Dog Parks, Daycare and Groomers

Dog parks aren’t the best place for Akitas to get socialization with other dogs

Did you know that at least 50% of adult dogs would prefer not to play with other dogs in groups? That’s right, half. And 10% of adult dogs strongly dislike group play and, given a choice, would avoid it entirely. We humans tend to think that social interaction is necessary for dogs and that all dogs should get along. And so we often insist on this, to the detriment of our pet animals. Our mistaken belief sets many dogs up for playground aggression and fear.

MARS also knows from too much experience that many humans don’t understand how to read dog body language, and they allow interactions between animals to happen that shouldn’t. For these reasons, we discourage play in dog parks for Akitas. When an Akita is involved in a playground skirmish, even though she may not have “started it,” there is danger that one or more dogs will be injured, that one or more people will be injured. If so, the Akita could pay with her life. The risk is simply too high. We require our adopters (and strongly advise all others) to avoid dog parks. Instead, we suggest setting up home play groups with known animals that are already friends.

Doggy daycare is very useful for many of us. But again, the quality of care varies widely. When choosing a provider, look for one with experienced handlers rather than a high turnover and low-paid workers. Ask how they respond to a barking dog, or “misbehavior.” If the answer involves squirt bottles, cans of pennies, or any leash pops or loud “NOs,” we suggest you look for another provider. These types of corrections add anxiety to an already-anxious situation for the dog. Ask your veterinarian or qualified trainer for recommendations. And consider keeping your Akita in private quarters rather than out in the yard if you don’t know how things might go.

Dog owners definitely need groomers. But dogs are often very frightened by them. Many groomers are so focused on getting everything done – all those nails trimmed and mats removed – that they stress out our dogs. To protect your pet, look for a groomer who takes the time to let your Akita sniff and get to know him, preferably one who offers treats throughout the visit. Patient groomers may cost a little more, because they take more time with your animal. But they go slow with scary procedures – and they stop before your dog starts cowering in fear. It’s much better to have a half-groomed animal for a few visits if it means a lifetime of comfort on the grooming table. Groomers like this are still hard to find, but more are rising to the challenge of becoming Fear Free. Search for a Fear Free Groomer in your area. They are well worth the search. If you find someone like this – stick with them.