Why Are Shiba Inus One of the Most Difficult Breeds to Train

I was channel surfing the other day and stumbled upon a Dogs 101 episode with Shiba Inus. They characterized Shiba Inus as “one of the most difficult breeds to train”.

  • Why is a Shiba Inu difficult to train?
  • What makes a Shiba Inu more difficult to train than other dog breeds?

Of course a Shiba is stubborn and strong-willed, but then so are many other breeds, including the Siberian Husky. Why then are Shibas more challenging to train than other strong-willed breeds?

1. A Shiba Will Do What a Shiba Wants

A Shiba Inu will only respond to activities that makes sense to him, and not necessarily to you. The good news is a Shiba is not shy about letting you know what he likes, and what he wants!

Shiba owners usually listen carefully to their dogs, and personalize training methods to suit individual preferences and temperaments.

Shibas also think for themselves, and are very motivated to come up with alternate ways to reach their goals. As a result, training a Shiba Inu is often counter-intuitive, and traditional dog training methods may not work well.

Shiba owners must be creative and flexible.

A Shiba may follow commands if they make sense to him. Other times, he will do something else that ROCKS!

Some people may reason that since Shiba Inus are independent thinkers, they would respond better to aversive training techniques, such as collar corrections or alpha rolls.

This is false.

Shiba Inus are also extremely strong-willed and stubborn. They will fight back if they feel threatened. I started with aversive training techniques, and my Shiba Sephy fought me every step of the way. The more a dog practices fighting back, the more likely he will repeat that behavior and develop aggression issues down the road. Sephy was surely heading that way, which was why I started looking into alternative training methods.

Aversive techniques also made Sephy lose trust in me.

2. A Shiba Inu Will Not Surrender Even When All Is Lost

All dogs think for themselves. They have their own needs, which may not always coincide with ours.

Strong-willed dogs are not afraid to push their own agenda, even if it puts them in conflict with us and other dogs.

However, even strong-willed breeds like the Siberian Husky will give up the ghost when they see that the effort and time involved, is not worth the end result.

On the other hand, Shiba Inus have a very …

singular state of mind.
~~[ Geoge ]

Once a Shiba starts to focus on something, he may quickly become obsessed. When in that singular state of mind, it is difficult to distract Shiba and get him to do something else.

When Sephy gets into that obsessive state, he will not give up no matter what. Even if things look hopeless, he will not surrender. The more I try to force him to comply, the more he will dig in his paws and not budge.

For Shiba Inu Sephy, giving-up is simply not an option.

It seems that any kind of concession will deal such a grievous blow to his Shiba pride that he is willing to do whatever it takes to protect it. Sephy is willing to endure pain, not eating, not going for his walks, not getting affection or attention, losing his freedom, and much more; when his Shiba Honor is on the line.

This great quote from the I am Shiba blog sums it up very well

I Am Shiba. Seppuku will not be enough.

The best way of getting Sephy to do something is not to make it into a challenge or a fight. If Sephy does not want me to brush his teeth, he does not get his usual melted cheese and chicken meal. I will simply go back to my tasks, and when I am free, I try again. By then, he is usually hungry and in a different state of mind.

3. A Shiba Inu Has the Heart of a Rebel

Shiba Inus are often characterized as independent, aloof, and more like a cat.

I think that Shibas are independent minded, but they actually want and enjoy a fair bit of human attention; perhaps more so than many other dog breeds.

Unlike other dogs however, Shibas are not necessarily looking for positive attention. With Sephy, any type of attention will do; as long as it is big, all-eyes-on-Shiba, high quality attention.

Negative human attention is easier to obtain, more intense, and usually lasts for a longer duration.

As such, this is the type of attention that Shiba Sephy usually strives for, not unlike an online troll. If he is able to get my goat, he will. If he is able to get my goat and start a fun chasing game, that is even better!

If I tell Sephy not to do something, he will definitely try to do it the first chance he gets. He is sneaky and will do it when my back is turned. However, if I am not home, he spends most of his time sleeping because he does not have an audience.

The “game” is only fun when there is a real danger of being caught, and the possibility of escape. An audience is also necessary to see his God-like Shiba-ness.

I have since learned that one of the best ways to deal with Shiba-hijinks is to stay above the fray and ignore my attention-seeking Shiba. Sephy does not like being ignored. He will go to great lengths to get the attention of those that seem disinterested in him – even if it means following commands!

What to you think?

  • Are Shiba Inus one of the most difficult breeds to train?
  • What makes a Shiba Inu difficult to train?
  • Which dog breeds, do you think, are more difficult to train than a Shiba?

Many thanks to Kblover & Wally, Brett & Ziva, Andrea & Kiba, Zuko’s Mom & Zuko, Geoge & Rusty, as well as Jess & Zeus, for sharing their Shiba Inu stories and many dog experiences. I made many changes to the article above based on their comments.

Related Articles


  1. Nathan says

    My shiba is my second dog as an adult, my first one was a Siberian who died of old age.

    I have to say my Husky was vastly more unmanageable than my shiba is. But as quirky as my husky was my shiba is waaayyyyy quirkier.

    She’ll just decide that socks are scary for a month. Or that sleeping on me is ok, then sleeping on the back of the couch is ok – like a cat.

    This quirkiness is amazing and it makes me love her more – if I wanted a personality free dog I’d get a lab. Haha!

    And for those who complain about their shibas, look do your work. It is that simple. Set a schedule, set rules, set time for positive training, and your dog will be yours. I’m serious; my shiba chewed a shoelace and a 20$ in her 4 years, that’s it!

    As with my husky, I just make sure there is always something better to chew: like soup bones or toys.

    You are the human; don’t blame your dog.

    • Todd Sherman says

      Ours chewed everything… horrible breed. Get another breed if you’re looking for a real dog… get a Shiba if your looking to become a member of “never again club”.

  2. M.Tiebosch says

    Please, can you help me. My shiba puppy is now 14 weeks old. I have taken her everywhere. She overlikes human..she really wants to go to them and when she cannot, she pulls on the leash and looks all the way until she can ‘t see them anymore. But when I played with her, she stopped playing and walked around me. Than I knew what she was doing! She was observing me and looked at me as if I was a pray. I remembered last week; playing and than she bit me from behind in my upperarm! Her teeth were in my arm! Now she was doing it again! Ofcourse I told her that this behaviour was nòt good at all! What can I do? She really observed me like a wolf! (Please, forgive me for bad English, I am from Holland).

    • paul says

      shibas are more wild than shepards but not as loyal and it will telll you when it doesnt like someting my shebas walks off leash never run to far she does not attack no one very loveable lovespeople2mu

    • paul says

      my shiba is 12 yrs old and still acts like a pup she is huge for female as big as most males looks like afox mix with cayote eccept curly tail doesnt care about dogs onlypeople petmepetmeallday♥.

  3. Tony says

    I’ve had my shiba since he was 2 months old. He is 5 now. My biggest complaint is that he is stubborn and will not listen. As soon as the front door opens he try’s to get out. When he does, he will run as far as he can. It’s hard to get him back. It’s a pain when friends open and he runs off. They feel bad. I live close to a highway also. We have been lucky so far. He will run right into the highway. This may be the reason I have to give him up for adoption. Tried 2 trainers. One said no hope. Other said he needs 6 months of training at $80 a week an guaranties

    • TP says

      My shiba is like that, but we won’t give up on him. We’re thinking about getting a baby gate installed and sort. He’s exactly what this article described. Shiba is always be shiba. So hard to deal with, but we can’t live without him. 🙂

  4. Ruta says

    Sounds a lot like Thailand Ridgebackdog! If Injust switch the breed names – this would be same story like I had wirh my bou Kao 🙂 very instinctive, primitive, independent, untrusring, cautious..
    Your articles are very nice, well structured, clear and really informative (i’ve read many! Not all like that). What’s still missing (everywhere iver the www) the info like – what to do dueing and adter actuall incident – growl, teerhing, bite. I do handle the controll (learned instinctivelly by myself) the agression incidents, yet would be great to know what are the best ways, whats the best to do after and what mistakes not ro do, which might influence agression repetition or amth like that…
    Hreat to read though!

  5. Gemma says

    My dog is a mix shiba dingo. He is gorgeous and strong willed. But he was crudely knocked over by a Turkish driver and left for dead took his right leg out. But he runs well even with a manly foot

  6. Megan says

    I don’t feel like I ran in to any more trouble training my Shiba Inu, Pola, than I would’ve had she been any other breed! Just consistent training and rewards of lots of treats, love, and attention! The only thing she can’t do is be off leash near roads. She’ll stay in-sight of me, so trails, fields, or anywhere far from roads is fine! But she WILL chase squirrels and rabbits at all costs and absolutely would chase them across the road!

