You can touch this one!

How are Shibas seen in your area? Good? Bad? Indifferent? What the hell is that thar dog?

Today, Tierce and I decided to drop into a local doggy daycare to check out what they had for sale. While I was there, the staff exclaimed over the fact that Tierce was friendly and pettable. They told me that the one Shiba they took care of needed to be lassoed in order to take her for a walk and didn’t like to be touched at any time. Seven months ago, my veterinarian said that Tierce might well be the only Shiba she doesn’t have to muzzle. Even people at the school where Tierce goes for socialization have remarked that Shibas are snappy around children.

The truth is that members of our breed, when they are not bred and raised responsibly, are nasty little creatures. We’re starting with a dog that, even when it is healthy and well-adjusted, is naturally dominant, high-strung and independent. Bred without care and raised without structure, a Shiba will evolve into a canine Vlad Ţepeş.

I blame Shiba owners for the breed’s bad reputation. They are not doing their jobs. What every Shiba owner has control over is the structure that they provide and enforce. Yes, yes, I know – sometimes people acquire Shibas that have less-than-stellar origins over which they and the Shiba have no control. That still doesn’t preclude them from starting and maintaining control over their Shiba’s behaviour.

Insisting that your dog behave politely towards other people and not immediately try to kill other animals is not just good for you and your dog. It also helps pave the way for the Shiba breed in other situations. Breed prejudice has long been considered the problem of Pit Bull people and Rottweiler fanciers, but it can work against any breed not considered “nice”. Some people will refuse to rent to people who own certain breeds of dog or refuse to interact with them without a muzzle. This is not how we want the Shiba inu to be reacted to!

Little dogs are often perceived as less dangerous than big ones, and that causes some people to treat their little dog’s aggression/dominance as not serious. Every person who has had to deal with a little dog who refuses to be touched, groomed or let someone take items away can attest to this fallacy. While a little dog may not be capable of the sheer damage of a large one, it is still capable of inflicting severe wounds and, in the case of small children, even death.

Things every Shiba should be informed of:

1. Nothing in life is free.

2. Children are living hot dog dispensers provided that you sit quietly.

3. Vets are actually kind people who dispense cheese (most veterinarians encourage you to bring your dog around for random treats so that they associate the vet’s office with cheddar rather than shots).

4. Your food/toys/leash/collar/brushes are not your property and you will not treat them as such.

5. Your nails will be clipped. Your ears will be cleaned. Your fur and teeth will be brushed. You will sit/stand/lie quietly and not bite the brush or the hand that wields it. This is not negotiable. You may pout.

6. At no time will you ever growl/snarl/snap/bite at your owner or any person who is put in charge of you.

7. Lunging and trying to kill other animals upon sighting them is not in your best interests.

It’s all very well to say “this is bad and don’t let Shibas do this”, but how do you correct them when they step out of line? Thoughts on this will be chronicled in a future post.


  1. To the best of my breeders knowledge, and that of my trainer, and my person, I am the only Shiba officially sanctioned as a CGC Pet Therapy Dog. This is because my person insisted that I be well behaved no matter where we go and what we do. It’s hard sometimes, so very hard, and even after seven years, I still make (what The Woman calls) “errors of judgment.” But, like Tierce, the vet was surprised that she can handle me without a muzzle, and most other Shibas I know have undergone rehabiliation for biting (I only tried to bite that Guy once, but I learned quickly that he was just as important as The Woman). Either way, we know about 10 Shibas and every person tells The Woman that they wish that their dog was like me. Well, I am one of a kind- so there! And every day, she reminds me that the household rules are not to be broken . . .

  2. I want to add, only CGC Pet Therapy dog *in this state* (not the whole world although probably damned near close to it!)

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