Akitas can seem intimidating to people who are unfamiliar with this athletic, robust breed; but when it comes to it, the Akita is a loving and affectionate dog. Affection has limits for any dog, however, and when there is inter-species miscommunication, or individual preferences get ignored. But just how affectionate is the Akita, and how cuddly are they?
Are Akita Dogs Cuddly? No Akitas are not cuddly dogs. The Akita can be very affectionate once they form a strong bond with one person. An affectionate Akita is not necessarily cuddly – displays of affection in dogs are not the same as displays of affection in humans. An affectionate Akita is more likely to show its affection through proximity, gifting, and preference of choice.
In the following article, I will look at some of the more affectionate behaviors of the Akita and answer questions like: Are Akitas cuddly? Are Akitas Clingy? Do Akitas Like Attention? Do Akitas Only Like One Person?
Are Akitas Cuddly?
Akitas are devoted to their family unit and bond closely with their primary caregiver, but they are generally not “cuddly.” It isn’t only the Akita that doesn’t care for cuddling, though! Most dogs will avoid “cuddle time’” with their human. Dogs and humans speak two different languages, but both species rely on body language to convey a message. Unfortunately, human body language and canine body language are not always simpatico.
For example, as humans, we put an arm around someone or hug them when they are distressed. This gesture shows affection and caring. For dogs, however, a paw or limb on top of someone indicates dominance and can induce feelings of fear – this is why experts discourage hugging between humans and their dogs.
But what about proximity? In the wild, a dog’s proximity to the Alpha figure indicates its higher status in the pack. Dogs closer to the leader get to eat before others – they get the better cuts of meat. This reward system does not mean that dogs do not take comfort from that closeness; however, something you will notice if you ever observe a den of wild dogs. For dogs, closeness brings safety, companionship and fulfills a sense of belonging for the dogs in the pack.
As humans, we like to think that our dogs experience the same range of emotions we do – we anthropomorphize our pets. Our dogs indeed experience many of the same emotions as us, but how we display those emotions can be very different and cause unfortunate miscommunication.
It is also important to remember that all dogs are individuals, and just like us, some appreciate affection, where others shy away from attention. Whichever category your colorful Akita falls into, always respect your dog’s preference. Pushing your dog into an uncomfortable situation can result in injury and a loss of trust that can be hard for your dog to overcome.
Are Akitas Clingy?
Akitas are affectionate to their family, but a strong and healthy Akita should never be clingy. A clingy Akita can be an indication of a behavioral or health problem that needs addressing. A healthy and well-rounded dog of any breed should never be “clingy.” If your dog is clingy, there are a few things to consider.
Have you always been present in your dog’s life?
If you have constantly been around for your dog but recently have started leaving them alone more often, your dog’s clinginess is likely a symptom of separation anxiety. Other signs of separation anxiety include:
- Excessive salivation
- Digging/scratching at doors or drywall
- Destructive behavior
If your dog is showing signs of separation anxiety, talk to your veterinarian and a behavioral trainer. A trainer can help you to create new patterns of behavior with your dog. Your veterinarian can help to ease symptoms until your dog has learned new patterns of behavior.
Is Your Senior Dog Suddenly Clingy?
If you have a senior dog that has suddenly become clingy, check in with your veterinarian first. A physical exam can identify any medical issues that could be causing your dog’s anxiety.
Like humans, senior dogs can experience something called “Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.” CCD is like Alzheimer’s and can cause symptoms of anxiety and confusion (particularly as the sun is just going down.) Other signs of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction include:
- Getting “lost” in familiar places
- “Forgetting” rules or training
If your senior dog shows signs consistent with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, speak with your veterinarian about a treatment plan. Vets often prescribe Anipryl to ease anxiety symptoms, but there are also other changes that you can make at home to make your senior dog more comfortable.
Is Your Dog Clingy After a Recent Event?
Have you only just adopted your dog? Or perhaps your dog just returned from a week at the kennel? If your dog’s behavior has changed because of a change in its life, first, check them for any signs of illness or trauma. Clinginess can be the direct result of a traumatic event like a biting incident.
If your dog has no signs of injury or illness, call and speak with your dog’s kennel or shelter staff. Ask the staff if there is anything of which you should be aware. Information can help you to make your anxious dog feel more comfortable.
If you come up with no information that could explain your dog’s behavior, allow a few days (if you have had them for a while) or a few weeks (if they are a new dog to your home) for them to settle into a routine. If your dog is still exhibiting clingy behavior after a reasonable amount of time, talk to your veterinarian.
Is Your Dog Suddenly Clingy For No Reason?
If your dog has always been healthy and well-balanced, but suddenly becomes clingy for no reason, head to your vet for a complete physical and bloodwork. Sometimes illness can cause sudden behavioral changes in previously healthy dogs.
If your newly clingy dog shows other unusual symptoms too (for example, unsteady gait,) mention those to your vet as they can help your vet to make a diagnosis.
Do Akitas Like Attention?
The Akita is a human-centric dog and prefers human companionship over the companionship of other animals. In fact, this Spitz breed frequently challenges other pets in the household (especially when the affection of a favorite family member is at stake!)
Although the Akita loves attention from their chosen human and family members, they may not be amenable to strangers. Dedicated to protecting their family, the Akita can be very wary of any stranger approaching and will not hesitate to ward them off with a resounding bark.
Early socialization can help Akitas to get used to strangers and be less on edge around unfamiliar people. It is not just strangers that can overwhelm the Akita, though. This dog prefers a small family setting, and large gatherings can leave the Akita feeling nervous and confused with so many people to watch as they “guard” their human.
When it comes to attention from their favorite person, though, the Akita cannot get enough! Always happy to get closer for a head scratch or belly rub, the Akita becomes a real baby when pampered by their best human friend!
Do Akitas Only Like One Person?
Some dog breeds prefer to attach to a singular person in the household rather than the whole family. The Akita is one of these breeds. The Akita has a fierce sense of loyalty to their family “pack” and will defend them to the death without hesitation; however, they tend to develop a unique and deep attachment to their primary caregiver. The primary caregiver is usually the person who feeds, walks, bathes, trains, and gives treats.
Not all Akitas can be painted with the same brush, though, and some of these athletic dogs see themselves as the family guardian. These dogs often walk circuits of the house to check on each family member and ensure that all is well.
It is a good idea to split duties between family members if you want to adopt an Akita and would like to encourage them to be more of a “family dog.” For example, mom could do one walk a day, dad could do the other, and everyone takes a turn at offering rewards for good behavior.
This approach to raising your Akita will teach them that everyone in your home is part of the pack and lessen the likelihood of your dog attaching to a single person.