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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My husband and I adopted a 2-year-old Akita from our local shelter last week. She is an incredibly sweet dog and (mostly) well behaved. She stays off the furniture, doesn't beg for food, (sometimes) listens to commands, and is always ready to cuddle with her humans... and this is after just a week with her! But we have one big, HUGE problem with Kuma: She hates our other dog.

When we got Kuma, we took our terrier, Toby, to the shelter to do a "meet and greet." She didn't growl or seem uncomfortable with him... in fact, she pretty much just ignored him. After we got her home, however, she lunged for Toby as he went for the food bowl. We tried separating their food bowls, which works most of the time. But still she'll growl and snarl at him if he tries to play with us, or sometimes for reasons unknown.

We bought a muzzle and have had to keep it on her if we can't be in the room to supervise the dogs 24/7. I hate having to muzzle a dog, but I don't want to give Kuma back to the shelter and I don't want to compromise Toby's safety. We want to work with her, we just don't know how. I've been up to my ears in aggression/anxiety/fear behavioral training, and even some Akita-specific training (they are very stubborn and temperamental dogs), but everything we try seems to be pretty much meaningless to Kuma.

Here's the kicker: I found Kuma's original owner's info in her vet records and sent her an e-mail asking if she could help. She said that Kuma grew up in a home with a terrier mix, got along perfectly, and even had play dates with other dogs. Kuma was adopted out about 6 months ago, and then somehow ended up at the shelter and now hates dogs. She has a pretty nasty gash on her tail and some smaller wounds on her legs. My husband and I both think she probably got in a fight with another dog, but the shelter isn't giving us any real information so we really don't know.

Here are some tactics I've found in my research, but I'm skeptical to try without some more input:

  • Dominance training. I am NOT comfortable with this type of training, especially with an Akita. Dominance training basically says stare your dog in the eye and make her your bitch. Most of the techniques include berating and embarrassing your dog. I was sold on this type of training for the first couple of days, simply because it was ALL I could find on Akita-specific training, but after a ton more reading and about 20 episodes of It's Me or the Dog, I am no longer sold. So please, no advice that's related to this dominance crap. (Although my military husband is already convinced he's alpha-dog... I just smile and nod)
  • Clicker training. I'm open to this. I don't know a lot about it and we can't afford to hire a professional trainer to show us the ropes. I saw a bit of it on an animal aggression episode of It's Me or the Dog and it seemed to help distract and calm the aggressive dog down. But it definitely seems like more of a distraction than an actual training technique. Does anybody know more about this or have experience with it? I'm interested in learning more.
  • Interrupting the behavior. Mostly this is a tip I've gotten from a few different friends... "Why don't you just stand between them when she starts showing aggression?" Hmm... personally, I don't want to get between 2 dogs when one, who weighs almost as much as I do, is about to lunge at the other! Sometimes there are warnings that Kuma is about to attack (growling, snarling, staring) so I try to distract her. Usually it works, but it's a very temporary solution.
  • Once it's already escalated. (...and she's lunging for Toby's throat while he stands there clueless, tail wagging...) Here are some suggestions we've found. Most are good tips in theory, but some are vastly different:
    • Let out a loud high-pitched sound to interrupt the behavior.
    • Try not to pull her back because it supposedly encourages dog fighting... We try to stick to this one, but generally ends up pulling at her anyway in the heat of the moment.
    • Instead of pulling back on her harness, grab her scruff, mimicking a mama dog's "tsk-tsk" punishment. This one's good in theory, but I don't want to grab her too hard and piss her off even more... I like my face the way it is, thanks.
    • Remove her from the other dog then give her a command (sit, lay down, etc.) and then praise her. I just... I can't do that. Until somebody can show me solid proof that this is effectiv,e I can't bring myself to praise her right after she tries to rip out my puppy's jugular.
    • Give her a command (go lay down, go get your toy, go play, etc.) to distract her.
    • Pull her from the other dog, make her lay down elsewhere, and then turn your back to her and ignore her to show her that her behavior is not okay and she doesn't need to protect you.
  • After an attack, most suggestions say not to yell at her or shame her, and especially don't hit her. She always gets muzzled after an attack, and usually my husband will put her in her kennel while we all calm down. I don't want her kennel to be a "punishment place" but at the same time, sometimes I just don't want her around when I'm patching up a gouged puppy ear. (OK, she's only drawn blood once, but still.)


