There are several different events and competitions that Akitas are very successful in winning and competing. They really are a multi-faceted dog that is fully prepared to attempt anything that the owner asks, making them idea for any type of obedience or show type work.
Typically the majority of Akitas that are used as competitive dogs work in the highly demanding competitive obedience classes. In these events the dogs and their handlers progress through increasingly more demanding levels of competition. This increasing demand for obedience is essential in allowing the Akita and other breeds to build on a strong foundation as they practice and learn to work with their handler.
In the most basic types of obedience training the handlers and dogs are still scored as to how well they work in harmony, however the commands and routines are shorter and more basic. Typically even older puppies and juvenile dogs can be seen in this level of competition which includes commands such as sit, stay, come and down and heel. Often puppy classes will have an informal type of competition at the end of the class duration to assess the skills of the puppy and the dog in working together. Some dogs and handlers may be encouraged or may find an interest in advancing to the more competitive levels as sanctioned by different clubs, organizations or even the major competitions held by the American Kennel Club or other national organizations in different areas of the world.
In most cases, obedience training is done with a step by step, command by command type of training. Young puppies and dogs will learn commands by rote and practice, with some breeds even basic commands can take many repetitions to master and always follow. The Akita, because if the strong bonding with the handler, the high level of intelligence and the strong desire to please will often learn new commands in just a few repetitions, allowing them to rapidly advance through basic and even advanced levels of obedience training. Not all Akitas and not all handlers are going to advance at a rapid pace, each dog and individual will have their own potential issues and challenges that will need to be addressed.
Obedience trials and competitions at more advanced levels are highly demanding. In these classes everything the dog does or does not do when given a command can count against the dog. For example, if the owner gives a recall or come command off-leash during a competition and the dog wanders off a straight line back to the owner to sniff or smell, they will have points deduced. If the dog has to be told the same command twice because he or she was inattentive, points are deducted. This high level of communication and attention between the owner and the Akita is really a challenge to obtain and maintain as the Akita does have a somewhat independent spirit and is a dog that can be headstrong at times.
There are several different commands that will be required in most types of obedience trials. These include all work off-leash and include a recall, heeling through a pattern, drop on recall, physical examination by the judge, retrieving, retrieving over a jump and other specialized commands. The judge will tell the handler when to execute each command so the dog and handler cannot simply memorize a pattern.
Other types of classes for obedience may also include other aspects of training. Open classes can have scent and tracking, directed retrieve, and even a long sit and long down type of group activity. In this activity, typically used in both novice level and open classes the dogs must sit or lie down on command and the owners walk away, and then return to the dogs. The dogs must not move from their command position or stand to greet the handlers. Another option often seen in the open classes have the handlers leave the ring completely and be out of the dog's sight for three to five minutes before returning. During these activities the whole class of dogs is in the ring, adding even more temptations for the dogs.
Akitas can also compete in agility classes for large breeds. They are naturally very athletic dogs and will do well in this type of event. Similar to obedience the dog and owner must work as an effective team through a variety of obstacles to complete the course. Dogs have to go over jumps, through tunnels, and around and through poles and other strategically placed obstacles. The dog also has to jump up on a low pause table, wait on command, and then proceed through the rest of the course.
Akitas have been used for many different types of activities. They can be trained as retrieving dogs and, both historically and currently, are used as hunting dogs. Typically the Akita has a good sense of scent discrimination but they do need additional training in scent tracking for these types of events and competitions. Generally the Akita has what is known as a soft mouth, similar to that of retrievers, so they can be very effective dogs for waterfowl and upland game bird hunting.
Although Akitas are used as military and police dogs in Japan and other countries, they are not typically used in the Schutzhund type of police dog competitions. It is likely their slightly independent temperament and true desire to study the issue before responding to a command may cause some difficult in these types of high intensity events. That is not to say that some Akitas may not be outstanding Schutzhund dogs, it is just that they have a different response to a potential threatening situation than many of the other traditional Schutzhund competition breeds have. In addition the Akita is not a barker, which means they are less likely to take the time to alert on the decoy hiding in the course and simply take care of the issue on their own.
Akitas are really a very gentle giant type of dog and can be taught many different types of tricks and commands. Understanding their thoughtful yet dominant nature and working with higher levels of tricks and routines will encourage the Akita to keep excelling either in competitions or as a much loved pet.