It seems the number of Shibas participating in activities or out socializing with their owners is increasing weekly. This is a wonderful way for owners to bond with their companions but also a great way to challenge Shiba abilities and satisfy energetic needs. Along with their introduction into society, more questions are being raised regarding Shiba aggression toward dogs. This behavior often seems to escalate between the ages of nine months to three years. Each Shiba matures at their own pace, and during this time becomes aware of the two worlds that challenge them. They are driven by their instincts while trying to respond to the expectations in our world. It really isn’t much different than watching children become adults and go through their ‘troubled teen’ years. Even though this type of behavior needs to be addressed, owners must be cautious about labeling a Shiba ‘aggressive’. This type of mindset can affect a relationship before it ever has a chance to grow.
If there are no medical reasons and a Shiba is healthy, then reading the Shiba and learning what they are saying is a better way to approach questionable behavior. Don’t assume the Shiba has a bad temperament because it isn’t welcoming every dog with open paws. Thought needs to be given to their original purpose, how they would be expected to perform their tasks plus one needs to consider how the other dog is presenting itself to the Shiba. A Shiba should never show aggression towards humans.
If the Shiba didn’t have the opportunity for early socialization or training, has been taken advantage of by other dogs, or hasn’t experienced time with other dogs, their seemingly intolerant attitudes toward other dogs could be attributed to these things. Look deeper into what the Shiba is really saying about the situation and what needs to be done to redirect and encourage its growth. Even the best trained and socialized Shiba can have issues with some dogs. Because a Shiba reminds another dog about respecting their space, doesn’t mean they are aggressive, and because they are canines doesn’t mean their needs are any less important or valuable than ours. There are some Shibas who go after any and all dogs every chance they get, and should be consider aggressive. Whether this is due to temperament, a lack of good solid training or a lack of good leadership, only temperament testing could answer that question. The bigger problem with Shibas seems to be intolerance to rude dogs, that haven’t learned manners, and don’t know how to respect another dog’s space. The majority of time it merely comes down to understanding what the Shiba is actually saying, and what other dogs are or are not saying to them.
Breeding for temperament can eliminate true aggression in this breed but care needs to be taken not to lose the wonderful Shiba qualities that set this breed apart from other breeds. Through training, Shibas can learn manners, respect and how to remind a rude dog they aren’t welcome in their space. With some Shibas, reaching a point to where they will ignore dogs that push their buttons, but still respect that dog’s space, takes time and patience. It can be frustrating repeating the same training over and over with every new dog one meets, but it will happen if consistency, and the dedication to make it work is there.
For anyone who owns a Shiba, breeds and sells Shibas, or is thinking of committing to a Shiba, there is a very informative article which deals with this very topic. All breeders would do a great service to their buyers if they included this article in the information they supply. For all Shiba owners who feel their Shibas are aggressive and aren’t making the progress they had hoped for through training and socialization, this may help both you and your Shiba. The name of the article; "He just wants to say Hi!" by Suzanne Clothier. In fairness to our companions and the bond we want to become a reality, this is a Must Read. It may shed a whole new light on how you view the Shiba attitude. We owe it to our companions to understand where they are coming from. They are special and deserve the chance to be understood.
"Reading Your Shiba" was originally written by Carolyn Sanford for Northeast Shiba Rescue Association. Used by written permission.