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Scaredy-cat shikoku
  • Post edited by sunyata at 2013-06-06 15:44:26
  • KFontaine04KFontaine04
    Posts: 1872
    It's funny that they use the name "Anderson" as the example on those!
  • How old is Taro? He looks to be in the 8 month range from the second video. If so he's probably entered his second fear stage.

    My advice would be don't push him. If you force him to confront the things that he's afraid of it may cause him to shutdown. Do your best to expose him to as much as possible on a daily basis. Do some classical conditioning. If he's uncomfortable with something, allow him to explore it on his own and reward him not for being cautious, but for being brave. If you have to keep 10 feet away from the object, that's fine. Work on confidence building at his threshold distance. Approach an object that makes him uneasy and stop before he shows signs of stress. Do some basic obedience like sit, down, day, watch me, etc. Over time decrease the distance to the objects that make him uncomfortable.

    That's the approach recommended to me by the behaviorist I hired for Joey and it has so far worked really well. We're still working through some issues, but he's come a long way.
  • CrimsonO2CrimsonO2
    Posts: 1165
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
  • My Shiba had a lot of the same issues and still does. We got him at 7 months and have had him for just a month now but he has made great progress.

    As stated above....take it slow and use positive reinforcement. It's working for me.

  • CrimsonO2CrimsonO2
    Posts: 1165
    Brad, it's from that link in the original post (scroll all the way to the bottom of the page). They also have Akita, but no Kai, Shika or Ovcharka :(.

  • StaticNfuzzStaticNfuzz
    Posts: 1814
    Ditto on Dave, Brad and Steve....

    Be kind and positive with new experiences or issues he must work through. What is Training Camp and were you there with him?

  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3664
    Post edited by Calia at 2009-04-08 19:09:06
  • tobyshibatobyshiba
    Posts: 1121
    I don't have much advice for the fear stuff, but Taro looks so stinkin cute. I was wondering where you got off to. You should post photos/video of Taro and Tsuki more often! :)
  • I will check out the clicker training. I am not familiar with it. Is that where you actually use a clicker and treat to reward the behavior? We are working on bonding with Taro when Tsuki is not around telling him what to do. He seems to watch how she reacts to things and then he usually does the same as she does. The trainer thought that he was not bonding with us, just to Tsuki and that it would be good for him to be onw his own in training. Yes, it is a ranch in east Texas where he stays. He was there for 3 weeks. One with Tsuki there and 2 alone. Furrst Place K-9 obedience Bed and Biscuit. She trains Goldens, mostly and has 7 of them she takes to obedeince cometitions. The trainer said that as soon as Tsuki was not around he was a different dog, no confidence. We thought it would be good for him to be on his own to learn. Shikoku are very different from a golden, though...

    Yes, we had a training session ourselves, but it was about 4 hours. We had to learn so that we could continue wat she was doing. As far as positve, she praised him when he did what she wanted him to, sit, down, stay, etc. She uses a prong collar and a "bump" on the collar for correction when he didn't. I'm nt a big fan of those, but we have found that it is the only thing that Tsuki respondes to when walking. I look forward to when I can just have a regular collar on them and they listen... is that just a fantasy?

    We had 2 shibas in the past, one the female, was super confident, the other, male, was opposite. He did feed off of her confidence and he eventually came out of his shell. I will work on being kind and positive with Taro...she said not to baby him as I am only telling him that what he is doing, cowering and running and such is OK. I am trying to expose him to new things and new people daily and making it fun for him.

    I thought he was playing in the spinkler. He likes to bite the water when I am watering my flowers as well and follows me around when I have the watering can. Does he really seem scared?

    He was 6 months on April 5th.

    Thanks for advice!
    Post edited by shiba2shikoku at 2009-04-09 03:29:15
  • NekopanNekopan
    Posts: 403
    Honestly, I would not feel good about leaving my dog alone with a stranger to "train" for three weeks. That just doesn't sound right.

