Akita /behaviour change

akita behaviour


Expert: Maliya Clark - 4/11/2011


hi we have a 5 yr old male Akita, we've had him since pup. He has been socialized with other dogs and people, fine with kids etc, last year his companion a female boxer died suddenly of a brain tumor and he took it quite bad. We recently introduced him to a new dog we were possibly adopting from a rescue, they were introduced slowly and we're brought on walks together and when we brought her home everything went fine no issues whatsoever. The new dog is approx 1.5 yrs old female mongrel, they get on great inseparable for about 4 months, but the last 2-3 weeks ive noticed some changed in the akita, he's growled at me and my husband a few times when taking stuff from him he shouldnt have. Also I have a 10 yr old niece that comes to stay every 2 weeks and he loves her but last week he was lying down and she went to pet him and he barked at her. which I found strange he has never ever done anything like this before, he also seems to be a bit less tolerable of the new dog she's quiet excitable still being young, we asked the rescue for a dog not a puppy, and because of her size they lied to us and we only noticed she was much younger once we got her home and after a hour we noticed she was very puppy like, anyway things were fine until recently. Also a family member has a male 4 yr old who our akita grew up around and they were buddies until recently, the other dog sat in our akitas place in the house and would not move, they barked and growled alot, but since have to be separated as our akita no longer tolerates him. We have spoken to our vet and apart from a limp thats now sorted she could not find anything else wrong. We are very worried about his change in behaviour as we have a new baby coming in 6 months and would really like everything to go smoothly, these dogs are also apart of our family. Im not sure whether he can sense me being pregnant or not but something has changed. please help


Hi Lorena,

I can give a few probable reasons behind your Akita's behaviour change.

Health problem, Dominance Swap and Change.

Before conidering any other possibilities, a sudden change in behaviour strongly indicates a health problem.

A dog's behaviour can change when he is in pain, and a limp is almost a postitive indictor of pain. Behaviour change is also a sign of Cancers or (more commonly) Brain tumours.

One of the first things most vets test for in a dog that has a major change in behavior, is Hypothyroidism. Aggression is a sign of a thyroid problem starting up. The only way to test this is through a blood test.

However, if your vet says nothing else is wrong, and if you know for sure that your dog is not in pain and if you know for sure that he has no internal health isues, then I will move onto another possibility.

However, I would suggest you insist for some sort of blood tests. Better safe than sorry.

"The new dog is approx 1.5 yrs old female mongrel, they get on great inseparable for about 4 months, but the last 2-3 weeks ive noticed some changed in the akita. "

Some dogs are no good with change, especially when it comes to dominance.

You mentioned that you believe your new dog was a puppy when you bought her. It was great that your boy took to her so quickly. However, considering she is now 1.5 years old (or older, perhaps?), it may be wise to say that she's quickly become the more dominant of the two.

This happened with my Akita when

I brought my female Akita into the household. When she was almost 2 years old, the tables turned. Fights occurred. He became moody, she became dominant. Eventually, he submitted to her and eventually they both relaxed.

Your boy has been the top dog for quite some time, and so change in status is enough to send him into a somewhat 'depressed' state. In your household, there exists a social structure in which one dog is the dominant dog. I will say with certainty that the dominant dog was your Akita.

But bear in mind that as your Akita ages and your new dog matures, there can be dominance challenges from the young dog toward the older dog, usually unnoticed.

It usually starts with the younger dog eating first, getting the toy to herself, walking through doors before your Akita. Subtle actions are a sign of dominance change.

There are three kinds of aggression: aggression towards dogs, aggression towards people, and dominance related aggression.

Most dogs develop dominance related aggression because they are confused or unsure of their place in the family, this can occur if there have been any drastic changes in your household (moving, new people, children, change of furniture, your new dog in heat, your pregnancy and yes, he can sense it).

This can have a detrimental effect on his personality, which would affect those around him.

Like any animal (including we humans), dogs have feelings too, and their feelings affect how they act.

Is your female in heat? Is she spayed? Is your Akita neutered?

All three questions could be the answer to your problem. If your dogs have not been sterilised, I would suggest doing so immediately.

There is not much you can do with the dominance issue. The best advice I could give you is to love your dog as much as you can, and to give him as much attention as possible. Do things with him that he enjoys. Make him feel noticed.

There are ways to help him enforce his dominance such as feeding him first, but I suggest letting things go the way they are. Enforcing dominance takes a lot of time and hard work, and it will be an ongoing battle.

As for your new baby (and congratulations!), I would always be wary of any dogs in the house when it comes to newborns. I know of a case where two little chihuahuas killed a newborn, unsupervised baby that was left on the couch. Therefore, I would never suggest leaving any newborn with any dog - ever. No matter how much you love and trust him. Newborns are helpless and 'weak'. Some dogs can target them, especially when it is the cause of change.

That does not mean that your dog will, nor does it mean that you should not carefully let them interact. All that means is that you are very careful.

All in all, I still stand by my advice to take your dog back to the vet and insist he is properly checked - blood tests and all. Your Boxer passed from a brain tumour, and we'd like to hope that your Akita has no internal health issues that are easily unnoticed.

And secondly, my answer is only here to shed some possibilities as to why your Akita's behaviour has suddenly changed. I would advise getting a dog behaviour specialist to come and assess the situation, and they will help you through this.

Some 'specialists' are complete idiots - and I know so because I've had an imbecile condemn an Akita for no reason, of which I've had to come in and intervene or else he would have been destroyed.

Therefore, I would find one with a good reputation.

Once again, congratulations on your pregnancy!

If you have any questions, are unsure of my answers or would like further help, please feel free to ask a follow-up question.

Category: Akita

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