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
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.