Friday, October 31, 2014

Learning About Shiba

So I'm trying to get as well rounded as possible in my knowledge of the Nihon Ken. That's why I've got two Akita here at my house, and why I've been making an effort to learn more about the Shiba as well. I was always vehemently opposed to owning a Shiba, but after having a lot of Hokkaido come through, I'm starting to think the Shiba aren't so bad haha! The Akita and Shiba, two breeds I'm not that into, but I think I might be open to owning the RIGHT Shiba.

So here's some pictures I took at a kennel I visited the other day.

And some of the other breeding stock. Each dog is kept for a reason, bringing some trait or bloodline to breeding.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Ring

Don't mind me, I just like to rant sometimes...

Here in Japan, when it comes to the Japanese breeds, if your dog's tail is down in the ring, it's all over. No matter how amazing a dog you've bred, if it doesn't have the temperament to be confident in the ring and keep its tail up, the dog will not be successful in show. It is serious enough that in NIPPO, if a dogs tail is dropping in the ring, the handler will usually excuse him/her self.

So, you can imagine how important it is to ensure that our dogs are raised to preferably not be shy. Being hunting dogs, the Nihon Ken are usually pretty aware of their surroundings, sensitive to stimuli (some breeds more than others), and are quite handler soft. They often have a fairly low threshold to stress, and shut down fairly quickly. If you allow your dog to get to this place, you're well on your way to breaking its confidence. It will learn this behavior, and shut down (ie in loud places like show rings). I've seen a lot of people overseas doing this to their dogs, unwittingly of course.

Now I'm pretty sure NIPPO members in Japan are not all shining examples of socializing dogs to live in what would be a normal pet setting in say the US, but they are pretty good at paying attention to their dog's signals and protecting their dogs (even if a lot of them don't even know they're doing it, it's just the way they have always raised their dogs).

So... how do you raise a confident dog? I'm sure there are a lot of qualified trainers and behaviorists with informational material, but I'm just going to give you some do's and don'ts that I've experienced.

Don't yell or argue around your dogs (just don't period). Dogs don't like it, it scares them.

Don't give overly excited or loud greetings to your dogs, especially to puppies that have just arrived at your house, and don't let strangers greet your pups this way either (especially not strangers). Italians, I'm talking about you with your 'bellissimo'! New pups are generally wary of everything, since it's all new. You need to cultivate trust, which means that the dog sees you first as not being a threat, second that you're a friend, and finally, that you are its protector and leader.

Socialization is important. BUT, socialization is not about flooding your new puppy with scary new experiences, or forcing into uncomfortable situations. Socialization is about experiencing many new environments, with you in control of the situation, monitoring your pup's reactions to everything. I've seen so many new owners take their puppy down to the middle of town to sit at a busy sidewalk cafe for 'socialization'. Socialization is about creating positive associations for you dog. For instance for the show ring, you want your dog to think it is a fun place to be, so be aware that if your dog doesn't like cars or gets carsick, that's something you need to deal with before driving to a show and plopping your dog in the middle of it. The first few shows should probably not even entail being in the ring, but getting used to the noises and smells from a good safe distance away. What is a good safe distance away? Your dog will tell you. Watch its body signals (starting with the tail!). Think about every step you will need to take in order for your dog to show well, and have your dog experience all these things in a safe environment (like the judge needing to touch its body). Also remember that pups go through fear phases. When I notice a pup is reacting negatively or warily to a lot of things, I stop taking it out so much for a while, easing back on the scary new stuff, and just letting the dog be where it is comfortable for a while (at home). Then after a week or so I try to stretch the dog's world a little and see if its ready to venture out again.

Think of a natural environment where a pup is being raised in a den by its mother. The pup's world gradually expands, and it gradually experiences more and more things, but always with a safe place to move back into, and always with its parents to fall back on. You're taking the role of protector, so you need to make every effort to instill confidence in you, in your pup. If I'm walking outside my house playing with my pups, and they notice something they're unsure of, they may posture up, and then their tails start to drop a bit. I'll move forward and between them and the threat, and even talk to them (Ohhh that's a car - in a calm voice, or Ahhh the mailman is coming).

Treats and feeding time is a good way to create positive associations, and toys and play time are as well.

