One of the Akita breed’s lesser known features is its ability to jump great distances as well as precarious heights, beyond those of average dogs. However, it’s quite an expected ability, logically befitting the hefty size of these relatively primitive larger dog breeds.
The heighest height for the average Akita to jump is 6 feet. However, making the fence just 6 or even 7 feet may prove to be useless as the Akita can easily climb over fences made of various materials.
While you may enjoy the company of your new or long-time Akita friend, whether you are considering entering him or her for a competition or concerned about the notion of him jumping, this article has you covered. Read on to learn the possible problems as well as solutions to his constant jumping.
How High Akitas Can Jump
While there are no records available for the world record of highest jumps for an Akita, owners usually ask this question with the concern of their pets escaping their backyard fence in mind.
In general, a 4 feet high fence isn’t ideal because a healthy, full-grown adult Akita would easily be able to jump over it.
There have even been reports of owners saying how their Akitas would easily leap (if not climb) over their neighbor’s 6 feet fence in order to raid and explore the neighboring yard. This is completely plausible since the average jump height limit for most domesticated dogs is 6 feet (in comparison to wolves who can jump a staggering 12 feet).
It would make sense why nature enabled these dogs to leap such distances and heights, given their size and historical uses for the Akita breed. Since they were used by Japanese royalty as guard dogs and even hunting dogs for bears, the powerful usage of hind legs were necessary for pursuing and pouncing upon their prey.
Why Akita Dogs Jumping High Too Often Can Be a Bad Thing
Being a large dog bred, an Akita shouldn’t be including frequent high jumps as part of its repertoire. This ability was possible because they were historically hunting dogs. However, jumping with little restraint on behalf of the owner can not only pose risks to your pet’s bone and joint health but also upon the hierarchical relationship between owner and pet.
Structurally, the constant impact and effort will put strain upon an Akita’s joints and tendons overtime. Imagine the long term effects on an Akita’s bones from constantly landing from a tall jump over and over.
Possible consequences can range from arthritis to more complicated bone joint health problems. If your Akita is overweight or obese, don’t even think about encouraging or teaching it to jump, as movement alone would pose dangers to its knees and joints.
However, when regarding the concerns of power dynamics between owner and dog, see “Letting an Akita Jump” and “How to Stop your Akita from Jumping” below. The Akita Rescue website gives a very informative and compelling read on power dynamics between owner and pet.
Letting an Akita Jump
In the context of training, you may have a cue word or even a visual signal prompting the dog to jump. Be sure to be consistent with using the same words. If your dog already knows how to sit on command, then training it to jump would be easier.
- Keep treat rewards pea-sized in order to ensure that your pooch doesn’t get its fill of training. Hold the treat above your dog’s head and introduce the command (i.e. “jump!”). Jerk the food above, or you can demonstrate jumping yourself if it is confused.
- If you are training the Akita to jump onto an object, you can begin with guiding it to the surface of an object (i.e. chair or park bench) then rewarding it with a treat. This is to get the dog used to standing on top of the surface.
- Once it can consistently follow this command, you can gradually increase the height of the object until it can hop onto the surface with ease. You can then use the same verbal command in a building or outside for it to hop onto other flat surfaces.
- In addition, you can purchase or setup DIY training bars made of plastic, wood, concrete and other materials for your Akita to jump through like a hurdle. You can hover the treat on the other side and then leave it on the ground once it understands it must jump.
In a domestic setting, however, Akita’s may show their enthusiasm and passion for their owners, whether it be returning from home or surprising them while sedentary by leaping upon them. Given their powerful hind legs, they can nearly match the height of a man 6 feet tall.
Therefore, letting an Akita jump onto fellow humans including yourself as the owner comes down to an issue of respect, discipline and dominance. Don’t permit your dog to pounce upon people by making it clear to them through your authoritative presence that it’s not okay.
Large breed dogs such as Akitas are aware that they are quite literally “throwing their weight around,” as the alpha male in a pack would never tolerate lesser dogs throwing themselves wildly upon them. Keep this in mind when you respond favorably to your Akita jumping upon you.
Teaching Your Akita to Jump Higher Than You’d Expect
Before teaching your dog to exceed its limits in any physical endeavors, please consider if it’s worth the means to an end (If your Akita is entering a dog competition, for example). Also consider the consequences, as your canine’s new abilities may require you to update the height of your fences.
Gradually increase the height for which you hold your treat for your Akita. You may require a footstool or even a ladder as your pet makes progress. Train jumping for at least 20 minutes a day, before your dog loses interest until it can jump on verbal command alone.
There’s a time and place for everything, and that includes your Akita’s willingness and ability to jump. Do not under any circumstances permit your Akita to jump onto smaller family members such as small children or other pets in the household.
Always inspect the landing surface before letting your Akita jump onto it. If it’s from one table to another shaky table with a less stable frame, for example, the last thing you’d want to crash on top of that would be 80 lbs. of fur and muscle.
Also try to limit the landing surface to flat surfaces, as opposed to round, uneven or jagged surfaces. Avoid having the dog leap unto circular structures or sharp, badly-formed rocks for example.
How to Stop your Akita from Jumping
The answer to this question resembles the answer to questions regarding how to discourage other canine misbehaviors. How would one normally stop a dog from chewing or sleeping on your bed? How can an Akita learn respect and cease its attempts to dominate members of the household?
The answer lies in establishing a clear hierarchy where the Akita is on the lowest part of the totem pole. The owners that have problems telling their Akita “no” are the same individuals who have trouble reinforcing discipline and establishing pecking order among Akitas (See “Letting your Akita Jump.”)
Simply pushing down and telling your Akita “no” may confuse it into thinking you’re engaging in the activity known as “play.” Instead, doing things such as simply turning your back in order to show the pet that it won’t get attention when it jumps may be a more effective message.
Really attempt to convey or sell the idea that you’re not participating in the “fun” through your body language. Cross your arms, look to your side or away from your dog to make it obvious that you aren’t rewarding his unwanted behavior with any attention whatsoever.
As a last resort, you can rely on squirt guns although the Akita’s reputed dignity and pride may take great offense to this (therefore use this method sparingly). Remember that with the unique Akita personality, respectful methods beget respect.