How To Properly Discipline A Shiba Inu (Explained)


Discipling a shiba inu during training

Knowing how to properly handle, manage, and train a dog not to preform “unwanted” actions through disciple is critical. While I had several family pets growing up I remembered next to nothing about it, so I had to start from scratch.

Shiba Inus respond best to positive reinforcement learning and discipline methods. Rewarding them with treats and attention improves the odds of them repeating a behavior you liked. Bad behaviors, like chewing on furniture, should be redirected towards a toy you would prefer they chew on.

While Faith, my shiba inu, was a bit of a handful, and mouthy, with some practice and research I was able to curve her bad habits.

Knowing how to properly manage bad behaviorsOpens in a new tab., and discipline them effectively, has make my life significantly easier and less stressful for both of us. All of which I have listed below.

Proper Shiba Inu Discipline (Positive Methods)

Shiba Inus, just like us, love getting rewarded for doing good things. It’s the most effective way to get somebody, or your pet, to cooperate with you. But rewards aren’t everything, when you respond to their action is just as important.

Dog’s primarily have short term memories and learn best by following the “5 second” rule. You must respond to an action they take, good or bad, during or no later than 5 seconds after they take it.

You need both halves to make positive progress with your Shiba Inu’s training. Unfortunately this is the real world, so there will be times your Shiba acts up or makes a mistake. Knowing how to respond and nudge them in the right direction in a positively and healthy manner makes all the difference.

Positive reinforcement methods focus on rewarding your pet’s “good” behaviors and ignoring “bad” behaviors. Praise and rewards increase the likelihood of your pet preforming said “good” act. While the lack of reward, attention, or praise reduces the odds your Shiba will preform that “bad” behavior again.

Some types of positive reinforcement are:

  • Attention, praise, & rewards
  • Redirecting their attention to something you prefer
  • Refusing to reward or give them attention for bad behaviors

A few practical examples of the above are:

Redirecting your dogs chewing from your furniture to their favorite toy. This shows them that chewing is acceptable, but you are nudging them towards the toys you got them.

Praising and giving your Shiba Inu puppy a treat for sitting, but not for running around or laying down. While them laying down may be cute it isn’t what you are trying to teach them. Rewarding them for a different action, with the same command word, leads to confusion and problems later in training.

Tug of war is a fan favorite of many Shiba Inus, but mouthy dogs aren’t a fan favorite of pet owners. While playing with them is the reward you want to avoid accidently teaching them that going for your fingers is acceptable. You can do that by withdrawing your attention for a short time by turning away and saying something like “no hands”.

Knowing what to do is important, but knowing what not to do is more important. Let’s go over what not to do when disciplining a Shiba Inu.

Shiba Inu Discipline Don’ts (Negative Methods)

Negative reinforcement is ineffective and ends with both you and your Shiba Inu building bad habits. Some of the most common types of negative reinforcement are:

  • Allowing aggressive play
  • Physically hitting your pet
  • Refusing to reward good behavior
  • Rubbing their nose in an accident
  • Spraying your pet with water or chemicals
  • Time-outs (Especially anything over 1 minute long)
  • Yelling or screaming at a pet

The above punishments only teach your Shiba Inu they can’t trust or be safe around you. Leading to fearful and aggressive behaviors. If done for too long it turns into animal abuse when is harder to deal with later down the line.

While they look terrible on paper, many people find them completely appropriate in the heat of the moment. But they’re never appropriate regardless of the situation, let me explain a few with some examples:

Can I Hit My Shiba Inu If They Bite Me?

Absolutely not, physical punishments don’t actually discourage bad behaviors, they do the opposite. Getting physical with your Shiba teaches them their aggressive behavior is correct, leading aggression to be met by aggression. Making this their default response to anything.

Physically hitting your pet increases their stress, leads to them becoming more aggressive, and destroys any bond the two of you had. Which can be next to impossible to build back.

Should I Spray My Puppy With Water For Mouthing?

“Punishments” are meant to suppress what you deem bad behavior, which spray bottles fail to do. Spraying water on your dog only confuses and leads to further aggressive behaviors, especially when you have to spray them multiple times to get them to stop for one bad action.

Spray bottles are ineffective and can quickly turn into animal abuse when over used, which is often the case.

Can I Smack My Shiba Inu On The Nose If They Won’t Stop Barking?

Just like with hitting your pet for bitingOpens in a new tab., absolutely not. BarkingOpens in a new tab. and other forms of noise or talking is common for Shiba Inus, they’re an alert cautious breed. Meaning barking may be a common daily event for some owners.

Smacking any dog on their nose does get their attention, but it’s also incredibly painful for them. Dogs noses are thousands of times more sensitive than ours. Hitting them on the nose only leads to fear and aggression, causing your Shiba Inu to lose trust in you.

Should I Yell At My Shiba Inu For Not Listening To Me?

