Shiba Inu Training Techniques

Dog enjoying autumn

Sit and Stay are Must-Have Commands

It’s time to start some basic obedience. Further down the road, we’ll add some tricks as well, but obedience commands are much more important.

During training don’t ever punish your dog, insist on negativity or use a bad tone. The bad tone is one of the more subtle distractions that dogs instinctively react to, so pay attention to that. If you get frustrated just take a break.

Also, keep training sessions short, fun and upbeat. Always end on a positive note with a trick or command you know he will obey correctly. Reinforce the correct behavior. If he doesn’t do what you want, simply ignore him.

Finally, remember that Shiba Inus are very active dogs and you are best served to tire him out first with some playtime. Otherwise, it’ll be very hard to calm him down if he’s all hyped up to play.

Sit command

Teaching this command is so easy I’m ashamed to mention it. But when I first started out I had no idea what I was doing. Besides, simple is best, so here it is. Start with your dog standing right in front of you.

Grab a treat and hold it right above his nose. As he moves up to get it to move it farther up between his ears. The higher you get it the lower his rear has to go if he’s to be able to reach it. Use this to your advantage. This is the simple most natural way to teach a dog to sit, and Shiba Inus make no exception.

As his body naturally goes into a sit position say “Good Sit” and give him the reward while he’s still in the sit stance. If your dog doesn’t go into the desired position, is turning around or simply doing something else slow it down. Also, you might be holding the treat a little too high. It’s ok if he can actually touch it, just don’t give it to him until he is sitting.

Now, you never need to touch your Shiba to do this trick. And you must never push down on his back. It can injure his hips and back. Don’t pinch him or push him in any way. There’s no need to force anything, just let the treat do the work for you, nice and easy.

Now you can move on to Stay

Dog looks confused

You Shiba Inu won’t simply stand still if you say Stay, you need to convince him it’s a good thing to do. The main reason you teach him to stay in a sit position as opposed to a standing position is that he’s a lot less comfortable standing. So he will start moving a lot quicker than he would from the comfy Sit.

If you’re at the grocery and you can’t bring your dog inside an even better position to leave him is down, that’s a position he can stay in for hours. But I digress.

To teach him how to stay, Tell him to sit and take a small step back while saying “Stay”. While he’s still sitting reward him. If he stands then you just don’t reward him. Remember, he can only learn to stay for a minute after he’s learned to stay for one second.

Once he consistently stays while you move one step back start extending the time it takes for you to reward him. Eventually, you want to work to a full minute stay while you walk around the room. The main point is to keep things happy, you’re not punishing him by making him stay in one spot, you’re actually playing a game together.

Watch Me Command

Training your Shiba Inu is instrumental in controlling him. The breed is very active and quite dominant. Your dog will mop the floor with you if you’re not up to par. There are a few basic obedience commands which your dog must know.

The “Watch me” command makes everything else seem like an evening walk. It’s actually so useful for a Shiba Inu that most behavior problems are already solved when he learns that you’re in control.

A word of caution on training your Shiba Inu. This dog doesn’t like punishment, harsh tones or negativity. He responds well to a well-timed praise and reward system. Keeping in mind that training is something fun for the both of you, there couldn’t possibly a better way to teach him.

Teaching your Dog

So what are you trying to do? You want to make him think you’re a lot of fun that whenever you want his attention he knows it’s going to be good. So start with your dog near you, grab a treat and get ready.

Don’t worry if you feel silly doing this, your Shiba doesn’t know what silly means, so as long as it’s only the two of you you’re fine. Hold the treat between your eyes and say “Watch me”. As soon as he stares at you praise and reward him.

Don’t be fooled, he’s not staring at you. He’s staring at the treat of course, but at least it’s in your direction. When he’s looking at you (read treat) every time start holding the treat in your hand where he can’t see it.

Say the command again and, if he looks at you praise and reward him. If he doesn’t look at you say something like “no,no, watch me”. If he looks at your face, reward and praise.

What you’re trying to do is single out a specific behavior or scenario, out of a more complex scene where he’s doing multiple things. So when he’s looking at the treat between your eyes he’s also looking at you, he’s just not focusing on that.

You’re trying to teach him to change his focus from the treat to your face. If he does that he gets rewarded. If he looks at the treat he doesn’t. So you’re the one with all the secret food, now I get it. See the trick? So does your Shiba. If he doesn’t get it, start mixing them up, sometimes hold it in front of your eyes, other times in your hand. Don’t worry about progress, it will come naturally.

Teaching your Shiba Inu the “Watch me” command is probably the most useful thing you can teach him. And, if he’s especially good with it you can probably take his attention away from a cat or mouse running around if he ever gets unrestricted outdoors access.

Basic Obedience Training

Puppy playing with his toy

We’re going to teach our Shiba Inu the “Down” and “Come” commands. Keep in mind that he doesn’t need to know sit and stay to learn down, but he needs to stay to learn come.

He doesn’t need sit or down because you’re not going to teach him Down from a sitting position. Unlike what many trainers do you’re going to teach him from a standing position. They say it’s easier for the dog, more natural. I say it’s terribly confusing to start mixing it up if he’s only recently learned to Sit.

Another reason is that when you teach him Down from a sitting pose he’s only going to know how to do Down from a Sit. Well, what happens if you want him to do Down from standing? And then you have to teach him all over again.

Teaching your dog to go Down

He should be standing relaxed waiting for your new tricks. Grab a treat and hold it between his toes. He’ll go down to get it and, in the process, might bring his chest down to the ground. He might go directly into a down position. Whichever of the two, praise him and give him the treat.

