If you are really considering taking the plunge, then
the next section is for you. Don't forget that Shiba people get really crazy about their dogs and owning a Shiba is not just
owning a dog, but a way of life.
Before bringing home your Shiba, it is best to have a supply
of food on hand. Several boxes of granola, some oranges (for vitamin C) and a few sandwiches should give you enough energy
to keep up with the little guy. Even though the Shiba would prefer to share your dinner, it is best to buy him a top quality
dog food, one containing about 30% protein, and 15% to 18% fat. Do not think in terms of a human diet when feeding a puppy.
An eight week old Shiba will eat approximately 1/3 cup of puppy food three times a day. He may be given this moistened in
separate feedings, or, if he is not too greedy, he may have dry kibble available at all times. If he is being fed three times
a day, gradually increase the food as he grows and his appetite increases. He may be cut to twice a day at about four months
of age or if he looses interest in a meal. A healthy puppy is neither too fat nor too thin. You should be able to feel his
ribs, backbone and hip bones, but not see them. An adult Shiba will eat from one to one and one half cups of kibble per day
depending on his size and energy level.
The Shiba is an excellent indoor/outdoor dog with a coat that
will protect him from both heat and cold. He must have shelter from the sun in summer and storms in winter, but he can withstand
a wide range of temperatures.
Unless you plan to give your Shiba all his exercise on a leash,
a fenced yard is mandatory. Nothing is more devastating than discovering your beloved Shiba is a $600.00 carpet remnant on
the street in front of your house. No amount of training will deter your little hunting dog from darting across the street
to chase the neighbor's cat - at just the wrong time. This is true of any breed of dog. Dogs also dig and some climb. Check
frequently for possible escape routes. A Shiba is safest indoors or in an escape-proof run when you are away from home.
A Shiba lives with the principle - su casa es mi casa. He will
want to sleep on your bed, eat at your table and rest in your favorite chair. A puppy will also wish to dismantle your VCR
wiring, chew the straps off your sandals, round the corners of your kitchen cabinets, and if not watched closely, will definitely
light up his life with the electric cords. If any of these behaviors disturbs you, you may wish to invest in a crate and possibly
an exercise pen.
All puppies should be crate trained. Crates are the best way to housebreak a puppy. They also provide a safe refuge during the night and when the
puppy can't be watched. A size 200 airline crate (as pictured below) will suit a Shiba for his entire life and will also fit
on the back seat of almost any car. He can ride safely in a crate in the car, and, with a little ingenuity, a crate can be
seat belted or bungied into place.
When you're not home, you will never wonder where your puppy
is or what he is doing if he is in a crate or exercise pen. Even though he may be exercised, keeping a puppy in a crate
day and night is not good. It is akin to you staying in bed, going out jogging, and going back to bed again. While the puppy
is small, a four by four foot exercise pen, setup in any room of the house, is an ideal place to leave the puppy while you
are at work. This allows the puppy room to move around and play while keeping him safe and comfortable indoors. Putting
a six by six foot piece of inexpensive linoleum under the pen will protect carpet and sensitive flooring. Later, when
the Shiba is mature, he may be allowed free access to the house or yard. Exercise pens continue to be of great service
even when the puppy is grown. It can be used to block the puppy/dog from newly planted areas in the garden or prevent
small children and puppies from reaching the Christmas tree. It can keep a dog's muddy paws off the sliding
glass door, or keep them clean after bathing. You can even wrap it around yourself, the recliner, and the remote so no one
can reach you during football season. Options are unlimited. Crates and exercise pens may be purchased at almost any
pet supply store.
Shibas are an active breed, but don't need many acres on which
to run. They can get adequate exercise banking off the couch and spinning brodies on the bed, but to get in good condition,
they need additional activity. Dogs like to go for walks with their people, and for many Shibas it is more exciting
than eating. A wheelchair-bound Shiba owner takes his two dogs for a "walk" every day around the streets of suburbia,
and a competitive mountain bike rider has his Shiba run with him for miles as he trains for grueling competition. But,
the majority of people snap on the retractable lead and make a morning (or evening) tour of the neighborhood. It is good exercise
for both man and beast and a great way to make friends. Not everyone is responsible enough to keep his dog on leash.
Watch for loose dogs roaming the area. A dog fight is not the best way to become acquainted with the neighbors.
Playtime with puppy
Given a choice, a Shiba puppy will usually pick human body parts
as his favorite chew toys. Fingers and toes are preferred, especially if covered with socks or sandals. He will enjoy ankles,
pant legs and the ultimate - shoelaces on the shoes you are wearing. If you wish to expand his horizons and preserve your
flesh, a visit to the pet supply store is a fine place to start. Hardware stores also carry a supply of delectable goodies
such as the business end of a toilet plunger, handles for garden tools, and rubber galoshes. Around the
house you may find old stuffed animals, socks that can be tied in knots, dirty sneakers, and
tennis balls. A trip to the country can bring pine cones, sticks and oak galls which are excellent for dismembering outdoors.