Now, it all sounds a lot worse than it is up there. She's not aggressive with Toby 24/7. In fact, she has no problem being in the same room as Toby (or our roommate's cat, Feisty) for the most part. They don't mind sitting side-by-side while we do treat training, or walking next to each other on walks. My husband has even gotten them to eat out of the same bowl (as long as he's holding it). There are just certain things that trigger her aggression. I don't know if I've picked up on all of her triggers yet, but so far:

  • Food and water. She will lunge at any cat, dog, fly, or flea that goes for her food/water dishes. She could care less if my husband or myself snatches it right up from under her... hell, I've wrestled treats out of her mouth that were supposed to be for Toby. Not a care in the world if it's a human.
  • Playing. She does not like when my husband plays with Toby, which I'm guessing is her being protective. When they play, Toby gets excited and lets out yippy little terrier barks that trigger a growl or a snarl from Kuma.
  • Interrupted cuddling. Kuma likes her cuddles... she does not like to share them. It's fine if Toby wants to climb in our laps while she's laying next to us, but if we are making hand-to-fur contact with her and Toby wants attention too... nope. Not ok.
  • Sneaking. Sometimes Toby will walk behind her in the living room sniffing her butt. She don't care. She knows who it is and what he's doing. But if she's lazying around on the floor and he starts to approach, it's go time.


Sorry this is such a long post... I wanted to include as many details as possible. We've tried contacting dog trainers in the area but haven't been able to find any help for less than $150/session and we are about to move duty stations across the country, so we really just can't afford that until we are settled into our new home.


One more thing, Kuma (and now Toby too) both have a pretty nasty cold which may be contributing to crabbiness. Also, Kuma's original owner said the lady she adopted Kuma out to also had 2 dogs that Kuma got along with just fine. I have no contact info for that lady or information about what happened in the 4-6 months that Kuma was with her.


Kuma's original owner said the vet had suggested that she put Kuma down rather than re-home her because Akitas are so prone to anxiety and depression when separated from their families. Kuma is 2 years old; Toby is a 5-month-old terrier mix.
 

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I've never let my dogs continue fighting. I'm a get in the middle type person which drives my husband nuts. I suppose it's a bit insane to get in the middle of a great pyr and a st bernard but who says I'm sane, I do have 5 dogs. ;) Anyway, you grab the back legs and pull them apart that way if you want to be safe about it. I'd pull them apart or your akita will just kill your pup.

We don't leave food dishes down ever. It just makes life easier that way. When they are done eating we collect all 5 dishes from all 5 rooms and put them in a giant trash can we store the food in. Hard to fight over what doesn't exist.

I interupt my great pyr when I see the signs of aggression in him. I don't let it get to growling, I interupt at intense eye contact. All I have to do is say his name. I'm the boss in my house and he knows he's not allowed to guard things. He just needs reminded of that sometimes.

Our pyr will try to resource guard us agianst the other dogs. So I don't give him a lot of physical affection. I tell him he's been a good boy but I don't give out cuddles to him. He's also not allowed on furniture (usually). It just makes it easier when he is reminded of his place in the family. Since I'm the house boss it's my attention to him that inflates him the most.

I've personally never praised after an attack. I don't have to do much of anything they can feel my displeasure rolling off of me. I just check and fix any injuries that may have happened and go about my business.
 

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By the sounds of it, many of the issues you are having are due to Resource Guarding. Read this thread. Its a great place to begin. :)
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-behavior/resource-guarding-causes-prevention-modification-7511/

  • Dominance training. I am NOT comfortable with this type of training, especially with an Akita. Dominance training basically says stare your dog in the eye and make her your bitch. Most of the techniques include berating and embarrassing your dog. I was sold on this type of training for the first couple of days, simply because it was ALL I could find on Akita-specific training, but after a ton more reading and about 20 episodes of It's Me or the Dog, I am no longer sold. So please, no advice that's related to this dominance crap. (Although my military husband is already convinced he's alpha-dog... I just smile and nod)
No worries about this here!;)


  • Clicker training. I'm open to this. I don't know a lot about it and we can't afford to hire a professional trainer to show us the ropes. I saw a bit of it on an animal aggression episode of It's Me or the Dog and it seemed to help distract and calm the aggressive dog down. But it definitely seems like more of a distraction than an actual training technique. Does anybody know more about this or have experience with it? I'm interested in learning more.
Clicker Training is very much a legitimate method and is far more than a simple distraction. A great many of us here (myself included) use a clicker and/or verbal marker to train. Clicker Training or Marker Training (if using a marker other than a click) can be used with pretty much any animal including fish, dolphins, cats, dog, birds, rabbits, mice, and even humans (google TAG Teaching)! And it can be used to train just about anything including basic obedience, very advanced tricks, and behavioral modification (aggression, phobias, etc.).
The click or marker is paired with a food reward. So every click equals a treat. Then you use the click or other marker to mark behaviors that you like. In other word it communicates to the dog exactly what it did to earn a reward.
Here is a nice video that sums it up very well!

As for the rest...