Major DON'Ts - don't push or drag your dog into places or experiences that its not comfortable in (flooding). NEVER punish your dog for being scared, barking because it is afraid, for peeing because it is afraid, basically never give a punishment when your dog is in a negative place. You are only making an even stronger negative impression about the situation.

Always be fair with your dogs. I reward behavior I like, and I will punish behavior I do not like. But I don't sweat the small things. There's no need to micromanage a dog's behavior in my opinion. I have a female Shikoku that is not comfortable with strangers being in the house. She'll be okay with them, and let them pet her and everything, but sometimes she'll bark at them. I don't feel that this is a huge problem, so it's not something I've felt the need to 'fix'. Be your dog's best friend and protector, and you'll be amazed that even some less than confident dogs will be able to handle stress alright as long as you are there with them.

I don't mean to say that all of what I've mentioned is what kennels in Japan do. They all have they're own styles for raising their dogs, and their methods, but the attitude is the same. They are paying attention to encouraging their dogs' confidence, and protecting them from situations that could make them shut down. In fact most kennels give their pups limited socialization until they are old enough to start preparing for show. Remember, it's not about how many times a dog is socialized in any given environment, it's about the quality of the experience. 1 good experience trumps a thousand so-so or bad ones.


Drove 8 hours round trip for a failed breeding. Not so fun, but these things happen.
But, I got to see this little guy. I saw his sister at the Tokyo NIPPO show, and she was nice, but he's even nicer. He had a great temperament as well, and I'm looking forward to seeing him in show next spring.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Took a Look at Taka's Hips

So since Taka's just over 2 years old now, and will be shipping off to another NIPPO member tomorrow, I decided to take one last look at his hips.

I've had him here for over 6 months, and while he's not my favorite male, he's got some pretty amazing qualities (ie coat color & athletic build). His breeding shows through, and he's a pretty high level dog all things considered. I'm going to miss this guy. After all the work I put in I wish I could have handled him once in the ring, but he was never my dog anyway.
I snapped a few pictures of him after our afternoon walk, but first 1 of Goji.

He's almost in peak condition now. Coat should be full just in time for the NIPPO Grand National, and you can hopefully see how his front has filled in with exercise (even though the pic from the front doesn't do it justice) and his feet are now pretty straight when he stacks. When he drops weight or is out of shape, his front feet point outward when he stacks. Yes, you can 'fix' this by cheating and restacking your dog, but in my opinion this is how it's really done. Of course with some dogs you can't correct this with exercise, but it will at least get better (and your dog will be in shape!). I see so many NK overseas that are out of shape, and I'm talking about in the show ring. I see a lot of soft dogs, where their nails are trimmed (I've never trimmed a dog's nails for show, they naturally wear down with exercise), their body is crafted via diet without exercise. Even at this point here, Taka needs just a final push to tone up a bit and he'll be stunning.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Gakuto Go

So this is the male pup out of Kunitaka x Bishoume. He's 5 months old now. I dropped by today to see how he was doing.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

NIPPO Tokyo Regional Autumn 2014

Couldn't enter any dogs since I had work first thing in the morning, but I made it to the show by 10:30. The Tokyo show has traditionally been held at Meiji park, but after decades of use we lost the use of that venue. The new location in Ariake is terrific though!

The Chiba branch cleaned up today! Chugata Soken Females 1st place and Honbusho to Meme Go, Chugata Waka1 Females 2nd place to Mumu Go, Chugata Soken males 1st place to Deresuke Go (haha I'm not sure what his registered name is), and Chugata Seiken 1st place and Honbusho to Shoji-san's Shikoku make. To round it off Kogata Souken Males 1st place and Honbusho to Mr.Watanabe's Akikaze Go.

Methinks a party is in order.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Typhoon Vongfong

I'm all for a good storm every now and again, but we had an excellent one last weekend, and I'm supposed to fly to Vienna on the day that it hits us smack in the face. Sigh.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Aiken Journal: Old Akita Pics

Some Akita from the 70's. I've heard this period referred to as the golden age for the Akita by some of the older AKIHO members. Of course this is a matter of personal opinion.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hip Dysplasia in the Shikoku

So less than stellar hips are something I'm seeing more and more in the Shikoku. The more x-rays I see, the more disappointed I become. I've heard NIPPO members in Japan scoff that it must be something about what people are feeding the dogs overseas, and I ridiculed their comments. Perhaps they were not totally wrong. Read the below links for a little twist on our now conventional wisdom regarding HD.

