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What it's really like to own a Kai Ken..
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    For those of us on the forum either just discovering this incredible breed or trying to decide if its really a dog we can handle someday, I'm wondering if you Kai owners out there wouldn't mind putting down some info about what its really like to OWN a KAI KEN.. the good, the bad, the ugly, how they are with you, with crating, with socialization, with your other pets, with strangers, quirks, funny stuff, anything!

    I know I would really and truly appreciate the info!
  • jmaxwelljmaxwell
    Posts: 287
    Oh I could go on for days about the Kai. I seriously love Kenji to pieces as he is so unlike my other two. He is so relaxed and laid back and is pretty much happy all of the time. He again, like the Hokka, needs to know where your at all times and follows you everywhere the minute you walk in. This breeds main goal in life is to find their soulmate in their human, which is very similar to the Hokka. I see so many similarities between the two. He can get agressive though. Just like Brad had posted about Kona the other day, he gets into his moods. If he isnt in the mood to be touched, then do not touch him! lol. He gets very teritorial over this one toy we have. I actually got it from Petsmart around christmas. Its a stuffed Santa and he carrys it around with him everywhere and wont let the other dogs have it. Its funny because its just this one inparticular toy. I dont think he does it to be like "look what I got, come get me", I just think that the Kais are more one on one, they could probably be happy being the only dog, as long as their owner and them do everything together and get lots of attention, and the same thing goes with the toys, I think he would be happy having that same stuffed santa his only toy. Hes quite a character =)
    Post edited by jmaxwell at 2008-05-15 14:11:45
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    Jamie, you must be so proud of your pack!! I love them! What a great picture!!
    My husband and I sat down and really hashed out where we want our pack to go. We have really narrowed the possibilities down and a Kai Ken is what we chose (in the lead by a small margin) but we want to learn more first hand stuff from people who own them, and we planned a trip to meet Kai at a breeder near us to get a real first hand feel for them before we decide anything major. So thank you for your information on both Kangai and Kenji! It is very helpful!
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2240
    Jamie - That pic is super cute. :o)

    ----

    Ok, here are my thoughts on the Kai-Ken - tho I have only lived with our for 4 months now....

    [same format as the Shikoku]

    The Good:
    - Well behaved if properly cared for.
    - Very intelligent.
    - Kona is pretty loving, he will even snuggle.
    - Kona is amazing with other dogs.
    - They are hardy and healthy.
    - Generally low energy level.
    - Kona has a very good understanding of his people.
    - Kona is built like a tank!

    The Bad:
    - There intelligence can mean they are trouble makers.
    - Kona chews EVERYTHING.
    - Kona doesn't seem to clean himself as much as our other breeds.
    - Kona is relentless, if they want something they will try for hours to get it - this can be frustrating.
    - Kona is very stoic, this makes him very hard to read.
    - I could see fear being a real problem with this breed, Kona shows some fear signs.
    - Out of all our dogs Kona shows the most primitive behavior, he can be inconsolable or uncontrollable at times.
    - Kona is SUPER hard headed and willful, its takes a lot of patience to get him to do what you want him too.

    ----
  • JohnJohn
    Posts: 50
    Brad - Wow, thanks for the info.

    btw ... the "Bads" sound eerily like Romi. Oh man am I gonna get in trouble for that one. But, you know its true Romi.


    John
  • Romi chews everything? That's strange. ;-)
  • JohnJohn
    Posts: 50
    dlouisroberts - hahaha ... her old nickname was "nibblehiromi"


    John
  • kwyldkwyld
    Posts: 506
    The good with my Kai:
    -Loves the outdoors and exercising
    -Very good at sports like agilty, obedience, and rally
    -Very good watchdog
    -Stunning to look at
    -Very attatched to me
    -Extremely loyal, more so than any other dog I've ever owned.
    -Very intelligent to the point where he can outsmart me sometimes
    -Can be off leash and has a solid recall in rural areas, even if he sees prey.(Yes it can be done!!!)