The fact that Kuma (and your other dog) are not feeling to hot right now can be exacerbating the problem. A vet check certinaly wouldn't hurt. But if it is just a cold, then I wouldn't expect too much of a change in behavior (at least not when it come to the guarding) once she's better.

Really you need to remove anything Kuma guards (such as the food dishes) and manage her very closely. Your goal is to completely prevent the aggression. Eyes on her at all times. Interrupt before it escalates into a fight.

In addition to close supervision and management, I highly recommend that you hire a good trainer or behaviorist to help you. You're going to need to do quite a bit of counter conditioning if you are going to make this work!
I know you said that you can't afford it until after the move, so for the time being, look into trainers/behaviorist near where you'll be moving. And if it comes down to it, crate and rotate to keep everyone safe.
You can search for trainers here:
Dog Trainer Search
Search for Professionals
Truly Dog Friendly » Truly Dog-Friendly Trainers
And behaviorists here:
Find Dog, Cat, Parrot and Horse Behavior Consultants | IAABC
When searching look for experience in Clicker/Marker Training, aggression, and behavior modification.

I also highly recommend Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs by Jean Donaldson. It's really become one of the go-to resources for dealing with resource guarders. I believe it's available as an e-book so perhaps it would be a good read as you travel!;)

And here is an addition (and completely free) article by Pat Miller (very well respected in the training world) that does cover some of the types of training that you are going to need to do! But again, I highly recommend that you hire a trainer or behaviorist to help you out!;)
How to React When Your Dog Begins Resource Guarding Against Other Dogs - Whole Dog Journal Article
 

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OP, I'm just going to be direct and say I think you should return the Akita.

Not to be snarky, but did you read up on the breed characteristics first? Akitas are very well known to be dog aggressive and food guarders, not to mention strongly prey driven and often one-dog only type dogs.

I feel your terrier pup is in danger. I think you can try many things and that you will need to try many things and you will still never be able to take that muzzle off permanently without great risk.

I think the choice of an Akita with a pup terrier was just not a good choice, I'm sorry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you all for the suggestions! After doing a little more research today I went out and bought a clicker. They both seem to really be enjoying the training, but I'm just sticking with simple commands until I can do a little more research about how to use it for aggression training. We also have an appt to consult with a trainer later this week. After contacting every trainer within a 30-mile radius I could find, she's the only one who has responded to working with us despite our moving/money situation. I will read the articles and book suggested... Right now I am really just trying to educate as much as possible rather than making a snap decision on what training method to use and making things worse.

subado, yes, I know quite a bit about the breed. Although this is my first experience training an Akita, my husband and his family have tons of experience with the breed. Of course, this is both of our first experience raising an Akita rescue. We knew it would be a challenge but we want to try everything we can. She's no longer allowed in the same room as Toby without a muzzle, so he isn't in any danger. The trainer we're meeting with specializes in aggression and after meeting Kuma she feels this is something we can work out, though it will be very difficult, despite her breed.
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Also, the cold is in fact just a cold, which is a relief. They've both seen a vet and checked out just fine :)
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.... The trainer we're meeting with specializes in aggression and after meeting Kuma she feels this is something we can work out, though it will be very difficult, despite her breed.
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Sorry I am an alarmist, but "something we can work out" sends up some flags for me. As in, this trainer can train out the normal characteristic of the breed? Tall order. No matter what she works out, I think you can never trust those two dogs alone.

I should have said before that I own a Shiba Inu, a cousin so to speak, of the Akita, so I am not just shooting from the hip. Don't want you to think I was coming out of nowhere saying, hey, you gotta give up this dog. I know the Shiba personality well, and they're just a smaller version of an Akita in many ways.

You said your hubby has tons of experience with Akitas, but also said he's already all about the alpha stuff and there is basically, a training methodogy communication breakdown. :) I think this is important. Really important. You and he absolutely must be on the same page here as there is clearly a big challenge coming on.

If I were you? I'd be doing a major cram session on the breed. Forums. Breed standards and characteristics. Then head to training methods. All of them. You cannot take in too much info right now. The example you mentioned earlier about staring in the eyes and whatever else was over the top bs. Pure positive, though, in this case, with this breed? May not be effective. People here will lambast me for saying that; so be it.

I am curious; you say you know a lot about Akitas -- so were you not quite worried about bringing in a rescue with your young pup? If you were aware of the standard, then I'm confused why this recent behavioral thing suprises you in any way?

You will have to change your training regimen as you go, as well. Gauge the dog. Learn the dog. This isn't a breed you can trick into anything for long. You truly have to earn the respect of these Inus! They won't do anything for you if they don't want to. They're not just being stubborn... they... just look at you, like well, you don't mean it so I'm not gonna do it.

Tough breed + rescue you don't know + young, prey type pup + undeveloped training plan == ?? trouble.

