Can Akita make excellent service dogs? Yes – yes, they can. Their ancestry can justify that affirmation – they come from a breed of resilient and loyal dogs. This implies that if they get the best training, they will work as service dogs just right. Also, the dogs have a very intimidating look, and their presence can be quite scary. Overall, they great family protectors and excellent companions.
Initially, the Akita Inu was bred as a guard dog in Northern Japan. Actually, it picks its name from the mountainous region called Akita. The ancestors of the modern dog helped humans hunt for wild pigs, bears, and deer and doing guard work. In terms of ownership, only the nobles could own Akita Inus. That explains why the breed is taken as a national treasure in Japan.
If you’ve thought about training your Akita Inu to make it a service dog, this is the read for you. You will get all the information there is to know. The read will open you up to the particular services that Akita Inu performs well and why the dog is the best service dog.
In the end, you will get some info specific to the breed.
Let’s get servicing!
Akitas And Being Service Dogs: The 101
If you study many service dog programs, you will discover that they are built around common breeds like German Shepherds, Poodles, Labrador, and Golden Retrievers. The justification is that many trainers do not find other breeds as befitting the service-dog character. One of them is the Akita Inu.
However, Akitas can rival those ‘typical’ service dog breeds if given an opportunity. First, they do not need a lot of maintenance because they have lesser needs than the others. Also, they are focused and dominant, meaning that they will take on any task you give them without getting distracted.
In terms of dietary requirements, Akita Inu dogs do not eat much, and when it comes to exercise, their needs are also below those of the mentioned breeds.
The only drawback is the misconception held by many people – that the Akita is stubborn and therefore hard to train. But the contrary is true – only if the dogs get the right training, they have a chance of outperforming even the best dogs.
For the Akita to perform well at being a service dog, you need to start when it is a puppy – between 7 and 8 weeks. The one vital thing you should know is that some of the popular training methods may not work for the Akita. This is because of their closeness to wolves in terms of dominance and temperament.
Akita Service Needs: Those That The Dog Can Meet
Because of their family inclination and orientation, Akita will work as service dogs just right. They will find it easy to focus on their owners and do their tasks, which is what anyone needs from a service dog – obedience and concentration.
The services that Akita Inu dogs can fit are like the following:
1. Assisting the hearing and visually impaired
2. Helping person with mental issues
3. Working as therapy dogs
4. Taking care of people with mobility issues
Services Performed By The Akitas
Anyone seeking a service dog has something in mind – they want the dog to be purposeful in their lives in some way, shape, or form. As captured in the bullets, people with eye or ear problems, mobility, and diabetes can use an Akita Inu service dog. For example, visually impaired people will need a brave, courageous, and protective companion to help, especially when an intruder comes.
It is advantageous to have a dominant, trainable dog because the training that service dogs get is boiled down to singular members and is thus individualistic. The Akita Inu’s attitude will help make it a resourceful and faithful companion.
Now, let us take a keenly close look at the functions that service dogs perform. You will get a vivid image of why Akita Inu is an excellent choice for the role.
Service Dogs 101: What Is Required Of Them?
As you may have already picked out, there are several tasks that service dogs can perform. Because of the varied groups of unique people, the lessons are very many. The broad categories of these exceptional people are the mentally, visually, hearing, and mobility impaired. The following table summarizes what the Akita can be trained to do depending on the category:
|The Akita as a Service Dog: What it Can be Trained to Do|
|Mentally impaired||Visually impaired||Mobility impaired||Hearing impaired|
|The dog will help the person not to hurt themselves||Telling the person of a change in terms of elevation||Helping the handler to carry objects||Alerting the handler when doorbells and alarms are sounded|
|It will take note if a panic attack is imminent||Helping them to navigate and negotiate obstacles||Moving the handler, especially if they are in a wheelchair|
|It can retrieve the emergency phone when a crisis happens||Locating objects when the handler calls for them|
|It can perform calming therapy||Retrieving items that the handler has dropped|
|It can turn lights on and off before the handler comes in.||Closing and opening doors|
You can take your Akita through training yourself if you have the patience and believe in your skills.
Akita Inu Training: Making Them Service Dogs
Depending on your preferences, your dog can take up training classes or train them yourself. It will depend on what you want to see at the end, and of course, resources like time and money. If you’re going to do it on your own, ensure that you’re confident about the training.
Assuming that you will train your dog yourself, here are the pointers to look at:
1. Start them off while they are young (about eight weeks).
2. Focus on mind training. As a trainer, you can achieve more if you pay attention to the dog’s mind. Then, you can follow up with some physical activity.
3. You can then step out for some outdoor training, especially in the most frequent alleys and streets.
4. Ensure that the puppy knows the rules. You can use clearly-marked signs to ensure that all boundaries are set and obeyed.
