calm-a-fearful-reactive-dog#people

      My Husky Shania is also more timid, and the key with her is to start small, go slow, and make sure to always keep her greeting experiences positive. I go at a pace that she is comfortable with and if she doesn’t feel up to meeting certain people, she doesn’t have to.

      It is usually large men with deep booming voices that can sometimes spook her. If I can, I get them to bend down, not speak, not initiate eye contact, and let her approach them (rather than the other way around). Here is a bit more on what I do when meeting a dog.

  4. Jordan says

    Hello, I was thinking about getting a shiba and a dog like a husky or maybe a samoyed. Because its better to wait to get a second dog after the first, would the shiba be better to get first? Or would it be better to get the shiba second, so it could grow up being around with another dog from the beginning?

    • shibashake says

      I think it really depends on the situation and environment. For me, I really wanted to get a Husky, but at the time, I did not have a backyard and we lived in a somewhat crowded area, with few nearby hiking trails. Huskies are very high energy and they like being outdoors, so we decided to get a Shiba instead.

      Shiba puppies can still be hyper and they need a lot of training, but that was something that I could do. Now that my Shiba is older, he is pretty low maintenance. He has one daily walk (about 1 hour), and one or two short play sessions and he is good. Training him in the beginning was very time consuming though and a big challenge for me.

      Here is my take on Shibas and Sibes.

  5. Catherine says

    Hello,

    I currently have an 11 year old Toy Manchester Terrier who is very insecure and nervous. He generally tolerates other dogs and is usually submissive. I am considering adopting 2 neutered shibas. One is 15 and the other is 2 1/2. They currently live with 7 other dogs, mostly puppies, and a cat. I am told they are great with all the others, especially the puppies.

    I am worried that once they enter my home, their shiba instincts will come out and they will turn on my little Manchester. What can I do so they can all co-exist?

  6. Janet says

    Hi there, I dont know how far your knowledge is on other breeds but I suppose its worth a shot. Me and my boyfriend already had a 2 year old Great Dane bitch, called Kuma, very playful, affectionate, lively and well behaved, she loves other dogs and playing with other dogs. We decided to get another puppy, a companiom for her, my boyfriend has always wanted a French Bulldog, so just before New Year we purchased a male 16week old Frenchie, Carter. Now hes really friendly and playful also, hes got a great temperament, hes a lovely little thing. The problem is Kuma now, she seems to have gone from a playful puppy to a tired old dog, she has no interest in playing with him, or anyone, she just lazes about, I suppose kind of in a huff, we still give her the most attention, and make sure she doesnt feel left out, but shes just not interested in the puppy at all. Ive tried everything, being excitable myself down on the floor trying to excite them up, she just walks away tug of war toys, as soon as Carter has one end she drops hers and walks away, or just stands holding it, growling a little. Shes never hurt him, shes gave him some warnings, when he went for her food and when he went in her bed.. but I guess she tolerates him otherwise, she just watches him. She just wont play any more, and its sad cause Carter wants to play, even though hes tiny compared to her, and shes just no interested? Any tips on how we could maybe get them more active together? Thanks x

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba Inu (Sephy) also didn’t warm up to my Husky puppy (Lara) in the beginning. Adding a new family member is often stressful to the existing dog because it means changes to routine, changes in people behavior, and also having to deal with a stranger in the house.

      Some things that helped with Sephy –
      1. Reduce stress by creating certainty
      I set up a fixed routine for all of my dogs, and a consistent set of interaction rules. For example, there is absolutely no stealing of food, toys, beds, space, or anything else. My adult dogs already know this, so I mostly supervise my puppy closely and teach her the house rules. In this way, my older dogs know exactly what to expect from the new puppy, and vice versa. If there are any conflicts, I deal with it. In this way, my dogs learn to see each other as equals and allies, and I get to be the bad sheriff. :D

      2. Minimize negative encounters
      New puppies can be a big handful because they are so energetic. I make sure that my existing dogs have a quiet place that they can go to rest whenever they want, away from the pestering puppy. ;) Sometimes they just want some alone time.

      I also have a very fixed routine for my new puppy which includes little naps throughout the day. In this way, I get to take some breaks too, and the routine helps to create more certainty and reduce stress for my other dogs.

      During the training period, I am always there to supervise puppy Lara. I slowly teach her dog-interaction rules, and I make sure that she does not bother my adult dogs when they do not want to be bothered.

