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How far can I condition my shiba's affection?
  • NinjasOwnerNinjasOwner
    Posts: 2
    Now, before anything else, I'm well aware shibas are not labs. I know they are not extremely easygoing, licking-obsessed, lap dogs. Also, I've searched the forum, but I didn't find any thread specifically like this one, so, if there's one like this, please redirect me to it.

    So, my wife and I have an eight-week pup called Ninja. We got him last week and, so far, he was doing pretty well. After two days of shyness, he already started showing us a lot of affection. He's not a big licker, except when he wakes up ( he's more of a biter, but I guess that was to be expected), but loved playing with us and staying as close as possible. Occasionaly, he would also sleep on my lap if I was sitting on the floor or over my wife's feet. He was also very lovable with everyone he met (mostly relatives that came over). All in all, a very affectionate dog, throwing airplane years here and there.

    Next tuesday, he will have been at our flat for two weeks. I don't know if I'm reading too much into it (or maybe I'm just reading too many sites about shibas), but he's starting to demonstrate a bit of aloofness and overall boredom with me and my wife. He doesn't want to be petted as nearly he wanted in the begining; he doesn't want to sleep/rest as close to us as he used to and he's starting getting less patient with slower playing. Now, of course, we don't want a needy dog who's constantly asking for attention, but we do want a dog that's OK when he's being petted and would show some enthusiasm and willing to cuddle once and a while, when we are watching TV or working at our PCs. Also, we are planning to have kids and I guess it would be really frustrating for them to have a dog... And not really have a dog. The point is, Ninja was exactly that kind of dog a week ago. I know he is still young and will get through phases and not everyday will be a great day for him.

    So, I've searched the forum and seen that some of people who post around here have very affectionate, playful dogs. What I want to ask is: does anyone here have experience on making a dog more affectionate? Is it possible to condition that? And to what extent?

    PS: it should be know I haven't really got out with Ninja yet. He hadn't had all his vaccines, so, I can't really walk him out and I do imagine that can be boring for him. Thanfully, that will change very soon.
  • Hi,

    My pup Zeus is similar to what you have described and always has been however every puppy is different.

    When we first got Zeus he was not much licking but more nipping, this was because he still had his baby teeth (shibas are known for being more mouthy when puppies) but now his adult teeth have came through he like to lick more and is very clean, we've never really had any accidents in the house and recently he's stop going to the toilet in the back garden.

    Shibas are very independent dogs and have been described as being cat like for reason. If Zeus wants attention he will let you know he wants attention (usually a nose poke on the leg followed by a ball being dropped on the floor, he's not discreet) however if he wants to be left alone he will let you know usually by shying or walking away.

    With regards to staying close, Zeus isn't a lap dog and if he wants to be close or nearby he will (and he's always been like that) but what I've noticed with Zeus is his subtle ways. For example, he won't sleep next to us but in the hallway where he is able to watch and observe everything to ensure nothing happens to us, in an evening my partner and me will be watching TV in the Living room and Zeus will be lying in the hallway.

    If you are worried he's starting get bored, you could always have a look online for mentally stimulating games or training, Shiba's are intelligent creatures and like to be kept entertained. This would also help making your bond stronger and trust me you can never over train a dog.

    I hope this has helped and liked I said each puppy is different. I'm sure some of the other people on the Forum will be able to give some advice also.
  • LilikoiLilikoi
    Posts: 1237
    Well, puppies are extremely clingy hahah. So a lot of people will categorize their new puppies as “great off leash” or “super affectionate” because it’s just typical for a baby to be clingy.

    I don’t think I would call Ozzy, my two year old shiba, all that affectionate hahah. He is very affectionate on his terms. He always likes to be nearby but not necessarily touched. He isn’t aloof at all. Looooves strangers and loves scratches and belly rubs. But he doesn’t often come asking for attention. I think he’s actually gotten more affectionate since he turned 2 in November. Before that, he was somewhat skeptical to being approached and thought of it always as an invitation to play. Now even if he’s being playful and wants to run and be chased or play with toys, he recognizes and accepts the word “pet” when I’m like “ozzyyy I just wanna pet you” lol. And he’ll let me approach and pet him. And then we’ll play. But in the past if he was in a playful mood, he would just dodge pets and dart away and throw toys at me to play with. :))

    I think it’s important to practice handling and developing a positive association with touch when they’re young. Like handling paws, ears, rewarding them for letting you approach and touch them without running away, etc. I did use a lot of treats and a clicker to create a positive association with handling exercises and physical touch. And, of course, physical contact should never be used as a punishment. Shibas are quick to mistrust and if they develop a negative association with physical touch (by having their nose flicked or their head bopped or hit or grabbed and dragged or anything that makes them uncomfortable), they’ll have no problem with seeking to avoid the majority of any physical contact.

    Shibas just generally aren’t super affectionate. They show affection in very endearing, sweet ways. But not always in a way that’s in your face or demanding of attention. Sometimes they do, though. Ozzy will come up and roll on me when he wants belly rubs lol. But other times he wants to be left alone and will get up and leave if I try to cuddle or pet him.