5. Like many animal training methods, ensure that you reward the dog with toys and treats when they get things right. Add some verbal praise if the dog improves in terms of task delivery.
6. Let all training periods last for not more than 15 minutes. Also, avoid monotony by bringing in fun-filled, new things.
7. As you continue with the training, ensure that the Akita gets socialized. This will help to be sociable and interact with strangers in a better way.
The High Energy Of An Akita
Because the Akita is a large-size dog, you may find it challenging to manage the canine. A large-size dog has a lot of endurance and strength, so a handler should be focused on harness training. This way, all the energy that the Akita bears will be channeled well.
If you flip the pages of canine history, you will pick out that the Akita used to hunt for animals like black bears. First, the hunter (or handler) would use the Akita to flush the bear out of its hiding place. Then, the hunter would follow the animal and kill it. Such hunting expeditions made the Akita Inu dog braver and more courageous.
You should know that Akitas have high energy and intellectual levels. They get bored quickly than any other breed, especially if they are taken through a lot of training. So, there is a need for a trainer or handler to diversify its methods.
Service Dogs: The Types
In the table, I highlighted four categories of people who require a service dog’s help. From the four, you can get eight kinds of service dogs, and here they are:
1. Guides – these help the visually impaired to move outside and inside.
2. Hearers – these dogs alert their handlers when sounds such as alarms, doorbells, and timers are sounded.
3. Diabetes-Alerts – these notify their owners when sugar levels are either too high or too low.
4. Mobility Assisters – these help people who cannot move comfortably by getting items and opening doors.
5. Seizure-Responders – these dogs have proper training to handle the seizures of an epileptic person.
6. Autistic Servicers – these help autistic children to have more confidence in themselves.
7. Psychiatric Servicer Dogs – these pups help persons having psychiatric issues to lead everyday lives. The concerns include anxiety, depression, and PTSD. When a person is having a panic attack or a flashback, the dog helps alert its owner.
Allergy detectors – these are dogs whose smells are powerful enough to detect allergens and warn their humans.
The Common Dog Breeds That Serve As Service Dogs
As captured previously in this read, the dogs which are mostly chosen to be service dogs are German shepherds, poodles, and Golden and Labrador Retrievers. Let’s look at each one of them closely:
Gentleness makes these Retrievers popular – it is a quality that helps them be the best service dogs. Also, they are naturally attracted to people, meaning that they can also work out as emotional support animals.
Also known as Labs, these dogs work impressively and are relatively easy to train. Also, they have a particular punch and strength, and they socialize well.
The reason why this breed of dogs is popular in the world of service is its intelligence. Members of the Poodle breed work well as allergy detectors since their coats do not shed a lot. Also, their wittiness makes them one of the easiest dogs to train.
The only caveat is that Poodles are little, meaning that they won’t work best for taller, larger people.
These are probably the most famous service dogs, and actually, the first service dog was called Bubbly, a GSD. The breed consists of dogs with large, muscular bodies. The GSD excels as a mobility assister.
A Training Program Or Owner Training, Which Is Which?
If you want to acquire a purchase, there are two ways of going about it. You can either talk to a reputable breeder and get one or adopt. When you pick the pup, you can either sign it up for a training program or do it yourself.
Many training programs take in dogs when they are little. They groom the pup until they are fully grown and ready to perform any service dog roles. When the dog is prepared, a prospective owner gets matched to it depending on their needs.
As mentioned previously, training a dog on your own will require that you have some skills. Both methods have their pluses and minuses. For example, if you go for a training program, you will likely be charged a lot. On the flip side, training the dog might need a lot of time you may not give. You need to study each method, weigh the costs, benefits, pluses, and minuses, and then pick the best one.
Can An Akita Inu Dog Be A Therapy Dog?
Therapy is not counted as service. Throughout this read, we have talked about how service dogs can go, but we haven’t touched on therapy. These dogs are used in nursing homes and some school programs to care for emotional issues like stress.
As a member of the AKC working club, the Akita has traits that make it an excellent candidate to work in school programs and nursing homes.
About The Akita Inu (Breed Info)
The Akita is a natural hunter – it has a large size that best fits activities like hunting and working. When it moved from being an imperial dog and joined the common folk, the Akita got woven into pop culture. When someone gifts you an Akita figurine in Japan, they are prophesying happiness and long life to it.
The dog is wolf-like (the breed of dogs called spitzs). It has a muzzle, pointed ears, and thickly dense fur. It also has a foxy face, a furry-thick tail, and webbed toes that help it walk on snow.
The Allied forces occupied Japan in the 1940s by the American soldiers. When they started going back to the US, they took the breed with them. That there was the birth of the American Akita, which is a mixed breed. The American Akita’s appearance is more expressive and broader. This is as compared to the Japanese Akita Inu, which comes in colors like grey, black, brindle, and red fawn.
