No, Akitas are not naturally friendly dogs. Unlike Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and Beagles, you cannot approach an Akita you just met and expect that they will welcome your touch. However, this does not mean that they are all dangerous and aggressive. In fact, once these breeds develop strong bonds towards their owner or certain people, expect them to be loyal and affectionate. And while this breed may pose a challenge for some people, you’ll never find a more faithful dog once you earn their trust.
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How Friendly are Akitas?
Akitas can be very friendly towards people they know or those that they consider part of their pack. Some really friendly Akitas even play with people they don’t know. But that’s probably because they were raised to be friendly and developed this kind of approach to strangers.
In general, because they were bred to become guard dogs, it’s natural for them to be aloof towards people and other animals that are not familiar to them. They have complex personalities and have a set of likes and dislikes. But because they are also intelligent and easy to train, they can be socialized at an early age to encourage friendliness in their behavior.
An Akitas owner is the apple of their eyes. For any dog, its owners and families become the center of their attention. Naturally, an Akita will be friendly and affectionate towards their owners. If they also grow up identifying you as their pack leader, you will also gain their respect and benefit from their loyalty.
Akitas might not be the friendliest when it comes to children. Bear in mind that they used to be guard dogs of noble families in Japan. They were not meant to be “nanny dogs” or “toy dogs”. Because of their size, they can become dangerous if they suddenly act out because of the need to be aggressive. Also, they might not like being poked and their tails pulled by little children. But if an Akita puppy and a child grow up together, this might be a different interaction.
Dogs, Cats, and Other Animals
If you’re planning to get an Akita, it’s best if they are the only dogs in the house. These dogs are prone to be aggressive towards other dogs. They have dominant personalities which means that they might not do well if there are other animals around. But this doesn’t mean that they can’t live with other pets entirely. Proper socialization while growing up until they mature is the key so that they can enjoy the presence of other animals.
If your Akita has aggressive tendencies, never trust them around strangers. These dogs rely on relationships and close bonding with their humans which in turn make them aloof and wary towards people they don’t know. They are generally protective of their homes and families. But like what was said earlier, if they are exposed to a variety of people while growing up, they may realize that not every stranger is a threat.
Signs That Your Akita is in a Friendly Mood
Similar to other dogs, when an Akita is happy, they will display different hard-to-miss signs. Figuring out what these are help you determine whether your dog is being friendly or wants to be left by themselves.
Those irresistible puppy eyes are an obvious sign that a dog is friendly. When a dog is happy, it shows in its eyes. They will exhibit a soft and gentle gaze. They may even blink often.
Observe the way the dog carries themselves. Another way to tell whether a dog is happy is when their bodies are soft, loose, and wiggly. Alternatively, when a dog’s body is tense and tight, it may be feeling uncomfortable and uneasy.
Notice the moment you return home from work and your dog can’t stop wagging its tail which then moves its whole body. That’s a clear indication that you have a happy dog in your home. Likewise, if the tail wag is soft and loose, this still means that the dog is feeling happy – but just being chill about it.
When you start to pet a dog and they flop on the ground with their belly’s up and their tongues out, they’re showing you that they’re friendly – and perhaps they need you to scratch their bellies. But if they just show their bellies with their mouths closed, this means that they’re being submissive.
Happy dogs usually give out these high-pitched short barks. Some owners will know the differences of their dog’s barks depending on the pitch. But if you’re someone who only just met the dog the first time, also take note of their body language. Don’t assume that the dog is friendly just by their barks.
On average, a happy healthy dog usually sleeps for 16 hours a day. If you notice that your dog isn’t sleeping much, it could be a sign of something else. The dog may be feeling stressed or anxious.
Enjoys Playing with Other Dogs
Similar to the way people are, dogs may have a preference for playmates. However, one tell-tale sign of a friendly dog is when they enjoy the company of other dogs and animals. If they enjoy going to the dog park to play with other dogs or do not act aggressively towards other animals, this is an indication that your dog is good-natured.
There’s a thing often referred to as a “dog dance” that they do when they’re feeling happy or in the mood. It’s not exactly dance, but when you see them hopping and bouncing from side to side, it’s usually them saying that they feel happy and excited.