    The bad with my Kai
    -Dog aggresive to new dogs that try to come near him to greet him(not aggresive to dogs if they are around him during class or if they are on leash. He is the type of dog you cannot take to a dog park)
    -Likes to chase the hell outta cats
    -Very grumpy when people or dogs come into his bubble. In other words he likes his space at night when he's tired, he is possesive of his food as well and has to be fed in a crate. He does not tolerate strangers touching him and will stay by me when people he doesn't know come to my house.
    -He growls more than any other dog I've ever owned.
    -He is fearful of thunderstorms.
  • kwyldkwyld
    Posts: 506
    This breed is very challenging and mine is hard to socialize with other dogs. It took me two months to get Kohji ok being in the same room as my Dutch without growling. I find that having a routine with them, such as feeding them at certain times and crating at night like after 9 is what keeps him the happiest. Kohji needs a ton of exercise to stay happy too, although he is generally quiet in the house.
    Kohji and News are buddies now, and he puts up with a lot of crap that News dishes out quite well. I have been bringing Kohji to work with me since he was a puppy and has had all the socialization in the world, but still acts quite primitive. Once a Kai accepts a person though it is really cool to see, they are very submissive and sweet to them.
    They are stoic like Brad said and hard to read sometimes, but once you learn tiny details about dog behavior you can prevent certain situations from happening. They can be a challenge to train if for some reason you do not use food. He marks everything in sight on walks. Kohji is not cuddly at all and doesn't like to be hugged or picked up. I think Kais are a great breed but need pretty experienced, very responsible owners who mentally challenge the dog and are active.
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2240
    John - LMAO... Romi is gonna kick your ass tonight. lol.
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    kelly - did you know all that before you decided to get a Kai? Knowing what you know now - would you perhaps choose a different breed?
  • baantonbaanton
    Posts: 933
    Well, I don't know how Josephine would behave if she had to live with other dogs -- she is very alpha, has to be in the lead at the dog park when walking, wants other dogs to play with her. Maybe would drive us crazy from the constant commotion? Anyway, here's my list about her behaviors:

    Good stuff:
    -- Extremely social with other dogs (and people and cats)
    -- Loves kids / loves grandmas and grandpas... seems to distinguish between them (more sedate and gentle with the old folks)
    -- Not afraid of things like thunder, loud noises, police sirens, firecrackers, gun shots
    -- Very smart / learned all training lessons very quickly (we did puppy "Good Dog" class after first heat, spaying and recovery, probably at around 1 year of age)
    -- Minds well / respects boundaries (more and more, when reinforced with praise)
    -- Likes to be petted, cuddled, groomed (accepting of baths because of the rubdown with the towel and blow-dry-- the more contact the better)
    -- Extremely affectionate - to humans, cats, other creatures


    Bad stuff:
    -- High separation anxiety -- doesn't like to be left alone (except in the car is fine with her? Why, don't know?)
    -- When younger chewed a lot of stuff-- I had to resort to using red pepper sauce on certain things that attracted her like my pseudo-wicker screen porch furniture
    -- Exuberant upon initial greeting of people and dogs-- we have had to work on eliminating the jumping, etc.
    -- When exuberant, pees all over out of control (is this a common female dog trait?) -- this is much better now and almost never happens
    -- Likes to run after prey -- presents a danger of losing her, just like her first owners did
  • kwyldkwyld
    Posts: 506
    I knew that they weren't like your average family dog, and I had grown up with Jack Russels which are pretty crazy dogs. Plus I had Taj and knew I could handle another breed similar to her. But I don't think the breeder really prepared me for the extent of the Kai's personality, and they are pretty different than a Shiba. I'll tell you what, I could probably never have children with Kohji living in the house, not that I want any for a loooong time. I usually crate him when my niece comes over. Because of the difference in my hobbies now as opposed to 4 1/2 years ago, I would not get another Kai. I would get another Shiba before I got another Kai.
    I have seen two other Kais come into my work for various reasons for vet care, and they were not the type of dog you could walk up to and pet. The one owner said hers was very friendly with other dogs but not so much people, and the guy's female Kai was head shy with the staff taking care of her in the back and they had to go very slow with her or she probably could have bitten them. They take a lot of work regarding socialization, and even if you do a lot of it, they still might not be the friendliest dog to other people and dogs. But then again, some people just click with dogs like this and it works out just fine. I think the ideal living situation for a Kai would be a single active outdoor person with no other dogs or cats. They truely only have eyes for their owner.
    Post edited by kwyld at 2008-05-16 12:19:03
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2240
    From what I have seen with Kona, I agree with Kelly, he is a one person dog. He is totally attached to Jen, its really kinda annoying.