    I definitely agree with the obsessiveness, though! Man, once she’s interested in something there no breaking her attention without something she’s even more interested in (like a piece of lunch meat). … She goes to me parent’s house a lot to play with their dogs, and one day she saw them hide her favorite squeaky toy in a cabinet. Now, when she’s bored, even when that toy isn’t in there, she’ll just sit and stare at it that cabinet!

    And she doesn’t like dog parks at all. Once in a great, great while she’ll find a dog she wants to play with (usually a puppy… She loves puppies), but most of the time she’ll only play with me and stay close to me the whole time! She loves other dogs when she meets them one-on-one, but I think the dog park is just too much for her, so I don’t even take her anymore! I do off-leash hikes instead!

    • Megan says

      Ah! And I know a lot of people say that Shibas aren’t particularly cuddly, loving dogs… But Pola DOES cuddle fairly often (not, like every day, but often enough)! And, I suppose it’s loving, but sometimes she’ll just stare at me… Like, sit on the opposite sofa as me and just stare at me for extended periods of time. When I notice her I’ll start laughing and she’ll cock her head to the side once it twice and then continue staring!

      … And she’ll sleep with her head bent all the way back over her back somehow! I freaking love that dog!

      … Sorry… I’ve been out of town for a couple weeks on work, so I’m missing her right now… Can’t wait to get back home!

    • Love my Shiba Inu says

      My Shiba Inu is so affectionate loves to cuddle be held and gives kisses. I have never had a problem training her she never went to the bathroom in the house. I couldn’t ask for a more loving pet. I can put a coat on her, wash her paws. and brush her teeth. She loves the car.

    • Torey says

      I think people have a hard time partly cuz a Shiba isn’t just a dog. They are little people. Mine is very interested in toddler toys. Like the basketball net thing so the ball rolls out the bottom or some of the toys where the large buttons make noise or talk for toddlers. Supper bouncing balls, while supervised. I just make sure he’s entertained and hardly any trouble.

      O and attach a little kids plastic stroller to a harness, so he pulls it when walking somewhere and I have his water and a cpl of toys and bones that he has in there and we stop to play, then go home. Works really well to help get that every out.

  7. Margie says

    My Shiba Inu, Kibo, is the first dog I have ever owned. I do not understand why Shibas have a reputation for being difficult to train. He was very easy to train. First, they are naturally clean and fastidious, so housebreaking using crate training was a breeze. Second, they know what is theirs – the famous MINE possessive trait of Shibas. That is great because my Shiba never chewed anything unless it was his own toys or bones. Third, I took my Shiba to puppy training and he did fine. However, he found it rather boring at times and so did I – the instructor scolded both of us. LOL I think it is a matter of what you are looking for in a dog. Kibo knows the basics and once he learned those, he learned everything else I wanted very quickly. But my expectations are not those of someone who wants perfect obedience every single minute and to “micromanage” their dog and needs a dog who wants constant attention and will be looking adoringly at me 24/7. This is an independent dog and I think the breed requires an independent, confident owner who is definitely an “alpha,” with firmness and consistency, tempered with kindness and a great sense of humor. Also, I was fortunate to be able to work from home a lot, so I spent a lot of time with Kibo and he is very “in tune” with me. I think spending a lot of time with your Shiba when they are young is very important. Kibo is a fantastic dog and getting him is the best decision I have ever made in my entire life.

    • Jalyn says

      I have a Shiba Inu her name is Ala,I agree with
      what you wrote about Kibo and Ala being the same.Although our biggest problem when we first got her was that she would get out of the yard,we had to put her on a running line part of the time.She stays on her side of the stairs as we go up and down.I have taught her the rail side is mine,and she goes by that.We told her the lawn chairs are “mine” so I caught her laying on the table inbetween,I got a pix and put a caption on fb.
      Ala stays beside me and expects her walks,she will howl for walks with my husband.

  8. Jason says

    Hi, I got halfway through the comments and just had to say something. I have a three year old Shiba called Maya. I have been EXTREMELY lucky and found one that I can walk off the leash and enjoys cuddling,but it took me two months of daily and I mean every time I walked her it was a training session also. Shiba can be off the leash dogs but most people don’t have the patience to train them. Like the author said they fight. The first day I got her I put the leash on her and she had none of it. I stood on the sidewalk with this puppy thrashing around for 10 minutes before I gave up. The next day she was walking with it as if she was doing it for years. The point is yes they need to see a reason for things so I started doing small things everywhere. If she wanted to go for a walk she needed to sit at the door until I opened it AND said go. Nothing was free, not even dog treats. The second step was come here. I started in the apartment and called her. I called once and if she didn’t come I would put the leash on her. I know people kept telling me that it would make her see walks and leashes as punishment but I used operant conditioning, the reward was if she came the reward was that the leash came off and she could walk away. Trust me that was a good month of attitude but the last part was obedience and not just tricks. The last part was the hardest and that was my command as a priority and it was not… Not easy. I began slowly unleashing her in a park near my place. I would spontaneously call her and if she didn’t come on the first call then it was the leash. I would walk and hold her close and again spontaneously and randomly tell her to sit or come here even of she was still on the leash. If she came after two calls on the first call I let her go. She began to u destiny that listening meant freedom and not constrained to a leash. She got better but a Shiba’s prey drive is sooo strong. Again like the author said they see and want to hunt so badly. I got her to even stop chasing a cat when I call her but even after 2 years of me training her she still had a moment of hunting drive. I moved to a new area and I was in a dead end street (luckily) and she saw a rabbit for the first time at night (I am in Montreal and yes they are rare). She spent 5 minutes just running into yards, across the street, into backyards and this rabbit is just leading the whole time. I finally caught her and I admit I smacked her so hard across the head she Shiba screamed (yeah he didn’t mention that… Look it up). I’m not for hitting animals but that was dangerous and that is why they are not off the leash dogs too. The point is it took me two months to start getting her to listen to my voice above all else. I can now tell her to sit outside of a store and when I come out she doesn’t move. They can listen but it is a daily thing, no breaks, no compromises, and a constent consistent consistency (do you understand how important it is lol I said it three time). Now, she is the best dog I have ever seen and I don’t know why but she actually want to please me. She cuddles, gives me the cold shoulder when I am about to leave as if she is mad I’m going, I just say bad girl and she will do (literally) three barrel rolls in a row thinking it’s what I want (even though I told her to lay down but nooo she takes it that one step further) and I wouldn’t trade her for ANY sum of money. If anybody has any questions I’d be more than happy to answer and see if what I did can work for other Shibas.

    • Steph says

      I’m in Montreal too and have been on the hunt for a shiba. Which breeder did you find Maya at? We’ve been looking into a few but some seem to be a bit sketchy. Any help would be great!

    • Tom says

      I didnt realize there was any other way to train a dog then consistency. BTW, tons of rabbits/hairs in the west island.

      Still want one of these brilliant dogs though.

  9. Erin says

    What can I do to get my Shiba puppy to quit biting my hands? He has drawn blood on my 87 year old mother twice now, and she is not amused!

  10. Anonymous says

    Hi I’m 14 and I want to get a shiba inu I’ve read your article about 3 times now and I know the qualifications of what it takes to have a shiba I’ve had a golden retriver before and I raised him but for the last 3 years of my life I’ve wanted a shiba and I was wondering if you think it is a good idea to get a shiba to build my responsibility and to make a new friend to the family my mom will help me take care of him

    • shibashake says

      I think it depends a lot on why you want a Shiba or a dog. Are you looking for companionship? What sorts of things do you plan on doing with the dog? What would his daily routine be like? Are you planning to go to college? Would your mom be ok with fully taking over the care and training of the dog then?

      One thing that was very difficult for me with my Shiba is his aloofness. Most of the time, Sephy likes being by himself and he is not very interested in human company or affection. If I try to give him affection when he is not interested, he will simply stand up and walk away. That is his Shiba snub. 😀

      He is also extremely stubborn. Unlike other dogs who may be eager to please their people, Sephy knows his own mind and works to fulfill his own goals. The general temperament of a Shiba is very different from that of a Golden.

      I write a lot more about my experiences with my Shiba here-

      There are also a lot of interesting Shiba stories in the Shiba Inu Forum-

      Shibas are definitely a very different kind of dog. I had a very difficult time with Sephy in the beginning because he was so different from what I expect of a dog.

    • Anonymous says

      I have my head so set on a Shiba its so difficult to choose to know if I am ready for the challenge or not. I think the main reason why I would want a dog would be because I want a responsibility nothing like chores or some thing boring. I want to have a chor that im looking forward to do , every day I do my research on shibas and when you say shibas are very aloofness would say that there not the greatest dog for companionship . And your right a golden is definitely different from a Shiba its a family dog . The thing is I want a challenge some thing that will extend my knowledge. Having a Shiba has been my dream but I think twice about it so much i know I’m ready for the challenge . But I want companionship

    • shibashake says

      Well, my Huskies are very affectionate dogs who really love to be with people. A lot of the time, they will come over to where I am and lie down close-by. They enjoy getting attention and affection.

