This brainy dog can count, do sums and even knows Japanese!

·3-min read

This clever dog can count to ten, recognise pictures and answer yes or no questions - in both English and Japanese!

Six-year-old Akira has learnt to do sums that a four-year-old child may struggle with, as well being able to recognise colours and shapes.

His owner and trainer, Monica Elkhalifa, 50, can say a word and the dog will tap the flashcard with an image of that word when presented with two different pictures.

She began training her Shibu Inu five years ago after she found she couldn't tire him out with just long walks and a tennis ball!

She said: "I just thought it would be fun to teach him a few numbers - just an exercise to keep him busy. I was overjoyed when he learned the number four. 

"After that he quickly learned five to ten and as he mastered each stage or level, I had to develop new ideas to keep him mentally active and build on the earlier lessons. 

"This included teaching him counting, addition and mixing colours and objects, and the yes and no cards."

Akira started by learning the command to tap the card and progressed to recognising shapes and numbers, and eventually simple addition.

He now knows nearly 90 words, and when told a sum will point to the numbered card that is the solution, even after the cards are switched over or changed. 

Even though dogs are thought to be largely colour blind, Akira has also been trained to recognise different colours.

The pair live in Abu Dhabi, UAE with Monca's husband Sami Elkhalifa and their other dog Miko, a four-year-old German Shepherd-mix.

They have been inseparable since Monica adopted Akira when he was a puppy. 

Monica started to train him when he was young with games like hide-and-seek and finding treats in toys.

She said: "He was always very curious and inquisitive - more so than any dog we have had. 

"He often looks behind the TV to see where the people or animals are. When he was little he would go under glass tables and look at things on them.

After just under a year, corporate Monica wanted to push her pooch's mind further, but couldn't find any method that was available on the market.

She made her own flashcards that she used to familiarise Akira with shapes and commands, but admits that at the start she did not know what Akira would be capable of.

She said: "Shiba Inus are very independent and clever, I really felt that he needed something extra apart from his physical exercises."

Akira was first trained to tap the card with a command, then Monica familiarised him with the shape of a number or image by tracing it with her finger and saying it our loud. 

The next stage is to learn to count, which is done by holding a flashcard with a number on it next to a card with that number of tennis balls on it and count them out loud.

Akira is trained five times a week in ten minute sessions, and his dog-mum says that it is making him calmer and even looks forward to his training. 

His next challenge is to master subtraction, and has no plans to stop anytime soon.

From her success with sharpening Akira's mind, Monica developed The Professor Akira Method: Brain Training for Dogs, where pet owners can train their dogs with a set of flashcards and a handful of treats (or two!)

Monica said: "It is also such a great way to bond, especially during these challenging times when walks might be fewer."

You can follow the Professor Akira Method on social media at @ProfessorAkiraDog on

Instagram or @ProfessorAkira on Twitter, and find out more at www.professorakira.com.