This will not be acceptable or popular on this board, but I will post it anyway.. This is a training philosophy that I believe in. If it is not read carefully, it will be misinterpreted, though. I do urge you to read it. You don't have a fluffy sweet dog. You have an Akita.

Leerburg | Ed Frawley's Philosophy of Dog Training
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I am not surprised by the aggression. I expected there would be some issues, but i had no way of knowing to what degree. Every shelter rescue is somewhat of a mystery, no matter the breed. I am simply struggling with a training plan. I am not ignorant for being willing to accept the challenge. I understand the breed characteristics and if it comes to a point where I don't think it's something we can handle, I'll find her a new home. At this point, I am just trying to educate myself. Yes, above I posted my opinions of different training methods, and I'm perfectly open to changing those opinions, but I don't appreciate you referring to it as "over the top bs." It's my impression of what I've heard/read/seen. That simple. I'm obviously not fully educated on the subject, and I appreciate you pointing me in the direction of a potentially useful article.

I know my husband and I didn't see eye-to-eye on training methods in the beginning, which is why we are doing research to make informed decisions. Obviously, the training methods he used on his Akitas don't apply 100% here, because we haven't raised her from a pup. Sure, I'll read a dominance method article, but all I was saying above is the methods I have read SO FAR (and the first 2 days I probably spent 8-10 hours researching nothing but dominance methods with Akitas) did not have me convinced. My biggest problem with dominance method is that in the wrong hands, it can take a toll on your dog and ultimately just breed more aggression. With positive training methods, an amateur like myself has less of a chance of royally screwing it up. If I'm going to use dominant methods, I'm going to do it with a professional trainer advising and guiding me so I know I'm using the methods appropriately.

Also, no matter how far we get with training, I am not going to kennel 2 dogs together who have a history of aggression. I am very protective of my family, and my dog is my family. This first week may have been a learning curve, but I know better now than to leave the two alone for even a minute, even if we are incident-free for a long time. Like I said, we do have some knowledge of this breed. I don't claim to be an Akita expert, but I'm not ignorant. Yes, taking this dog in is a stretch and a challenge and probably borderline psychotic, but I assure you I am perfectly capable of using my senses to keep my puppy safe.
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I am not surprised by the aggression. I expected there would be some issues, but i had no way of knowing to what degree. Every shelter rescue is somewhat of a mystery, no matter the breed. I am simply struggling with a training plan. I am not ignorant for being willing to accept the challenge. I understand the breed characteristics and if it comes to a point where I don't think it's something we can handle, I'll find her a new home. At this point, I am just trying to educate myself. Yes, above I posted my opinions of different training methods, and I'm perfectly open to changing those opinions, but I don't appreciate you referring to it as "over the top bs." It's my impression of what I've heard/read/seen. That simple. I'm obviously not fully educated on the subject, and I appreciate you pointing me in the direction of a potentially useful article.

I know my husband and I didn't see eye-to-eye on training methods in the beginning, which is why we are doing research to make informed decisions. Obviously, the training methods he used on his Akitas don't apply 100% here, because we haven't raised her from a pup. Sure, I'll read a dominance method article, but all I was saying above is the methods I have read SO FAR (and the first 2 days I probably spent 8-10 hours researching nothing but dominance methods with Akitas) did not have me convinced. My biggest problem with dominance method is that in the wrong hands, it can take a toll on your dog and ultimately just breed more aggression. With positive training methods, an amateur like myself has less of a chance of royally screwing it up. If I'm going to use dominant methods, I'm going to do it with a professional trainer advising and guiding me so I know I'm using the methods appropriately.

Also, no matter how far we get with training, I am not going to kennel 2 dogs together who have a history of aggression. I am very protective of my family, and my dog is my family. This first week may have been a learning curve, but I know better now than to leave the two alone for even a minute, even if we are incident-free for a long time. Like I said, we do have some knowledge of this breed. I don't claim to be an Akita expert, but I'm not ignorant. Yes, taking this dog in is a stretch and a challenge and probably borderline psychotic, but I assure you I am perfectly capable of using my senses to keep my puppy safe.
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The bolded above was a total miscommunication. I was saying the whole staring in the eyes stuff was the bs. Dominance, perse, can be taken way, way too far and that was the perfect example of a human's need to dominate a creature beyond what could ever be seen as any sort of conducive training method.

You needn't assure me of anything. :( I was trying to be helpful, but clearly was not helpful as much as irritating.

Any poor training method can take a toll. I firmly believe it is far more about how confident and consistent the human is in the method, and far far more important than that -- being able to read the dog's responses to the method and being able to adjust as you go based on what you see. A soft dog needs such a different approach than a hard, headstrong one. I simply do not subscribe to a one size fits all approach when it comes to dogs. Dogs are individuals, too.