Shibas are not seriously destructive, but puppies are puppies, and puppies chew. Even adults like to gnaw on something
occasionally. If your puppy chews the straps off your favorite sandals it will make you very angry, but don't take it
out on him. It was your fault for leaving the sandals where the puppy could reach them.
Some Shiba puppies play quite gently while others are very rough.
They are used to tussling with siblings that have protective coats of fur. Shibas will often grab your wrist as you start
to pet them. This is just the same thing he would do to another puppy that had come up to play. His sharp baby teeth pierce
the skin and you think the puppy is biting. Also, when a puppy is playing with your clothing, he does not realize that you
are right under there and he will bite much harder than he does on bare skin. This can be especially hard on children.
The best way to control a problem is to avoid the situation that
precipitates it. Do not play with the puppy in a manner that allows him to chew on you. Distraction is a good technique for
luring a puppy away from potential problems. A firm "no" with a good shaking or rap on the nose may deter him from repeating
unacceptable behavior. Sometimes you must be quite firm. It is best to remain calm and think of the puppy as an overexcited
18 month old child. If you or the puppy become irritable, a "time out" in his crate or pen will give you both a cooling off
period. Take heart, the puppy will calm with age and you can always have a party when the puppy "fangs" fall out.
A trip to the mall or neighborhood park will bring you
all the attention you can handle. This may be wonderful for a young man looking for a date, but it can be deadly for a small
puppy. Until a puppy is fully immunized against parvovirus, at about the age of 20 weeks, it is not safe to take him to areas
frequented by other dogs. Many people solve this problem by taking the dog to visit friends and relatives in "clean" environments
and asking them to return the favor. Some Shibas may be shy of strangers while others are very outgoing. Some are quite playful
and others are just dog aggressive. Early socialization is mandatory to obtain the best possible temperament from a puppy.
Taking a risk on exposure to parvo is often a trade-off with the necessity of socialization. Think it out carefully and discuss
it with the breeder as well as the veterinarian. Socialization does not end with puppy kindergarten. It is a lifelong process.
It is well established that if you are not somewhat trainableand
flexible, you will have a difficult time adjusting to a Shiba. Shibas want their owners to come when called, fetch when they
want food, stay off the furniture they want for a nap and speak whenever someone wants to talk about Shibas.
Owners too feel they should be able to make a few polite requests
from their dogs. Sometimes there is a small power struggle, but the owner must establish that he is in control. Shibas, like
teenagers, have very selective hearing. They can totally ignore your commands to come, but be there in a shot if they hear
the lid on the cookie jar. They may do what you want when on leash and never look back when free. Shibas aren't stupid. They
know just what you want them to do and whether they can get away without doing it.
Housebreaking is easy and something that Shibas do naturally.
If a puppy is taken out whenever he awakes from a nap or after a meal, he will almost never soil in the house and especially
not in a restricted area such as a crate. A puppy as young as five weeks can hold his bowels all night, but not his bladder.
He will want out or will wet on a blanket or paper in his exercise pen. As soon as the puppy figures where "out" is, he will
try to go there to potty. This becomes easy when there is a door directly to a back yard.
Leashbreaking is not as natural for the Shiba as housebreaking.
It involves something they truly detest - restraint. Some Shibas can carry around their dislike for collar and leash all their
lives. They do it in the form of the patent "Shiba shake," where they cock their heads sideways, as if something was in their
ear, then stop and shakes violently. Amazingly, this "ear problem" goes away as soon as the leash is removed, and returns
the minute the dog is near the show ring.
To begin the leashbreaking process, it is best to put a soft
snug collar and let the puppy wear it around for awhile. Attach a leash and let the puppy take you for a walk. You go where
he goes. After a few times, you can suggest that he follow you. He may pull back and scream a little, but that is natural.
Encouragement and praise help, and soon he will be walking with you. Never leave a choke collar on an unattended puppy and
never tie up a dog with a choke collar. A dog can easily hang himself by a choke collar just by getting tangled in
something as simple as a bush.
The fiery aspect of the Shiba temperament is apparent at an early
age. Even as puppies they stage mock battles and make much noise as they vie for top honors. With people they are all kissy-face,
but with other dogs, and especially other Shibas, they are macho little muffins. There is a wide range of variation in this
aspect of a young Shiba's temperament and difficulties should be discussed with the breeder. Many Shiba puppies are just playful
and not quarrelsome, but others are more serious.
Some like to play with other dogs once they are acquainted while
others never seem to adjust. They all fall within the range of "normal" Shiba temperament.