      Shiba Sephy, on the other hand, is happy to be off by himself most of the time. He will sometimes ask for affection by rolling over on his back, but that happens a lot less frequently than with my Huskies.

      Here is more on the differences between my Huskies and Shiba.

      Here is a Reddit discussion on companionship –

    • Anonymous says

      I just have a few more questions , what age would you prefer I get a Shiba when he is still a puppy or at least 1 to 2 years old . I read the reddict you recommended to me and there were some things that disappointed me a little bit . For some reason I want a Shiba and nothing else, I have one more question how long can a Shiba be left alone for ? Are Shibas one on on dogs or can they be trained by more then one person from the house hold ? Thank you for your help really

    • shibashake says

      With Sephy, I had to slowly train him to get used to alone time. I start with very short periods of alone time and slowly build up from there. I make sure to manage his environment carefully and I set him up for success. I *never* leave him alone for more than he can handle. If I need to be away for more than he is ready for, I get someone else that he trusts to be with him

      Shibas are very loyal but they do not trust easily. I had to slowly gain Sephy’s trust, and I get other people in the house to do the same – by spending positive time with him, caring for him, training him, etc. In this way, if I am not around or need to be away, there will always be someone who can properly look after Sephy. Most importantly, he will be comfortable in their company because he already trusts them. I make sure that everyone uses the same type of training and enforces the same house rules. Consistency is very important in training my dogs.

      As for puppy vs. adult dog, that depends on the person, the situation, the dogs under consideration, etc. Here are a couple of articles on puppy vs. adult dogs-

      Finally, let me also say that I had a very difficult beginning with my Shiba. He is an extremely stubborn dog, he was very mouthy as a puppy, and he is very bold. I had to put a whole lot of time, energy, patience, blood, sweat, and tears into him before we turned a corner and things started to improve. The beginning months with Sephy were very stressful, very draining, and very difficult for me. To make matters worse, throughout that early time, he was very disinterested in attention or affection from me.

      Shibas are not lap dogs, and Sephy is not really the cuddling type, not even today. He will tolerate hugs nowadays (after a bunch of training and desensitization), but he rarely seeks it out himself.
      Here is my Shiba Inu story.

    • Anonymous says

      I just wanted to say thank you for your help and that I really appreciate it . I may not be ready for a Shiba but I won’t that stop me from trying to raise one . Thank you again

  11. Jordan says

    Hello I was searching for training information as I am hoping to be getting my own shiba puppy in the next months. My family recommends going to a professional, but I don’t think its necessary. What would be best: train the shiba myself or go to a professional?

    • shibashake says

      With Sephy, I did group puppy classes to help with his socialization and I also did many private lessons with trainers to help with his many misbehaviors. I also read up a whole lot on dog behavior. I didn’t know much about dog training at the start, and there is *a lot* of conflicting and inaccurate information out there. Having a *good* professional trainer was helpful.

      Ultimately, I needed to do the training exercises myself, and establish a good bond with Sephy, but having a good professional trainer helped me get there. I do have to say though, that the dog training field is not well regulated, and there are a lot of not very good trainers out there. We went through some not so good ones before finding a few that were helpful. Reading up on dog behavior helped me to improve my training skills, better read my dog’s body language, and filter out the bad trainers.
      My trainer search experiences.

  12. Mike Koenig (kay-nigg) says

    Congratulations on a very nice blog-site!!

    We just lost our good buddy, Riley, on September 18, 2014, at the age of 14 1/2 Y.O. ((. Dementia, failing limbs, and a very short illness quickly took their toll. We all loved him so much!!!

    Riley was a 55 pound, prick-eared, tri-color (predominantly white), dual-coated dog with one brown and one blue eye. He loved our cold, snowy Wisconsin winters!!! He was also a fully-trained dog-sledding lead dog (trained by us). Being in dual-lead (i.e., two side-by-side trained lead dogs) out in front a hard-running, well-trained team was one of his favorite activities!!!

    Riley’s dam was a big red Carolina Dog (American Dingo); his sire was unknown, so we had a blood-test DNA done on him. There is no DNA test for Carolina Dogs or “dingo-ism” However, the DNA verifiable in Riley’s make-up showed that he was 25% Shiba Inu, 12.5% Boxer, 12.5% Samoyed, and 12.5% Bernese Mountain Dog. He had the characteristics of ALL these breeds (some more so than other, of course). But when Riley was being “Riley”, we needed only to consult all his breed make-up characteristics and the reasons instantly became very clear for his actions (even if they made absolutely NO sense to us).

    Like his Shiba Inu and American Dingo heritages, Riley learned very quickly and very well things that (at times) made sense only to him. ;)) For any one interested in his other inter-woven mannerisms and characteristics, please refer to the temperaments/characteristics of all his breeds. Most of what you will discover will describe Riley “to a ‘T”!!!

    Riley was born in a litter of six pups in the knee of Cyprus tree in a swamp outside of Lake Charles, LA. He had a harrowing start to his young life, but he was always a welcome, and much loved, addition to our home and family.

    Riley was much more than a survivor. Riley was “Gentle Samurai”!!!

    As a side note to those with pups or dogs of any breed that are a handful and a challenge to train: Training them properly, and well, will reveal very much about you; and in the process you will learn patience, love and joy!!!

    Peace to all.


    • shibashake says

      Wow! Sounds like he was quite a character. If you have pictures of him online, please send us a link. I would love to see him.

      I am so glad that he found such a good home after a difficult beginning, and had such an amazing time with his family all the way through. Thanks for sharing Riley’s story with us.

      Training them properly, and well, will reveal very much about you; and in the process you will learn patience, love and joy!!!

      So true and so very well said. A big toast to Riley.

  13. MIke A says

    My Shiba, “Shuga” turns 16 next month. She has given us all so much pleasure and has always been healthy. Although she is trained, she will NOT recall if onto another animal. Shiba are NOT OFF LEASH dogs, unless you are in a restricted surrounding!!

    • Sean says

      “Shiba are NOT OFF LEASH dogs,”

      That’s what I was told when I got mine 5 years ago at 11 weeks. For 2 years he never came off the leash but I found out my parents were letting him off when they looked after him. At first I was furious, but he didn’t run away. A week before his second birthday I let him off the leash for the first time, and he has been untethered EVERY single day with every trip to the park.

      Obviously Shibas are wilful but I’m wondering if this ‘never off the leash’ trope is nonsense. I only know one other Shiba and he’s the same.

      In the last 3 years he ran away once, though that was my fault (long story…). I don’t order him to come back (as you presumably know Shibas don’t ‘do orders’) but when I need him to obey me I just have to leat him know by tone of voice that’s I would really appreciate it if he did what he was told. Works every time.

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba does not run away either, but as you say, he is willful. He is not consistent with recall, and may run up to dogs or people who may not want to be disturbed. At the park, he will go after balls that belong to other dogs, and try to instigate a chasing game. He loves his chasing games.

      Because he is Shiba, he thinks that all dogs should love him and can’t understand it when they want nothing to do with him. 😀

      Therefore, I keep him on-leash so that he does not get into trouble and does not bother the other dogs. Some Shibas may also chase after prey animals. I think the ‘not off-leash’ rule makes sense for many Shibas, not because they keep trying to run away, but precisely because they are willful, and may bother or get in trouble with other dogs and people.

  14. Cozi says

    Hi. We just got a Shiba Puppy and we love her to death but she is a handful. She is great around people and other dogs and I love that she was pretty much house broken right away (my mom’s 6 year old Papillion was actually going in the house more than her). My only worry is that we are expecting a baby in less than 4 months and she likes to rough house and bite and jump on us and we’re worried about her doing that with our daughter after I have her. It’s been tough enough to keep her from jumping on my belly. Do you have any advice on getting a Shiba used to her when she comes and is 4 months enough time to break her if her bad and potentially dangerous for a newborn habbits? Kitsune, our Shiba, is about 14 weeks old now.

