The Shiba Inu has been described as a dog that looks like a fox, acts like a cat, and loves like a dog.
Their physical appearance reminds you of a fox. The way they don’t pay attention to commands reminds you of a cat.
And their loyalty to their human family is as intense as any other breed of dog.
And they have many different sounds and noises they can use to tell you exactly what they are thinking.
One of the reasons Shiba Inus make great apartment dogs is that they don’t bark at just any noise.
If they hear something that concerns them, they will let you know.
They get louder when they are happy, angry, or alarmed, just like people do, but they normally aren’t the kind of dog that barks all the time.
Are Shiba Inus Good Apartment Dogs?
Shibu Inus have a lot going for them.
Let’s take a look at the pros of owning a Shibu Inu when living in an apartment.
- Shiba Inus are the right size for apartment living. A Shiba Inu is a compact little dog. They weigh around 20 pounds (9 kilos), males averaging 22 pounds (10 kilos) and females 18 pounds (8 kilos).
- Shiba Inus are unusually fastidious dogs. They like to keep their coats clean. They spend a lot of time grooming themselves by licking their coat and paws like a cat.
- Shiba Inus are easy to house train. If you just let your Shiba Inus go outside, she will figure the rest out for herself.
- Shiba Inus are expressive, entertaining dogs. They make a yodeling sound when they are talking back to you. They occasionally let out a scream, usually to warn of imminent danger, but sometimes to let you know that they really, really need to go outside.
A Shiba Inu is the kind of dog you want in a disaster.
Here’s an example.
During the Yamakoshi earthquake in 2004, a Shiba Inu found a way to crawl out of the rubble.
First, she got her puppies to a safe place. Then, she found her elderly owner, woke him up, and barked to let emergency crews know where to dig.
The old man was airlifted to a hospital in another city. When he returned two weeks later, his dog and her puppies were waiting for him.
Everything about Shiba Inus, however, isn’t positive.
- Like cats, Shiba Inus follow the commands they want to obey. They aren’t clingy. They aren’t prone to separation anxiety. They want attention when they want it, but they may not want to play on your schedule.
- Shiba Inus are highly intelligent dogs that will find a way to escape your apartment when they want to explore the outside world (or when they need a potty break). They have keen powers of observation.
- Both male and female Shiba Inus can be drama queens. They communicate their displeasure with a yelp.
- Shiba Inus play rough with other dogs. A Shiba Inu puppy will be hard for an older dog of any breed to tolerate.
- Shiba Inus get along well with cats, but not with other small animals. This is a dog that will become very excited at the sight of a squirrel. If you also keep a mouse, hamster, guinea pig, or ferret, you will have to make clear to your dog that these animals are part of the family, too, and not to be hunted.
No matter what other pet you have, your Shiba Inu will want to be the boss.
Shiba Inus can be territorial and aggressive about defending their space, their food bowl, and their toys.
It is not a good idea to leave an untrained Shiba Inu alone with other pets or children.
Whether you are buying a Shiba Inu puppy or adopting a Shiba Inu rescue dog, your Shiba Inu will take a lot of work.
Shiba Inu puppies are excitable, and, other than house training, want to learn on their own schedule. Older Shiba Inus may have bad habits that will take a lot of work to correct.
Four Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Adopt an Adult Shiba Inu
Think about the following questions before you bring a Shiba Inu, especially an adult Shiba Inu, into your home.
What are your expectations for your dog?
Many dog lovers adopt puppies, expecting them to be like little babies, giving their owners attention all the time. Shiba Inus are more like little teenagers.
They can be adorable, but they have their own way of thinking and their own ideas about what they want.
Are you able to dog-proof your apartment before your Shiba Inu arrives?
Whether you are bringing home a puppy or an adult, you will need to make a separate space in your home where your dog can learn the rules for living with you.
This doesn’t mean you should plan on keeping your Shiba Inu in a kennel most of the time. That would cause your dog a great deal of distress.
But you need a large space where a bored dog will do very little damage until your Shiba Inu gets to know you and you get to know your Shiba Inu.
Do you have the patience to work through any issues your Shiba Inu may have?
Shiba Inu puppies are easy to house train, and rescue Shiba Inus are almost certain to have already been house trained. That is the good news.
