Do Not Cull but Train an Akita Dog

A family in Odate City, Akita Prefecture, will have their Akita dog receive training, not culling after it bit members of the family. Ms. Suzuki Akiko, a dog trainer of One for Akita, is trying to end culling as a customary practice. Ms. Suzuki said, “Merely killing ferocious dogs does not solve any problems. Dogs can start over if they receive proper training.”

Ms. Suzuki (left) meeting with the owner of Sousou at One for Akita on November 1st, 2020.

According to the owner, his dog-loving mother purchased Sousou from her acquaintance in January 2018. Sousou has a mischievous personality and was cared for by the owner and his mother and younger brother. Unfortunately, Sousou never built a bond with the owner’s father and sometimes growled at him. The owner routinely advised his father to keep away from Sousou.

After the incident, some neighbors expressed their concerns, saying, “I’m scared that there is a ferocious dog that bites people” and “Its barking was noisy and annoying.” After discussing with his family and relatives what steps to take next, the owner decided to take Sousou to Odate Public Health Center.

Typically, dogs taken to the public health center are sent to Wannyapia Akita, a Prefectural Animal Protection Center. The animal center will cull the dogs if they are judged to be overly aggressive after having a transfer aptitude test. For this reason, Sousou’s owner asked the Akita Dog Preservation Society for their advice on how to save Sousou’s life. The society introduced One for Akita, an association with a mission to protect Akita dogs by rescuing stray dogs or accepting dogs whose owners are no longer able to keep them. 

Sousou’s owner visited One for Akita to meet the trainer, Ms. Suzuki, on November 1st and told her about Sousou’s usual behavior, how he took care of him, and how the incident happened with his father and grandmother. He said, “Sousou is playful with me, but some people think he is violent and will easily bite others. I had no idea what to do.”

A current picture of Sousou. He will receive training at Wannyapia Akita. (Photo provided by the owner)

Since Akita dogs can be large and powerful, Ms. Suzuki emphasizes the importance of an owner’s efforts to discipline their dogs well so that other people feel safe and at ease when around them. Ms. Suzuki said, “Changing the dogs’ personality is difficult. However, it is possible to train them to acquire social skills and not bark toward people or bite them.”

Ms. Suzuki, a dog-lover herself, feels sad every time she hears about a biting incident involving an Akita dog. It seemed only natural for her to help train Sousou by using her dog-training expertise, having trained more than 200 dogs. Sousou will transfer from the Odate Public Health Center to Wannyapia Akita to receive adequate care and expert training. Ms. Suzuki will start training Sousou for two hours every day. Ms. Suzuki said, “If Sousou feels secure around people, he will be able to live with people happily.” Sousou is expected to be adopted by a different owner after receiving several months of training.

>Where Dogs Connect Akita and the World

Where Dogs Connect Akita and the World

Akita Inu (dogs), with their fluffy coat, round eyes, and an adorable tail that curls up, are now famous worldwide. Akita dogs have a strong body and are best known for their loyal personality. The number of Akita dogs raised overseas continues to increase. In Akita Prefecture, the Akita dog's birthplace, there is an active movement to utilize them for tourism promotion. Akita Sakigake Shimpo, entitled "Akitainu News," will circulate various domestic and international information about Akita dogs. The goal is to connect the world and Akita through Akita dogs.