  15. April says


    I have a 2 year old Shiba who is amazing! My husband and I got her when she was 9 weeks old and she has been wonderful. Potty trained within 2 weeks and no barking or screaming. never really chewed on anything other than her own toys. She is very gentle with kids when they are at my home. and She loves our cats! they are buddies. I have always researched the Shiba’s and their personalities and I can see some Shiba in her but overall, she has been perfect and I have had zero difficulties with her. she is not aggressive at all and I have never been aggressive twords her which probably helps. She is so smart and its like she knows what is her’s and what is not and what she can and can’t do. We never really had to do much training with her at all. She is very loving tword us (especially me) and very friendly to anyone new she meets. The only issue I could say we have is she is very “bull headed” . She does not listen to us when we call her in , although she is starting to get better with that than in the past. She looks right at us and you know she can hear and understand you and then just walks away…it makes us laugh most of the time though. We are thinking about getting her a Shiba companion but I’m not sure on it yet. We got really lucky with her and I’m not so sure we will get that lucky again. Plus it would be twice the shedding : ). Anyway, I love my Shiba and she is the best dog I could ever ask for and probably will be a Shiba owner for the rest of my life. Great dogs!

  16. Linda Ashida says

    Hi! My husband and I brought home a 10-week old Shiba puppy 6 weeks ago and it has been quite an adventure. We definitely have experienced some challenging moments with Sasuke’s strong will and high energy, but we have also enjoyed how darn smart he is and how quickly he learns and follows commands. He potty trained nearly 100% after just a few days home; it has been nearly a month since an accident. He crate trained and slept through the night from day 1 as well. For the moments when we felt challenged by him, your blog has helped us tremendously, especially the reminders to avoid challenges with the puppy and the effectiveness of ignoring bad behavior. For example, if Sasuke gets excited during fetch and lunges for the ball, I simply stand up, put the ball away and calmly walk away. It only took him a few times of me doing that for him to realize that his naughty behavior makes the game stop. So now, he no longer does that. If he is chewing on the wrong thing, your blog has helped me remember not to respond with a crazy voice or boldly command, “No!” (that only provokes the bad behavior more), but to calmly approach, substitute an appropriate chew toy, and then praise him for that. Lots of praise for all the wonderful behavior has helped to diminish the bad behavior. We play crate games, fetch, or nose games a bit each day and that helps with the bonding. We have also enjoyed funny quirky things that Sasuke does, like play fetch with himself by dropping a ball down the steps, retrieving it and dropping it down again and again. He also love to chase the water spray from the hose, and in the morning before leaving his crate he loves to stretch both front and back paws out and have us pull his legs and stretch them. Funny. So, we are having lots of fun, but in the crazy moments we find ourselves losing our patience, we re-read your blog and it has really helped us. Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      We have also enjoyed funny quirky things that Sasuke does, like play fetch with himself by dropping a ball down the steps, retrieving it and dropping it down again and again.

      LOL! That is too adorable!

      Lots of praise for all the wonderful behavior has helped to diminish the bad behavior.

      Yay! Big hugs to lucky and clever Sasuke!

      Thank you very much Linda, for your wonderful story on Sasuke. I love reading happy dog stories and your comment made me laugh, nod my head, and really cheered me up. 😀

  17. Gayle says

    I brought month home a 6 month old male 2 months ago. He originally just seemed shy and I attributed that to his new environment. He allowed me to interact with him somewhat, but was not trusting me easily. It has taken me 2 months of constant unwavering love and patience to get him to understand that I will not hurt him. I am talking keeping the dog with me 24 hours a day except for short periods of time necessary to attend to appointments and personal issues. When he wanted to play, we played, etc. This, all necessary to help him learn that I was trustworthy. He refused to play with other members of the family. He is only now, after 2 months of their trying, beginning to also play with them. He now is beginning to let other’s pet him. He is just recently coming out of his shell enough to go all out playing with other dogs. Playing with other dogs, I believe, will be a key element in his further socialization advancement.

    I did a few tests to determine to my satisfaction that he had not been abused, but just what I determined was a total lack of human socialization by the breeder. He would not allow me to pet him for quite some time. I had to introduce petting into a game of fetch whereby I would throw his toy after I got to pet him. This has worked and he now seems to welcome my pets. I am not now convinced that it was a lack of socialization by breeder, but possibly a combination of breed trait and lack of socialization efforts given that they had him until he was 6 month old and I do believe that he should have been more accepting of human touch. I have not purchased from a breeder previously though, but growing up with dogs and puppies, I would never for the life of me imagine not acclimating puppies to human touch from their earliest days. To me, it just doesn’t make sense. It makes even more sense to handle and love on them if they are in any way prone to socialization difficulties. Am I wrong here?

    It also took time before he even wanted to go for walks. He would refuse and I would have to pick him up and take him outside. I attributed this to his being afraid of EVERYTHING. It has taken me these two months to get him to understand that going for a walk is something that he would enjoy and he now understands that and asks to go for walks.

    My point in posting this is…. Are all Shiba Inu’s this difficult to socialize? If so, I wonder at the plight of most of them. Not everyone is willing to just drop the rest of their life and devote themselves to ensuring that their puppy is given the love, patience and time needed to ensure that they become a well adjusted dog. What about the ones who don’t receive this care? What about the ones who are sold to people who will in no way give them this attention? I worry about them living a life of fear or worse.

    • Gayle says

      I am in no way trying to say that I think the Shiba Inu breed should be shied away from. I just think that people should know what they are getting in to and be prepared to devote the necessary time and energy into socializing their puppy. Mine is now very loving to me, which I neglected to state and should have. He is coming out of his shell and showing a wonderful, playful personality and an exceptional intelligence. He has been well worth my efforts, but I wanted to state that the effort needs to be taken to achieve results.

    • Anonymous says

      We have three Shibas and the first one was already 14 weeks old when we got him. The other two were 8 and 9 weeks. The oldest was the most difficult to get socialized plus we were so cautious in dog parks because Shibas can be dog aggressive. He got into a few scuffles, but he soon learned. Although the oldest is now the best trained, they all went thru the. 8-week puppy course at a pet store, and they are so cute and have fun together. My biggest issue is that the youngest is 19 months old and still loves to chew on everything. I have to keep him supplied with chewies and toys . They are all males, fixed, related and four months apart between first two and two years between last two. Bottom line– I live my Shibas!

  18. Tanja says

    Interesting reading, both the blog and the comments!

    Our Shiba Ako is a 4 year old male, and most of the things we’ve taught him, he learned within the first year. Not that he isn’t learning anymore (he just learned to get along with a goat), but the introduction of new things and commands are less frequent.
    I think what has surprised me the most, is how much he pays attention to body language. The nuances we ignore are obvious to him. I noticed early he’d hesitate to do something on verbal cue if my body language told him differently. If I didn’t face him, or if I told him to sit while I was doing something else with my hands, it was a completely different command to him. He wasn’t being stubborn or trying to get away with it. Since he was so attentive to small things, we started to use both signs and verbal commands for things like sit, lie down, go away, shake, spin and roll, just to see if we could. He obeys handsigns as much as words.
    We use the dog for tracking/hunting as well, but in order not to confuse “Search!” (for blood trail/animal scent) with seeking for treats I’ve hidden somewhere in the house or outdoors, I just look at him and sniff and he runs off sniffing out treats with great enthusiasm.
    It seems to me that he is less flexible with people’s body language and appearance than other breeds (or individuals, I don’t know). As a puppy, he’d bark at people wearing sunglasses, or if they leaned over him. Only a few times have I experienced him not barking, but showing complete trust in total strangers at first meeting on a walk. He seems to have a radar for insecurity and aggression and take no chances, but keeps his distance or growls at them if they insist on “getting along” with him. Friendly, non-threatening people are quickly accepted. Our English Setter is so cuddly (needy?) he’d ignore anything for a human touch.

    Ako is generally not good with other non-neutered dogs, and gets pretty hysterical at the vet, but we are very happy he lets us tend to wounds in the home environment with little or no fuss at all. Nail clipping, tooth brushing and brushing when shedding goes well. Having his teeth checked by a judge (stranger) in the ring, not so much. We were expelled 😛
    Praise to the breeder that had him house trained by the time we picked him up at 8 weeks, and that she taught him the meaning of “NO!” (=Abort mission!) It has saved teddy bears that weren’t his, chicken, hens, cats, dinners, plants, shoes, and also animal skins meant for decorational purposes.

