THE BAD: This is a high-strung, highly prey-driven breed with little patience for rough handling. They are not ideal toddler’s pets and do best with older, respectful children. They can be aggressive towards other pets unless socialized very early. They may never learn to accept animals outside of their pack after they become adults. They are extremely independent and, while learning obedience commands quickly, will never listen to a thing you say once they are running free. If left to their own devices, they will bark, dig, and chew.
THE GOOD: Shibas are very clean little dogs who are usually easy to housebreak. They are a small, compact size, but are still sturdy and able to hold their own with an active owner. They are adaptable to many different situations when socialized and obedience trained. They often make excellent watchdogs. They can be very good travellers, content to sit and watch the world go by until it’s time to stretch their legs again. They are engagingly playful and will keep you entertained for hours as they play with their toys or with you.
The Shiba philosophy for life is encompassed in four words: “I, me, my, mine.” This means that your running shoes are now MINE, your books are MINE (and very tasty!), the butter on the dining room table is MINE, that patch of grass that other dog is sniffing is MINE… and so on.
These dogs are very, very intelligent. They are smart enough enough to understand that a lead cannot control them unless a human is attached to the other end. They will figure out that leather and nylon are chewable and, thus, that the power of the lead is finite. They can and do understand the physics that govern the speed that a small dog needs to attain to whip through a closing door and out onto the street.
Unfortunately, Shibas do not possess the cognative ability to realize that car + Shiba = red smear on the road. Their independence and prey drive will put them in some extremely dangerous situations if they are allowed to run loose.
Dominance can be a significant part of the Shiba personality. Shibas will take over the household and try to tell their owners what to do and when to do it. Ongoing socialization and obedience training, as well as assertive corrections for dominant behaviour, are what will keep this in check, especially for Shiba males who think they’re all that and a bag of premium kibble.
Shibas can and do get along with all sorts of animals and small children. BUT… this will not come about without significant effort on the owner’s part, as well as constant supervision around strange pets and allchildren.
Socialization and training are extremely important to help encourage a Shiba to learn “ours” as an operative concept. With socialization and training, the fuck -you -I’m -God attitude can be mellowed into more of a fuck -you -but -only -if -I -can -get -away -with -it -and -I -think -I -can’t -right -now.