    Using a prong collar to "correct" when he doesn't respond to a command is NOT positive reinforcement training.
  • tobyshibatobyshiba
    Posts: 1121
    Majority of Nihon Ken respond horribly to prong collars. Poor Taro must've been scared to death. He's probably afraid the prong collar is going to come back to tug him the next time he has some confidence and accidentally does something wrong.

    Yeaaah. That technique might work on something like an easy to train Golden, but the Shikoku is much more complex.

    And while i'm also kind of surprised that the trainer had you guys remove Tsuki from the program to see how Taro reacted, I don't know. There's an obvious reason his confidence went away when Tsuki went away. Because his friend disappeared that that made him uncomfortable and really scared in a place he was unfamiliar with. There shouldn't be any reason why you should separate them if they're happy together. I think it is fine to let dogs bond, after all, they will still be dependent on you for their food and lots of other love as well.
  • KFontaine04KFontaine04
    Posts: 1872
    I don't think prong collars should ever be used to "correct" a behavior not done. Especially in Nihon Ken. From what I have heard and read regarding Shikoku this can make them even more scared.

    Hopefully Taro will be able to adjust at home.
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3664
    Post edited by Calia at 2009-04-09 11:28:52
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
    From personal experience with doing obedience with both my Shiba (Ike is now following in Beebe's pawprints), there is no better way to bond with your dog than going thru the training with them side by side as a team. Their confidence goes thru the roof when they are given tasks they can succeed and excell at. You can look for new doable challanges that can build confidence, like jumps, agility, finding toys, etc.
    Ike can melt in new situations, and spook a little at new objects, but his confidence has really grown since starting more training with me. I admit to baby talking him and coddling him in certain situations, you'll just have to find the right times to do it, and the right times to be more firm. A serious situation where you mean business and you want to convey that, obviously requires a stronger method of communication than baby talk. You can't be serious all the time in dog training when you have these dogs or you go nuts "they aren't goldens" afterall :)
    Post edited by lindsayt at 2009-04-10 07:13:11
  • Felicia,

    It sounds like the trainer you sent Taro to represents the old school. There has been a lot of research and a lot written lately on new methods for training dogs that do not use any punitive techniques at all. Punishment can (and almost always does) break trust with a dog. Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate the Nihon Ken are especially susceptible to loosing their trust in their humans if punishments are doled out too frequently. So, I ask you, please please please ignore what that woman has taught you.

    Your job right now is to reestablish your relationship with Taro. If he trusts you, he will look to you for guidance in situations where his confidence is low. You should provide that guidance, not Tsuki. If you follow my advice and the advice of others, what you will be doing is not "babying him" as your trainer suggested, but cultivating his trust and his confidence.

    Others have given you some great advice. Learn clicker training. It will be your best friend as you try to rehabilitate Taro from his new fears. Also, ditch the prong collar. It is a powerful training tool when used judiciously, but it is no where near the proper tool for teaching your puppy how to walk well on a leash. Get a gentle leader, halti, or easy walk harness. To those things, I would add the advice that you might want to hire a certified animal behaviorist that only uses positive reinforcement training techniques. Such a behaviorist will be able to go beyond the superficial advice that we can give over the internet and really prescribe a program that will help you to undo any of the issues Taro has acquired from punitive training.
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    Just to add to the above comments, training using positive reinforcement and being kind to your dog are not the same as coddling (babying the dog). Its establishing a trust bond - how can a dog trust the hand of something that uses metal to pinch its flesh? Wouldn't an animal rather learn to trust the hand that gives them treats and praise for a desired behavior?
    The most I do (with shibas) to correct is use a noise aversion... if they are starting to do something undesirable (like chew on a sock) I make a sound like "ERHHH" mildly loud and fast. It gets their attention, then I get to redirect them and make the experience a positive one - in this case with the sock I'll say "drop it" and give them a treat and say "take it".

    I really like the Easy Walk Harness, it doesn't take long for them to figure out how to walk in it (it attaches in the front and prevents pulling)

    CLicker training is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G for a dog lacking confidence! My Kitsune has improved so much in the last year once we started clicker training him!
    Check out this site:
    I found a trainer locally to teach me how to clicker train, and I love the results.

