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Akitas and Children

Miki and Caleb

Meet "MIKI" and cute little CALEB

Miki (Teddikuma My Masquerade) was one very spoilt "only child" for the first few years of her life.

Then little Caleb arrived and turned her world up-side-down.

By using patience, perseverance, love, understanding and devotion, her owners were able to help Miki re-adjust and today Miki and Caleb are best buddies and totally inseparable.

Well done Guys!

This is probably one the most common questions asked...

HOW GOOD IS THE AKITA WITH CHILDREN?

The Akita should have an absolute affinity with children as its history suggests they were once used as babysitters while the parents worked the fields. Akitas brought up in a family with children are usually extremely good with them however Akitas allowed to grow up without any contact with children do not always readily accept them. The success or failure of any relationship that an Akita has with children strongly depends on the temperament of the Akita, its upbringing and the behaviour of the children.

All Akita puppy's are cute but temperaments can vary like their colours. It is important for the sire and dam to have good temperaments in order for the puppies to grow up with good temperaments. For this reason it is highly advisable to view both the sire and dam of the litter. Purchasing an Akita puppy as a family pet should never be rushed.

An experienced breeder can evaluate their litter and help choose the puppy with the soft temperament needed to become that ideal family pet. Teaching that puppy to respect children lies firmly in the hands of the new owner.

An Akita puppy must be socialised with children of all ages during its puppy hood and adolescence period. This is particularly important for owners that have no children but intend having them at a later date. This does not mean throwing the puppy into a yard full of rowdy kids as this will create fear and could work quite in the opposite way. A fear biter is a dangerous Akita. Alternatively, children should be encouraged to be gentle with the puppy, in a controlled environment where petting and play are supervised. An Akita must associate any contact with children as pleasant experiences not frightening ones. So children must also be taught to respect the Akita puppy and treat it with kindness.

Teaching an Akita puppy bite inhibition during this period is also extremely important. Akita litter puppies bite each other in play and bite inhibition is something all puppies learn while still with their siblings. If bitten during play, they squeal till the sibling lets go. This lets the sibling know it has played too rough. Humans can learn from this too. Puppy's all need to chew and they will bite almost anything. Should puppy play bite a human, a high pitched squeal is usually all it takes for it to let go. By instantly giving it something it can bite, such as a toy along with heaps of praise, puppy will learn bite inhibition. Positive reinforcement with reward is always the best form of teaching.

Problems can also arise when family friends come to visit. An Akita may be fine with its own children in the family but it may not tolerate any boisterous behaviour from children that don't belong. A squabble between children could cause an Akitas protective instincts to react. Children at play should always be supervised if the Akita is nearby.

HELPING THE ADULT AKITA ADJUST TO A NEW BABY

Akita's are very bonded to their immediate family, particularly if allowed to live inside the house, sharing in daily activities. Problems may arise when the family grows and a newborn baby is brought into the household. Some Akita's can get quite distressed and suffer a type of "second child syndrome" being jealous of this new arrival. The Akita may see this new addition as a threat to its security and so problems arise.

This is usually evident if there are no other children in the household. Sadly, it is not uncommon for Akita owners to dispose of their Akita for this reason, many doing so before the baby is born. However, there are many things that can be done to help the adult Akita accept baby's arrival, ensuring a much happier scenario.

Introductions of the baby with the Akita should be done immediately the baby is brought home. Hiding the baby away from the Akita will instil suspicion and help create a negative situation. Start by allowing the Akita to familiarise itself with the baby's scent. This is done using a piece of bedding or clothing from the baby. Always be very confident, upbeat and happy while introductions take place. The Akita must sense that the addition of the new baby is something new and good, not something it needs to be cautious or wary of.

Human babies sleep most of the day and it is highly advisable to allow the Akita supervised visits to be near the baby while baby sleeps. During this time pay special attention to the Akita, with lots of praise hugs and pets. The Akita will associate this special attention while being near baby as something positive and therefore be more accepting of the new family member. Equally important is to avoid any special attention with the Akita while the baby is not in the room. In other words the Akita receives special treatment and attention in the presence of the baby and NOT in the absence of the baby.

A few examples of bringing baby and Akita together safely with positive results are as follows. While feeding the baby feed the Akita, while playing with the baby include the Akita in the games. Allow the Akita to observe nappy change time takeing with the Akita during this process. When taking the Akita for it's daily walk, bring baby along in it's stroller. While people stop to coo at the baby, attention & affection should be increased toward the Akita. It is very important to create good times and happy times while the baby is present. This is positive reinforcement and teaches tolerance and respect towards the new addition to the family, and can be a wonderful experience for both owner and Akita.

On the other hand, if an Akita is locked away from the new born for fear of an attack, it will sense these negative feelings and fear generated and become more anxious and agitated during baby's presence. Negative feelings between the Akita and the new born will intensify and it may attribute these fears toward the helpless child.

If introductions are done correctly while baby is still in arms, by the time baby's crawling or toddling around the Akita will already have accepted it into the family. It is now very important to show confidence by allowing the Akita supervised visits but always use common sense. The height of a toddler is at eye level with an Akita so any poking or prodding by the child towards the Akita can be dangerous. The child must be taught to pet the Akita, not poke at it.

There are just as many instances where the Akita immediately adopts the new family member and assumes that untaught role of babysitter and guardian. This however happens more often with females than males. The stories of Akitas used as babysitters for Japanese children certainly have their origin in families lucky enough to own one of those special Akitas who innately love and respect children.

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