Dogs have a better sense of hearing than us, leading to them hearing and reacting to things we often don’t hear or notice ourselves. Yelling or screaming at them may get their attention but it’s jarring and overwhelming to them. Leading to stress.

Punishing And Disciplining Puppies

While puppies and adult dogs both learn the same way the biggest difference is their experience. Puppies are learning everything from scratch while most adult dogs have had some kind of training.

Positive reinforcement training methods are extremely effective for both age groups, but need to be slowed down for puppies. Shiba Inu puppies learn and grow best with smaller daily or twice a day training sessions that last anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.

The trust, bond, and habits your Shiba Inu will have for the rest of their life are made primarily while they are puppies. So make sure you are fair, consistent, and attentive to their wants, needs, and progress.

Any negative reinforcement methods, like hitting or screaming, have a larger impact on your Shiba while they are young. Which can lead to them becoming aggressive towards you and other out of stress and fear.

How To Handle Problems You Weren’t Around For

There will be times you miss something your Shiba Inu did. They could have had an accident while you were at the store, chewed on your couch while you were taking a shower, ripped a hole in the carpet while you were on the phone, or so on.

Things happen, but knowing how to manage the situation and respond both calmly and rationally makes the difference for both you and your pet.

Dogs, including Shiba Inus, have shorter term memories when it comes to learning. They have to receive some kind of response no later than 5 seconds after they preformed an action to learn from it.

Meaning if you left for work and came home 8 hours later to find an accident, no matter what you say or do to your Shiba Inu they won’t understand. They don’t know what you are talking about, they don’t know what they are being punished for, and they certainly won’t learn anything from it.

The best thing for you to do after finding an accident, mess, furniture damage, or so on is to calmly and quietly clean it up. After that, you want to survey the situation:

  • Did this happen while I was at work?
  • When was the last time my Shiba when out?
  • My pet doesn’t chew on furniture while I’m home, why does he when I’m gone?

Then you want to make a game plan around preventing the negative behavior your dog preformed, like having an accident, or catch them in the act. Here are some examples:

If you notice your pet starts going after pillows, furniture, or the carpet while you are gone, then you’ll want to make sure you crate them before leaving.

Maybe 8 hours is too long for your Shiba Inu to wait between bathroom breaks, then you’ll need to ask somebody for help taking them out while you are gone.

You may find out your Shiba doesn’t play nice with your other pets while you are away, in this case you’ll want to separate them. Your Shiba could get crated or even put in their own room while you are gone.

Any active types of punishment like yelling, hitting, grabbing, dragging, and so on will only scare and confuse your pet. Weakening their bond and trust with you. Making them more likely to act out due to fear or aggression.

How To Handle An Abused Shiba Inu

Animal abuse comes in many different shapes and sizes but has a few common tell-tale signs:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Cowering / hiding
  • Flattened ears
  • Lip licking
  • Raised hair on the back of the neck
  • Showing teeth / growling whenever someone gets near them
  • Tucked tail

While it’s not 100% guaranteed a Shiba Inu showing one, two, or several of these signs means they were abused, it does mean they are stressed and afraid of either you or the situation they are in.

If you notice your Shiba Inu is starting to show any of the fearful signs above, you need to change your approach immediately. While things like accidents happen you and your pet overall are suppose to have fun living and playing with each other.

That’s unfortunately impossible for them if they are constantly on edge because they are stressed out or afraid of you.

Stressed, angry, fearful, or abused pets require a different approach when it comes to discipline.

The general annoyance and frustration you may feel after repeating yourself several times only to get no response should absolutely be kept to yourself.

Any hitting, yelling, grabbing, ignoring, or timeouts could set your pet off on a downward spiral.

The best things you can do when trying to train, or discipline, a fearful or abused pet are:
1) Take it slow, move at their pace.
2) Be calm, cool, and comforting to them.
3) Give them a break and a little space if either of you are starting to get frustrated.
4) Reward and praise positive behaviors while ignoring or not drawing attention to the bad ones.

The bond of love and trust you and your Shiba build lasts a lifetime, and the last thing you want to do is shatter that.

While dogs primarily have short term memories, where they have a 5 second learning window and generally forget things that have happened after several minutes or a few hours, that doesn’t mean they will forget everything.

While Shiba Inus, and other dogs, remember things differently from us they still do develop long term memories.

Constant yelling, hitting, grabbing, or other negative reinforcements or abuse will take a tole on your pet. While we may be able to tackle and overcome our fears and past issues, dog’s aren’t so lucky.

Abused pets may get better with time and constant support, but it’s a long and hard journey. Do everything you can to build and support that bond you are building with them. It takes a lifetime to build a strong bond, but only mere moments to completely ruin it.

Colby Adkins

I am a proud Shiba Inu owner who is just looking to share any tips, tricks, or advice I have to help others.

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