I Am Shiba.

Dedicated to momentary thoughts and musings of A Shiba Inu.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Dog Whisperer Might Be Right This Time

The other day, there was an episode involving a rescued Shiba. Well, of course, I had to sit down and watch, as I have a personal interest in this topic.

What ended up happening completely surprised Me, The Woman, and That Guy. The Dog Whisperer told them The Couple that they needed to get rid of their dog.

His reasoning? "Don't get the Dog you want. Get the Dog you need!"

The Couple had rescued a Shiba, and almost immediately a variety of problems appeared. Everything from food aggression to attitude issues (yea, like I have THAT problem) to the eventual problems with other household animals and biting the people in the house. The Shiba in question developed into a fearful, aggressive dog who received mixed messages from his people regarding how to behave. At the end of the episode, The Dog Whisperer told The Couple that he would take the dog, and gave them a dog better suited for their needs.

While I personally do not agree with The Dog Whisperer's training techniques (I am not one who responds well to a pulled leash, shushing, or soft tapping), I do agree with him that while Shibas are cute, bright, adorable and highly evolved, we are not a fashion accessory nor are we for the feint of heart. The first seven months of living with My New People, I made their lives very difficult as we all attempted to establish the hierarchy of command. I knew that The Woman was Numero Uno but That Guy and Those Felines, well, that is where the difficulty arose. But I admire My People for their consistency.

- They seldom yelled at me.
- I was included in all activities, whenever possible.
- I was consistently instructed where I should be during their dinner time or snack time.
- I had a definite bedtime.
- I had a usually usual rising time.
- I quickly learned when my dinner time was, and when snacks were distributed, and under what circumstances I could anticipate a snack.
- If I snapped or growled while eating my food, I lost my food privileges until I calmed down. Or one of them gave me little pieces at a time. I have permanently lost my bone privileges due to my inappropriateness (The People call it "food assertion issues"); it's only recently that I have been allowed to have smoked tendons which I can chew down in less than an hour. And at any time, The Woman or That Guy can come and take it away, ask me to sit, and then they always give it back to me. It's bothersome, but it reminds me that to get good stuff, I have to be good.
- I am not allowed to snap at a dog if I am on leash (unless they smell my butt without my permission- I just hate that!!) If I do, the walk is over.
- I am not allowed to growl or act macho toward another dog while I am on leash, even if they are loose. Or in my park. Or on my street. Or just somewhere in eyesight. If I do, the walk is over.
- I have been taught that on leash, there are rules. (God, I hate it when The Woman makes me Heel) If I do not abide by these rules, I am left at home. I do not like to be left at home. Hence, I have learned to follow the rules.

There are other rules in the household that I consider ridiculous but The Woman and That Guy consider necessary. Like I am not allowed in the kitchen when The Woman is cooking (she drops stuff and I am supposed to clean it up!!) nor I am not allowed downstairs where That Guy works and The Remaining Feline stays. I have to stay at a certain point when my food is being placed in my bowl and I am told when it is okay to approach my bowl to eat. Ridiculously, this is done with a hand signal so like I have to pay attention when all I want to do is EAT THANKYOUVERYMUCH! And I do not understand why The Woman gets frustrated when I destroy boxes delivered by the evil intrusive MailMan. It's fun to tear cardboard into little tiny pieces. Now, The Woman places the cardboard boxes on the counter and I have to wait until That Guy brings me the box to destroy (and then we have alot of fun together ripping it into tiny little pieces). Then The Woman complains about vacuuming, and . . . well, you get my drift.

It is very hard for Shibas to follow rules. We are not a "generalist" breed; a Shiba requires a rule for every specific situation. I am not allowed to chew this book because That Guy told me I could not, but he did not tell me that I could not chew this one! What ends up happening when People and Shibas meet is that we all come to a point of understanding and acceptance with the added entertainment of my breeds continued inventiveness while the rest of the household learns to keep things off the floor.

So the question becomes, who really needs a Shiba? People who don't want slobbering Labradors or high maintenance Poodles or energetic Hounds or overly bred German Shepherds. The People who need Shibas require just a little bit of chaos, an aloof attitude regarding the household hierarchy, and a furry beast that shows its love and adoration by simply sticking around.

Unless there is a squirrel, of course.

I Am Shiba. Get the Dog You Need, Not the Dog You Think Looks the Best.


Blogger jg said...

Excellent post on the Shiba personality and the people who should own them. It sounds like you and your people have done a great job of learning to live together.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

An excellent post! I'm ashamed to admit, I have, on occasion, yelled at my shiba, but boy does he know to STOP WHAT HE'S DOING when I do!

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Jaqi said...

Wow that's a lot of rules, but it looks like they work. :) Nice post.

4:54 AM  
Blogger The Shiba said...

Actually, its not too bad for the rules. The People are pretty cool about things, and I get to go all sorts of places -- which I *really* enjoy. Nothing sitting out on a terrace for breakfast or lunch at a nice restaurant and consuming all the food that happens to fall in my direction.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Winnie said...