      3. Create lots of positive and rewarding experiences with my existing dogs and new puppy
      From Sephy’s perspective, the new puppy is not very rewarding. She causes stress and change in the household, she takes up space, she takes up people time, she makes noise, she plays with *his* toys, and consumes other resources.

      Therefore, it is up to me to create positive and rewarding experiences between Sephy and Lara to help them form a good bond. At the same time, I minimize negative experiences.

      For example, I do group obedience sessions. I will start training Lara with very good rewards. This will usually attract Sephy to come over as well. When he does, and is calm, I praise him and get both dogs to do simple commands. I reward them *very very well* when they work together for me. I also did grooming exercises together, and I supervise play sessions so that they are fun and rewarding for everyone.

      Here is more on what I do to help my dogs get along.

      Congratulations on your new puppy and big hugs to both your furry kids. :D

  7. Jessie says

    Hi,
    I recently just adopted a 6yr old Siberian husky. I’m having trouble with socializing her to other dogs. She goes to a doggy day care and does fine with other dogs, but when we meet other dogs it’s a whole different story. I recently introduced her to a family member’s older (14) lab and she continued to growl whenever he was near me both off and on the leash. She also had a similar reaction with another dog while on the leash. Is her aggression a result of protecting me? If so, do you have any pointers on how I can reduce her tension when we meet other dogs.

    • shibashake says

      Does she act that way with the same dogs when you are not there and someone else is with her? In her daily care, is it mostly you feeding her and taking care of her, or are there other family members who also do this? How long have you had her? Did she start showing this behavior right away? Does she growl with all dogs when you are with her, or just with some dogs? Do those dogs have certain things in common – e.g. size, over-excited?

      My Shiba Inu also used to get dog-reactive whenever we saw other dogs. In our case, I found that a big part of it was because of my energy. I used to get stressed out and anxious whenever we saw other dogs, Sephy picked up on my energy, and got stressed and anxious himself. This made him even more reactive.

      Two things that helped most with my Shiba –
      1. Controlling my own energy. If I stay calm and in-control, Sephy is also a lot more calm.
      2. Dog-to-dog desensitization exercises.

      Each situation is different though, and dog behavior is very dependent on temperament, past experience, and surrounding context. This is why in cases of dog aggression, it is often helpful to get a professional trainer who can come over, observe our dog, and read his body language during a meeting. I visited with several trainers during my difficult period with Sephy.

      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  8. Kendra says

    I love your website and I think it is quite informative. I have a 4 year old Shiba Inu girl named Kaia and a 3 year old Norwegian Elkhound named Atreju. Recently, I came home to discover urine in my bed and on a sofa cushion (the one I sit on). I had Kaia checked for infections and everything came back fine. Today, I was giving my dogs a treat and Kaia began to do her banshee scream (which is common around treat time) to keep Atreju away and he was no where near her at the time. Later I found a fresh urine spot where she was when the banshee scream began. My vet has informed me that Kaia doesn’t like Atreju. I am not sure what to do or how to get her to like him or understand that he is a part of the family. Any suggestions? Atreju likes Kaia but Kaia doesn’t seem to like Atreju……… Help? I don’t want to get rid of a dog because of behavioral issues due to one dog not liking the other.

    • shibashake says

      Have you had both dogs since puppyhood? How long have they been together? How were their interactions in the past? What is their meal routine like? Do they play together? What is their normal routine like? Did something change recently that may have triggered changes in behavior?

      More on what I do to help my dogs get along.

  9. IC says

    Hi,

    I’ve been reading your site before and after we got our shiba, Hiccup. She’s about a year and a half. Our biggest problems with her are 1) dog-dog aggression at the dog park and 2) on leash aggression. She pulls her leash also but like you mentioned in your article it’s something we need to work on and most likely due to her just being very curious and excited.

    1) She’s a hit or miss when it comes to playing with other dogs at the dog park, big or small dogs. Just today, she was doing great with all the other dogs until one lady brought her schnauzer into the park. Hiccup went to greet it and then lunged and bared her teeth. I’m not sure if the lady overreacted or not but she threatened to leave the park and made it very uncomfortable for me and Hiccup to be there ie “don’t bring your dog unless she’s trained. She’s nasty!” I’m not sure what to do to get her to stop being aggressive randomly. I don’t know what to look for either since it happens so quickly. Any advice about this would be great.

