Akita Leash Training | How to Stop Your Akita From Pulling

Akitas are big dogs, they are independent thinkers and they also have an extremely strong prey drive, meaning they will take notice of every little squirrel, bird or leaf that moves! With all of these factors combined, it can be challenging to walk an Akita on a leash, which is why many Akita breeders recommend having a fenced in yard or kennel for your Akita. That doesn’t mean that walking an Akita on a leash is impossible though!

In this article we’re going to cover some tips and tricks on how to train your Akita to be a great dog on leash, with nothing more than a collar and a lead.

Dog Walking Equipment: What You’ll Need

While many people use prong collars, pinch collars, slip leads, and e-collars, in this article all you really need is a good standard collar and leash. Right now we’re using the Fi Smart Dog Collar, and we recommend a lead that has a loop at the end and down by where it connects to the collar, like this one here. 

Prong collars and E-Collars can be effective tools, but they require quite a bit of training in how to use them for them to be used safely and effectively with your Akita. It also may not be practical to always use those additional tools, so having some solid skills with just a regular leash is important.

What About Retractable Leashes?

Retractable leashes are very popular for the convenience factor, and we tend to use them in the winter to help our American Akita get up and over large snow banks without us having to go with him, but in general we don’t recommend them for walking your Akita because they can instill bad habits in your dog. Because your Akita doesn’t have a consistent feel to where the end of the leash is, they will not learn where the end of the lead is and how far they can go. If you give Akitas an inch, they’ll take a mile.

Akita Recall Training: It All Starts Inside

Getting your Akita to be well behaved on leash actually starts inside, not out on a walk. One of the most important skills for you to teach your Akita is recall, in other words, the act of coming back to you when you call them. We use the word “Here” but you can use any command you want as long as you are consistent, and your Akita knows what you want from them.

You’ll want to start with some kibble in your pocket or in a training pouch. We recommend using the same food that you feed your dog and not special treats. You want your Akita to be motivated by their regular food in the event you don’t have extra high value treats available. If you start using high value treats for basic training, the regular kibble will lose its effectiveness during training sessions.

While your Akita is at the end of the leash, call to them with the “HERE!” command in a fun and excited way, at the same time put pressure on the leash to pull them toward you, while stepping backwards. Dogs respond to movement more than anything else, so getting your body moving will be more powerful than the leash tug or the vocal command, but doing all three at the same time will help your Akita associate them together, making the recall that much stronger.

After your Akita has come to you, toss another piece of kibble away to get them to the end of the leash again, and repeat the process for 10-15 minutes. Do this 1-2 times a day, at least 3 times per week.

Once you feel as though your Akita is doing well with this step, use a longer training leash. Getting your Akita to come back to you from further away will be an important skill. If your Akita is doing well with recall on the longer leash, it is now time to bring them outside, and repeat steps 1 and 2 in an environment with more distractions.

Stop Leash Pulling Immediately

It’s important to have a zero tolerance policy for unwanted behavior in your Akita. That means as soon as your Akita starts to pull, you need to recall them back to you, and put them in a sit, down, or you need to change the direction of your walk. This zero tolerance policy tells them that if they want to go for a walk, it has to be on YOUR terms. Another important thing to remember is to disengage your Akita from whatever distraction they may be pulling towards. This means putting them in a sit or down and then standing in front of them and breaking their line of sight.

It can be frustrating to constantly be stopping the walk, we know you’re busy and probably have things to do, but you really cannot skip this step, or you will build bad habits with your Akita. If your American Akita, Haga, is amped up, we may have to stop and put him in a sit every 5 steps, but eventually he understands that if he wants to keep walking and sniffing around, pulling is not acceptable.

Loose Leash Walking and Heeling

There are two basic ways we walk our Akita, the first is loose leash walking: This is exactly what it sounds like, our Akita is free to roam around while on leash, he can stop and sniff at his own pace, and we only control the general direction of the walk.  This is extremely important for all dogs, not just Akitas, because it helps to stimulate your Akita’s brain, and also gives them a lot of joy and freedom to be able to roam around!

The other type of leash walking is “heeling” where your dog is literally at your heels or right next to you. For this we use the command “With me”. This is where it becomes important to have a second handle on the leash near where the leash clips on to the collar. During the “with me” command” your Akita should walk right by your side with no pressure on the leash. If they are pulling, you have to repeat the steps outlined above.

 

 

Heeling on leash is extremely important for when you need or want to keep your Akita close to you, whether that’s because you’re passing by another dog, you’re in a high traffic area, or you simply don’t want your Akita to walk through a puddle of mud and get all dirty!

Training for the “with me” or heel command is very similar to training recall. Start inside, with kibble. Bring your Akita to your side and start walking. Feed them a constant stream of the kibble as you walk, which will keep your attention on you! Once they’re comfortable with it inside, move to doing it outside, and eventually do it without the food.