    Also, Brad A wrote a great description of the concept of clicker training in this thread:

    Good luck! Ultimately, Taro is your dog and its up to you to know what he needs and how to accomplish it.
    Post edited by tsukitsune at 2009-04-09 12:43:03
  • StaticNfuzzStaticNfuzz
    Posts: 1814

    I have found the easy walk harness to work well and also gentle leader for above 25lbs.

    Having raised Goldens and Dobermans I can tell you the training techniques from the old school do not work as well for the Spizy type dogs who are bred to "think outside of the box" so to speak. I have been there in the past and I am not going back to the dark ages at this point since punitive methods do not encourage cooperation among dogs who have an independent streak. The psychology needs are somewhat different when training a Nihon ken.

    Yes, you can get compliance by using a prong or choke but mentally you are not getting the breakthrough you need and possibly eroding the positives of the individual character of the dog. Also, I would not leave a 6 month old puppy for someone else to train away from home. If nothing else because dogs do not generalize well and that means he will not behave in the same manner as in the bond he has created with the trainer. As a parent it is best you go along for the journey....this means hands on training too, beyond 4 hr run down of what someone else has physically done with your dog. Rote drill patterns and run downs are difficult for Spitizies (they learn fast but tend get bored quickly wanting to move on to other tasks) and a one time meeting is not going to cut it for human practice of skills. It takes multiple short practice sessions that are fun so you can coordinate your patterns with that of your dog and it's personality to happily work in a cooperative team.

    At this point you have to take it as a live and learn case and move on in a better direction from here with your pup.
    I would suggest looking into and finding a trainer from their list. You need some confidence building activities that has structure and also motivation elements involved. PLEASE see one of the people on the list in the truly dog friendly website so you personally can get a hands on with the clicker and working directly with your own Shikoku. Keep in mind "positive" methods are not coddling or necessarily permissive.



    There seems to be much confusion on what the term "Positive" means when training and many training programs miss the point. Even the best award winners in the obedience circles have a different conceptualization of vocabulary batted around but not clearly defined. Many omit the word "Punishment" believing that their harsh methods aren't harsh and in the name of obedience are necessary right off the bat. The scientific definitions are important to note also because the pet product companies and some trainers use the term "punishment" often incorrectly as well, calling it negative reinforcement in order to avoid the undesirable connotation of the word "punishment".

    To clarify definitions which cause much confusion....I am citing in American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior


    Summed up it is, "coercion and physical correction in order to change an animal's behavior". Some methods seem rather innocuous such as squirting with water, shouting no when jumping up, to more forceful such as jerking a choke chain or pinch collar to stop a dog from pulling, alpha rolls, tightening collars to cut off air supply until the dog submits or use of electronic collars."

    Punishment as defined AVSA is the use of force, coercion, or aversive techniques to modify behavior because that is what the general public understands punishment to be. Punishment is anything that hopefully decreases the likelihood a behavior will occur again, mostly through force. The problem is even when punishment seems mild in order to be effective it often must elicit a strong fear response and the fear response can generalize to things that sound or look similar to the punishment. Punishment has also been shown to spurn aggressive behavior in many animals.

    Additionally, one of the most compelling reasons punishment fails to address bad behavior is the fact that undesired behavior is occurring because it somehow has been reinforced either intentionally or unintentionally.


    1. It is difficult to time punishment correctly
    2. Punishment can strengthen undesired behavior
    3. Intensity of the punishment must be high to be effective
    4. May cause physical harm at high intensity
    5. Regardless of the level of force, punishment can cause some individuals to become fearful and this can be generalized to other contexts
    6. Can facilitate or cause aggressive behavior
    7. Can suppress behaviors including those behaviors that warn that a bite may occur
    8. Leads to bad associations
    9. Does not teach more appropriate behaviors


    By adding something the animal wants, you increase the likelihood the behaviors will occur again such as "Nothing in life is free" program and generally teaching with respect in a kind way via clicker training. For example: Removal of rewards for undesirable behavior and reward for appropriate behaviors. It teaches and develops more appropriate behaviors without bad associations.