    2) On leash aggression – I reread your article about it and I’ve gotten a few ideas to try from it. Her issue on leash is the same as off leash. Off leash, she’s more likely to interact nicely with the other dogs but on leash she’s more prone to being aggressive, snarling and twisting out of her leash. I feel like they’re related but I don’t know what I should be doing.

    Any advice would be appreciated. I’m getting to a point where I don’t want to take her out to a dog park anymore for fear of making someone else uncomfortable about how aggressive Hiccup is but I know this would be counter productive and make her more aggressive when she does finally encounter a dog. What should I do?

    Thanks!

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, I am also not a big fan of enclosed dog parks. Here are some of our dog park experiences with Sephy.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/enclosed-dog-parks-good-or-bad

      Sephy does much better in small, structured, and highly supervised play-groups. Sephy does best with larger dogs that are friendly and playful, so those are the ones I am on the look-out for and invite to be his play-buddies. I am there to supervise the whole time. I throw in play breaks to manage excitement levels, make sure the dogs follow play rules, etc. Small or one-on-one play sessions worked out much better for Sephy.

      In terms of dog-to-dog reactivity during walks, I did desensitization exercises with Sephy. That helped to raise his reactivity threshold and helped him be more relaxed around other dogs.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-to-dog-aggression#desensitize

      Each dog is different though, so I always make sure to observe Sephy closely, only use techniques that are appropriate for his temperament, and tweak techniques according to his needs. With Sephy we also got help from several professional trainers. The trainer would visit with Sephy, observe him in a variety of situations, and evaluate his behavior. Then the trainer would have a discussion with us about what type of retraining is most suited for Sephy.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  10. Brett says

    I have a five year old shiba named rusty. He is fine around other dogs until they try to sniff his butt. What should I do to make sure this doesnt make him angry

  11. Kelly says

    Hi
    i love your website.I have an akita inu and a shiba inu. Akita’s name is Hachi and shiba’s name is Maximus. They both love to play tug of war.I’m just a kid but i know ALOT about dogs.Sometimes Maximus tries to steal Hachi’s food and Hachi attacks him.What should i do?I dont want them to behave badly.One day when we were walking in my street,Hachi and Maximus suddenly pounced on my friend’s dog.He was just standing there doing nothing.Can you tell me why my dogs are developing bad behaviour?
    Thanks,Kelly

    • shibashake says

      Hello Kelly,

      It sounds like the best thing to do is to get help from a professional trainer. As you know, dog training is greatly dependent on the dog’s temperament, his surrounding context, routine, health, etc. A good trainer can observe the dogs, read their body language, evaluate their routine, and more, to properly identify the root cause of a behavior.

      In an online context, all of these important details are missing.

      On this site, I talk about many of the experiences I have had with my dogs. However, each dog is different, the environment is different, and the routine is different. Some things may translate, but they will have to be tweaked to fit a particular case. In cases of aggression, it is best to get help from a trainer because if we do not do the right thing, our dog may redirect his aggression onto us.

      With my dogs, I have a strict no-stealing policy. When I get a new puppy, I slowly and carefully teach her what the rules are for interacting with my other dogs. Clear dog-to-dog interaction rules are important, so that the new puppy knows exactly what to expect from my other dogs and vice versa. Here is a bit more on how I keep the peace with my dogs.

  12. Natasha says

    Hi there

    I’ve written to you before and have always found your comments useful and insightful, hopefully you can shed a bit of light on my latest issue. My shiba Yuki and I are part of a dog club where we attend obedience classes on a weekly basis. As you know shibas are interesting to train but she’s come a long way, there are dogs she likes and others she dislikes. On leash she’ll often snarl at dogs who she dislikes and who dislike her, but sometimes we have an off leash session where the dogs are allowed to mill around and mingle. During these sessions she’s great, she’ll play with her dog buddies and ignore the dogs she doesn’t particularly like. Today we did some long distance recalls during which she usually runs past me on a little detour but always returns to me in the end. This time though her detour took her to a German Shepherd that she adores, this was no problem except for the fact that a little toy poodle was standing near him. Yuki and the poodle looked at each other for a bit and then Yuki lunged, it sounded bad, spittle was flying and I eventually pulled her off. Thank goodness the poodle was fine, and if Dr Ian Dunbar’s fight to bite ratio is to be believed she’s still never hurt another dog. What concerns me is that she started a fight which she never does offleash, her reaction to this dog was almost like it was prey. The poodle is very bouncy with curls everywhere and a little bell around his neck, is she seeing her as a prey animal and not just another dog she dislikes? Having said that the fight was a scuffle where no damage at all was done.Please let me know what you think.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Natasha,

      Based on what you describe, my guess is that there was some guarding involved – in particular around the GSD. She may view the GSD as a resource, and does not want other dogs stealing it. “Hands-off, he’s mine!” :D

      My Sibes sometimes do that with people. They will get between another dog and a person that they like. When they do that, I no-mark the behavior and ask them for an alternate command, e.g. Down. If they follow that, then I give both dogs affection. If not, then I leave and ignore them.

