How Do You Know If A Dog
Has Been Accepted By Its Pack?

by Roisin McLaughlin

We have four Akitas, mother, father and two pups.

One of the pups seems to always go its own way while the other three seem to stay together in a click.

At times they all take turns grooming each other, but the pup in question does not share the same kennel, which is more like a shed to accommodate all of them.

Sometimes we feel the pup has not been accepted as when she was younger, we sold her, but the new owners brought her back.

Could this be why she seems to want to be alone or, have the others not accepted her yet and if not, what can be done about this?

Answer From the Editors at Dog-Spoiling

Hello Roisin,

Thanks for submitting your question.

First of all I must say you have taken on quite a task in rearing multiple dogs which is always a challenge, but must be more so with such powerful dogs as the Akita dog breed.

Now on to your question.

Not knowing the all the facts, such as age of the puppy in question when she was sold, her current age, how long she spent with the other family before being returned to you and why she was returned, makes it a bit difficult to answer your question easily. However, I will give you my thoughts from a more general standpoint.

Dogs - especially puppies, have short memories and during the time she was with the new family, she may have started to forget about her previous pack - both human and canine.

It is also quite possible that your puppy started to bond with the other family - that is to whomever was the human pack leader in that household.

Upon being returned to you, she may have felt that she wasn't part of any pack, confused or even a little bit adrift. Your other dogs may also view her as a newcomer and as such she will now have to earn a place in the pack, if she wants one.

Akitas can be a somewhat independent breed so her actions to go her own way are not really unusual.

You can help her become reunited with your family by taking the alpha role yourself - if you haven't already done so. All dogs need a human pack leader. This is the only way they can he reliably domesticated, learn their house manners and be obedience-trained.

Because they intuitively know that they need you for survival and they love to be included in family life, becoming the top dog is usually not a struggle.

To help your isolated pup get back into the mainstream, try to set up activities where you can interact with all of them at the same time. For example, taking your dogs on walks together and playing games with them as a group will help them socialize with each other as well as accept your leadership.

Making sure your other dogs see you "the leader" interacting with the loner pup, at the same time as with the rest of them, will also send a message that you consider her as part of the pack.

You may witness a bit of competition as you do this and they may even get into some mild confrontations. But let them work it out - this is how pack order is established.

It may take a bit of time for the returned pup to become fully reunited with all of you, so give it a bit of time. On the other hand, depending on her age and the nature of some Akitas to be a bit detached, she may be perfectly happy the way things are.

One thing you mentioned, but didn't explain, is why she is not sharing the same kennel with the other dogs? Have the other dogs been aggressive with her? I assume this to be the case, and it would certainly account for some of her loner behavior as well as an indication that they haven't accepted her yet.

Akitas usually bond strongly to their human pack leader. When there are multiple dogs, a pack order is established under your leadership. Dogs usually establish order among themselves while puppies are still in the litter.

You might want to read the book Hachiko, or watch the movie, to understand just how loyal Akitas can be to their master.

Related page: The Akita Dog Breed

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