Just as there are hundreds of books on child rearing, there are
as many theories on how to deal with canine temperament. Dog trainers who are not familiar with the Shiba temperament may
only make problems worse.
Shibas seem to work well with the reward system or "motivational
method." They easily learn commands like sit, and down, and parlor tricks such as roll over, speak and sit up. Obedience work
done on lead is readily acquired, but a Shiba who reliably "comes" on command in any situation is rare indeed. There are a
few who learn boundaries, come when called, even when chasing a car, and can wander loose in any situation. These are exceptional
and usually a combination of an extremely responsive temperament plus diligent training. It is realistic to expect that the
average owner with the average Shiba will not have that situation. Most Shibas will not wander miles from home, but will want
to investigate every nook and cranny within a larger radius that the owner is comfortable. Expect your Shiba to be an "on
leash" breed and if he proves to be otherwise, then you are among the fortunate.
Do not feel your Shiba is untrainable, for he is not. Shibas
love "agility" training, as it is a natural for their athletic ability. They are smart and enjoy activities that challenge
their mind and body, easily becoming bored with excessive repetition. If you work with the Shiba nature rather than against
it, training will be fun for both.
Shibas and Children
The responsible Shiba owner asks himself what type of child would
he like for his favorite dog. It would be a child with a good nature and stable temperament, one that was gentle and most
of all, easy to train. A child of an extremely energetic nature or whose hearing is too selective may be better suited to
a larger more docile breed. Intractable children should have animals made of plastic or, maybe cement.
All dogs, and especially puppies, regard very small children
as peers rather than superiors. Puppies will try to play with children as they would another puppy, particularly if the child
falls on the floor or runs around making squealing noises. Some Shibas are afraid of very young children and alarmed by their
sounds and quick movements. They will run from a toddler or hide when it approaches. This can lead to a fear-biting situation
if the child pursues a frightened dog.
The responsibility of how a puppy interacts with children falls
on the parents. Most trainable children over six years of age should have no trouble adjusting to a Shiba puppy. Dog oriented
people find it easy acclimating a Shiba to a household with children. People with little dog experience should visit several
households with Shibas. Do not fall in love with a Shiba at a dog show and immediately run out and buy one.
Take time to visit the dogs in the home environment. See how they react to children and let your intuition be your best guide.
When adults visit a home with Shiba puppies, they usually sit and wait for the puppies to come to them. Children tend to pursue
the puppies. Shibas do not like to be continually restrained and manhandled. Although a well socialized puppy will tolerate
some of this, too much will make him shy or irritated. It is absolutely necessary that a child learn to sit and let the puppy
come to him.
It is difficult to train a child, who is used to running in and
our of the house at will, to close the door quickly and make sure the Shiba doesn't get out into an unfenced area. It is even
more difficult to train the child's friends. Training the child when he is little can make him aware of the necessity of using
a double door system or exercising caution when going in and out. But , ultimately, it is up to the parent to keep the puppy
out of harm's way.
Veterinarians and Vaccinations
Since Shibas are a healthy, hardy little breed, they seldom need trips to
the vet except for routine vaccinations and an occasional teeth cleaning. Your new puppy should be taken to the vet of your
choice within a few days of purchase. Most breeders require this as part of the puppy's health guarantee. The vet should check
his overall condition, his heart for possible murmurs, and a stool sample for parasites. A puppy should already have had at
least one vaccination from the breeder prior to his sale. You can set up a continued vaccination schedule with your vet during
this first check-up.
Puppies should have a complete set of vaccinations before exposing them to situations where many other
dogs have been. These vaccinations are against distemper, hepatitis, kennel cough, parvovirus and coronavirus. Often the first
shots do not contain a vaccine against leptospirosis (lepto). Lepto has frequently been fingered as the "bad guy" in vaccine
reaction. Many breeders and veterinarians prefer to wait until the puppy is three to four months old before giving an injection
with lepto. Several Shiba puppies have experienced an anaphylactoid reaction to a vaccine on their second injection, even
when it did not contain lepto. This is the same severe allergic reaction some people experience when stung by a bee. Epinephrine
must be administered immediately, so a veterinarian should be warned of the possibility of a reaction. A puppy should remain
in the waiting room of the vet's office for 15 to 20 minutes after his injection to ensure there is no reaction. Rabies shots
are given at four months of age. Rabies is the only vaccination required by law. All others are for the puppy's health.
Spay and Neutering
For many people, the decision to neuter a male dog is somehow
tied into their own sexuality. Maybe it should be, for the amorous intentions of the stimulated male Shiba are only rivaled
by those of Geraldo Rivera and Wilt Chamberlain. Neutering a male dog has a great effect on his temperament, if it is done
at a very early age. Neutering a male before the age of five months will usually prevent marking and other "big guy" ideas.
