I have a one and a half yr old male akita.We had him when he was born.We had the mother and the father dog.We had 6 pups out of the litter.We sold the puppy to someone else they could not handle him so I took him back.I have his sister also.They have both been fixed.He loves people but is very aggressive towards other animals.Need some advice on how I can help him overcome his aggression.I love my dogs and want to help him.His sister is not aggressive at all.She is not fond of kids but has never shown aggression towards animals,,,but she has always been socialized with other animals.I only have the two of them now.
Thank you for your question, and kudos for taking back the puppy when the new owners were unable to keep him!
So, dogs may act aggressively for several reasons. Often it's out of fear - fear of being attacked, fear of losing some valued item, fear in general, etc. Sometimes that fear (or need to act aggressively) is learned from having had bad experiences. Do you know how the other owners were with him for the time he wasn't in your care?
Akitas are natural born hunters/fighters/guarders - this is what they were originally bred to do. The breed is known to be aggressive toward other dogs/animals if not properly and continually socialized in a positive manner. If he was experimenting with his natural behaviors (chase, hunt, guard, etc) toward an animal and the owner punished him, he could create an association that the presence of the other animal indicates he's going to be punished in some way, and this association can increase his likelihood to act aggressively as he tries to make the other animal go away before he gets punished. It can then become a vicious cycle where the aggressive behavior escalates as the punishment escalates.
If this is the case here, then there is probably some improvement that can be made. I encourage you to get a full in-person evaluation by a veterinary behaviorist (if there are any in your area). If there are none, then you can seek out a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) or a trainer who is well versed in dog aggression that's directed toward other animals (as opposed to humans). You will also need to have your regular vet involved. Most likely, whichever of the above options you choose, they will be advising you to have a full medical workup including blood work and including a thyroid panel, as many aggressive behaviors can stem from medical conditions. If there's a medical condition present, then you'll need to address that before you can begin any behavior modification protocol.
Also, what is the diet that your dog is eating? There appears to be some correlation with certain diets that can increase aggressive behaviors. Ingredients at "fault" may include corn, wheat, chicken, beef, lamb or any of these with a too-high protein content for the dog's needs. You may try transitioning him to a grain free diet with a protein like fish or rabbit as that may help calm him a bit.
One final thing to keep in mind - aggression and sociability are not black and white attributes. They fall on a continuum, with some dogs falling high on the sociability and others falling high on the aggression/predator side. Most dogs fall near the middle - slightly to the sociable side. This is also where a veterinary behaviorist can be quite helpful, as they are not only vets, but specially trained in behavior issues and the various causes of them from physical to neurological to behavioral/training. They will be able to help you determine if this is just poor socialization and some good behavior modification can fix the problem, or if there is something medical that needs to be addressed. They will also be able to tell you honestly if this dog simply falls very far to the predator side of the scale.
If they find that this dog is a predator, then there are some questions to be considered - is the behavior ONLY directed at non-humans? If so, then it may be possible to help him live a wonderful and fulfilled life without ever interacting with other animals. Is the predatory behavior EVER directed at humans? If so, then we have a very serious problem on our hands regarding the safety of others and your liability when an incident occurs.
Even if the behavior is ONLY directed at non-humans, you'll need to take some time to assess his quality of life and if you're able to provide him a fulfilled and enriched life with the restrictions that may be required (assuming this is not "just" a behavioral issue that can be corrected through modification). Keep in mind that a dog who is always ready to attack, always on alert like that, is not a happy dog. That dog has a constantly increased level of adrenalin and cortisol (stress hormones) which keep him tense and anxious, which lower his immune system, which prevent him from ever being fully relaxed or content. He is always nervous and on edge. It's not a fun life. If an in-person evaluation determines that this is not just a behavioral issue due to poor socialization, and not something that can be modified, but rather a true predatory nature, then we need to think about doing what's best for him. Being in a constant state of readiness to attack (paranoia, if you will) is no life.
It's much more likely that it's a behavioral issue that can be modified with professional help (it may require some meds to help even him out in the beginning so the training can happen), but I cannot comment on this without evaluating him in person. I mention the worst-case scenario only because I want to ensure that you're not blind-sided by it if it is brought up. Just as there really are some humans who are just "wired wrong", there are some dogs who are just wired wrong. It does happen. It's rare, just as it is with humans, which makes it unlikely, but it does happen and it takes a very knowledgeable and skilled evaluator to be able to tell you the difference between behavior that can probably be improved (even if never fully eliminated), and behavior that will not be improvable based on the cause for the behavior.
I'm sorry I can't be of much direct help in this, but I really can't comment on aggression without evaluating the dog directly.
You may find professionals in your area at the following sites. If you don't see anyone on these lists in your area, you can call the contact numbers to see if there are any new people who just haven't been added to the website yet
Vet Behaviorist - http://www.dacvb.org/resources/find/
CAAB/ACAAB - http://www.animalbehavior.org/ABSAppliedBehavior/caab-directory
CDBC - http://iaabc.org/consultants
Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) - http://www.apdt.com/petowners/ts/default.aspx
Good luck. I'm sorry I can't help further in this forum. Please feel free to followup if I can be of further assistance.
Los Angeles Behaviorist