If he doesn’t drop his chest start moving the treat towards his chest a little more. Sooner or later he’s going to drop to the ground, simply because it’s more comfortable. Having his chest on the ground is equivalent to a Down at this point. So praise and reward accordingly.

Reward partial success and work your way slowly into a complete down position. Don’t worry if it takes some patience, the position is very comfortable for your Shiba and he will arrive at it naturally. After he knows Down you can add stay exactly the same way you taught him Stay from a sitting stance.

Now let’s talk about the Come command

Shiba Inus are quite stubborn when it comes to obedience so expect some resistance with this one. You can use a long leash just to keep him focused on you. If you have taught him that good-old Watch me command, use that instead.

For the first few weeks, you can use a second person to help you hold the dog while you move away. If he knows a reliable stay you can use that instead. However you move away from him, get him eager to come to you using a high, happy voice and stalling a little bit, such as “okay, Ready? Ready?”

Now call him with a clear, firm “Come”. Be happy, use a happy tone, and keep things upbeat and appealing. Squat down and clap. Do whatever you need to make him interested. When he comes to you praise him big time, at least 15-20 seconds because you’re very happy he came to you.

Probably the most common mistake people do after teaching their dogs to come is using a different tone. When you’re frustrated you can’t find him and you say “Come” in a bad-tempered tone he’s not going to come to you, you need to use the same, happy voice.

Amaze Your Friends With Hand Signals for Commands

Dog getting praised with a treat

Once you’re getting some results with the training you’ll start to feel much more confident in the abilities that your Shiba Inu has. Incorporating hand signals is a lot of fun, and is the basis of any dog that played in a movie.

It would be pretty awkward if during a scene the handler would say “Sit” while actors were performing. He must use hand signals to get the same results. Fortunately, dogs are very keen on watching body language and hand signals are surprisingly easy to teach.

People are always very impressed when you can perform the simplest commands using nothing but a hand signal. As much as people are oblivious to the effect and value of body language, dogs are keen on using it and watch out for it rigorously.

It also helps keep your Shiba’s attention on you. Hand signals provide a different set of clues for your dog and, unlike voice commands; hand signals can’t be angry or upset. They’re just hand positions. So he won’t be disturbed by your internal emotional state.

Incorporating hand signals

Hand signals work really well when they’re similar to the original hand movement you used to teach the dog the trick in the first place. For example, for sit, you used a slight upward movement while supposedly holding a treat in front of him.

Now that he can do sit on command, use the command while moving your hand slightly upwards as if you’re holding a treat with it. Repeat this several times and then try the movement without the command word. If he does it right praise him enthusiastically and reward him with a treat.

Now you can go on and use a flat palm gesture to signal Stay, a flat palm pointed at the ground to signal down and so on. You can use any hand signal you want, but they will work faster if they are similar to the original movements.

If you want to be flashy choose whatever complicated movement you want. I’m quite confident you could teach your dog to do a roll over when you do a somersault, but that’s a different story.

An interesting way to use hand signals

When people see you doing tricks with your dog they often wonder if the dog would also listen to them. So they decide to try it. This is where your hand signals will come in handy in making your friends feel good and your dog look good.

They say sit, you do the hand signal, the Shiba sits, everybody’s happy. Children really love it when this happens. What happens is that when someone is trying to see if your dog will obey him he won’t look at you, he’ll look at the dog. So you’re free to do whatever you want. Trust me, it works every time.

A Different Way to Walk Dog on a Leash

Woman hugs her dog

Walking your dog on a loose leash is something very few people think is possible for them. I’ve actually met people who told me to let the dog have some fun instead of holding him near me and going where I wanted to go.

They actually found rationalization to let the dog lead them and do whatever he wanted, but when he went to sniff some other dog’s mark they got all angry at their bad, bad dog. Well, what did you expect would be interesting for a dog?

Since the Shiba Inu is to never be let off-leash outdoors it’s vital to teach him to walk on a loose leash. There are two very simple, very effective ways to do this and they will probably take you 5-10 minutes to do.

If you just let the dog run amok he’s getting more and more frustrated because he’s trying to figure out how to be the leader. It’s not fun for him any more than it is for you, constantly being pulled everywhere. And I don’t even need to tell you what happens when you’re taking a walk with a friend. It makes you look very bad in front of them.

How to walk on a leash

First of all make sure you don’t give him a choke collar because that will hurt his neck. Your Shiba Inu has a pretty strong dominant side so he will try to pull you everywhere until you show him the correct road. The leash should be of medium length, 6 feet is adequate.

Pick a command word for starting to move and say it. Now start walking and watch what happens. Did he move in front of you and start pulling towards some narrow edge of the road? If he starts pulling turn the other way and say the command word again.

You have to do this the instant the leash gets tight. He has no choice but to follow you now. If he pulls again turn again and say the command. Shiba Inus will try to keep pulling even after several of these turns, but eventually he’ll figure out that he never gets where he wants if he tries to pull you along.

A different approach to walking on a loose leash

A different idea is to give a clear signal that when he pulls he doesn’t get what he wants. Start walking and as soon as the leash tightens, stop. Simply stop moving. You don’t move unless he stops pulling.

He will likely keep at it a little bit, desperately trying to get you to the origin of that smell. Simply stand your ground until he stops; when he does, praise him for good behavior and start walking again. When he pulls again stop.

It’s incredibly easy to teach your dog to walk freely and never put any pressure on you, all you need is the right attitude and a little persistence. People will be amazed at the incredible control you have over your dog, you don’t even have to pull him anywhere.

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