I want my dogs and pups that I am taking care of to be even tempered and fairly social. With Nihon Ken puppies I am almost always working to direct their instinctual wariness about new people and situations. All it takes is time, patience, and extreme awareness of how the dog/pup is reacting to situations. If you don't socialize these dogs, and do it right, you can end up with problem behaviors for life, and that's no fun.

To start with, many Nihon Ken are born in places like this.

If they are lucky, they are owned by a kennel that walks all their dogs, but many don't walk all their dogs. They stick to working with the ones that are for show. So, many dogs don't get any socialization their entire lives. It's interesting to see though that some dogs will come through with terrific temperaments regardless of how they are raised/kept. Then again, there's a flip side to that.

I've got two of these Kishu boys at my house now since their kennel was having trouble placing them. They lived the first 3.5 months in this x-pen. The gentleman who runs the kennel is older, and due to recent health issues was unable to do too much in the way of getting them out much. They are healthy, big, chunky polar bears, and I can see that their base temperament is pretty sound. However because they didn't get out at all, everything is new to them, which means that just going into or out of a crate is a major hurdle. They take their time checking it out, and if anything spooks them, you have to start all over again.

Here's one of them looking at me in the open doorway. It took a few days before they were comfortable going in and out of the house. So, I collared and had them drag leashes at all times. Without this, when they were spooked by something, they'd run away from me. Every time this happens, it's reinforcing an unwanted behavior (if I'm scared, I just run away from everything). It was impossible to catch them and bring them in the house without scaring them by chasing, and I don't have an hour to sit and wait for them to be comfortable.

Anyway, the key for me is to read the dog's behavior. What's bothering them? Why are they reacting in a way that I don't like (barking, shutting down, tail dropping, etc)? Then when the dog is in a good place mentally, I recreate the situation, but set them up to realize that whatever was bothering them (like the post man for instance) is not a threat. Distraction is a great tool, and I use it a lot. 

At some point all the pups that are born at, or come through my house, take a trip to the hardware store. In Japan, they have carts for pets, so I carry the puppies around for the first few minutes, go to the pet section and buy some treats, and then they get wheeled around the store 'exploring'. We usually get a few people that want to pet or greet the pups, and if the pup's not comfortable with something, we can move away from it easily, and control distance with the cart. Some pups have had to have several trips to the hardware store before they were really comfortable, but for most, 1 trip does the trick.

I'm going to be looking for homes for the two Kishu boys at some point, but they've got a lot of things to work through first. Once I feel that they're doing well enough to move on, I'll start looking for homes for them.


  1. Whatever you did with Katana, it worked. He LOVES people, so much that he'll scream if he doesn't get to interact with somebody he wants to... He loves to go places and explore everything and will often grab stuff and try to carry it around (or eat it).
    He is pretty good with other dogs now. Not as pushy in-your-face as he was when I first got him. My Shiba saw to that. He plays really well with most dogs, but he thinks tinydogs are food, so I don't let him around them for now.

    Conker (Shiba) was very similar to those Kishu you have when I got him at 4 months. He'd spent his entire life in a cage of some sort, and he is still unnerved by people and being inside buildings 3 1/2 years later.

  2. Yeah, Katana picked up that habit here. Too many treats from people visiting the house, haha.

  3. The good thing that i see in your vid is that they are curious and their curiosities will be stronger than their fears ^^

    1. The video is from their second day, so they were already doing much better. They went on their first walk today, and it was not that bad. Baby steps.


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