“Surviving” an Airedale– Lessons From a First-Time Owner – Part 2, by S.M.

Crate Training Your Puppy: 8 weeks to 10 months

This was the most difficult stage with our Airedale. The crate was located in our family room, so he was integrated with us most of the time, except when sleeping. We purchased a large wire crate for the house and a separate 10’ x 10’ exercise pen for outdoors with a top cover from Tractor Supply purchased during a Labor Day sale. The top was included free. Most breeders begin crate training as pups. This is an effective training method for your dog and creates a secure den-like atmosphere where the pup can feel safe while sleeping. It prevents rowdy behavior, such as destroying property when left alone, especially with teething puppies. They love to chew, and there’s no better place than in his cage with a safe toy. (We use the XXL large Kong toy).

Our Airedale has spent a fair amount of time in his pen/cage inside the house because of his tendency to mouth and chew everything, and I mean everything. We bought a green dog toy for both inside and outside for him to chew and play with. It is common for pups to chew on electrical cords and shock themselves, and this must be avoided.

The crate is also where he learns to control his bladder. Dogs will go to great lengths to keep from soiling their den. Your puppy will be housebroken more quickly and experience fewer accidents when taken outside regularly. Our pup was housebroken by three months of age, but he still had the occasional accident because of training his bladder. During this stage, I discovered how smart the Airedale is and his ability to manipulate. He would sometimes do “his business” (no. 1) in the cage when he wanted my attention or when he wanted to play outside. He would stare at me as if to say, “It is play time so take me out, and I know just how to get you to take me.”

The foldable crate we have doubles as a breathable car transport in hot weather and provides a safe place to rest or sleep while enjoying a ride in the car. During cooler weather, we open up our SUV back hatch and roll down the window. Our Airedale enjoys the breeze while staying in the cage. I found a good used XL Solvit dog ramp at a local Goodwill. I use this rather than stressing his joints jumping in and out of the back of our four-wheel drive SUV. It’s made out of light-weight aluminum that folds up and fits nicely in my SUV cargo area. Note: One final word about crate training, rescue centers have indicated that the most frequent reason given for surrender of dogs is often that owners just couldn’t take the destruction of their property and home. We picked up our pup in August– the hottest part of the year. Leaving a dog out for any more than 30 minutes to an hour (sometimes that’s even too long) in the summer heat and humidity can be dangerous and even fatal. We put a baby pool full of water in the exercise cage to help the pup stay hydrated. The pool can be turned over or spilled et cetera, so supervision is still recommended. I zip tied a hose with a brass sprayer to the pen for constant misting into the pool. Airedales love the water, and he thoroughly enjoys drinking from the sprayer. The downside to this pleasurable habit was the mud he created and the dirt he then brought into the house and indoor crate. We cleaned his cage out regularly with an earth friendly product called Whip It. Sadly, we found out one of our dog’s siblings died because the owner left their pup out in the Gulf coast August heat all day.

Chewing and Mouthing

Airedales are loving dogs, but they are infamous for chewing, mouthing, and as mentioned earlier destroying anything they put their mouth on. We thought he would be like a “normal” puppy. This breed is the most tenacious puppy we’ve ever had. We can‘t say that enough! Previously, we owned a Boxer and an Australian shepherd. They were no comparison to the Airedale’s combination of energy, stubbornness, and intelligence level. Even at 14 months of age he still occasionally likes to mouth. This bad habit requires a consistent reprimand. We use the firm command “no mouth” to address this. We understand from our Airedale club that this “mouthing” may continue up until he is two years old. This is not biting. Using his front teeth to squeeze gently, he is sending a message that he doesn’t particular like what’s being commanded. We also learned this gentle mouthing might also be a sign of his affection for us. Nevertheless, he has to learn that this habit is not acceptable.

Formal Training

We found a dog-training program that has been operating for over 50 years. Their mission statement: To encourage and assist members and other interested persons to train their dogs to compete in trials according to the American Kennel Club and United Kennel Club Rules and Regulations.

We signed up for six-week Obedience 1 class. Detailed information was provided at the first class outlining each week’s commands to be learned. They provided Leadership for “Being Top Dog”, Pack Leader’s Bill of Rights, and Do’s & Don’ts on How to Become a Pack Leader.

We also got a copy of The Canine Good Citizen by Jack & Wendy Volhard ©1964

Being Top Dog

It’s not a matter of choice. Since dogs are pack animals, you and your family are now part of the pack. As far as your dog is concerned, no pack can exist without a leader, and it’s either you or him. That’s the way it has to be. You may think that you just want to be friends or partners with your dog, and you can be, but for the well-being of the dog, you must be the one in charge. In today’s complicated world, you cannot rely on your pet to make the decisions. Few dogs actively seek leadership and most are perfectly content for you to assume that role, so long as you do. But you must do so, or even the meekest dogs will try and take over. Remember that it’s not a matter of choice. For everyone’s safety, you have to be the one in charge.

Pack Leader’s Bill of Rights

2. To stand, sit, or lie down where they want.
3. To have access to the “prime spots” in the household.
4. To control entry to, or from, any room in the house.
5. To proceed through all narrow openings first.
6. To initiate the hunt and dictate where to hunt.
7. To demand attention from subordinate pack members.
8. To ignore or actively discourage unwanted attention.
9. To restrict the movement of lesser ranking pack members.
10. To win all games.

Formal Training – Eight weeks to four months

We introduced the collar and leash as we continued with outside bathroom training. He didn’t like the leash training. He jumped on us and used his sharp puppy teeth on our clothes, shoes, et cetera. This is typical puppy stuff but with an Airedale attitude. We reinforced the “no jumping,” “down,” “off,” “stop” commands, et cetera. The breeder encouraged us by letting us know that the female they kept from the same litter was already very familiar the “No” word, so we continued reinforcing. At six months of age, we began the obedience training with a well-established dog school. Positive reinforcement methods were used, both positive praise and food-based rewards. Our Airedale was fitted with a German-made Sprenger prong collar, choker chain, and leather 6-foot leash. CAUTION: Always remove the prong and choker collars when the dog is unsupervised, because they can get caught on the cage and strangle the dog.

It’s very important for your dog to be fitted properly with both a prong and choker collar. The choker provides a backup for the prong collar, which occasionally can come unhooked.

He passed Obedience 1 and Obedience 2 shortly after that. Obedience 1 covered basic commands, such as dog under control, no barking, down, down/stay, settle, Heel on leash, leave it, place and automatic sits, circle right, circle left with serpentine healing, come front on leash and get it, stand and stay for five seconds, and walk around dog. The class was made up of 10 dogs varying in size and age. At six months of age, our Airedale was the youngest participate. Obedience 2 covered a review of first class plus get in, stand while handler walks full circle dog, fast recall on 15-foot leash (with sit and short finish), short and long finish, back beside wall for three steps, and twist and catch. Because he was so cute, he passed both classes even with some “minor” infractions.

Breeder Recommended Dog Food

We feed high-quality dry dog food only. Science Hill Dog Food or Purina Pro was recommended by our Breeder.