The Japanese Hokkaido Ken is one of the most primitive breeds today. They are known for they loyalty, determination, and courage to their owner. They are confident dogs and are rarely intimidated by dogs or animals much larger than themselves. The Hokkaido retains much of its hunting instinct, and will chase and hunt small critters, meaning that housing them with cats or small mammals may not be suitable if not socialized under controlled conditions. It is advised that they are not left unattended with cats or small mammals, even if they seem t be the best of friends, and that they are kept on a lead unless in an enclosed, safe, outdoor space.
The Hokkaido can be aloof with strangers and unknown dogs, so it is important that these unknowns are introduced on the Hokkaido’s terms, meaning the stranger should wait for the Hokkaido to initiate contact. They dislike ‘rude’ canine behavior, and will often give a warning ‘woo’ or bark if a dog is unwanted in their personal space. If spooked, they may appear to have a flight or fight response. It is important that as a dog owner, you recognize these behaviours as soon as possible, and to reduce them via positive reinforcement training.
They are very attached to their owners, and will try to please whenever possible. They are quick to learn, and very intelligent. This makes training easy, but only if you recognise that the Hokkaido will ‘want something in it for him’ during the training session. Keeping the Hokkaido engaged and keep the training sessions interesting is key so they don’t get bored and become stubborn. It is important to get your Hokkaido used to spending time on its own from a young age, as this will reduce the risk of it developing separation anxiety later in life, This can lead to very stressful fear response from the dog, as well as unwanted destruction at home.
It is also crucial that you get your dog used to the vet practice. Hokkaido are known to hate the vets, and make it very well known to the practice and staff! Practice ‘examining’ your dog. Run your hands all over his body, around his face, in his mouth; gently touching his ears, and his feet. This is how a vet will conduct a clinical exam. Ask your vet to show you how to ‘raise a vein’ and hold your dogs head back for a blood test. Although you will never perform such actions (this will be done by a vet or vet nurse away from you in the practice), it will get your dog used to these actions. A trip to the vets should not be scary or stressful for your dog, and it’ll make the experience much more pleasant for both your Hokkaido and the vet! Please check out our facebook page for monthly blog posts on how to make a vet visit much more enjoyable for you and your Hokkaido!