Reasons Why Your Akita is Not Friendly
If a dog is not friendly, there could be a couple of reasons why they are acting that way. A dog that’s not friendly may either be detached or shy and when not corrected early on may lead to aggression.
Not Feeling Well
When a dog is ill or not feeling well, this could affect its behavior. They may be uninterested in playing, eating, interacting with other animals, and might even show a loss of interest in you. Some dogs may even begin to act aggressively as a form of defense with the thought that another animal or you might cause them more pain.
If your Akita is usually a happy goofball but started curling in a corner to be left alone, you may want to schedule a veterinary visit to determine what the problem is.
Insecurity or Shyness
When a dog is insecure and shy, it may be due to a couple of reasons. It could be because of some bad experiences in the past or a build-up of problems that were not addressed early on. They may also develop fear towards other animals and people.
Akitas are very protective by nature. While this may be advantageous to owners who want a protective dog, their being vigilant can also become a problem. These dogs might become very territorial of their homes and owners. If not corrected they may become aggressive towards anyone who they might perceive as a threat.
When your Akita lives with other dogs and animals, they will inevitably establish a hierarchy. This determines who is the leader and who is at the bottom. But the problem arises when the Alpha male starts to have friction with other members of the pack. If you take them outside to go for a walk or to play in the dog park a dominant Akita will likely display his/her alpha behavior.
A dog may act possessive over something like their food, toys, or anything that they value. For this reason, a dog may growl when another dog or person touches things that are theirs. This is also the same reason dogs may act aggressively towards strangers who come into their homes.
This is the common cause why a dog may appear aggressive or unfriendly. Fear-based experiences and past traumas contribute to why a dog develops unpleasant and destructive behavior. It might also be due to a lack of socialization or abuse from past owners. A fearful dog will act out once they feel they are in danger or and in dire need to protect themselves.
Tips to Encourage Akitas to be Friendly
If you’re looking for a family-friendly dog as an additional member of the household, then Akitas are not the best pick. They can be challenging especially for first-time dog owners. However, if you’ve set your heart out for an Akita, there are ways to make sure that they grow up well-behaved and friendly.
If you do not have the time to take your Akita for a daily walk, then completely forget about getting one. Daily walks are important not only to keep your dogs healthy but are also a good way to expose them to new people and new environments. They need to get used to the world around them and when they do, it becomes a less scary environment for them.
Every now and then, when your dog has grown familiar with a certain route, you can switch it up. This allows them to meet new strangers and perhaps come across new potential friends.
It may be beneficial in the long run to enroll your Akita puppy in dog classes. This is similar to a kindergarten, but for puppies. It’s a safe way to meet new dogs and people to enhance your dog’s social skills in the early stages of puppyhood. They will also get to learn basic obedience training to make sure that they grow up well-mannered.
These classes also teach owners how to deal with their dogs in order to help train them better. It’s ideal for pet owners who find it difficult to coach their pets.
Expose Dogs to a Wide Variety of People and Animals
The key to having a friendly dog is to expose them to a wide range of people. The more they are properly exposed to people and other animals, the more they will grow accustomed to it. They will begin to see new people and new pets as less threatening but perhaps, new found playmates.
Once in a while and when you are sure that your dog welcomes this idea, you can host a dog party in your home. First, invite people and pets that your dog knows. Eventually, add unfamiliar people and pets to the guest list. But make sure you take this process slowly so you don’t end up overwhelming your dog.
Reward Them After Meeting New People
This follows shortly after they have successfully welcomed new people. Treats encourage them to continue their good behavior. In their minds, if they act nice and friendly towards strangers, they will get a treat. Most dogs will do anything for treats. So, it’s always a good idea to keep a stash of it ready as a reward when they’re being good doggos.
Schedule Play Dates
Does your Akita have a few favorite playmates in the dog park? Or perhaps adores that Golden Retriever that lives next door. It will be great for their social skills to schedule play dates once in a while together with those with whom they’re happy to be around. The more they are happy with other dogs and other people, the more they are going to be friendly overall.
It may take some time before your Akita becomes fully welcoming of other people and animals, but be patient and trust in the process. If you give up now, it will be a lot harder to correct old habits in the future. So, if you feel that your puppy is being stubborn, realize that it’s just like teaching small kids how to behave properly. They might not get it at first but with consistency and lots of understanding, they will learn.