I've got a unique environment in which to test the theory that it is dog food that is a large factor in HD. Many NIPPO members still feed their dogs traditional meals: rice, small amount of fish/meat, and vegetables. My mentor in the Shikoku breed does. I could test these dogs and see how their hips look.

3 Available Shikoku Pups

So I was looking for a female Shikoku pup for someone, and was sent information on this litter. The NIPPO kennel had not found homes for the pups yet, and I said I could probably help place them all, so here they are at my house. Temperaments seem pretty sound in all 3.

There is a red sesame male, a red sesame female, and a black sesame female. They're all 2 months old now. No obvious flaws in any of them, conformation looks pretty good.

I haven't got the pedigrees yet, but apparently these are out of lines that have not gone overseas yet. There are three large groups of Shikoku kennels in Japan, each with their line of dogs. This is from the third group that I haven't really seen to many dogs out of other than at the NIPPO Grand National.

I am in the process of evaluating them and deciding which pup would fit best in which home. I have quite a few people waiting for Shikoku pups on my list, but I generally don't have a waiting order. I try to place pups where they will fit best based on temperament, bloodline, etc

Female 1

Female 2


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Goji and Akane, 5 Months

Post Phanfone

Phanfone started affecting Japan late on October 4, as it began weakening. High waves and winds of 90 miles per hour (140 km/h) were reported most in southern Japan.[17] At the Kadena Air Base, the typhoon killed an U.S. airman and left two others missing after they were swept out to sea.[18] It was also reported that 10 people were injured and nearly 10,000 houses are without power.[19] On October 5, Phanfone also affected the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix bringing strong winds and heavy raindfall which brought zero-visibility in the track. Due to this, this event stopped after a serious crash by Jules Bianchi.[20]
So far, a total of seven people were killed while four remained missing in Japan by the typhoon.[21]


Yes, it was a big one. I got up at 6am to make sure everything that could fly away was safely stowed. It had been pouring rain for 2 days previous which pretty much stopped all outdoor activity. I walked the dogs between downpours.

At 6am it was just gusting a bit, and I thought to myself that all the work renovating the house had made a big difference to the way it felt in a typhoon. Well an hour later it felt like the good old days. The big bad wolf was outside trying to blow down the house. Fortunately the only thing it did was blow down the chimney for my fireplace, then blasted air down the pipe causing the fireplace to explode ash all throughout the house. I lost one board off the side of the house, and some random garbage blew around. All in all it was not too bad. We had several trees down on the roads around my house, so after walking the dogs in the morning I was off with a few friends, a truck, and some chainsaws to sort that out.

The pups loved the post typhoon sunny day. Goji and Akane are getting big, and they're both beautiful.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

First Fire

...of the season. It's only a little nippy, but wanted to get a burn going to make sure everything is in running order before the cold hits. We've got a monster typhoon bearing down on us today.


So I got back from Poland via Moscow on Wednesday, started tearing into the backlog of work here at the house on Thursday. Friday I went into Tokyo to translate some medical papers for a hospital, and then drove 100km to Saitama to visit some Kai pups (and have a great sushi dinner with the Inoue's). I got home late, spent some time with the dogs (I'm back at an easy to handle 7 dogs now), then Saturday I drove 150km to pick up a Shikoku pup (and have some great gyoza and see some more old books and pics of Nihon Ken), then another 100km to Haneda airport to pick up a Hokkaido pup, after which I drove another 100km around the bay for a quick work appointment and dog food pick up. Then I hoofed it back another 150km home to take care of the dogs, grab a bite to eat, shower, and crash.

I often think about how I'd like to show everyone that when I say I'm always busy, I'm REALLY BUSY. As in I'm on the go and working for at least 12-14 hours every day, 7 days a week. That being said, 'working' is a rather ambiguous term. Anyway, I'm at 9 dogs again, and I'm getting nowhere close to the tail end of my to do list. Life is not boring.

Nihon Ken puppies are generally ridiculously cute.

Oh, and before I got home I dropped by the vet to get some dogs vaccinated, x-rays taken, etc etc.

Ura-chan, meet Baron.