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What You MUST Know Before Buying An Akita

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The key to a long and happy relationship with any dog that joins your family is doing research before you buy.  To help you decide if the Akita is the right dog for you, we have included the information below.  Please read it carefully and discuss these issues with breeders before bringing home that cute bundle of fur.
 
 
THE AKITA IS DOG AGGRESSIVE BY NATURE
 
The "level" of dog aggression varies from dog to dog and can range from indifference to an all consuming desire to kill other dogs.  While this facet of the Akita temperament has improved over the years, it is a natural, ingrained instinct of the Akita to be aggressive towards other canines, especially those of the same sex.

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.
Do not allow your Akita to roam.  Akitas (even highly trained ones) should never be allowed to run off the leash outside of his own backyard.  A strong, sturdy fence is a must when owning an Akita.
 
"Invisible" Fences are NOT recommended and are STRONGLY DISCOURAGED.  The invisble fence may keep your Akita at home, but it will NOT keep other dogs (and kids, wildlife, etc.) from coming in.  Once they cross into the dogs territory, the Akita will consider them "fair game".
 
SPAY/NEUTER your pet.  Many breeders require this as terms of the sale.  Some people avoid spaying/neutering ("altering") because they do not want the dog to be uncomfortable from the surgery (veterinarians will prescribe pain medication for your dog.)  However, the slight discomfort that may be involved with this procedure FAR outweighs the health risks faced by un-altered dogs (reproductive cancers, etc.)  If you have any doubt as to if pets should be altered, spend some time as a volunteer in your local humane society or shelter.  The sheer volume of unwanted pets is staggering.  These statistics are being used against the responsible dog owning public by animal rights activists whose hidden agendas frequently involve the banning of ALL dogs as pets.

AKITAS WERE BRED TO HUNT AND HAVE A STRONG PREY DRIVE.
 
Akitas have a history of being bear hunters in their native Japan.  This instinct continues to thrive in today's Akitas.  You should expect your Akita to exhibit these hunting behaviors and, given the opportunity, they will kill small animals.  This includes the family cat, guinea pig, etc, as well as the local wildlife and neighborhood pets that wander into the Akita's territory.

AKITAS ARE NATURAL PROTECTORS - PROTECTION TRAINING AN AKITA CAN CREATE A TICKING TIMB BOMB.
A mature Akita will defend his pack and territory.  You and your family are included as members of his/her pack.  Around 12 - 18 months of age, you will notice that your Akita is beginning to bark at strangers and stand between you and what he perceives as a threat.  This is the protective aspect of the personality. Do not expect your Akita to growl and snarl. 
Protection training an Akita very often "short-circuits" his brain.  The protection facet of his personality goes into hyperdrive and EVERYTHING is seen as a threat.  This dog becomes a threat to everyone, including his owner.  If you want a dog that will protect you and your family, be patient and wait for your Akita to grow up.  The natural instinct is already there.

AKITAS ARE VERY PACK-ORIENTED.
Much like wolves, Akitas think of themselves as members of a pack.  Each pack member has a certain status within the pack and is treated according to that status. Your Akita should ALWAYS be the lowest member of the pack.
 
Puppies are, by nature, already the "low man on the totem pole".  It is easy to keep your Akita at this status if you apply yourself.  BASIC obedience training (such as a "Kinder-Puppy" class) goes a long way in helping your Akita to understand that everyone else in the family is his boss.  By giving your Akita a command (such as "Stay") and making sure he listens reminds him that he is not in charge.  Encourage ALL members of the family to participate (especially the children.)  Do not allow the Akita to sleep on the bed with family members - this gives the Akita the impression that he is on an equal level with his other pack mates.  Sleeping in the same room is ok if you choose to allow it, but the dog should remain on the floor.
 
Consult with an Akita breeder for more information on living in harmony with your new Akita.

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SOCIALIZATION IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU CAN DO TO RAISE A WELL ADJUSTED, HAPPY AKITA.
Socializing your Akita means taking him to new locations, allowing him to meet lots of people, and helping him to become accustom to strange situations.
 
A reputable breeder will have already begun the socialization process before your puppy comes to your home.  It is important to continue this!  It is as simple as taking your puppy for a walk in the neighborhood and allowing him to greet the people he meets.  Encourage him to be friendly and not to fear sudden noises and movements.  Shopping centers (especially PetSmarts. PetCo's etc.) are great places for socialization, as are local schools.  It is not recommended to take an Akita to a Dog Park due to the Akita's inborn dog aggression.
 
Before taking your puppy anywhere for socialization, be sure he is properly vaccinated.

ALWAYS BE VIGILANT AROUND CHILDREN.
A well-tempered Akita is usually fine with children and will often become your kids' defender.  While it is comforting to know that your Akita would protect your children with his life, it can create sticky situations.  Children play rough and an Akita can easily interpret this as someone threatening a pack member (your child.)  For safety, it is always advisable to keep the Akita separate from your children when rough-housing is likely to occur.  Also, neighborhood children and extended family members are STRANGERS as far as the dog is concerned.  They do not necessarily lump ALL children into the same category as your children.
 
Educate visitors in your home on how to properly greet a dog (allowing the dog to sniff a hand that is slowly presented palm down approximately 8 inches from the dog's nose. DO NOT reach over top a dog to pat or scratch it's head prior to allowing the dog to sniff!!!) and keep the dog separate from the activities unless you are ABSOULTELY certain the Akita is comfortable with everyone.
 
Dog bites happen lightening-fast and often with little to no warning.  The results can be devestating.  Pain, injury, disfiguration, death, legal ramifications, and the death of the dog are all consequences that can arise from a dog bite.  Be smart - DO NOT put yourself and your family on this heartbreaking position.  Take precautions ahead of time.

SOME HOMEOWNER'S INSURANCE COMPANIES DISCRIMINATE AGAINST OWNERS OF CERTAIN DOG BREEDS.
Many insurance companies have started denying coverage to families that own dogs of certain "banned" breeds.  Insurance companies claim these breeds are too high-risk as demonstrated by statistics of reported dog bites.  This is a highly controversial subject in the dog world.
 
As a potential owner of any breed of dog, it is your responsibility to check with your insurance company before bringing your new puppy home to see if your homeowners coverage is affected.    Do not make everyone miserable when you have to choose between a new insurance company or giving up your new family member.

KNOW WHAT YOU ARE BUYING BEFORE YOU BUY.
Akitas grow from that cute little ball of fluff to a large dog in a short period of time.  Expect your puppy to be 85 - 100 pounds or more and be tall enough to lay his head on your diningroom table when he is full grown. 
 
The life expectancy for an Akita is 9-13 years.  There are health problems in Akitas which can reduce that life expectancy.  Akitas bond strongly to their family and frequently have a very difficult time adjusting to a change in ownership.  It is important that you commit to caring for your Akita for the duration of his life before you continue searching for a puppy.
 
Remember that Akitas are pack oriented and dog aggreessive.  These are things you will need to deal with on a daily basis when owning an Akita.

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Supporting the Akita through Education, Responsibility, and Love
 

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