I hope you find what works for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm sorry, it just came off as you were judging me for taking Kuma in. I do appreciate your advise.

I agree, not all dogs are the same. Some of the methods we used on our terrier have no effect on Kuma. Just like humans, dogs have different learning styles, which is why I'm trying to explore all of our options. But I'm just not comfortable having a state-down with an Akita... I don't have a death wish lol.

But really, think you for your help. I didn't mean to be rude, I just felt a little... Um, attacked for lack of better word. I guess being around dog aggression is wearing on my social skills. ;)
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I'm sorry, it just came off as you were judging me for taking Kuma in. I do appreciate your advise.

I agree, not all dogs are the same. Some of the methods we used on our terrier have no effect on Kuma. Just like humans, dogs have different learning styles, which is why I'm trying to explore all of our options. But I'm just not comfortable having a state-down with an Akita... I don't have a death wish lol.

But really, think you for your help. I didn't mean to be rude, I just felt a little... Um, attacked for lack of better word. I guess being around dog aggression is wearing on my social skills. ;)
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I really wasn't judging you, swear. :) I was actually letting my heart drop, just knowing what you were heading towards / what you were going to deal with. As I said, I have an Inu... I know how nasty they can be and they are just.. tough. If you look at my avatar, you will see two mixed breed WGSD's along with their purebred mother WGSD and... Miss Suri, the Shiba Inu right there in the middle. Look how little she is and do you think she cares one bit? Heck no. That girl repeatedly "took on" each and every one of those dogs. She didn't/doesn't care. She never backs down. Thank God the WGSD's are good dogs, trained and controlled or they would've killed her. They could. They have the teeth and the power to do so, for sure.

So, my thinking was, here is an Akita, a larger dog and one known to be more aggressive than a Shiba, and there is a young pup in this and oh no, holy cow... gotta get a grip on this thing right now! Sometimes I think I'd love to have another dog, but it cannot be as long as this Shiba is in the house. The only reason I had a modicum of success with multiple dogs and her is due to the spacing, sexes and a pretty strong regimen. A strong regimen does not mean abuse. She's never been hit. I don't hit dogs. I don't go for any of that crap and staring a dog down? Nutty butter time.

OTOH, purely positive? No. Doesn't work with her. She'll turn on her snotty, bossy, big girl attitude and stare you down. You can literally see her saying, "what are you going to do about this?" These Inus are SMART. They know just how far they can push. Then they push a little more because it must be fun. Granted, I love the spunk and the spirit, but earning the respect of an Inu is an experience all of its own. This is my first and only Inu, so take whatever I say with a grain of salt... but Inus are not weak, in that a correction does not shut them down. They seem to need this kind of guidance or they will do whatever the heck they please. When they sense weakness in the owner, they will challenge the owner. It just cannot be allowed. For example, I never remove the food bowl once I've placed it down for a dog's meal.. but with the Shiba? I do it. Not often, but I do it. I do some things with her that I don't with my others and she is most definitely the most resilient to any training measure over any other dog. She bounces right back. She is just.. tough in body and spirit.

Sorry to ramble.
 

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dominance theory, and the approach to training based on it, can do damage in ANY hands:
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training/suppression-modification-shutdown-fallout-4776/
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training/dominance-dogs-4076/
besides, it isn't necessarily effective. IMO, the biggest concern is the effect it will have on your relationship with your dog. that said, i do agree, whatever approach you choose, staying calm and confident, as well as being patient, will definitely pay off.
now, as for the behavior, you've only had her for 1 week, your current dog has only known her for 1 week... i'm sure that everyone involved in the situation is feeling a little insecure with it at the moment. her cortisol levels are likely through the roof at the moment, and until she has time to settle in, they will keep spiking regularly. that means that any reaction she has will be magnified quite a bit, and she is likely to make mountains of molehills, so to speak. just like when you're tired or stressed. as time goes by, things will most likely settle down.
the most important thing for you to do right now, is manage the situation as much as possible... give the dogs plenty of space away from each other. use baby gates/doors/x-pens/crates to help you to rotate there access to things like the family, certain rooms, and high value stuff like food or spots. make any sort of confinement positive for them by giving them something yummy during (i confine my dogs to their crates with chew treats regularly) start there, and read up on how you'd like to approach the behavior, but you have to start with management. this would be true for any dog, of any breed ;)

i would also try to keep to a routine of some sort, as strictly as you possibly can. routine is calming to dogs, they learn what to expect.

i would highly recommend switching to a basket muzzle, if you are going to muzzle her regularly. it allows her to pant, which is extremely important for physical comfort as well as her emotional state.

welcome to the forum btw ;)



Dog | Forum | Rocks!
 