Yup, you're right!

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Liona said...

Good words.

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For anyone who has watched this episode, it is clear the female "rescuer" clearly did no prep, prob can't have kids [so Shiba is good idea why?] and spends fat too much time looking left & up [liar mode BTW] when Cesar Milan challenges her! I for one DO agree with TDW methodology; exercise + discipline + affection [in that order] works well. Far too many people treat their dog like a person & miss out on the dogs basic psychology and needs. Think Animal>Species>Breed>Name & then you have a hope in keeping Shiba Ken in balance...

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am certain there is more than one way to train a dog. If anyone out there is half as good as he is, I am sure you're doing just fine your way.I feel the method he uses to train not only give the results that are desirable but a vast amount of knowledge to the general dog owning population. As far as he might be right this time...this time and 99% of the other times to boot.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Ralene Miller said...

We have a beautiful shiba girl in our family, and when we first adopted her we tried Cesar's methods with little to no success for the part. Luckily we had done quite a bit of research on Shibas and were with the help of a local trainer develop a system of rules very similar to yours when training our Aki. She's just over a year old now, and I am very happy to say she's a very well mannered shiba 90%. I think that's awesome. I mean, her people are lucky to be well behaved 60% of the time, so she's doing stellar.

6:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our handsome Shiba boy will be 7 this March, and my wife and I decided when he was about 2 (and mostly matured) that we will always have a Shiba in our family. We did a ton of research on breeds, and finally settled on a Shiba. We then did our homework on the breed, and the different training methods that have proven effective.
We finally settled on dominance training for about the 1st 8 months, then moved to intellectually challenging training after our heirarchy was well established. We did not yell (and NEVER spanked). Whenever our little guy behaved unacceptably, we simply stopped whatever he was doing, told him "No" and rolled him on his back with steady (gentle) pressure on his chest while staring him right in the eye, telling him "no" again. We'd keep him in the submissive position for 30-45 seconds until he relaxed and accepted his place in our relationship, and would then release him and go back to whatever activity we were trying to accomplish when he went astray. Anyone who knows Shibas knows they dislike being physically submissive, and our boy quickly learned what was us not going to be tolerated. We left some "gray" areas in order to let him develop his personality and we could not be happier! One of the most fun (and useful) things he learned was ringing a bell to go outside. Like most of his "tricks" it only took a few days and has been very useful. He later made his own "improvement" as Shibas will do and now will ring the bell for our adopted Eskie. They go out together, but when he rings the bell for her he'll just hang out on the deck while she does her business. By far, this is the best dog I've ever encountered.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Robin and Emi said...

I am blessed. My little girl Emi is my 3rd rescued Shiba and a friendly, VERY happy, mostly trainable, stubborn wonder to behold. My first 2 Shibas were more typical I guess, but from her very first day with me, Emi has been a little clown. Sure, she has her stubborn moments, without a doubt. Emi is terrified of thunder and lightning, the Thunder Shirt doesn't help. She was 1 year old when I got her from her foster home. Emi loves 98% of the dogs she meets and 98% of dogs like her. As soon as Emi sees another dog, she drops to the ground in a Sphinx pose, head up, ears erect. Somehow, the other dogs understand that she wants to play and they come over to see her where she sits. Then up Emi pops and the play begins. Puppies, small dogs, medium dogs, big dogs and especially HUGE dogs. Some dogs aren't friends of hers for long - Emi puts on that Shiba attitude when she gets tired of certain dogs, will not play with them again. Emi's most wonderful moments were when she saw my mother. Mom had Alzheimer's and as you may know, time passes and is so unkind. But my mother never forgot Emi. And Emi never forgot my mom. All I had to say was, "We're going to Grandma's house," and Emi would stop whatever she was doing, come over to me and not leave my side until I picked up the car keys. Then run to the inside garage door, wait impatiently, run out the door and jump in the car for our 2-hour trip. Emi was so well behaved at the retirement community that she was dubbed a therapy dog. And best of all for the 3 of us were those moments when Emi first saw my mother at the end of the hallway. Putting on the Shiba smile, I would unhook her leash and she would fly like a bullet to my mother and share the best dog hugs there are. Emi learned to greet my mom by standing up against her on two back feet with her little front legs wrapped around my mother's knee, an honest hug. I never taught her that. Emi just came that way. No, Emi can't go offleash. She hates it when I put her harness on. When I lived in the country, she stalked/killed/ate a field mouse several times a week. She never bites, DOES tear up boxes, tears the squeaker out of a new toy as fast as she can. A very picky eater, Emi hates to get up in the morning. She only barks in the middle of the night. Her prey drive is off the chart. But she's got more comical ways than impudent ones. I've rarely laughed so hard as when she first got down on the ground, laying flat on her stomach, with her legs splayed out behind her. Then, using her elbows to move herself along, Emi slid herself down the grassy embankment, skooched herself along almost 10 feet down the little hill, on her belly with her legs straight out behind her. Maybe other Shibas do this. I sure hope so.

6:15 PM  

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