The challenge of adopting a rescue Shiba Inu is waiting until they decide they like you.
Your Shiba Inu may never enjoy cuddling with you, especially if it was abused before it went to the animal shelter.
Fortunately, there usually is a point at which it’s almost like something flipped an affection switch and your dog will decide you are friends.
Do you already have pets that will be affected by the introduction of an alpha dog?
Shiba Inus regard every other pet and every human in their household as a potential minion.
They are not intimidated by bigger animals. Their initial connection with you is highly dependent on food.
Questions to Ask Before You Get a Shiba Inu Puppy
Many people find it easier to bond with puppies than with adult dogs.
Any young puppy is going to be nervous in a new home, but if you get a puppy that is about seven to eleven weeks old, it will be naturally curious.
Your puppy will enjoy bonding with you as much as you enjoy bonding with it.
Finding a responsible breeder is the most important thing you can do before you bring a Shiba Inu puppy into your apartment.
Responsible breeders choose healthy, good-natured parents for the puppies they sell, and they will let you visit your puppy in person one or more times before you bring it home.
Ask yourself these questions before you bring a Shiba Inu puppy home.
Do you have the time to train your puppy?
Training Shiba Inu puppies is time-consuming. The training you give them as puppies affects every aspect of their adult life.
Without the proper training as a puppy, your Shiba Inu may become too independent, too rambunctious, and too destructive to make a good pet through the next 12 to 16 years of its long life.
From the very first moment you bring a Shiba Inu puppy home, you must establish that you are the boss.
He may not always obey, but you cannot let him believe that he is in charge.
Do you have the time, energy, and budget to dog-proof your apartment?
You will have to give your Shiba Inu puppy constant attention.
And, as we will discuss in the next section, dog-proofing your home can be time-consuming and expensive.
Still want to keep a Shiba Inu in your apartment? Let’s consider how to make living with a Shiba Inu work.
Dog-Proofing Your Apartment for Shiba Inus
Before you bring your Shiba Inu home, you need to dog-proof your apartment.
This is true whether you are getting a puppy or an adult. Many people think they don’t need to make any preparations for an adult dog.
But with an escape artist like a Shiba Inu, extra care is needed.
Supplies you will need for your Shiba Inu
Every Shiba Inu needs a crate for nighttime sleep and daytime naps. A wire crate can cost $50 to $350, and a portable crate can cost $35 to $200. (All prices are in US dollars.)
You will need a bed to put inside the crate. This can cost $10 to $50.
You will need a short leash while your Shiba Inu is still learning to respect boundaries. It will cost $6 to $15. Later, you will need a retractable leash. It will cost $10 to $30.
Your Shiba Inu will need a collar, costing $10 to $30, food and water bowls that cost $10 to $40 each, a canine toothbrush (the kind they sell in pet shops, designed specifically for dogs) that will cost $3 to $15.
You will need to get toys, plastic bags for poop patrol, training treats, and dog food, for another $50 to $150.
Preparing children for the arrival of your Shiba Inu
Shiba Inus have a double coat that makes them look a lot like a living plush toys.
Small children will want to hug them, but you need to make sure that they do not become aggressive with their dog.
Children need to be reminded that Shiba Inus are not lap dogs, that they should not be disturbed while they are eating, that chase is an outside game, and that valuables need to be stored where the dog cannot reach them.
What to do if you already have another dog
Introducing a Shiba Inu to another dog takes some preparation.
At first, you will need to make sure that your current dog has its bed and toys in its own space, where the Shiba Inu won’t disturb them. You need to give the Shiba Inu an exclusive space.
If possible, you should arrange a playdate for your current dog to meet the Shiba Inu you plan to adopt before you bring the Shiba Inu home.
But before you do that, make sure the Shiba Inu is introduced to your current dog by smell.
For dogs, smelling is believing. If you give each of your dogs something with the other dog’s scent on it a few days before they meet in person, they will already know each other.
If your dogs bear their teeth and growl, take a break and start over again another day. Usually, this problem is avoided by making scent introductions first.
With preparation and training, a Shiba Inu can make a great apartment dog. It will be a beautiful, loyal animal that will get attention every time you take it outside.
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