Akita Leash Training: Patience and Persistence

The two most important thing for teaching your Akita anything is patience and persistence. What you are trying to teach your Akita is a skill, and skills get better with practice! It’s also important to not get frustrated, because your Akita will sense that frustration, and it can make training more difficult. When humans get frustrated they also tend to take shortcuts, which will only cause you more problems down the road.

If you want additional education on how to get your Japanese Akita Inu or American Akita better on walks, check out this video on our YouTube Channel!

 

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6 Comments. Leave new

  • Rhea De Aenlle
    April 17, 2023 2:57 am

    Thank you for the video. I have a long hair Akita. She’s 6 mos. She’s very affectionate and smart. Too smart and stubborn. I just started private lessons to train Yoshi. But Akitas are a different breed altogether. I wish I could find a trainer that specializes in this type of breed in the SF Bay Area. I grew up with these dogs as a child and it wasn’t a good experience because of the temperament. But breeding has changed. This past January my 15 yr old black lab died. Before he died I got Yoshi because I felt I needed protection. Since I have had her I have been socializing her a lot so I can take her out all the time. There are a lot of people walking their dogs. So far she’s never showed any aggression at other dogs. Just loves playing with them. But I got her to protect me so after obedience training, I want her to learn to be aggressive when she senses that I don’t feel safe. Coincidentally after I got yoshi I was attacked and in the hospital with a brain injury. The perpetrators followed me to steel my car. Yoshi was with me but just 4 months so she had no clue except she sensed that I was hurt. I learned that the long hair Akitas tend to have less temperament. Anyway what do you think about training an Akita to be ready to protect me when needed? I know it’s in the bloodline but I also want to take her every where I go simply because I’m scared. I live in Oakland and crime has grown exponentially in the past year. I hope she’ll show an aggressive side to strangers. My Willie would just welcome any stranger. I want yoshi to bark at a stranger that approaches the door without me and then to stop when I come to the door if im opening the door. I’d like this behavior when she is in the car and I leave her to do an errand. I think this will definitely scare criminals. Love to get your opinion. Thank you. Rhea

    Reply
    • Thank you for your comment and sharing your experience! It definitely helps to have a trainer that understands the breed!

      Reply
    • Hello Rhea.
      I’m very sorry to hear about your brutal attack and I hope they caught the losers that put you in the hospital. We have a great understanding of your safety concerns since we also live in Alameda County, but the city of Fremont did not defund our police department to create a shortage in police officers like Oak town did… not sure where the political common sense was on that one?
      My wife and I have had 5 Akitas over the last 25 years, 4 from Akita rescues and 1 from a local breeder. We were members of the Golden Gate Akita Club, have personally trained our Akitas with more than seven different veteran dog trainers in obedience, rally, pet therapy, and much more. Our past experience with this breed and all the other “responsible” Akita owners that we have met over the years, would all agree to NOT teach your Akita aggression. It’s a highly intelligent breed with a very strong loyalty bond for it’s family members. Even a female Woolie, being more docile than a female normal coat, will protect you in a bad situation. Unfortunately, Yoshi was too young to do anything at the time of your attack, but in another year or so when she is two-ish, that should be a different story. There is a test called the ATT, American Temperament Test, that can be done with your Akita or any other dog. It is similar to the CGC, Canine Good Citizen, but the ATT has a test that includes an encounter with a un-friendly person to see what your dogs reaction will be like without giving your dog any verbal commands. This test actually tests the natural protective instinct of your Akjtia. My male Akita, Kozo, did fantastic with both the CGC and ATT. Kozo is a certified therapy dog that will face wash almost anyone, but you would absolutely see his protective/demon side if my wife or I were ever in trouble from someone. We met a couple that actually trained their Akita in Schutzhund, which is a form of protection training. You could not go near their Akita, including other dogs and small children. The liability risks of owning an aggressive Akita like that would be off the charts… people are lined up just waiting to sue dog owners like that!
      Here’s a link below to the ATT if you’re are interested in testing Yoshi. The tests are usually done at dog shows, so you have to time them. There’s one at Vallejo’s Woofstock dog show, during the Summer time, which we attended.

      https://www.akc.org/akctemptest/

      Stay Safe!
      Rick

      Reply
  • Hey man I love your site and watching your dog 😍😄
    In your video on how to stop leash pulling, I need to know where the handlers are from, which brand? I can’t seem to find a link. Thank you 🙂
    Take care

    Reply
    • Hey Sofia,
      Amazon no longer carries the leash we have, and I can’t find another place online for it. But honestly any leash that has a loop at the end, and an extra handle on the dog’s end should suffice. We also use Fi dog collars.

      Reply
  • I’m more likely to get a rescue Akita, I was thinking of getting one of the packs specifically made for dogs for hiking and a sensible length leash as I would want to take it with me when doing SOTA (summits on the air). So reading this with interest .

    Reply

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