    As for the living with multiple dogs thing, Kona integrated with our existing pack better than any other dog has and he continues to do extremely well with all of our dogs: old and young. So I personally think Kai-Ken do great with other dogs, and them not doing well with other dogs is not characteristic of the breed.

    ---
  • baantonbaanton
    Posts: 933
    I agree entirely with the socialization with other dogs. Josephine gets along well with most dogs she meets on walks, at the dog park, etc. I have not seen such a "versatile" dog before in the ability to interact. What we humans would call strong interpersonal skills!
  • kwyldkwyld
    Posts: 506
    I believe if you get a puppy and raise it with other dogs in an exsisting pack, it will do fine. That is always much easier than integrating an adult dog into your pack. Integrating Kohji with Taj when he was a puppy was a snap, integrating News with Kohji was not fun. But then again, I think it's because News was an intact male that is much bigger than Kohji. I'm sure a smaller female would have been much easier.
    Post edited by kwyld at 2008-05-18 12:04:21
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 1361
    Bumping this up :O!~
  • asiaasia
    Posts: 875
    I was reading through some Kai threads to find more on the training of the kai. I wasn't sure if I missed it, or if there is just not one. I read lots of threads from Shiba owners on things like "shiba's don't hear no, so try AH or AHT", etc. I was just curious if anyone could talk specifically about training experiences with their Kai - what methods work best, what is hardest to get them to do, what they seem to enjoy the most, what specific quirks...
    (or point me to the right thread...)
  • kwyldkwyld
    Posts: 506
    I only use positive reinforcement with Kohji, clicker training is the best method, IMO. I would discourage using prongs, choke chains or punishment with this breed in particular. Kohji is a fantastic worker, I have always used food, he doesn't really like toys or praise as much. He is awesome at obedience and is now doing excellent in agility. Agility seems to be his fortay. I have yet to run into something he doesn't like to do training wise.
  • ZinjaZinja
    Posts: 200
    I found a Kai on Petfinder.com who is 3 years old. Is this too late to establish a loyal bond with? I would like to get a Shikoku down the road but am not sure how the Kai will take it. In my townhouse, I have a cat, who is attached to my girlfriend. Will I have to worry about my cat and him getting along?

    Also, I would like to try to do some off-leash training. I know this is very risky with high-prey dogs, but I was able to train my Akita to run around the block with me just fine, while my dad can run with her throughout the whole neighborhood! Is 3 years old too late to try and reinforce this?

    Any help would be great. Thanks!

    -Joe
  • Joe:

    It is never too late to form a bond with a dog. You can walk into any animal shelter, pick a dog of any age, and spend 20 minutes giving it some affection and attention and it will be your best friend. In fact, many people that have adult rescues will tell you they have bonded more closely with that dog in a shorter amount of time than any breeder dog they've ever had.

    In general, I see no reason why a Kai and a Shikoku wouldn't get along; however, every dog is an individual and it will depend a lot of the dog's temperament and the socialization it received. From what many of the Shikoku owners on this forum have said, it sounds like they have a pretty "hectic" style of play and can be pretty reactive. I think Kai's are probably somewhat similar, which means they may not get along 100% of the time. Although if you spend a few minutes watching Brad's videos, you'll see Loa and Kona being best buds quite a bit. Plus, (knock on wood) there don't seem to be any Shikoku in shelters at this point so if you do get one it would likely be a puppy. That would help it form a good relationship with your Kai.

