Sunday, October 18, 2009

Akitas off-leash....and at dog parks...

Every so often this subject pops up -- and when it does, I cring. I remember so many horror stories of Akitas who were killed due to being allowed to run off leash -- hit by cars, by trucks, one drowned when he fell thru the ice of a lake....the horror stories sadly are endless. But the subject crops up over and over because, as humans, we like to think we can overcome centuries of inbred genetics in our animals. So recently when this subject cropped up on an Akita group I am part of, I had to respond. Here is part of my response:

After 22 yrs of handling at least 1,500 (probably more!!) Akitas of EVERY kind, from breeders, to pet stores, to puppymills, to some of the best trained Akitas by professional trainers to Delta Therapy Akitas to multi-titled Akitas in obedience, in agility, in the show ring, I have never met a single Akita I would trust off leash 100% ALWAYS. At some point, either in a year, or 5 yrs or 10 yrs, you will have a problem with recall. You can train til your heart's content -- but you have a breed that THINKS for itself and at some point, something will be more important than listening to YOU say "come back". Trust me on this -- it will happen -- in 22 yrs, not one person I have said that to was able to come back to me 10 or 15 yrs later once their Akita passed on to say "Ha ha, you were wrong." Every person I have ever told this has come back to me at some point (some 10 even 15 yrs later!) to say "God, were you right and it was HORRID!!".

As long as you KNOW this will happen at some point, you will be on top of it and prepared, I hope. But if you put your head in the sand and convince yourself all your training will make your Akita totally trustworthy on recall, you will be shocked and in trouble. So heads up -- just be prepared. I don't need to know you, or your wife or your training methods -- because see, I know AKITAS. I know them inside and out, completely and totally -- I have devoted my life to them for 22 yrs and I have handled more Akitas in a month than most people ever see in a lifetime -- I am NOT bragging, trust me -- I am just trying to help you prevent a problem down the road. You can let your dog off leash all you want -- its your dog. Just realize that some day -- you will hang your head and say "damnit, I was warned." You never even have to admit to anyone that people were right & you were wrong -- but it will happen. We are just trying to help you prevent a problem. Its NO indication of you as an owner in ANY way -- its that we know Akitas.

Now -- my problem with dog parks is -- they are DIRTY places, they allow diseases to be passed among dogs and they cause issues because other people do NOT train or socialize their dogs correctly. So that is why my adoption contract states that NO adopted Akita of mine may ever be allowed in a dog park -- period. I personally want to keep my dogs safe from other people who do NOT take as good care of their dogs as I do of mine!! I don't spend my life rescuing and caring for all these adopted Akitas to end up having them loose their lives due to a disease they caught in the dog park or from a problem that happened in the dog park. I end that problem before it starts -- my contract is strict and people do understand once I discuss it with them!!! Many of the serious diseases we are dealing with like the canine influenze are prevelent in dog parks right now here in the northeast -- its just not worth playing Russian roulette, hoping YOUR dogs won't catch something today at the dog park -- if I had a nickel for every person who came back to me to say "boy were you right, my dog caught this or this at the damn dog park" I'd be driving a BMW instead of a beat up Kia van!! As a former kennel owner I got to talk to hundreds of dog owners -- and the dog park stories I heard over the years are NOT pretty!!

1 comment:

  1. thank you for this post. i have recently adopted a blind Akita, and he is a handful. Nicky is 5 years old,and 85lbs of pure muscle. He walks very well on his lease, however i would love to take him to a dog park and let loose. The problem is Nicky has a list of dislikes: small animals, small children, all dogs etc. this makes walking him very hard. We've got a heavy duty harness lease for him which has been helpful, and we limit the people who are allowed to take him out for safety reasons. We have to walk him early in the morning before people are in the streets, or late at night. Also, he gets in hunt mode when the sun goes down which makes walking a work out.
    I love this breed, but I am wondering who is really the master of Nicky, me or HIM.