One and a half months have passed since the three-year-old male Akita dog Taiga started training at Wannyapia, a prefectural Animal Protection Center in Akita. In the early stages of his training, Taiga growled and fiercely glared at people just for approaching him. How is Taiga progressing and what changes will we see after 90 days of training?
“Taiga, let’s go!” called out the dog trainer Ms. Suzuki. Taiga appeared alongside her in the entrance hall of Wannyapia, walking energetically and wagging his tail.
“Stay,” Ms. Suzuki commanded. Taiga immediately stopped walking.
“Lie,” she commanded next, and Taiga laid down. Ms. Suzuki continued, “Here is your snack,” then Taiga happily ate the snack from her hand.
Taiga growled and barked at people whom he was not familiar with when the training first began. Now, he seems calm when those same people approach him. One significant change in him can be seen in his eyes, as they are now more restful than before. Taiga ate a snack from a Wannyapia staff member passing by and even attempted to lick her face as she knelt before him.
Ms. Suzuki said, “Now, I am teaching him it is fun to interact with people, for they are kind and wish to talk to him and give him treats.” According to Ms. Suzuki, this training will remove Taiga’s fear and distrust towards people, letting him feel more secure. The training goal is to have Taiga acquire social skills to interact with many people even when Ms. Suzuki is not around.
Taiga once bit family members of his former owner, which inflicted slight injuries. The owner decided to take him to a Public Health Center after having discussions with his family and relatives about what steps to take next. However, he worried about the dog’s life and asked One for Akita, an association with a mission to protect Akita dogs with the goal of zero cullings, if there was any way to save him. Ms. Suzuki, who has trained more than 200 dogs in her 30-year career as a dog trainer, accepted Taiga’s training so that one day he could become a pet of a new owner.
Taiga’s training started on January 8th of this year. Ms. Suzuki stays with Taiga for about two hours every day.
Ms. Suzuki started Taiga’s training by talking to him from outside his kennel so that he could gradually feel comfortable with her. Near the end of the third week, she gained Taiga’s trust and entered his kennel. One month after his training started, Taiga began walking by a leash with Ms. Suzuki around Wannyapia.
The next step is to have Taiga ride in a crate, a carrying case for dogs, and then graduate to getting into ordinary cars. She is also planning to walk him outdoors after the snow melts.
Ms. Suzuki said, “Dogs can learn the necessary rules and social skills to whatever capacity we teach them. I hope people will see Taiga’s positive changes and realize that even dogs that have caused biting incidents can be disciplined and turn into loving dogs.