    Just like it is never too late to form a bond with a dog, I don't think it would be too late to train it to do something new either. Although, it may take longer than if you start as a puppy. That being said, I think you will have a REALLY REALLY REALLY hard time finding support from ANYONE on this forum for training your nihon ken to be off leash outside a fenced area.

    Hope this helps.
  • kwyldkwyld
    Posts: 506
    I don't think the Kai is too old for you two to establish a bond. I think if you set boundries and stay consistent with the dog from the moment he walks into your house, you two will grow close in no time. I would suggest tethering the dog to you for the first two weeks, meaning leash connected to your beltloop and his collar so that he is with you everywhere you go and he gets used to being around you and you providing for him. Tethering is something I personally would do, not everyone might agree on this method though. With the Kai breed in particular, just from my experience with Kohji, I would tether the dog to me and ignore it mostly for the first few days but give him food constantly so he trusts you and expects the best thing in life from you, food. In fact, you could use a clicker, and click/treat, click/treat, wait til the dog looks at you, click/treat, stuff like that.
    I have met 3 head shy Kai, so I would go really slow with it and let him warm up to you, instead of you trying to cuddle and hug and love on it in the beginning.
    Kohji has a solid recall off leash, so the training can be done, but he is also 5 years old. He was never off a leash until he was 3 1/2 years old. I also have been taking him to training classes for *years*. I would suggest if you really want to train the dog off leash, you take him to a professional trainer to learn how to solidly train the recall with the dog . I would suggest buying books on animal behavior too, so you can get canine body language down to a science, it will help immensely. I think the cat and Kai can get along, but it might take some work because they have a high prey drive, although plenty of people on this forum have cats and Nihon Ken. I had two stray cats for a year, and Kohji loved nothing more than pouncing on and chasing them until I rehomed them. He never hurt them once though.
    Post edited by kwyld at 2008-12-14 11:10:20
  • LOL. Ok...a really hard time finding someone other than Kelly. ;-)
  • baantonbaanton
    Posts: 933
    Joe: We stumbled upon a Kai puppy, Josephine (long story, elsewhere in this forum), and didn't know her breed until she was over a year old. Now we are (as certain as we can be under the circumstances) she is 100% Kai.

    First, she has been highly trainable. My husband took her to a "puppy" class (she was about a year, I think) and learned how to train her with praise and food. She seems motivated by food but loves contact praise the most (petting while speaking to her). We have her off-leash a lot (off-leash park, our farm in Northern MN) and she has good reaction to recall by name, now. She is now (we believe) just 2-3 months less than 2 years of age.

    She is very interested in hunting, having said all that above. Josephine will take off running when focused on squirrels, birds, deer, etc. For example, yesterday we had her at the off-leash park. A pheasant was on the "outside" of the park fence, and flew as Josehine approached the fence. She tried her hardest to see how she could get through or under the fence, for 5-7 minutes or more (I think the pheasant landed a short distance away). Finally, after our patiently waiting, then calling, then proceeding with our walk she gave up and followed us. Kai's have a high degree of persistence when focused on prey. As mentioned by others, this is a strong breed characteristic, so taking this kind of dog off-leash in a city or other places where there are hazards such as cars, just in-general getting lost, etc. is not a good idea. (It's quite likely this could have been the scenario that resulted in Josephine's loss from her original owner before we found her.)

    We have 3 cats in our house --- Josephine loves them --- licks, sniffing, etc. They will sometimes run from her, then will just plop down, roll onto their back and let her come and sniff, kiss, etc. etc. Two of the cats (males) were over a year when Josephine arrived, and the third one about 6 months. She is likewise extremely friendly to most dogs she meets, and the same with humans.

    My thought about a 3-yr. old is that a lot of your success of immediate "integration" into your household will depend on the socialization of the dog to date,. Given the age(3 is still young for a dog, but a time when much "intense" training starts for rescue dogs, therapy dogs of certain types, etc.), the breed, and most likely gratitude on the part of the dog to be rescued, I think you will be highly successful at adaptation and training over the long haul. I definitely would recommend contacting a local trainer if you have not trained a dog in these circumstances before. Even a few sessions, whether one-on-one or in a class, will help you perfect your technique and make you much more confident about training the dog.

