The shiba inu, also known as the Japanese shiba inu or "shiba" is becoming a more popular breed in the United States. Already popular in their native Japan, shibas appeal to Americans because of they look like a small, reddish, fluffy wolf and rarely grow to more than 16.5 inches high at the shoulder. They are feisty, strong, intelligent dogs. This makes them ideally suited to the sport of dog agility.
Agility training requires a dog to go through a series of obstacles. In agility competitions, the dog that goes through the course without knocking anything over wins. Going through the obstacles not only burns up a shiba inu's abundant energy, but also keeps the dog from getting bored. A bored shiba inu full of energy left alone in a home will be very likely to develop bad behaviors, such as chewing up the furniture.
Obstacles such as A-frames, jumps, collapsible tunnels or weave poles can be purchased from pet supply stores or made. But, especially for those living in the U.K., there may be an agility club in your area where you can use the equipment. The other most important pieces of equipment are a bag of bite-size treats, a collar and a leash.
Shiba inus can be easily distracted--especially puppies. The shiba inu needs to be leashed in the beginning phases of training. The leash also helps the dog pay more attention to the handler. Bad behavior should be ignored. Good behavior should be rewarded with verbal praise or food treats. Use those treats only for agility training. Shiba inus can be aggressive with other dogs, so if there are any other dogs around, be sure the dog is leashed. Keep training sessions short--about 15 minutes--to not get the dog bored.
It may take months or years before a shiba inu learns the hand signals and verbal commands needed to negotiate a course and to do it off-leash. There are many levels of agility classes, but shiba inus usually will compete with dogs of their own size. Some competitions may not allow shibas because of their reputation for aggressiveness, but this would be the choice of the individual agility competition.
Dogs in agility classes perform without a leash. According to the National Shiba Club of America, shiba inus are prone to suddenly wandering off the course or suddenly deciding that they want to go through the course in a way other than where their handler wants them to go. A shiba inu may enjoy an obstacle so much that it goes back and does the obstacle again. Laugh at this and do not yell at or punish the dog. If a shiba associates an agility course with being punished, this will sour the dog on agility altogether.