Sometimes it takes up to eight months or more for a Shiba male's testicles to drop into the scrotum. They seldom fail to arrive,
and if the vet can locate them at all, he can perform the castration. Don't postpone it.
Many people would rather have a female as a pet. They see the
female as having a gentler nature and not having the desire to continually mark territory. Spaying a female does little to
change her basic temperament, it just prevents pregnancy. Females should be spayed at about five months of age before they
have their first heat cycle. This makes it easier on the little girl as the uterus is small and the female lean. Recovery
is quick and after a few days, you won't know anything has been done. Both sexes make good pets and have equally affectionate
Shibas shed. You would too if you were wearing a wool coat in
summer. All dogs with double coats shed, even Dobermans and Labradors. Those breeds with single coats that don't shed, such
as poodles and some terriers, need clipping or constant brushing to keep their coats from matting. You have a choice - clip,
brush or vacuum. Shibas generally "blow" coat twice a year, but neutered animals will frequently just shed a little bit at
a time without shedding completely. It varies with individuals, but you can usually count on a Shiba to have a full coat for
Christmas. A Shiba could go his whole life without every experiencing a brush, comb or bath and be just as healthy and happy.
Shibas have little odor to their fur unless they have rolled in something pungent. Show dogs are often bathed weekly while
pets are occasionally shampooed at the owner's whim. All seem to have healthy coats.
Fleas are the scourge of pet ownership. The flea most commonly
found on the dog is the cat flea. Cats are flea farmers and outdoor cats spread fleas from yard to yard like dandelion seeds.
Methods of treatment are so varied and controversial that they are a book in themselves. If fleas are eradicated from the
environment, they will soon vanish from the dog. Fleas like warm, moist, sheltered surroundings and do not tolerate direct
sun, dryness or extreme cold. Fleas do not survive outdoors in arid climates, but thrive in the warm, damp summers of the
majority of the U.S.. To help create this dryness, the indoor environment can be treated with desiccating powders, and many
professionals such as "Flea Busters" use these products with much success. It takes about six weeks for them to work. Most
commercial flea products are toxic. How else could they kill the fleas? Start slow and work your way up to the "hard stuff."
There are some new and exciting products on the market for flea
control. Personally, I am a little leery of using them on dogs used for breeding, but for pets, they are wonderful.
The first is a product called Program™, which renders
the eggs of a female flea unable to hatch after she has bitten a dog that has taken the medication. It can be used in combination
with topical medicines such as dips and powders, but does not prevent re-infestation from the outside (the neighbor's cat).
Also, the adult flea will continue to live out its life on the dog, grazing its way from tail to nose for about three months.
This is enough time for a Shiba to go ballistic, even if it only has one flea.
The most exciting new product on the market is called Front
Line™. It sounds almost too good to be true, and maybe it will turn out to be that way. Just a couple of drops on
the dog's shoulder blades will kill the fleas before they even bite the dog, and one application is supposed to last one to
three months depending on how much the dog is bathed. Check with your veterinarian for use and availability.
There is a similar product available throughout the country called
Advantage™. It is applied in the same manner as Front Line™, but has a distasteful odor and does
not last as long. Independent tests published in breed magazines report excellent success with both products. The products
are expensive and only available from a veterinarian, but they may prove invaluable for the all-too-common flea allergic Shiba.
Collars & Tatooing
It is a good idea for a Shiba to wear a collar with identification
tags or plates attached. Some collar distributors will print the owner's phone number right on the collar in large letters
that can be seen without touching the dog. Unfortunately, many Shibas that end up in the pound have lost their collars. Show
dogs can't wear collars because it leaves a ring around the neck.
At this point, tattooing seems to be the best and most permanent
methods of identification. The tattoo is usually placed on the inside of a dog's thigh. Although it is permanently attached
to the dog, a person finding a lost dog may not look inside the dog's leg for a tattoo, and if he does look, may not know
what to do about it. Hopefully most animal shelter personnel will look and know who to contact. The AKC is strongly encouraging
all dog owners to tattoo their dogs for two reasons: One is the hope that a lost or stolen dog can be returned to its owner,
and the other is for definitive identification. The second reason is because AKC wants it to be possible for any stranger
to go into a household and identify the dogs. If the dogs are tattooed with the AKC registration number, the dogs can be identified
with the registration papers or the records of the AKC. This would also assist in the dispute over ownership of a dog. The
AKC registration number is like the dog's Social Security number; it's his identification for life.
The AKC is promoting the microchip as the wave of the future.
It must be implanted by a veterinarian and needs a scanner to read it. The AKC has initiated the AKC Companion Animal Recovery
Program. It registers both microchip and/or tattoo numbers for a small fee. It also registers other animals that have
been permanently identified. Call the AKC in Raleigh, NC for further information.