An Akita dog has been receiving training since early February 2021 at Wannyapia Akita, a Prefectural Animal Protection Center in Akita City, after it was sent there for biting people. Ms. Suzuki Akiko, a dog trainer for One for Akita, has been training the dog for the past three weeks. The training appears successful as significant changes have occurred in him gradually. One for Akita is an association in Akita City with a mission to protect Akita dogs and the goal of zero cullings by administering professional training.
Around noon on February 20th at Wannyapia, Ms. Suzuki talked to the dog, “Taiga, come here.” The three-year-old male Akita dog called Taiga came closer to her, though there was a dog fence between them. “Look, it’s your snack. Sit down,” said Ms. Suzuki. Taiga raised his tail, licked the snack, and ate it from her hand.
Ms. Suzuki gave him the name “Taiga,” hoping he could start over and have a new healthy, and positive life. Unfortunately, Taiga had bit family members of his former owner, which caused slight injuries.
According to the former owner, some neighbors expressed concerns after the incident, saying, “I’m scared that there is a ferocious dog that bites people,” and “Its barking was noisy and annoying.” Discussing with his family and relatives what steps to take next, the owner decided to take the dog to Odate Public Health Center.
Typically, the animal center will cull the dogs if they are judged to be overly aggressive. The former owner worried about the dog’s life and asked One for Akita if there was any way to save him. He agreed to the idea of providing necessary training for the dog before it could become a pet of a new owner.
Ms. Suzuki has trained more than 200 dogs in her 30-year career as a dog trainer. A dog-lover herself, she feels sad every time she hears about a biting incident involving an Akita dog.
Taiga’s training started on February 8th. Ms. Suzuki stays with Taiga for about two hours every day. She talks to him, feeds him, and cleans his room to have him become more familiar with her, as well as his new environment. When the training began, Taiga growled and glared at people just for trying to approach him. Though after one week of training, he looked calmer.
Ms. Suzuki said, “Taiga may feel sorrow thinking his former owner abandoned him. We need to wait until he opens his heart. Then it will be possible to teach him social skills.” Ms. Suzuki is planning to train Taiga for several months until he no longer barks at people or tries to bite them.
Ms. Suzuki continued, “Dogs growl at people or sometimes bite them to show their feelings. It is natural. However, it is important to discipline dogs well so that other people feel safe and at ease around them. There would not have been unfortunate biting incidents if the dogs had received proper training.” Ms. Suzuki will keep supporting the dogs hoping that they will live happily with people again.