    • shibashake says

      Thanks for sharing Ako’s story with us. He sounds absolutely adorable and very Shiba! 😛

  19. Pat says

    Hey, my shiba is 2 years old and he fits all the description that ever was produced about the breed. Still his character is well balanced, he is not agressive unless forced to defend himself, very loving and dedicated. He protects the household and warns me on our walks especially when it gets dark that a stranger is approaching. But I have one huge problem with him. He doesnt listen to me when he is let loose. I mean he doesnt come up to me when called his name. It was different when he was still a puppy. It changed when he grw up – now being two years old. So when we go for a long walk in the hills he will always move around and keep an eye on me but when called will never come to me unless fooled by some trick. For example he chases me when I hold his ball and then when he comes close enough I grab him by his collar. But sometimes he senses that I want to grab him and he wont even come up for his favorite toy. Food doesnt work either. When he plays in the garden he seems unhappy when I dont watch him. So catching him is reletively easy. The situation gets tense when we go outdoors. Once he roamed free all night long and I found him at tge doorstep at 6 AM in the morning. Cold, trembling, hungy (it was winter) but happy and finally ready to go home. I envy people who walk their dogs not using leashes. They just follow owners. is it possible at all with shiba? Is it still not too late to teach him to come to me when called? Is there any method? My friend had his shiba trained by professionals and it didnt work eaither. Sometimes I just think there’s no way to change it. What would you advise? Thanks and all my best to all shiba and husky owners all around the world 🙂

  20. Ash Marie says

    I have a female shiba inu who has just turned 10 and I’ve owned her since she was 8 weeks old. With a bit of patience I taught her word association and simple commands like “sit”, “come”, and “kennel” to name a few. She was house trained in less than two weeks after getting her and very rarely has an accident in the house. She’s very smart and like your article says won’t do anything that doesn’t make sense to her. Forget trying to play fetch! She is stubborn and highly sensitive, but very loving and affectionate. After a day at work she greets me at the door and typically follows me around the house or lays in the yard sunbathing. It has been a joy to have her and I don’t really see myself owning another breed. Not your typical dog, but very much worth it to the right owner.

  21. KobeAndArch says

    I have a Shiba/American Akita mix, and I’ll be honest, he isn’t the brightest crayon in the box. I think it’s the AA in him, it’s diluted his Shiba brilliance. He lives for food and nothing else.

    So far we’ve managed to train him to Sit, Down, Wait and Roll Over. Even though he knows Wait (he waits for his dinner every night) we’re having the hardest time teaching him to Stay. Did I mention he’s one and a half, but that’s all we’ve managed to teach him?

    He is pretty stubborn, and he likes new people a lot less than my GSD who loves everyone he meets. He isn’t as much as a lap dog as the GSD either, but he does come and lay down at your feet in a companionable fashion, and come and sit by you and give you meaningful looks for chest scratches (where the GSD hops on your knee and settles down.)

    He’s pretty well behaved when it comes to the furniture, actually. For some reason he doesn’t get up on the couch or chairs, although he will hop on the beds. He does need constant reminding not to go in the kitchen though. Both dogs do. They have a terrible urge to go in there all the time, even though there’s usually nothing of interest in there.

    He doesn’t do all of the Shiba noises. He doesn’t make the Shiba shriek, thank goodness. He has a Shiba bark though, not an Akita one, which sounds very funny as he’s actually quite a large dog. And he can howl and growl, but that’s it for vocalisations from him.

    I will admit that he is a difficult dog to train though. He’s a lot harder to work with than the shepherd, that’s for certain.

  22. Kathy A says

    We just took in a supposively Shiba pup. His breed is unknown due to the fact that his mother looks like a terrier but the father is unknown. He may be mixed because he takes on the the features of a Shiba dog more then any other dog. He was born on a Japanese farm. He is now about 9 weeks old. When I first met him he was really shy and to himself trying to find a spot to hide while his brother was the total opposite, barking and running around and just all over the place. So far he has been good about letting us know that he has to go outside to do his business. We let him free out in our backyard where there is no fencing. I noticed he does really good just by sticking around our yard area and only walks out to the other neighbors yards to do his business and then comes right back to our part of the yard to wonder around. The only trick he knows so far is to shake. When we open up the gate that keeps him in his spot which is in the laundry room he knows to go in. He also sleeps better and stays quiet most of the night in my bathroom. Lately he has been more playful. He has been liking to bite on his pee pads which he never pees on he just usually sleeps on it if he hasn’t chewed up. i’ve had to make sure our slippers and shoes are put up or away when he is out to roam free around the house. I caught him recently chewing up my son’s chin guards. =/. Also he would try playing with my legs and then tries to bite my feet. good thing his bites don’t hurt but I’m not liking the fact that he thinks biting human’s is ok for play time. I’m looking for the best way to teach him and to let him know that biting feet and hands are not ok. I’m still trying to read through this blog so hopefully i can find something that will truly work for him.

  23. applebumbonita says

    my shiba only listens well if i have food with me.
    and whenever he sees a door open he’s gone and he’s not coming back ,and when i try to call him back, he thinks it’s a game.

  24. Sean says

    My Shiba is going to be 8. In her 8 years (I’ve had her since she was 10 weeks) she has cost me well over $5000 in destroyed clothing. When I married my wife I warned her. Dont leave your underwear or socks around or Mischa will eat them. So she listened. And Mischa adapted. She started climbing things to get into the hamper. I caught her in our hamper with a sock. The article is dead on. It should be required reading for any prospective Shiba owner. She was my first dog. I couldn’t imagine life without her, but good lord is she ever-trying on my patience. It took 3 years for her to adapt to pack life (we have a substantial animal family), but 3 seconds to give in to the moxy of a feline. cats have built in weapons that she respects. No fights. The only dog she couldnt dominate was a male Shiba. And he was the ONLY male Shiba she couldn’t get to submit. They fought, viciously. Scared me. They fight the training, but she knows me. She knows my faces, my tones, my movements. She knows when I’m sick and she is protective of me. Best Dog I could’ve asked for. We are a crazy community of people that love these dogs. Thanks for writing about them and educating people about them. I fear their cuddly exteriors have garnered too much attention and the rescues and pounds will start to see a rise in Shiba’s for adoption.

  25. Ken says

    I recently suffered the loss of my shiba and have decided to get another female. I have some thoughts on training etc I would like to share from trial and error. Usually error from the Shibas point of view. First thing I would like to point out is Shibas bond deeply more so than any other dog I have had in my 55 years. Two things come from that. It makes them difficult to adopt. That said if you wish to save a Shiba by all means do so. Just know there heart is seriously broken and it will take time and patience for them to bond to you. Spend as much time with a.Shiba after adoption as possible. Talk to the Shiba. Not just praise, tho Shibas lap up praise like water, or.commands. Just talk. Like this website has said many times and I find it true Shibas are independant but they are dependant on you as part of the pack. For anyone training a Shiba you must first gain trust. A Shiba will ignore you till hell freezes over if they do not trust you. I can not stress the trust issue enough. When leash training I strongly recommend a harness. Shibas will pull and they have fragile tracheas. You can cause permanent breathing issues useiusing any kind of collar while training. After they go through the teen stage and are calmer a collar can be used without fear of damage. When walking a Shiba remember they were breed to hunt. When appropriate allow them some freedom to chase a trail. With my Shiba I found give and take worked well. Let her work out her instincts first with mild supervision and she became more responsive when training. Besides watching a Shiba do their thing is a joy to watch as any owner will tell you. I found sounds and gentle tugs worked with my Shiba the best. Do not fight with or pull a Shiba. It will become a game or create aggressive behaviour. In both cases its a battle of wills and in that a Shiba has only on motto no defeat no surrender. If you make training interesting the Shiba will respond well. And quickly. If its a chore or becomes routine it is difficult. The old phrase make them think it was their idea apply to Shibas. After a.couple of years of constant being on the leash walking you will find you can let them off the leash in a controlled encironment. By that I mean nothing to hunt. They should stay close and will be checking on you every minute or so. Please remember Shibas bond intensley and deeply. Its why they are admired in Japan. A National Treasure. Treat a Shiba with respect love attention and a thundering velvet hand and you will get in return a pet that will steal your heart and care for it like nothing you have ever encountered before.

  26. L'shae says

    Hi there,
    I have a 7month old shiba named Keira. I love her to death! However, our training is going no where. Out of the house that is. In the backyard she’ll do anything I ask. Out on the road or at class I can’t even get her to respond to her name. I’ve tried every tasty food out there, ( with and without her on an empty stomach) and toys. Nothing. I just need a way to grab her attention.I find it difficult when walking on or near main roads when she is acting like a maniac, I can’t even get her to look at me! It’s been quite dangerous a couple of times when she was younger. we have been to quieter places and again had the same problem. Any advice would be fantastic. I loved reading this website, have gained a lot of useful information. I have asked many trainers about this and they assume that I don’t have a treat that is tasty enough, which is not the case. I don’t care if my little girl never gets past class one but walking her safely is my main concern. The “stop” every time she pulls also is not working, she is rewarded because she starts sniffing the ground where we have come to a halt. Hmm.

    • shibashake says

      Hello L’shae,

      With my Sibe puppy Lara, I bring her in next to me when we stop. In this way, she does not get to roam around and smell stuff after a pull session. I hold the lead very close to her collar so that I have good control and I don’t talk to her, look at her, or give her any attention. The next time she pulls and we stop, I lengthen the stop duration.