    There are ways to punish in any method but the goal of humane training is to build a better bond between owner and pet, encourage cooperation naturally, and develop thinking (initiated by the pet) that motivates it to display more desirable behaviors.


    American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (2008) from

    Azrin NH, 1960. Effects of punishment intensity during variable-interval reinforcement.

    Huchinson, RR. 1977. By-Proudcts of aversive control. In Honig Wk, Staddon, JER, eds. Handbook of Operant Behavior. Englewood Cliffs.

    Pauli A.M., Bentley E., Dieh, A.k., and Miller, P.E. (2006). Effect of the application of neck pressure by a collar or harness on intraocular pressure in dogs.

    Yin, S.Y., (2004). How to behave so your dog behaves. Neptune City, NJ. TFH Publications.
    Post edited by StaticNfuzz at 2009-04-09 17:16:01
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3664
  • EdgewoodEdgewood
    Posts: 591
    I am late to this thread and cannot offer a lot of different additional information, but I want to reinforce what everyone said. Positive reinforcement and clicker training is the way to go with spitz breeds. It builds trust between you and the dog and then, when the dog is worried about anything in its environment, it will glean confidence from you to tackle what it is afraid of.

    I have a 16 mo old Shikoku and he is not the bravest dog, but because I always worked with him with positive (and it was very, very rare to have negative reinforcement) he tackles scary situations with aplomb. But he would not do well with someone jerking a prong collar and raising their voice at him.

    Here is a wonderful site to learn about clicker training. This trainer is a premier clicker trainer DOGS/ Dog1/levels.html

    Here's an example of what positive reinforcement work can do. Kuma is 11 mos old in this video and is practicing for competitive obedience. All this was training using only positive reinforcement training (mainly clicker training). He can heel like this anywhere we go together because of the work we have done preparing the foundation of our partnership. Actually, right now he is even more precise and even won his first competition.

    A second example might help too. In this example, it shows Kuma ringing a bell. Well, just like Taro might be, he was TERRIFIED of the device and if the bell rang, he ran away across the room. It was a slow going training process because he was so afraid of the bell. So to train him to bravely and boldly go ring the bell, I had to break it into small positive steps (baby steps) and reward him for the positive steps forward with food and a click. But it can be done.

    Fixed link

    The reason I show you these video examples are to show you that Shikoku are REALLY smart and willing to please their master. But, they do require a nice positive spin to training as they are relatively "soft" dogs and are easily intimidated by rough or physical type of training. I wish you the best of luck. Please do look at the clicker training website I posted above. It will really, really help you and Taro. I am always happy to help answer questions too.

    Post edited by Edgewood at 2009-04-10 19:55:54
  • Thanks, ya'll. ( I know you are laughing at my Texas terminology...) I do appreciate your input and advice. Taro is doing better each day he is home. He still is skiddish of new things, noises and people, but he is also still curious and slowly investigates. That is normal to me. I am glad that he doesn't run to the opposite side of the room and shake violently like my male shiba did, who eventually came out of his shell.

    The prong collar is put away. I will use the gentle leader we bought for Tsuki that did NOT work at all with her. She was determined to pull. I can only walk her with the prong collar.

    He seems very happy to be home and is even wanting to be part of the goings on with company staying at our house for the weekend. He is being a brave boy! I will continue to be positive in his training and I know he/we will all do fine. Meanwhile, I am looking into puppy classes for US to attend. :) Petsmart has a clicker class for puppies that have completed the 8 week beginner class. That is where we should start I guess.
    Thanks again for all your input! And not to worry, ya'll, Taro is getting plenty of love at home.
  • EdgewoodEdgewood
    Posts: 591
    Sounds like a great start Felicia! Don't hesitate to ask questions as new ones come up. I really enjoy training my Shikoku because they are so smart.
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    Good luck! Let us know how puppy clicker training class goes!!

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