Shikoku Ken Discussion
Our Shikoku corrects other dogs, but also us.
It's me again, seeking the community's help with our boy Koya. He just finished his first obedience training and we're pleased to say he performed extremely well with all the exercises. The only issue we had during training has been with his reaction during high-stress situations--two situations in particular come to mind.
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But first, relevant information is that Koya is a little over 7 months old and was fixed at a little over 6 months. He was raised on a property with a 10 year old friendly black lab and he gets along very well with this dog. Apart from a few regretful trips to dog parks, his only other doggy socialization has been through obedience training and frequent walks along popular dog-walking trails.
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One issue is what many of you I'm sure are familiar with--the reactionary nature towards other dogs. In the obedience class there were about a dozen dogs all in a circle, and at the start of every class Koya became very excited, which was understandable. He was forced to sit or lie down for basically an hour, which was a struggle because if he wasn't actively working on a command he hated to sit still for the instructions or watching other dogs perform. However, apart from whining he handled it fine. The issue came on the final lesson when we had to walk our dogs weaving around the other dogs. This brought him within very close proximity to other dogs and on the first pass, he lunged at just about every dog in what seemed like a hostile manner. On the second pass I was able to get his attention more and he watched me about 50% of the time, but he still seemed agitated as he got near the other dogs. In most cases he wasn't 'correcting' anything because the other dogs were all (in theory) watching their handlers, so there was very little reciprocal eye contact or movement that he could have been correcting. This is a concern to me because we want to sign up for the 'level 2' lessons which require much more off-leash work, and close proximity/potential interaction with other dogs. This is scheduled to start in January and I am doubtful he'll be allowed to remain in the class if his behaviour towards other dogs continues. I have asked for tips on dealing with aggression before and we are working our butts off to address it, but I do understand that to a degree it's part of the Shikoku breed and is not something I can expect perfect compliance on. Has anyone here taken their Shikoku through obedience training with other dog breeds, and did you have a similar experience?
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The second issue is that he reacts angrily towards us sometimes--he snaps (it's not really a bite, but he lashes his teeth at you and does the Shiba-esque scream) in some situations. A couple examples: 1. We attempted to put a new collar on him that the trainer provided shortly after entering the class one day, while all the other dogs were filing in. Koya didn't like us crowding around him trying to put the collar on, and in reaction he yelled and snapped at my wife (and actually drew a bit of blood). That's okay, the situation was high-stress. But at the last class we experienced example 2. Koya was very restless and was growing extremely impatient, endlessly whining and stress-yawning. He refused to sit longer than a couple seconds. Then he stopped responding to the sit command, so I pushed his butt down, and he lashed out at me. A little later, he began whining even louder and the trainer told me to put my hand around his muzzle and tell him to be quiet--as soon as my hands approached his mouth he snapped again. Is the reaction toward us making him do something he really doesn't want to do considered typical Shikoku behaviour for a 7 month old boy? What is the best way for us to react to a Shikoku when he 'gives us the finger' as our trainer calls it?
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Interestingly, at one point during the lessons I corrected him with a leash tug and said 'quiet!' and he looked up at me, and I locked eyes with him. Even though we have a 'watch me' command where he intentionally looks at us, this was not a command and I kept staring at him. He eventually looked away and made no more fusses for about 10 minutes. The next time he fussed I gave the same correction and looked at him, and this time he stared at me and began to cry. After about 30 seconds he gave up, and we had perfect obedience the remainder of the night. Am I reading into this? Because it does seem like I corrected his correction so to speak, but maybe he just got tired of putting up a fight.
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Anyway, we've got a couple months of hard work ahead of us to gear him up to the second set of classes, so any of your amazing suggestions or stories of your own experience and successes would be appreciated.
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Thanks!
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Kyle & Stacy.
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