    I'd say go meet the dog, spend some time and get a feel for one another, then decide. Maybe also spend some time introducing your current dog, etc. before you take the plunge. Most likely you can make it work but you want to be well-prepared for the initial introduction and make sure your reactions (especially if there is any possibility of "fur-flying") are working toward reinforcing a loving relationship between all animals.
  • ZinjaZinja
    Posts: 200
    Thanks for all the suggestions. I really need to meet the dog before actually taking it home.. It's a mix so I cannot acuratly profile her before meeting her.

    I'm also talking to several other rescues so I have my work cut out for me. I'm going to meet SO MANY doggies this month! Last month was all breeders lol.

    -Joe
  • okironokiron
    Posts: 735
    Well IMO Joe, you wouldn't be able to accurately profile her regardless of if she's a mix or pure. One dog is not like another.
  • ZinjaZinja
    Posts: 200
    That's true. :)

    -Joe
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    I'm going to bump this in case anyone has anything to add/change... I really want quality information on Kai from people who own them, because info beyond this forum seems to be lacking in that department!
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4784
    Bump @shibamistress

    I agree with most of these observations. One thing I would like to see less of is the resource guarding, since the Shibas tend to be very jealous and pushy, and that can cause some arguements to escalate fairly quickly. Most of that is immaturity with mine, however, but for the most part, the Kai is very respectful of other dogs' space bubbles, though do get quite defensive of theirs when strange people or dogs get too close. Not unlike Shibas there.
    "Common sense isn't so common"
    photo c5d87957-61b6-48af-a440-4187cbfc861b_zps88ccdf88.jpg
  • Thanks Lindsay! One thing I'm taking from this is to be super vigilant with the socialization with people....that's true of any dog, but sounds even more true of the Kai Ken.
  • Kira_KiraKira_Kira
    Posts: 2482
    My boyfriend and I have had THE TALK today.

    Kira is such a great puppy and has really cemented a huge place in our hearts and it's only been 5 months! We discussed the possibility of getting another dog in the future. My boyfriend is originally the one who mentioned Kai Ken's in the past, I ended up doing research and with the advice and recommendation of Nihon Ken members - told him I wanted a Kai. I mentioned that I was looking into a particular breeder/kennel and now, guess who's trolling their website?!?!?!

    This could be years from now, as I am cherishing every moment I have with Kira and would prefer to research the breed as much as possible before getting a Kai. I also have not had the opportunity to meet one yet and am hoping a Kai owner could bring theirs to the next Nihon Ken meetup in the mid-Atlantic.

    Any suggestions, advice, personal experiences that other members have had with Kai's is very much appreciated! Thanks!


    Cynthia, Proudly owned by Kira
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    “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
  • Kai Ken are absolutely wonderful! You won't regret it! And because they are, in general, dogs that get along with others well, they mix well with more difficult breeds like Shibas.

    My Leo has single-handedly (pawedly?) helped reform my old reactive Shiba from being a dog who was fear-aggressive to other dogs to being a dog who now tolerates other dogs. It took us nearly a year of brief interactions, but now they are buds, and even better, Toby is being tolerant of our akita puppy now too, and has been out in the yard with her several times. I have no doubt this could never have happened if it wasn't for the fact that Toby got used to Leo and his gentle, non-pushy ways first!

    Kai ken are the best! :)
  • Kira_KiraKira_Kira
    Posts: 2482
    Thank you for the extremely positive feedback @shibamistress :)

    Your Leo sounds like an absolute angel. Too bad we are opposite sides of the continent, well, maybe a good thing... I would probably want to add a Kai to our household sooner if I met him! :))
    Cynthia, Proudly owned by Kira
    imageimage
    Kira the Cream Shiba Inu 吉良 - Facebook Page
    Follow Kira on Instagram! Kira_the_cream_shiba_inu
    Kira's Life Story & Photo Thread - Chronicles of Kira

    “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”

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