      If she pulls too often in a short duration, then I turn around and walk in the opposite direction. Then we stop and wait before going forward again.

      Lara really does not like stopping and doing nothing, and she especially does not like turning back, so it works well for her.

      I play a lot with the length and tension on the lead. She now knows that if I place some brief tension on the lead, then I want her to slow down. Also, I usually start by giving her less freedom (shorter lead). If she walks well, then I give her more freedom, and vice versa.

      I use a 6 foot leather leash with all of my dogs.

    • Anonymous says

      Thank you for your reply. Pulling her into me sounds like the way to go. Keira doesn’t mind stopping but she certainly won’t be a fan of losing her freedom on a walk!

    • Mark Hale says

      I use a short leash for pullers. It keeps the dog close and easier to control. Once that is successful I move to a 6ft leash, but only let the dog away from my side in selected potty locations. Using voice commands “Bruno, sit.” Is helpful. With my Husky I use a single gutteral command. I never use a retractable leash. It just teaches bad habits. With a stubborn dog the biggest challenge I’ve had is getting everyone who walks them to use the same methods and standards. Once they know they can get away with something they’ll try it every time.

  27. Bruce Vang says

    I have a 5 month Beagle and he is pretty well trained now, but it was quite difficult to make him listen. Would a Shib Inu be harder or just as hard?

    Bruce Vang

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, Beagles are very nose focused, so once they are on a scent trail, nothing else exists for them.

      Shiba Sephy, on the other hand, is very self-focused. He thinks that everything exists to serve his royal needs. 😀

  28. says

    Some time ago, we were down to one dog and thinking about what kind to get next. I was intrigued by Shiba Inus, but as it happened, an opportunity arose to get a Basenji puppy, and after doing some research, that is what we did.

    We had amazingly similar experiences to what you write about here. This was before the days of the web, and I was on a listserv with the motto “Where it takes 100 people to outsmart one Basenji.”

    • shibashake says

      “Where it takes 100 people to outsmart one Basenji.”

      LOL! I like that!

      Yeah, my Sibe breeder used to have several Basenjis as well, and she tells me that they have very similar characteristics to Shibas.

  29. Ada says

    I welcomed NiuNiu, a 7-month female Shiba Inu, home 3 weeks ago. She is the most adorable friend I have ever had! But I just cannot find any way to train her, because she shows no persistence or strong interest in anything, either food, treats, or toys. As a Shiba puppy, she is skittish/cautious about everything. She will easily drop whatever she is doing, including food, when there is any sound or movement. She is very mellow and indifferent if you take away any treats she is enjoying or any toy she is playing. So let alone wanting it from you when you hold it in front of her. I really respect her coolness, but this makes it very hard for me to train her, a Shiba that cannot be motivated!

    • shibashake says

      LOL! Yeah Shiba Sephy was similar in many ways. He is very picky about food, and not overly motivated by it. With toys, he only likes new toys.

      What Sephy absolutely loves are his freedom, playing with other dogs, and playing chase games. Whenever I can, I use these things to motivate him and it seems to work well. 😀

      In terms of cautiousness, desensitization exercises may help. My Sibe puppy Lara is also somewhat skittish, and calmness and desensitization have helped her with that. She has also gained more confidence as she grows older and learns that I am there to protect her.

      Hugs to NiuNiu! Nice name.

    • Jen says

      I can relate to ADA. My 10 week old Shiba female, Loka spends most of her time in her crate in the bedroom. She is so mellow that she even falls asleep in the middle of puppy kindergarten class! She is not motivated by anything, but she seems to enjoy a lot of praise and freedom when she does do something good.

      The only thing I am having problems with is that she turns into a maniac in the middle of the night! She is submissive and laid back during the day, but a party animal in the middle of the night. When I take her out to potty at midnight or later, she acts like a typical Shiba. Meaning she jumps, bites, runs like a mad woman and simply cannot be calmed down.

      Has anyone else experienced this type of puppy behavior and provide advice on how to change it?

    • shibashake says

      Hmmm, one contributing factor may be the heat. During the summer, my dogs just like sleeping on the tile floor when it is hot outside. When it starts cooling down at night, then all their pent-up energy comes out.

      I try to walk them early in the morning, or later in the evening when the temperature is still cool.

      We also have some play sessions early in the morning and later in the evening. Dogs are crepuscular, so they tend to perk up at dawn and dusk. The more that I can get them to do during the day, the more calm they are at night.

      Another thing that has helped when Sephy was a puppy, is to take him out on-lead for night-time potty. In this way, he just does his business, we come back in, and he goes back into his crate.

      Congratulations on your Shiba puppy and big hugs to Loka!

  30. Emily says

    Hi, I just adopted a nine month old Shiba Inu. I have read up on Shiba Inu’s for over two years, and activly started looking for one a year ago. They are really expensive and rescues were out since they don’t like adopting to families with kids. We found one online from a private party, talked a long time and finally we drove out, met him and adopted him. He is getting along GREAT with my chihuahua! He is not neutered yet (he will be this morning lol) so he is a little frisky with her, but they like one another & things are going good. However, he is NOT doing good with my poor cats! I thought at nine months old, he was still a baby & he would learn to like them. Not so! My poor cats are terrified! They are hiding up high & the few times they have come down and come close to him they hiss, scratch and attack & he goes into attack mode chasing after them barking & growling. I don’t know what to do? I drove over 300 miles to get him, I paid a lot for him & I LOVE him hes great with our kids & our dog but how can I teach him that those cats are off limits? I leave his leash on at all times so I can catch him easy in case he tries something but the min he gets close to them he wants to chase them. I dont want to get upset, or discipline him too much, so that he associates cats with getting in trouble. Any advice would greatly be appreciated!!!!

  31. Chelsea says

    Hi! I few questions regarding my girl, Riley. She’s 5 1/2 months and has been a slightly different kind of Shiba than what I was initially expecting. She doesn’t bark or Shiba scream (not that I’m complaining!) and she normally just hangs out in the bedroom in her crate. She recently has been more playful, but generally it’s only in her familiar area of the bedroom. She loves meeting new people, but the novelty usually wears off after a few minutes. She does, however LOVE new dogs, and it’s sometimes impossible to control her behavior when she sees a dog on her walks.

    Is this normal? I’ve owned other dogs, but this is my first experience with a Shiba. Do you have any advice that could help with her lack of manners?


    • shibashake says

      Hello Chelsea,

      Yeah, Shiba Sephy also used to get very excited with other dogs. Here are some of the things I did with him-

      Also, in our old place, there was an awesome dog named Kai who lived nearby. We invited her over as often as we could to play with Sephy. They both had so much fun together. Every time we go out for walks, Sephy would go sit by her gate and wait for her.

      I brought Sephy to enclosed dog parks earlier on, but the environment was too unstructured for him.

      Hugs to Riley!

  32. Mara Macmillan says

    Hello Everyone,

    I am in the middle of “Hell” with my 1 1/2 yrs old female…Mika. I got her from the NYC Rescue. This was a courtesy listing and I went to New Jersey to check her out. She seemed energetic and funny…plus she got along with my 3 year old male shiba (bandit) at that time. Things changed when we got her home. She became destructive in my home and attacked my male at any chance she got. Dog fights were common (it has gotten better). She also seemed to back track on potty training. We live in a great area for dog walks and take then quite frequently to go potty ( work from home so this is an easy task). She does not let us know when she has to go out and only pee’s (which bandit does) on walks now but still poops in the house (our trainer suggested bell training) which we are following through on.

    She has a sweet nature but very dominate (especially towards our male shiba…she is a bitch). I later learned that she is from a puppy mill and then to an owner who barely walked her and left her in her cage alot. I have made great efforts to socialize her which she is doing great on (especially at puppy school and dog parks). We have had her for two months now and see progress but I do have a quesiton.

    1). Bandit was easy to train but can you train a 1 1/2 year old shiba female who had no skills as a puppy on good behavior?

    2). Why back tracking on potty training? Granted we live in a condo but frequent walks works and she has gotten picky with poop spots.

    3).Can her behavior affect the good behavior of my male shiba? I got bandit from a reputable breeder and he has been a dream dog (although he was a little stinker in his teenage years).

    I appreciate your support as my husband and myself are at our wits end even with puppy school and behavior specialist support. This is one tough shiba…she has what most people think about shiba’s…pain in the ass but I think it’s not her fault.



    • shibashake says

      Hello Mara,

      A big Kudos to you for helping out a Shiba in need.

      1. Based on what I have read, it is possible to re-train most dogs. The only ones that are not trainable, are those that suffer from some serious health issues, especially involving the brain. However, dogs with difficult past experiences, and who are accustomed to certain unacceptable behaviors, will be a bigger challenge to re-train. Once something has become a habit, it will take more repetitions and greater consistency to change or re-condition that behavior.

