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Every Shiba learns a bit differently. Some learn commands like “sit” rather quickly but may struggle with “stay”. With that in mind, there are a few ways you can help your Shiba Inu learn new commands faster.
Simple one-word commands are easier for Shibas to learn. Stick to each new command for at least two weeks, with either one or two training sessions per day. For the best results, you should train your Shiba Inu in a quiet, controlled space and promptly reward them for their successes.
After months of not only trial and error, but looking up guides on how to get my Shiba Inu to learn new commands. I’ve come up with 5 simple steps that have routinely helped my Shiba learn new commands faster.
The 5 Fundamentals Of Commands
Each Shiba Inu will learn commands at a different pace. Some will quickly understand “sit” or even lay down but may struggle to understand “stay” or outright ignore the “place” command. You can help streamline their learning process by following these 5 command fundamentals.
Focus On One Command But Don’t Wait For Perfection
It’s best to start teaching your Shiba Inu one command at a time so you don’t overwhelm them. While Shibas are smart, they’re also stubborn. Making them more likely to ignore you or your commands if they don’t see how it benefits them. Sticking to one command helps keep things simple, making them more likely to follow along.
While you’re at it, figure out what rewards your unique Shiba deems “high value”. Knowing what gets their attention makes the training process significantly easier. Some rewards most dogs see as high value include:
We also don’t want to stick to one command until your Shiba flawlessly listens to it every time. There will be times your Shiba didn’t hear you or flat out decided to ignore you. We’re looking for good enough, similar to the 80-20 rule. Most of the way there is good enough to move on to the next command.
Use Simple Language
Shibas aren’t learning what a word is, and what it means, the same way we people do. Dogs learn commands through a series of patterns, sounds, and rewards. A pattern, in this case a new command, is easier for your Shiba to learn if it’s simple.
A one-word command like “no”, “sit”, and “down” are easier for your pet to pick up on compared to a longer command like “cross the street”. While the meaning is simple, the command is longer and more likely to confuse your Shiba. Simple language, with fewer words, does best.
Keep Your Tone Of Voice In Mind
Nobody likes being yelled at when they’re struggling with something, and the same goes for your Shiba Inu. Your tone of voice does more than make it easier or harder for your pet to hear you. They also react to the emotions your voice conveys.
A fearful tone will leave your Shiba thinking they’re in charge, and with them being a bossy dominant breed, they’ll happily turn the table and start training you instead. On the other hand, anger and frustration will stress your Shiba out. Making them more likely to tuck tail, run, and hide. Or in the worst-case scenario, turn around and get aggressive back.
Timing Is Everything When Teaching A Dog
Dogs don’t remember things the same way people do, their memory works similarly to snapshots in time. You have a short window of time, two to five seconds, to either reward or discipline your Shiba for an action they’ve taken. Any longer than that and they’ll have a hard time associating your response to the action you have in mind.
That’s why professional dog trainers tell you to immediately reward your pet for good actions, like correctly following your command. It’s also why punishing your dog after they’ve had an accident, especially if you were around when they did it, doesn’t teach them anything. It just leaves your Shiba confused, frustrated, and potentially stressed out or fearful of you.
Command Consistency Is Critical
Shibas thrive on habits and routines, so take advantage of that. While simple language helps you Shiba associate a word, your command, with a specific action, them doing what you asked, you also have to be consistent with that one command. What I mean by that is you can’t bounce between different words that mean the same thing. Switching between similar words may work for people, but it’ll only leave your pup confused and frustrated.
But command consistency can have another effect. If you regularly ask your Shiba to sit for something you may notice they’ll sit without you saying anything in hopes of getting whatever you’re holding. That’s because you’ve consistently trained them to sit if they want something.
How To Teach A Shiba Inu New Commands
1) Take Your Shiba To A Quiet Controlled Space
Shibas are alert, opting to turn their attention to a new sound or flashing light instead of listing to you. Calm, quiet, and controlled spaces help minimize potential distractions. Making your Shiba more likely to turn and listen to you when you say or do something.
2) Use Your Desired Command – And Help Them
While words are nice they won’t immediately make your Shiba understand what you’re asking them to do. My favorite example of this is the “sit” command. I had the most success teaching my Shiba Inu, Faith, how to sit when I would issue my command, show her the treat in my hand, gently place my hand on her back while bringing the treat closer to her mouth, and then calmly pushing her butt down while raising the treat above her head. Effectively telling her what I wanted her to do, then helping her through the sitting motion.
