Is Shiba Inu Really Difficult? Things you should know BEFORE getting a Shiba Inu

Shiba Inu originate from Japan and is one of the oldest Japanese dog breed. With their muscular good looking figure, compact size and clean nature. Shiba Inu is becoming more popular in the Western world. For most of the first time dog owner, a common question were asked “Is Shiba inu really that difficult?” As a Shiba Inu owner myself I’d like to share some of my observations about this beautiful yet sometimes difficult breed.   


A Shiba Inu will do what a Shiba Inu wants and not necessarily what his owner wants. He will follow the command that makes sense to him. The good news is that your Shiba inu is not shy of letting you know what he wants. If you observe him closely enough, you will know his preferences, and base on your dog’s preference to modify training technique. For example, my dog Jimmy is not food motivated so my reward to him is either praise him dramatically or engage a short play whenever he follows my command.  

Strong will

Another famous or I should say notorious nature of Shiba Inu is they have extremely strong will. This goes along with the stubborn trait. A Shiba Inu will fight back fiercely when feels frightened and he will not surrender even when all is lost. Shiba Inu will do what he thinks make sense but not necessarily what makes sense to the owner, and they will continue to fight until they get what they want. This trait makes it challenging for training. A rule of thumb when training a Shiba Inu is being very consistent, firm and patient. Your puppy will eventually get it and learn to behave properly if you are consistent and firm.

Check out the video about how to train a Shiba Inu below:

Independent Thinker  

Shiba Inu is highly intelligent and they do not follow any command blindly unless it makes sense to him. Combining with the stubborn and strong will nature. No wonder people normally do not recommend first time dog owner getting a Shiba Inu. Shiba Inu normally is not eager to please the owner either, unlike other popular dog breed like golden retriever who always come to you when you call his name. A Shiba Inu only follows the command when it makes sense to him. However, it is not impossible to train him and if you are using the right technique it can be a very rewarding journey. The first step to train your puppy is building a mutual respect. But how? Eye contact is a good place to start.

Eye Contact

I found eye contact extremely important when it comes to building mutual respect and understanding with your dog. This concept is rarely mentioned in other dog training videos or blogs. Try to make your dog look at you before you give him any command. A simple example can be when playing fetch with him, do not throw the ball unless your Shiba Inu looks at you first. Praise him whenever he looks at you so he will learn to look at you for directions going forward. And again, training a Shiba Inu for eye contact is not an easy task, but if you are consistent and firm on the command you will notice your dog looking at you more often, and by maintaining frequent eye contact is a great first step to enhance mutual respect and bonding with your dog.  

Critical Period for Development

Shiba Inu doesn’t necessarily get along well with other dogs so it is up to the owner to socialize this unique breed as early as it is safe to do so. Normally when finished all puppy first round vaccines that’s when to start initial socialization. To raise a well balanced and happy dog I would recommend first year is the most critical period. Try to socialize your Shiba Inu with as many dogs and human as possible to prevent potential later on dog aggression. I used to go to Petsmart once a week for their free puppy play time and Petsmart trainer offers free training during that half an hour play time. We did not pay anything for professional dog training for our dog. Most times other dogs are the best trainer when it comes to socialization. If you have a dog park around , take your Shiba Inu to the park at least once a week to make sure he is used to and comfortable when being around with other dogs and human.

Daily Exercise

Shiba Inu is a compact size dog and can adjust to an apartment environment, but it does require daily exercise. It is also strongly recommended that you have a fenced yard to let your Shiba Inu roaming around. Daily walks or hikes is a great way to exercise your Shiba Inu and they can walk for a long period of time thanks to their tremendous endurance. Shiba Inu is highly intelligent so not only it needs physical stimulation it also requires mental stimulation to exercise its doggo brain. Mental stimulation can be something as simple as exploring nearby neighborhood during daily walks, or short training sessions. If your dog doesn’t get enough activity either mentally or physically, he will find his own projects. Which normally includes destructive behavior like biting furniture or carpet. If your dog constantly exhibit those destructive behavior, check if you have provided him enough physical and mental stimulation. If you provide enough stimulation to your dog he should be more calm and exhibit less destructive behavior.   


To summarize, Shiba Inu is definitely not an easy breed and is not for everyone. But if you have done enough research and know what you are getting yourself into, you can be a successful Shiba Inu owner even if it is your first dog. Being patient, consistent and firm with your dog is key to success and be ready to carve out at least 2-3 hours of your day dedicating to train and bond with your new puppy. You will experience one of the most rewarding journey. Thanks for reading and do check out the video linked to this article to learn more about this special breed.