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OTOH, purely positive? No. Doesn't work with her.
There's no such thing as "purely positive" training. ;) Anyone who says they are "purely positive" doesn't really understand how training works.

OP, you are in a really tough situation here. Modifying dog-dog aggression and resource guarding is very stressful for everyone. It's doable, but it takes a lot of management. I do think seeing a pro is the best thing you can do (there's only so much we can do through the internet) but in the mean time, having a set of strategies to implement with your dogs is going to go a long way to making you more comfortable.

I guess I'll start with your first post.

Dominance training:
Ask Kmes said, you won't get much argument about your misgivings here ;)
Dominance training (or more correctly, aversive/correction based training - I have seen positive trainers who still use a dominance model) is scientifically proven to increase aggressive behavior.
If You're Aggressive, Your Dog Will Be, Too, Says Veterinary Study at University of Pennsylvania | Penn News
Practicing aversive training opens you up to a whole host of behavior problems (read that sticky), even when performed properly. It's also, as you've already recognized, very dangerous to practice with an extremely driven, powerful dog like an Akita.
What′s wrong with using ‘dominance&rs to explain the behaviour of dogs?
What are the Implications of Using Training Techniques Which Induce Fear or Pain in Dogs?

Clicker training (marker training):
Fantastic. Most effective form of behavior modification - especially aggression, fewest potential negative side effects, what most modern professionals use working with animals like hyenas, tigers, and wolves (;)) let alone dogs.

Interrupting the behavior:
Important, but if the behavior is already in swing you are too late. You need to interrupt before the behavior starts. Well, actually, you need to actively prevent the triggers in the first place - and you've already gotten good advice to that effect. Remove all physical guardable resources (toys, food bowls etc.), keep the dogs separated in different parts of the house (for now) behind baby gates or with a crate and rotate system.
Think of chains of behavior like water running through sand. The more water that flows through a channel, the more erosion happens, the deeper the channel becomes, the more the water drains that way. When your dog becomes reactive (either guarding a resource or aggressing at another dog) a flood of stress hormones is released in the brain, the sympathetic nervous system kicks in (fight or flight), and the dog is, in some ways, rewarded with a similar flood of soothing neurochemicals when their reactivity removes the perceived threat. The more the dog has a chance to practice this behavior, the longer these stress hormones stay circulating in the dog's system, the more likely they are to become reactive (they are already in a heightened state of anxiety). The more they react, the more they learn that their reactivity works, and it becomes a cycle, almost hardwired into the dog's brain.
This is always reversible, but the amount of work it takes to counter-condition a behavior is directly related to how many times the dog is able to successfully practice the behavior, so prevention is key.
Also, your instinct not to get between them? Absolutely right. That is exactly how people get bitten, and bitten badly.

Once it's escalated:
You need to keep these guys apart for now, but if/when you do have them interacting, keep a long line attached to a harness dragging from the Akita. That way, if you ever do have to break them up (one again, reeeally not ideal) you can do it safely.
One important thing to remember is that, once the sympathetic nervous system has kicked in, learning stops. The dog is too stressed to learn how to react differently in a given situation. You may be able to induce shutdown with some type of correction, but this isn't changing the dog's perception of their trigger, only masking their response (specifically around you). If there is an incident, the best thing you can do is remove the dogs to spearate areas of the house to cool down.
Also, I second fawkese, if she has to wear a muzzle, use a basket. Just as safe for your boy, and much safer for your girl. I would also spend some time counter-conditioning it so it's not percieved as a punishment
Here's a great video
This fellow has a lot of great videos btw.

After an attack:
You need to prevent attacks, wherever possible, via methods already discussed.
If you do have the dogs together for some reason, spotting the triggers earlier will make you that much better prepared to pre-empt them. One resource that I will highly recommend is a little book on dog body language
Welcome to Dogwise.com
You said that when you took your pup for a meet and greet at the shelter, the Akita was ignoring him. This can actually be a sign of stress - disinterest is a displacement behavior.
Now, given how stressful a shelter environment is, you can't get a truly reliable read on a dog's reactions or temperament. It's by no means a deal-breaker, but it might have been a warning sign if you knew what to look for.