      This is just a guess though. Since I didn’t view the incident and do not know any of the dogs involved, it may not be very accurate.

      What did the class trainer say?

    • Natasha says

      Hi again

      In reply to your question a bunch of us thought that she might have been guaring the GSD, he’s very popular with the girls LOL! My trainer did think it could’ve been the whole vibe surrounding the poodle, she’s very bouncy, her bell jingles, and her curls fly about! We’re not suggesting it was her fault of course, but I’ve noticed before that she did seem to irritate Yuki and some of the other dogs got agitated by her presence. It’s a shame as she’s rather sweet and means no harm, but of course as we know shibas have their own set of rules and regulations. Before managing to separate them I had my eyes glued to Yuki’s mouth in order to see the harm she was causing, and I must say she didn’t bite even once. It looked quite scary but according to some of the sites I’ve visited if a dog wants to cause harm, it will, so it’s hopefully a good sign that she did’nt.

    • shibashake says

      he’s very popular with the girls

      LOL! The strong and silent type always gets all the gals. It is good to be a GSD! :D

  13. Clare says

    Hi there,
    I’m a dog trainer in the UK and have recently been contacted by a couple with a 5 month old Shiba Inu. I had heard of the breed before but didn’t know much about them. Your website has been a great help to me! Anyway, I informed the owners that I had not worked with the breed before but would be willing to meet them and their pup and take it from there.
    They have told me that their Shiba will not allow anyone but them anywhere near him (barks aggressively when anyone approaches) and is petrified of other dogs (runs a mile if he sees one). They have just informed me now that last week their Shiba actually bit the female owner in panic when approached by another dog last week.
    Now obviously, I have worked with similar cases in the past (i work with rescue dogs a lot) but never a Shiba and from your site I get the impression they are rather different to many other breeds!)
    I’ve worked with shepherds and collies with similar issues before. I tend to use a combination of desensitisation, counter conditioning and positive reenforcement. Obviously i haven’t met the pup yet (meeting on Saturday) so I’ll know a lot more after that but i was wondering if you had any tips or warnings of how to approach the situation that may differ from with other breeds.
    The couple want to bring their pup into the puppy classes I run but due to their description of how fearful he is of other dogs, I think this may be too much for him right now (the puppy classes i run have just four puppies in each, but the space is not massive so he would be in relatively close quarters to the other puppies).
    Any help or advice would be appreciated!
    Thanks, Clare.

    • shibashake says

      Hmmm, very interesting question.

      1. The first thing that comes to mind is the famous Shiba stubbornness. Sephy is extremely stubborn. If I try to force him to do something, he will dig in and really not want to do it. The key with Sephy is to let him arrive at the decision on his own, but give a few gentle nudges along the way.

      2. What a Shiba is motivated by, may be very different from many other dogs. Sephy is not very food focused and not very people focused. Since they are a more aloof breed, they are likely not going to work for attention and usually not just for food either. Instead, Sephy likes playing chase games, wrestling with other dogs, and new things. He will do very good work for something that he really wants.

      You may also enjoy this article-
      Why Are Shiba Inus One of the Most Difficult Breeds to Train

      There are some good insights in the comments section from other Shiba owners.

      Finally, I also do want to mention that Sephy is very sensitive to the emotions of the people around him, much more so than my other dogs. He used to behave very poorly because I was very fearful and stressed about what he *might* do. Once I became more calm, Sephy’s behavior improved significantly. He does best in a calm environment where he has a fixed routine and knows what to expect from the people around him, and what is expected of him.

      Would love to hear your point of view and impressions after you meet the Shiba on Sat.

