Shiba Inus are alert dogs with fiery personalities. Many owners call their Shibas little “spark plugs” because they are so spunky. Owning a Shiba Inu means committing to plenty of exercise and lots of intensive training and socialization. These three ingredients are essential to raising a well-adjusted Shiba with good manners. Shibas love their families and will want to be included in all activities both indoors and out. They are good with children, though toddlers may not make the best siblings for a Shiba. They prefer the company older kids who understand how to behave around dogs. For experienced dog owners, Shibas can be loving, affectionate companions, as this is a breed who truly gives back what his family is willing to put in.
Shiba Inus require a lot of vigorous activity to maintain health and and even temperament. They may be appealing to apartment dwellers because of their medium build and unique look, but Shiba Inus need several walks a day and plenty of time to run. Because they are dog aggressive, parks are not always the best places for Shibas, so homes with fenced yards are the ideal living space.
Shibas enjoy interactive games and will happily chase balls and search out hidden toys in the back yard for hours. The most ideal activity for a well-behaved Shiba is the agility course, as their minds are just as active as their little bodies, and boredom can set in quickly. A bored Shiba is a destructive Shiba, so keeping him occupied can save your shoes and furniture.
Shibas can be difficult to train, especially for dog owners. Many breeders recommend working with a professional dog trainer who understands the Shiba personality and temperament. They are dominant dogs who like to be in charge and will make you work for your position as leader. A calm-assertive demeanor is important, as is generous praise, treats, and 100% consistency. If you give a Shiba Inu any leeway to bend the rules, he will walk all over you.
Once leadership has been established and basic obedience has been mastered, Shibas should graduate on to an advanced activity like agility training. They are smart animals who like to use their minds as well as their bodies, and they will appreciate the opportunity to bond with someone they love.
Socialization should begin early with your Shiba Inu so that he does not grow up to be mistrustful of strangers. The strong temperament of the Shiba Inu gives them a bad reputation in some circles, but when a commitment is made to properly train, socialize and exercise a Shiba Inu, they are very well-mannered dogs. The consensus among breeders is that ill behaved or aggressive Shibas are a result of poor training.
Shiba Inus are prone to dog aggression. Properly socializing your Shiba around other dogs can minimize this, but it is best to keep him on a leash at all times, especially if your male is not neutered. They are also prone to chasing cats, so it's best that Shibas not live with a feline, and caged rodents will be terrorized by a Shiba Inu constantly stalking.
This breed is very possessive of toys and food. Shibas are good with kids, but when small children are around, it is best to hide your dog's toys. If a stranger takes something that is his, he won't be happy and can respond by snapping.
Separation Anxiety is a common trait in Shibas, but is most commonly caused by lack of exercise. Before leaving the house for long periods of time, you should wear your Shiba Inu out with a long walk or a run in the park. This breed expresses their anxiety through excessive barking or screaming and very destructive chewing.