      2. In terms of potty training, many dogs do not generalize potty lessons across different environments. For example, she knows not to potty in her old house, but may not understand that the same rule holds true for her new condo. My Shiba Sephy sometimes wants to start marking indoors when we go to new places, e.g. vet hospitals, pet stores. I have to keep him moving, and keep a very close eye on him. Sephy is also very picky with poop spots. I have heard other Shiba owners mention this trait as well.

      3. In general, if all dogs have to follow the same house rules, and are consistently ‘corrected’ or rewarded in the same way, then there should not be any problems. I have noticed with my own dogs that problems only arise when they see inconsistencies in rules, and how the rules are enforced.

      When I brought puppy Lara home, I made sure she followed all of the same house rules. I also do not allow her to harass my other dogs. If she is pestering them, I no-mark her and body block her away. Then I engage her in doing something else. If she keeps going back to pester them, then she goes to timeout.

      In addition, I also did group obedience training sessions so that the dogs learn that if they are calm and all work together, they all get rewarded very well. I always try to make together time very rewarding so that they all learn that cooperation gets them the most rewards.

      In the beginning, Sephy did not get along very well with puppy Lara. Therefore, I made interactions with Lara as positive as possible, and avoided negative experiences. Most of the time Lara is under supervision, and has a drag-lead so that I can quickly get control of her.

      Here are more of my experiences with introducing a new dog-

      Hugs to Bandit and Mika. Let us know how it goes.

  33. Rhonda says

    Thans for the reply to my earlier post. I don’t feel so badly about the need for the muzzle at the vet. The last time we went, they muzzled him, but did it too fast and then scooped him up and held him tight. The shiba screams began; he escaped fromt he muzzle and was fighting against another one. I finally figured out that he wasn’t trying to bite, just tell them how unhappy he was. I told them to stop, got in his face and gave the command “Quiet!”. He immediately quieted down, and when the vet tried to look into his ears, he started to mouth her again. I told him “no bite”. He immediately calmed down and allowed her to look into his ears without a problem. IDK, sometimes he’ll listen, but well, you know the rest.
    He is a precious addition to our family and we adore him. But he is a challenge at times. Can you take your Shibas to a dog park? Are there other dogs they will play with or do they get overly excited when others are around?

    • shibashake says

      Can you take your Shibas to a dog park? Are there other dogs they will play with or do they get overly excited when others are around?

      I took Sephy to the dog park regularly (maybe about 3 times a week) for maybe about 5 months. We visited several different parks to get a feel for the regulars.

      We finally decided to stop going because the enclosed dog park environment was just too unstructured for Sephy. There are often a fair number of dogs there that do not want to play, and of course Sephy would be pestering them to play with him. He was also bad about stealing balls in order to start a chase game.

      We had to keep a very close watch on Sephy, and even then things seemed really iffy. He would often get over-excited and redirect his mouth onto us when we stopped him from his Shiba hijinks.

      Here is more on our enclosed dog park experience.

  34. Alex says

    This is just a general question about Shibas. I have a 9 week old male shiba pup, and when we take him walking it looks like he is walking diagonal. So to say his legs are both facing forward but his rear legs are a little to the right but hes going straight. Is this a sign of any problems?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Alex,
      It is difficult to tell. My Shiba also walks strangely sometimes (his butt moves a lot) and at first I thought it was hip dysplasia. Shibas are susceptible to this hip condition so I took Sephy for an x-ray when he was 2 years old. Luckily it turned out that he was ok. Guess he just walks strangely sometimes 😀

      However, I would definitely consult with your vet. It may be nothing, but better to be safe and sure.

    • Kevin Moslehpour says

      mine does that too, what kind of collar do you have on your shiba when you take him for a walk?

  35. Rhonda says

    Our little Lucky is quite head-strong, but will do anything for a bit of a treat. My Daughter has him trained to play dead. She makes him lie down, then says “bang!”. He then falls over on his side. She places the treat right in front of his nose and he will stay there, ears perked and tail curled tightly just waiting to spring up and snatch the treat upon her “OK”. His return is OK, but when out in the yard, he sometimes needs the sound of the clicker to recall. He knows that if he comes, a small treat is in order.
    He was a challenge for us to train, but I am finding his dislike for the handling of his feet more of a challenge than anything. We have played with them and had his nails clipped many times, but recently he has even barked maliciously at me when I touched them the wrong way. He even went after his beloved vet the last time she tried to examine him. So now, he is being trained to the muzzle because she wants him muzzled when she examines him. This is our only problem. He loves people, playing “fetch” until he tires of it, and very long walks in the park. Not fond of other dogs, but not vicious with them. Does anyone have any suggestions on the feet/handling thing? Or are we “blessed” with this forever?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Rhonda,
      Shiba Sephy is not a fan of handling either, but we have been able to slowly desensitize him to it.

      – I would start by getting him to do a down. treat.
      – Then I quickly touch a part of his body that he is ok with. In his case, it is on his neck. Not a hard touch, just a soft brief touch. treat if he stays calm.
      – I keep repeating until he is comfortable with this.
      – Then I touch somewhere else he is comfortable with, etc.
      – I do this for a few days and if he is comfortable with all that, I start to introduce touching on his more sensitive areas. Again I start with a sensitive area that he is more comfortable with first and then work my way up.

      I keep sessions short, rewarding and fun so that he learns to associate handling with something positive. Handling exercises has helped a lot with grooming and for putting on collars etc. With Sephy, it is also necessary to continue with handling exercises throughout adulthood. Otherwise he regresses back to getting stressed out/feeling threatened over it

      When Sephy is hurt however, all bets are off. When he is in pain, he does not allow the vet or strangers to come near him so he needs to be muzzled or anesthetized for any kind of examination. He barely lets me come near him when he is in pain and in high alert mode. He also needs to be muzzled or anesthetized to get his yearly shots.

  36. Dan. N says

    Thanks for the article. Does anyone here have/had an akita to compare the stubbornness/ challenge of training? My soon to be 3 year old akita was a pain in the butt to train as a puppY but has calmed downa lil when she turned 2. She is still stubborn as a mule but listens to us for the most part and is food driven. I feel like having an akita has given me the experience necessary to handle just about any stubborn breed but something tells me shibas are even more challenging

    • shibashake says

      Check out http://fromthehouseofthefoxdogs.wordpress.com/

      Shibamistress probably has some good insights into both breeds since she just got an Akita.

      One of my neighbors also has a Shiba (male) and an Akita (female). The Akita is the more dominant one and she is older. He tells me that his Shiba is a lot more neurotic though. 😀

  37. Brett B says

    I think Andrea hit the nail on the head: “So, I guess maybe Shiba’s aren’t easy to train to do what you want – but I’m mostly okay with him doing what he wants within the boundaries of the household rules (no biting, no chewing on the walls and furniture, no bolting out the front door, etc).”

    This describes Ziva to a tee. She’s also rather cut her own throat rather than soil “her” house.

  38. shibashake says

    What a great discussion! I will summarize here and probably also update the article later on.

    Why are Shiba Inus one of the most difficult breeds to train?

    1. Shibas will do what Shibas want. Sometimes, they will follow commands if it makes sense to them. Other times, they will do something else that ROCKS!, like

    say “hi” to the neighbor who’s got a hamburger on the grill

    2. Well-trained Shiba adults are easier to live with because they have less energy than puppies. They may still challenge their owners, but they are also happy sunning themselves and chilling out. For this reason, it may make sense to adopt an adult Shiba from an accredited breeder or from a Shiba rescue.

    3. Shibas think for themselves and are motivated to come up with alternate ways to get what they want. As a result, training a Shiba Inu can often be counter-intuitive and traditional dog training methods may not always work on them. Shiba owners must be creative and flexible.

    4. Shibas will only respond to activities that makes sense for them, and not necessarily for you. The good news is that Shibas are not shy about letting their owners know what their needs and preferences are! Shiba owners usually listen carefully to their dogs and personalize their training methods to suit individual preferences and temperaments.

    ** It also looks like the non-food focused thing is more of a Sephy specific trait rather than a breed trait.

    5. Shibas have a very –

    singular state of mind

    Once they are focused on something, they often become obsessive over it. Depending on the object of Shiba’s obsession, this may complicate training. Once in that state of mind, it is difficult to distract Shiba and get him to do something else.