Triggers:
What you are seeing here is resource guarding.
Resource guarding is triggered in a very primitive part of a dog's brain, a holdover from their wild ancestry. It's not rational, it's not planned, it's a reaction to the stress a dog undergoes when it perceives another animal or person as competition for a specific resource in the moment.
This is why a dog who guards food or toys or affection (people can be resources) can be completely normal in other respects, and then suddenly "go off." It's a triggered, instinctual response, not something a dog considers outside of the influence of the guarded object. It's also rare for resource guarding to be inter-species. Dogs usually have either dog-dog resource issues or dog-human resource issues.
It's not hard to understand why your dog might be reacting this way. I mean, she was just removed from an incredibly stressful environment and you really have no way of knowing what her life was really like before this point either. Suddenly she's in a loving home with all of these fabulous things and food and loving people, but there's another dog there who might try to take it from her. It's not appropriate, but I don't blame her.
It is possible to change this instinct. Positive counter-conditioning to resource guarding builds a new emotional response to competition near a resource. With a lot of time and effort, any learned behavior becomes an instinctual one. By pairing something stressful with something positive (like awesome food) you slowly associate the flood of reward chemicals that come from eating food to what used to be a trigger for a dump of stress hormones. You change the dogs emotional response on an instinctual level, they don't even need to think about it.

A few more books you say ;)
This is the book on resource guarding (this link has an e-book for cheap too)
Welcome to Dogwise.com
Another on dog-dog aggression (also an e-book)
Welcome to Dogwise.com
Clicker training for reactivity
Welcome to Dogwise.com

Hope this helps. What I said about stress hormones applies to people too. The longer you can go without a fight, the better you'll feel, and the better you will be able to deal with it.
 

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PR training works for animals a heckuva lot more aggressive than dogs, who have been domesticated for thousands of years. For example, bears, lions, tigers. If PR training can work for aggressive wild animals weighing 700 lbs, it can work for a Shiba Inu, and an Akita.
 

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There's no such thing as "purely positive" training. ;) Anyone who says they are "purely positive" doesn't really understand how training works...........
Semantics.

....It's not hard to understand why your dog might be reacting this way. I mean, she was just removed from an incredibly stressful environment and you really have no way of knowing what her life was really like before this point either. Suddenly she's in a loving home with all of these fabulous things and food and loving people, but there's another dog there who might try to take it from her. It's not appropriate, but I don't blame her.

It is possible to change this instinct....
Maybe she's acting this way because.. she is an Akita acting to her breed standard? Possible to change this instinct? Change may be a far stretch. Control and/or manage might be better.

I am concerned for the young dog in her house, that is all.

I am always interested in folks who think they can literally train away exactly what the dog IS.

Standard --

The Akita Inu has a dominant, complex personality that makes him very challenging to raise.

Powerful, reserved with strangers, and protective, the Akita Inu must be accustomed to people at an early age so that his guarding instincts remain controlled rather than indiscriminate.

Akitas can be so aggressive with other dogs of the same sex that two males or two females should never be left alone together. The problem is that this breed can be difficult to "read" -- often he does not "posture" (display obvious signs of aggression) -- instead, an Akita Inu may co-exist peacefully with another dog until suddenly, apparently out of the blue, a minor disagreement occurs, or perhaps the other dog pushes the Akita too far or approaches the Akita's food bowl or favorite toy, and then the Akita may attack with unsuspected ferocity. Akitas can be very possessive of their food -- keep children away from them during mealtime.

As you might guess, cats and other small animals are also at risk around an Akita. In general, it is simply safest to keep this breed as an only pet.

Training can be a challenge, for the Akita Inu is assertive, strong-willed, and bores easily, and he may use his intelligence in ways that suit his own purposes.

PR training works for animals a heckuva lot more aggressive than dogs, who have been domesticated for thousands of years. For example, bears, lions, tigers. If PR training can work for aggressive wild animals weighing 700 lbs, it can work for a Shiba Inu, and an Akita.
You train yours, I'll train mine. :thumbsup:
 

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Just seemed like an appropriate share.:)
Do Some Dogs Need a Heavier Hand? « Wilde About Dogs

emmmmly, I'm sorry that this is a bit off topic! Won't do it again!;)
I may be wrong in assuming that was meant for me -- ? If not, disregard. If so, .... really? Do you mean to imply I am advising what is in that article???

I posted my overall sentiments on training earlier in this thread with a Leerberg article. That's where I stand and if someone wishes to misinterpret that, have at it.

It would seem that in order to fit in around here, you have to preach PR and go after anyone who says the word pack or dominance. Bashing Milan is something of a prerequisite as well. Anyone breathes NILIF and holy, holy.... Opposing views on training just do not seem to be allowed on this board. What would folks say if I gasp! said I sometimes use a prong collar!!??!

I am sorry to derail your thread OP and I sincerely hope for the best possible turnout with whatever you end up doing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
the most important thing for you to do right now, is manage the situation as much as possible... give the dogs plenty of space away from each other. use baby gates/doors/x-pens/crates to help you to rotate there access to things like the family, certain rooms, and high value stuff like food or spots. make any sort of confinement positive for them by giving them something yummy during (i confine my dogs to their crates with chew treats regularly) start there, and read up on how you'd like to approach the behavior, but you have to start with management. this would be true for any dog, of any breed ;)

i would also try to keep to a routine of some sort, as strictly as you possibly can. routine is calming to dogs, they learn what to expect.

i would highly recommend switching to a basket muzzle, if you are going to muzzle her regularly. it allows her to pant, which is extremely important for physical comfort as well as her emotional state.

welcome to the forum btw ;)
Thank you!!