  14. britney schamberger says

    hey i have a shida inu her name is Dakota we found her and she is a very good but she liked to bite she bit my mom and my mom didnt like it because it was unanounced and so my mom gave her to a clase friend and Dakota likes it thier but every time we went to see her and then left later that night she would not eat and gpt a rea;;y bad rash and the vet did not know what was wrong with her so we took her back and she got fine but the thing is whenshe would not eat we went up their and then she was fine and would eat. now that we have her back she is perfically fine but she is now getting attacked by our other dogs but she is getting better with them now and when i read this artecle i know alot about her but my mom dont believe me that she is a shida inun but thhank you :)

  15. says

    My Shiba pulls on leash when she sees another dog. Not to be aggressive but because she wants to go over there to say hi and play (My dog is very playful and social). Off leash she get excited because we don’t have the control over her but she also likes to bully other dogs if she can.

    Really would like any tips to get to stop pulling when seeing another dog.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Faith Prince,

      Yeah, Shiba Sephy also used to get really excited when he saw other dogs.

      What helped with Sephy is to first create neutral experiences, i.e. teach him to ignore other dogs. When we see other dogs, I make sure to stay calm, I create space (e.g. by crossing the road), and I just keep walking at a measured pace. In this way, Sephy learns that when he sees other dogs, nothing happens. The more he practices this, the more he gets accustomed to staying calm in the presence of other dogs.

      I also did a fair amount of desensitization exercises with trainers at my old local SPCA. They had many great dogs there that they could use for dog-to-dog type training sessions.

      Here is more on what I did with Sephy to deal with his dog-to-dog reactivity issues.

  16. Steven says

    Hi, my shiba inu is now 9 months old and she will behave okay when we have a leash on her but when its off leash and people comes to our home, she will sometimes jump on others, bite their jackets, run around in circles and also bite me if I tell her to stop and whenever she bites my shoes or my jacket she will shake her head like crazy (the killer move) THANK YOUUU

  17. Chelsea says

    Hi,

    I love your site and Have been reading it for many month now. I just got a shiba about a month ago, he is 3 months now and very fearful of everything! He was like this ever since we picked him out of the litter. He started to wine and hide behind us in the beginning but now he is doing better and slowly taking treats from people. But still no one can ever touch him. We go to socialization groups but since the trainers can’t tell if he is being aggressive or playful he is in a play pen while he watches the other dogs. While in that play pen he seems really aggressive but when we walk on leashes and he meets other dogs he is a little scared and growls once in a while. I have read all over that your dog loves to go on walks, sometimes I think my shiba doesn’t because eveytime he does. It want to put his leash on and does not come when I call him to go outside. My deepest fear is that he will bite someone. HELP!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Chelsea,
      Congratulations on your new Shiba puppy!

      He started to wine and hide behind us in the beginning but now he is doing better and slowly taking treats from people. But still no one can ever touch him.

      Yeah, Sephy is not really big on touching either. The good news is that we did a lot of touch exercises with him, and he slowly got better. Now he will even ask for tummy scratches and affection sometimes. It is very precious when he does. :D

      We also got him to a point where we can do nail grooming, brushing, and teeth cleaning on a regular basis. Here are some of our experiences with touch exercises-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/hug-dog-teach-your-dog-to-enjoy-hugging

      As for dog-to-dog socialization, Sephy is also pretty reactive when it comes to other dogs. He gets over-excited, and gets in the other dog’s face, which can trigger aggression from the other dog. Sephy also does not like other dogs sniffing his butt.

      The thing that helped a lot with Sephy is to first teach him to ignore other dogs. When we see other dogs, we just ignore them and move along. The more neutral experiences we created, the more Sephy learned to stay calm when he saw other dogs, because we just ignore.

      In terms of playing, I pick his playmates very carefully. I only let him play with dogs that are non-dominant, playful, and are very tolerant. Sephy absolutely does not get along with dominant dogs.

      Here are some of our dog-to-dog meeting experiences.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-to-dog-aggression

      As for walks, my new Sibe puppy Lara is also fearful of many number of things. In the beginning, I only walked her close to home and in very quiet parts of the neighborhood. We have hiking trails nearby, so we usually go there. Another thing I have noticed is that when I bring one of my other dogs along, puppy Lara gets a lot more confident and is able to handle more things.

      Together with the more low-key walks, I also slowly desensitized her to each of the things she was afraid of in a controlled environment at home. Here are some of our experiences with desensitization-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/how-to-calm-a-fearful-reactive-dog

      My deepest fear is that he will bite someone.