The exact steps involved will change from command to command, but the thought process is the same. You want to:
- Show your Shiba you have a reward
- Issue your command
- Bring the treat closer to them
- Gently step them through the motions of your command
3) Reward Your Shiba Inu For Their Success
Once your Shiba is able to successfully follow your command, immediately give them a reward. Small training treats do best here, your pet is less likely to fill up on them so they’ll still eat their regular meals. That reward teaches them that following what you say gives them what they want. Making them exponentially more likely to follow the same command next time.
4) Repeat This Process A Couple Of Times
Repetition is a key part of training every Shiba Inu a new command. While a dog’s memory works sort of like snapshots that doesn’t mean they can flawlessly recall a new command they’ve heard once. New commands take time, patience, repetition, and consistency for your pet to fully grasp.
5) Offer Them Less Help When They Catch On
Once your Shiba Inu starts getting the hang of things they’ll need less and less guidance with each repetition. So respond accordingly. We want your Shiba to follow commands on their own at the end of the day, you won’t always be able to hold their paw and step them through each motion.
6) Take A Short Break Before Continuing
Short, sweet, and effective is the goal for every training session. While Shibas are smart that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to learn a new command in a single session, even if they’re acting like it. Keep training sessions between 5 to 10 minutes for puppies and around 10 minutes for adults.
The length of each training session is important, just like how you’re supposed to take breaks at the gym. Your Shiba’s mind needs time to properly process the new commands you taught them. The break you take between training sessions is equally as important. Shibas learn best when they have one to two training sessions per day, with at least a two hours break between each session.
7) Practice That Command Daily For The Next Few Weeks
Patience and consistency are key. Bouncing between new commands each and every day will leave your Shiba lost and frustrated, so stick to one new command at a time for at least two to three weeks. Once a two weeks have passed and you’re confident with their progress, you can transition to a new command.
9 Basic Commands Every Shiba Inu Should Know
- Their Name – This isn’t exactly a command but it’s important if you changed their name. I recommend starting here.
- Sit – Get your Shiba to stop and sit wherever they are. Most of the time they’ll walk up to you and sit.
- Leave It – To get your pet to stop sniffing, licking, or nibbling on something they aren’t supposed to.
- Drop It – To get your Shiba to drop whatever is in their mouth.
- Back / Down – Great for those who struggle with a Shiba that loves jumping on people, or furniture they aren’t supposed to be on.
- Here / Come – Tells your Shiba you want them to walk over to you.
- Lay down – Get your Shiba to lay down, I recommend teaching them this after they’ve confidently learned “sit”.
- Stay – To have your Shiba stay in place. This is easily one of the hardest commands to teach a Shiba Inu.
- Bathroom / Potty – Get your pet ready to go outside on a walk, or to quickly run outside and go to the bathroom.
3 Helpful Commands You Should Teach Your Shiba
- Cross – I use this command when I’m walking my Shiba and we’re about to cross the street. Once it’s safe to cross, I say “cross”, and we cross the intersection.
- Heel – Most people use this command when they’re teaching their dog to walk alongside them.
- Place – Where you teach your Shiba to go to and either sit or lay down in a designated spot, usually a dog bed.
Summary Of Teaching Shiba Inus New Commands
Every Shiba learns at their own pace and regularly bounces between listening to or ignoring you. For the best results, stick to teaching your Shiba one new command at a time, once or twice a day, for at least two weeks in a quiet space. Quiet places minimize distractions, making them more likely to listen. While sticking to and repeating one command helps them stay focused on one thing at a time.
Don’t be afraid of helping your Shiba through the motions of a new command if they seem confused. And be sure to reward them promptly if you want that new knowledge to stick.
Frequently Asked Questions
At What Age Can Puppies Learn Commands?
Puppies are able to start learning basic commands at eight weeks old, around the same time most people get their puppies. Keep training sessions short, between 5 to 10 minutes in length, for the best results. Ending with a positive note like praise, play, or treats improves the learning process.
How Do You Teach A Shiba Inu His Name?
Most dogs already have a name, but changing them when you first get them as a puppy is common. Consistency is key when you’re teaching a Shiba Inu their name. Stick to exclusively calling them by their name, and be sure to both praise and reward them for acknowledging it.
What Is The Hardest Command To Teach A Dog?
Commands like “come”, “stay”, and “leave it” have been difficult for many dogs to learn. Most pets are too worked up and excited about getting a reward, causing them to want to squirm around in anticipation.