    Great stuff so far! Thanks for all your awesome insights, and please continue to add more! 😀

  39. Jess says

    Another great article, Shibashake – and so true. I attempted to play video games with a friend last night and Zeus was pretty appalled that we were not paying attention to him or throwing his bed (new favorite toy unfortunately). He began to head butt us, run the 500 around the tv, tug on my socks, pelt himself against the walls (yes I’m serious) and so forth. I tried to ignore him knowing that he wanted attention at which point he began to chew the couch while making his bizzarre shiba noises. He knows I won’t let him destroy the furniture – so alas I had to get him the attention he was demanding. Needless to say, sir Zeus ended up with a time out in the bathroom. Another day in the life of shiba mothering…

    • shibashake says

      LOL Jess. Never a dull moment with a Shiba! 😀

      Also thanks a bunch for the book recommendation. Definitely looks like a very interesting story from a very original perspective.

  40. Geoge says

    My shiba, Rusty, is about 6 years old and has never been easy to train. However, he tends to respond to activity that makes sense to him from a dog stand point. While I would not ever let him loose from a leash, when walking he responds to small tugs in different directions as we walk. When waiting to cross a street where cars are passing, he generally stands and waits if I use a calming tone of voice. When I take him out for a walk, I first leash him by standing near a couch upon which he jumps so I can attach the leash.
    He is extremely food-driven but is so focused on obtaining the food that he cannot be distracted from that singular state of mind.

  41. Brett B says

    I think that maybe the Shiba reputuation as “difficult dogs” has to do mmore with age than anything else. I get the impression that Shibas are very difficult to train as puppies–not having had Ziva as a puppy, I can’t swear to it, but most owners describe these horrific puppyhoods full of willful misbehavior. Like most shelter dogs, Ziva was tentative and very polite when she came home with me. Combine that with having some age on her and at least one litter of puppies (that we know if) in her past, I think she was more settled and more eager to please. She will actually heal off leash, but I make sure I work with her only in carefully controlled situations for her own safety. 9 times out of 10 she will do exactly what I ask of her–it’s just that 10th time when she wants to say “hi” to the neighbor who’s got a hamburger on the grill that all bets are off.

  42. Andrea says

    It could be that the Shiba personality just works better for us. 🙂

    Kiba reminds me a lot of my toddler. He doesn’t always do what I want him to, but he’s smart and knows when he can push things and when he can’t. Maybe having small boys just makes his antics seem more “normal”. Our old dog was much more “dog like” and made me quite crazy!

    I really like the fact that Kiba thinks for himself and is motivated to come up with alternate ways to get what he wants. I also enjoy the fact he can be so committed to a pout or other mood that food treats don’t change his mind. 🙂 I think that’s more “human” and I understand it a little better.

    The potty training thing was HUGE. My parents have a dog they got at the same time and she still makes mistakes – Kiba would rather cut his own throat than pee in the floor. 🙂

    My husband does a very funny, deep voice for Kiba when he gives us the patented Shiba “look” during which he lectures us on honor and pride and why the fact that I’ve rolled him on his back to brush his belly is really beneath his dignity.

    So, I guess maybe Shiba’s aren’t easy to train to do what you want – but I’m mostly okay with him doing what he wants within the boundaries of the household rules (no biting, no chewing on the walls and furniture, no bolting out the front door, etc). I couldn’t care less if he sits when I want him to sit so his hit or miss response to such things doesn’t really phase me.

  43. says

    Zuko is strong willed, but VERY food motivated. We were lucky in that aspect. He’ll give it all up for some cheddar cheese. But we also did our homework, went to training classes, looked at different methods and adjusted our style to find what worked best. He’s good (mostly) at recall, he doesn’t pull on leash, bolt out the door. He has his off days, but he’s unique and just overall, a very good dog. And I agree that Shibas need human attention but not necessarily in the lap-dog / snuggly way.

    • shibashake says

      He has his off days, but he’s unique and just overall, a very good dog.

      Yeah Zuko sounds like a very awesome boy.

      In truth, Sephy is a pretty good boy too, so the good news is that Shibas can be re-trained even after I screwed up at the beginning of our training program. He is also a lot less work in terms of energy and exercise.

      Overall, however, Sephy has a more stressed-out personality than my Sibes, and he is definitely a lot more stubborn. When Sephy is in one of his rogue moods, he goes all the way. I suppose another way of putting it is that Sephy is very committed to the things that matter to him. When he really wants to play chase, he is willing to do whatever it takes to start up a game. 😀

      In my experience, Sibes require a lot of patience to train, but Shibas require even more!

      Another thing I have noticed is that most Shiba owners know a lot about dog training. Just from looking at the nihonken shiba forums, as well as the shiba meetup forums, there is a wealth of useful information there. I think a big part of this is because a Shiba requires a good amount of knowledge to train, whereas this may be less true for breeds that are not as stubborn or strong-willed.

  44. Andrea says

    Honestly, compared to our old dog, Kiba hasn’t been hard to train at all.

    Of course, we did so much breed research that, like Brett, I was expecting a nightmare, so anything short of that seems fine.

    • shibashake says

      Honestly, compared to our old dog, Kiba hasn’t been hard to train at all.

      Your old dog is a lab/border collie mix? That is really interesting. In what way is your older dog harder to train? Was it an energy issue? I know that border collies have crazy energy, but it seems that they also really want to work.

  45. Brett B says

    Since Ziva is my first Shiba, I hesitate to vote on the ‘difficult breed’ question. Also, I got her from a shelter, and she was about 3 years old when I got her. While I find her to be situationally stubborn, I have to say she caught on really quickly to the “rules” (such as they are) of the house. Just a couple of examples–I don’t think she’d ever been on a leash, but she got with the program within hours. She was bad about attempted door bolting, but after about a month of “NOs” she now waits until I tell her it’s OK to come out (onto the gated porch, with all gates closed). You literally have to “invite” her two or three times if she’s not on the leash. That being said, if she sees something she wants badly (usually another dog, me in the car, or food), she will defy all of her ‘training’ and just go for it. Overall, I’d say she was MUCH easier to work with than I had expected, but I also researched her breed extensively before I brought her home, and I was kind of expecting a horror story :-).

    • shibashake says

      That being said, if she sees something she wants badly (usually another dog, me in the car, or food), she will defy all of her ‘training’ and just go for it.

      This is a very interesting point, and is definitely my experience with Sephy as well.

      I think all dogs will sometimes ignore commands or rules. Strong-willed dogs probably do it more often than the average dog. Shibas, I think, do it more than even strong-willed dogs. Sephy definitely breaks the most rules and challenges me the most. 😀

      Overall, I’d say she was MUCH easier to work with than I had expected, but I also researched her breed extensively before I brought her home, and I was kind of expecting a horror story.

      LOL, yeah I agree with you and Adrea that research is key. I think that training a Shiba can be very counter-intuitive. Also many traditional techniques may not work with them.

      I did not do enough research initially, and ended up with a horror story – very quickly. Luckily, it got better. 😀

  46. says

    It sounds like they are more difficult mostly because they require creativity as well as good attention to the things that motivate them. That and food isn’t their #1 motivation.

    I think it also is the “battle of wills” mentality to training that’s still common. “I’m gonna make him do it because I need to be dominant” type of thing, which seems as though you’ll just get a fight, not submission.

    I think for an owner that can do these things, Shibas might be EASIER than some who live only for food (what happens when you don’t want to smell like a hot dog stand?) are probably less prone to being bribed, avoiding another common trap.

    • shibashake says

      Hey KB,
      Very good to see you. I didn’t know you started your own blog – Excellent!

      Have you decided to leave HP after the Google update? I moved some of my articles away, but I am still going to leave a few behind.

      I think it also is the “battle of wills” mentality to training that’s still common.

      Yeah this is unfortunate, but I think more natural to us humans. As Aesop would say, “Persuasion is better than force.”

      Shibas might be EASIER than some who live only for food

      Heh – I don’t know about that. Food focused dogs are a lot of fun to train. I just keep their meal kibble with me in a bag and use it to help train them to meet people, leave dangerous objects, etc. I keep the reinforcement schedule varied, so they will follow commands even when I don’t have food with me.

      Also, I am not sure why food is so often viewed as “bribery”, whereas affection, playing a chase game, or some other reward is viewed differently. The way I see it –

      • We must feed our dogs, so it is much better to make them work for all of their food rather than giving it to them for free in a bowl.
      • Food, playing a game, fun walks, and affection are all different rewards for a dog. Different dogs will respond differently to these rewards. Some are easier to use than others.

      Dogs think for themselves so they need to be motivated to perform certain behaviors or stop performing other behaviors. Food is just one motivator among many. Poking a dog, collar corrections, alpha rolling a dog, playing a chase game, and affection are other motivators. If we view using a motivator as bribery, then all of these techniques are also bribery.

      In truth, I have never understood why food has so many negative associations. I can understand why applying pain is risky and can lead to a lower quality of life. However, the only risk food carries is one of obesity, and that can be easily avoided.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.