      Yeah, I was very afraid that Sephy would get into a fight in the early days. The thing though is that Shibas are very sensitive dogs and they can pick up on our emotions. When I got afraid, Sephy would also get afraid, and start acting crazy. My fear was actually making Sephy act out and become fearful himself. Once I was able to control my own worries and have a plan of action, things got a lot better. Here are some of my early experiences with Sephy-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/pack-leader-to-an-aggressive-dog

      Hugs to your puppy! Let us know how it goes with the little guy.

  18. says

    I have a one year old Shiba and I recently took him to a dog park. He usually goes and does his own thing and comes back and forth playing with other dogs. He has been around numerous dogs since I got him by him playing with friends and families dogs as well as seeing other dogs hiking and stuff like that. At the dog park there were three other dogs there with him; two jack russells and a black lab. It seemed like they were playing fine but then all three of the dogs cornered mine. I have never seen my dog ever get aggressive. He is usually submissive and seems to not like confrontation at all. It made me nervous and the other dog owners didn’t seem worried. It wasn’t until I walked over to the three dogs that had my dog up against a fence that the others started to come and get their dogs. I am bothered because I don’t know if I should be doing something with my shiba or if that is a common thing to happen at a dog park? I really enjoyed taking him there because he loves the time off the leash.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Amanda,
      I used to take Sephy to enclosed dog parks, but we stopped after a few months. Mainly, the unstructured environment at the park just did not suit Sephy and he was learning a lot of bad habits. As you noticed, the quality of a park is very dependent on the people who go there. Most of the time, people are interested in chatting with each other and there is very little supervision of the dogs.

      Sephy does better with smaller one-on-one play sessions. After we stopped with the dog park, we took Sephy to our local SPCA and did very structured training sessions with the friendly dogs there. It was great because the sessions were well supervised, and they had a nice variety of friendly dogs.

      We also invited our neighbor’s dog, Kai, to come over and play at our house. We were very lucky then because our neighbor had a young, balanced, and friendly puppy who had a lot of fun playing with Sephy. When we go on our walks, Sephy would always go to Kai’s house and wait at the gate for her. It was very sweet. I always imagine him carrying a bouquet of flowers for her. :D

      Here is an article on our dog park experiences and why we stopped going-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/enclosed-dog-parks-good-or-bad

      Additional possibilities-
      Dog daycare, or group dog walking.

  19. Crystle says

    Hi,

    I love reading your site, its my new addiction. :) I’m getting a little Shiba Inu soon, and would like to know as much as possible.

    I found Suzanne Clothier article “He just wants to say hi”, very interesting. You see I have a Boston Terrier, and he is well…rude. :/ I was hoping to find some answers on how both he and I can work on his manners.

    So my question is, do you know where I could email her, or if there is another section on which I can read about? Or do you have any other tips?

    Thanks a lot,
    Crystle

    • shibashake says

      Yeah Suzanne Clothier has some really cool articles on her site at http://www.flyingdogpress.com/
      She has a contact link on her Hawks Hunt Farm page.

      Shiba Sephy can also be a bit rude. One of the things that helped is working with trainers that have a variety of other dogs that they can use for meetings and greetings. We used to take Sephy to the SPCA for social training and it was great. They have a variety of dogs that they use to practice different social situations, and the trainers are there to supervise to make sure everything is safe. Trainers at daycare centers may also have similar resources.

  20. shibashake says

    Hi Alison,

    Congrats on your new Shiba! It is awesome that you rescued a Shiba and are helping her get through some life challenges. Shibas really are a very interesting and quirky breed. I don’t think I have seen another breed with so many different facial and body expressions.

    Keep us updated on how your Shiba is doing, and send us some picture links when you can. I always love Shiba stories and Shiba pictures :)

  21. shibashake says

    Thanks Masako.

    I always try to observe Sephy and understand what he is trying to tell me. I think Shibas are very expressive, but sometimes it can still be difficult for me to understand their cues.

    If there are things that I have missed, please let me know. Hugs to Winnie!

  22. Alison says

    Thanks for posting! My partner and I just rescued a 6-month old Shiba, who is very shy and scared of EVERYTHING. We’ve been trying to socialize her slowly, and this gave us lots of good ideas. I really appreciate that there’s a good, reliable source for Shiba info out there in the vastness of the internet. <3

  23. says

    EXCELLENT post! I love all of your tips… I will definitely refer others to this post as I think it covers a lot of great information on how to socialize our Shibas. Thank you,

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