American dog organizations take them as different breeds, but others consider them as mixed and separate dogs.
Common Health Issues That Face The Akita
Generally speaking, the Akita is not a sickly dog. However, it faces several problems that limit its life expectancy – the issues are brought about by its large frame.
The Akita is prone to developing retinal atrophy, which is a condition where the retina starts degenerating. Also, the thyroid begins acting up and gives low thyroid hormone, making the Akita experience hair loss, obesity, and lethargy. The other problem is hip dysplasia, where there is a misalignment occurs between the hip joint and the thighbone.
Another peculiar condition that the Akita Inu faces is bloat, or more scientifically, gastric dilatation-volvulus. While the issue may not seem like a serious thing, it indeed is. Actually, what happens is that the stomach starts getting twisted. It then becomes difficult for the dog to expel gas or air. This condition is not unique to the Akita Inu; it also happens to breeds such as the Great Dane.
When bloat kicks in, these are some of the signs to watch out for: rapid heartbeat, weakness, salivation, vomit-less retching, and a fattened abdomen.
Like several other dog breeds, the Akita Inu faces the risk of developing autoimmune disorders, drug issues, kidney diseases, ear infections, skin conditions, and sensitivity to drugs. You can prevent all or most of these problems if you get your pup from a good breeder or take your dog to the vet for screening.
The Temperament Of The Akita Inu
With a courageous personality, the dog is always ready to show its strength, independence, and will. Because of its dominant character, it will exhibit territorial behavior. On top of that, it will show little trust to strangers. If there are other dogs, especially those of the same sex, the Akita Inu is likely to act aggressively.
But that’s not all. The dog is also fierce when it comes to defending those that it loves. If you care and train it well, you will put the dog’s aggression in check and bring the best out of it.
Because the Akita Inu was brought together to be a working dog, it will excel outside and in the open. Also, it will show prowess when given a task to execute in those spaces. Since it is also a guard animal, the dog will operate effectively indoors.
Breeders, experts, and non-experts do not recommend first-timers to get the Akita Inu because of its authoritarian personality. Also, it needs high maintenance, and anyone who wishes to own it should be willing and ready to put in the time and the effort.
Akita Inu Care
As already highlighted, this dog needs lots of attention and high maintenance. If you get the Akita Inu as a puppy, you should be ready to give it all the attention. Importantly, you should focus on the health issues and ensure that the Akita Inu puppy has all the vaccinations it needs.
Akita Inu Dietary Needs
Every day, you are required to feed between 3 and 5 cups of food to the dog. However, the food needs will change depending on the dog’s level of activity, metabolism, age, and size.
Animal nutrition experts say that to prevent the dog from developing kidney disease, you should switch to a meal plan with fewer calories when the dog gets to seven years.
Akita Inu Grooming And Maintenance.
Because of its double-thick fur coat, you will need to brush the Akita Inu once or twice every week. While the dog may not be an all-time shedder, each year will have two periods where the Akita Inu’s hairs will fall in large lumps. This means that you will have to brush the coat frequently.
The other things you should be concerned about are the dog’s teeth, nails, and ears – those should be brushed, trimmed, and cleaned, respectively.
The Litter Of An Akita (Puppies)
When Akitas are young, they will need some high-quality food like Hill’s Science Diet. The food should provide enough calcium to deal with the bone disorders that are likely to appear between 4 and 7 months old.
In terms of exercise, you should avoid getting the puppy stressed out. Its joints should not feel the hard surface until the pup is about two years. During the early years, make frequent trips to the vet.
Akitas And How They Relate To Human Children
A well-trained and adequately socialized Akita Inu will enjoy being around children and giving them warmth. However, the dog may not fit all home contexts, especially where there are younger children. Because of the dog’s huge size, the children may find it overwhelming to interact with the dog.
The Akita Inu will thrive in a home where kids are older, more mature, and ready to take on a big dog.
If You Like the Akita, You Will Like These
Assuming that you’re hooked to the Akita, here are some other dog breeds that you may want to check out:
The Shiba Inu
This dog is yet another important canine from Japan and perhaps the most popular. The dog is an ancient breed that goes back to 300 BC. It was initially was bred to be an adept and robust hunter and a survivor in Japan’s mountainous terrain.
Today, this dog is famous and is loved all over the world. It has an impressive personality coupled up with an expressive appearance. The Shiba Inu you may know is Kabosu, the famous meme dog, Doge.
The Siberian Husky
The Husky and the Akita Inu are not from the same place. However, they share several physical characteristics like athleticism, stubbornness, frame hugeness, coat color, and other spitz-like outlooks. The Siberian Husky is quite smart, and here is the reason why.