Today we tried alternating between who was in the kennel and who was out and about. This seemed to work well. It was the first time I'd ever really seen Kuma get extremely excited about playing... of course, we also brought in an empty Coke bottle which her previous owner tipped me off that she loves those LOL. Anyway, it seemed to be a great solution. I took them out together for a bit to do some clicker training and we did really well. She even let Toby sit on her tail for a little bit haha. All-in-all, they both seem a lot more relaxed when they aren't having to keep an eye out for each other. Toby seems to be developing a bit of a phobia toward Kuma, and I really don't want him to be afraid of other dogs so I took him to PetSmart yesterday when I went to get food and walked him around and let him play a little.

As for the routine, that's definitely something I want to implement regardless of aggression issues. We've been trying that out, especially with food/potty time, and Kuma loves it but Toby is having a hard time adjusting. He likes to graze, so he isn't such a fan of me telling him when to eat haha.

I've never heard of a basket muzzle, but I'll definitely look into it. Is this something I can maybe find at a pet store or should I just order it online? I got her the mesh one because it was the only thing I could find locally in her size.



Thank you ALL for your suggestions and help! Unfortunately I've only had time today to read a couple of the articles, but hopefully I will have time tomorrow afternoon to do some more reading & research. :)
 

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Semantics.
I'm sorry, but it's not.
It really wasn't my intention to make you feel jumped on, it's just a trigger of mine when someone refers to positive training as "purely positive." There is no such thing, as anyone who understands behavior modification well knows. There is always an element of passive negative reinforcement when using positive reinforcement. We give a command, then withhold reinforcement or "put the pressure on" until the dog performs the desired behavior. For soft or neglected dogs, this can actually be quiet stressful. For several months after we adopted her, our semi-feral shepherd/asian spitz mix would cower and submissively urinate when we tried to build behaviors with her.
Most positive trainers also use negative punishment a great deal to manage problem behaviors and more active types of negative reinforcement to modify things like aggression (e.g. BAT). The exclusion of intentional positive punishment (I say intentional because it's silly to assume that you can control all negative stimulus in a dog's life), only 1 of the 4 quadrants of learning, does not mean that positive trainers are permissive or "soft." Neither does the inclusion of positive punishment make someone a monster dog abuser - although it's something I disagree with for scientific and ethical reasons.



Maybe she's acting this way because.. she is an Akita acting to her breed standard? Possible to change this instinct? Change may be a far stretch. Control and/or manage might be better.

I am concerned for the young dog in her house, that is all.

I am always interested in folks who think they can literally train away exactly what the dog IS.
Resource guarding is a hypertrophied abnormal manifestation of a natural behavior that can be exacerbated by several types of stress. It's true that Akita's were bred for dog aggression, as fighting dogs, but that does not mean resource guarding is normal to the breed. Dog-dog aggression and resource guarding are separate behaviors and are mutually exclusive. You can have a dog with both, but you can also have one and not the other.

I'm not saying you can train away instinct, I'm saying you can modify the dog's response the the drive of that insict. I agree, managing is a more accurate description and one I should have used, but I will assert again that resource guarding is not withing the realm of breed standard.
As to instinct, my border collie was giving eye and crouching at 6 months and he will now do so always and forevermore. I was pretty sure his drive to herd would be an integral part of his personality when we brought him home, but that doesn't mean I have to accept the more negative manifestations of this at face value.
You can always change a dog's emotional response and their expectation in a given scenario. I will always be careful with breed characteristics because I know I will have to work hard to have my dog offer an alternate response, but this does not mean it's impossible.
I can now tell Moss to "leave it" if I see the beginning of a stalk sequence, and he will because I have built up the emotional value of the alternate. I've conditioned him to find listening to me more rewarding then chasing that bike/jogger/cat/car/dog.
I'm not saying the OP should have expectations that their dog will be safe and social with every dog she meets, I'm saying that with work and care it's possible for them to get to a point where their dogs can have supervised access to one another without fear of violence.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I'm not saying the OP should have expectations that their dog will be safe and social with every dog she meets, I'm saying that with work and care it's possible for them to get to a point where their dogs can have supervised access to one another without fear of violence.
To be clear, I don't expect Kuma to ever be a social dog. I'm okay with that. I can take Toby on puppy play dates and my husband can take her on hikes. I'm more than fine with that! I just want to have a bit of harmony at home is all. :)
 
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