    My recommendation would be creating a positive association with touch and treats while they’re young. Ozzy used to be bitey as a puppy, but we used a small amount of peanut butter on our hands to teach him to be “soft” and lick rather than bite. He definitely licks to show affection sometimes, but I think he also knows that I don’t like it hahah, so he tones it down. Loves to lick strangers if they’ll let him tho lol. But I also think you should respect his space and independence and not force anything that makes him uncomfortable. But if he’s always having a good time when he’s getting touched and developing a positive association with treats and praise, then he might start to love coming up to you for some pets and scritches.
  • gakugaku
    Posts: 26
    It really depends on the puppy but they can grow to change.

    When Gaku was a puppy, though he was playful, he wasn't affectionate at all. He didn't like cuddles, belly rubs, sleeping on/next to us. (In retrospect, he is a product of either a puppy mill or a backyard breeder so he may not have been used to it.) He would always be close by, but never touching us. Over time, he liked belly rubs and tolerated cuddles but it wasn't really his thing. If he wanted attention for playing, like Lilikoi's Ozzy, he'll let us know but he's good with being left alone.

    My shiba is turning 3 this July and he has become more and more affectionate and needy as time goes by. Recently, I was spooning him and he fell asleep! He would walk away and sleep somewhere else before. I had things to do but I couldn't go because I was so happy! He now paws or stares at us for attention. And when he's feeling needy, he'll follows either my husband and I around. He has specific times he wants attention/affection from each of us. He's kissy multiple times a day now as well.

    I know it's hard sometimes when they don't give you the affection you expect, but it can change! And he's definitely trained us well cause my heart melts every time he shows a new type of affection. Ahaha. It takes time for a shiba to fully bond sometimes. I'm sure Ninja will open up in time. Good luck!
  • ZenkiZenki
    Posts: 396
    just think of it as... if you get shiba cuddles all the time, it will stop being special. hahaha! Anyway, as a puppy... i would always have zenki lie on my lap while sitting cross legged. it was just so i can pet him and just dote on the little bugger. I guess, it probably made a very comfy hammock for him that he often fell asleep there. Now that he's bigger, he can't fit on my lap anymore. but if i sit on the floor and spread my legs, he would always come and nuzzle up against me and start lying on his back and expose his belly for belly rubs. i don't do it all the time only when i really want some cuddle time with Zenki. but that's about it. he doesn't sleep next to me or on my lap anymore. he doesn't demand attention (something you will appreciate). as for strangers, he's a bit coy. he would want to smell the strangers hand but once they try to pet him before he licks their hand he would pull away. if he licks their hand first, then he will let them pet him. at least that's what i have observed.

    as for the biting, i trained zenki with 'Kisses' command... where he only gets the treat if he licks my hand and not bite. i did it often enough that when he did get into a mouthy mood, i would not struggle with his bites and just say kisses and he would start licking. i hope that would work for you as well.
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    “Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.”
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    Post edited by Zenki at 2018-04-09 18:15:01
  • spacedogsspacedogs
    Posts: 361
    Our experiences have been similar, though my husband is a really snuggly guy and he was determined to have dogs he could cuddle so he put our dogs through "cuddle training" when they were puppies.


    From the first day we brought each of them home, whenever the pups laid down we would lay as close to them as we could without them moving away, and move a little closer every couple of days (or longer) until we could physically touch them. It just let them get used to us being nearby while they were sleeping, I think. Once we could touch them and they got used to sleeping while touching us it was just a snowball effect from there, and they now seek us out more often than not when they go to sleep.

    Even just a nap, most of the time one of them will be under my desk with their butt or back against my feet. When we go to bed at night one of them will usually sneak up on the bed at some point, some morning I'll wake up to both of them snuggling our legs.


    Other than this, Ryz doesn't really seek out affection (he doesn't come looking for pats or scratches) but he'll accept it and give you kisses and boops it if you bring the pets to him. Laika, on the other hand, comes and asks for ear scratches and pets and boops, and will accept if you bring the attention to her, too, also returning it in kind with kisses and boops.


    Around 1 year old, Laika had a personality adjustment sort of, where she would suddenly get super happy (airplane ears and all) multiple times a day. She could be napping, and she'll wake up and be just SO HAPPY to see us, or if she's been in another room in the house for 20 minutes she'll come in and be airplane ear excited to see us. It's a little odd, but it's super adorable, and I ain't ever gonna complain about that one.


    I think Shiba's can definitely be trained to be more affectionate in human terms, like others have noted it's just a matter of persistence and doing it in a way that respects their space and creates positive associations.

    I taught my dogs a trick called "boop", wherein they touch their nose to ours in a sort of "kiss". Here's a video of my husband after I taught them the trick, just reinforcing it with him.

    https://youtu.be/E5K_PU2yioI

    It looks simple enough, but this is something so ingrained in them now that they do it when they greet us. Ryz will boop our noses when we pet him & also sneak up on me in bed and boop and lick my nose in sneaky kisses before curling up behind my legs, Laika will snuggle up for her nightly massage (her bed time routine includes a thorough scratch down and shoulder massage) and she initiates this every single night as soon as I climb in bed by laying on my chest and booping my nose. It's progressed from a cute and silly trick to a means of them communicating with us and also sometimes expressing affection.

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