I have six books on my bookshelf that I’m going to challenge myself to reread over the next six months and review for the website. Here they are:
Akita: Treasure of Japan Vol II. by Barbara Bouyet
Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Far Away Mountain by Martha Sherill
The Canine Clan: A New Look at Man’s Best Friend by John C. McLoughlin
When Pigs Fly: Training Success with Impossible Dogs by Jane Killion
Japanese Dogs: Akita, Shiba, and Other Breeds by Michiko Chiba
SuperPuppy: How to choose, raise, and train the best possible dog for you by Jill & D. Manus Pinkwater
While this is mainly a Shiba blog, I think it’s worth it to study the origins and development of other breeds of dog, particularly other Japanese breeds. This provides a fascinating insight into the environment that shaped these dogs. I can’t wait to read Dog Man, but I want to reread Akita: Treasure of Japan first.
The behaviour books are ones that I’ve picked up when trying to understand my Shibas and their attitude better. I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t worked with Tierce according to the principles advocated in When Pigs Fly, so in this next few months, maybe it’s a good time to start doing that. Damn clicker trainers – they want you to actually work with your dog and stuff.
The books fall into two main categories, I noticed – behaviour and origins. The two are closely intertwined, in my opinion. Behaviour is affected by the purposes that a breed was created for. Training and environment have a huge effect on an individual dog, but they serve only to constructively channel the natural inclinations of the breed, shaped by years of more-or-less selective breeding.
You can’t expect a Shiba to act like a Shetland Sheepdog, no matter how many hours you spend in socialization efforts and obedience training. Of course, we’re assuming here that if you did not want a Shiba and the glorious madcap whimsy of owning one, you would have not gotten a Shiba. However, you can, hm… blunt some of the more, hm… less positive character traits of the little darlings through ongoing training and behaviour modification.