By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2015
Are Airedales easy to train?
Let me tell you a story about four Airedale Terriers.
Let's start with Beau and Rose. I met Beau and Rose at an obedience trial. Their owner was a tall, trim, athletic gentleman who was very much "into" advanced obedience training with his two tall, trim, athletic Airedales. They were most impressive-looking dogs, let me tell you. They carried themselves with confidence and dignity, just oozing competence. (So did their owner, I might add, which was not just a coincidence.)
In the obedience ring, Beau and Rose performed impeccably, giving me and my two German Shepherds a run for our money. I can't remember which of us won that day, but it was the first of many meetings we were to have over the years, and who won became less important than our growing friendship and respect. Beau and Rose were highly intelligent, learned quickly, and would do anything asked of them. I came away from those years with first-hand knowledge of what could be accomplished in training Airedales.
Now fast-forward ten years to Jethro and Dixie. Jethro was a big strapping adolescent Airedale who was fully in charge of his household. His hapless owner had lost control of Jethro within a few weeks of bringing him home, and Jethro had been living it up ever since. Headstrong doesn't even begin to describe Jethro. What a chore it was training this big Airedale and getting the pecking order in that household turned around.
Dixie was a sweetie of an Airedale who loved everyone. Problem was, Dixie had an overabundance of enthusiasm. Though smallish, what she lacked in size she made up for with agility and speed. Streaking through the house from morning till night, she upended tables, leaped into the faces of guests, and occasionally, just for fun, picked up the family cat by the scruff of his neck and tossed him a few feet in the air, trying to instigate a chase game. Attempts to calm Dixie down were made more difficult by a selective hearing deficiency that seems to be embedded in the genes of many Airedales.
The biggest challenges when training Airedales are related to the breed's strength and vigor, his tendency to be strong-willed, dominant, and aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex, and his hunting instincts, which make him a threat to smaller animals.
Not all Airedales are like this, of course. Some are sweet and peaceful, and all you have to do is show them what you want and they will do it.
So when you ask, "How easy is it – training Airedales?" my answer is, "Usually it's a challenge, but it depends on the temperament and personality of the individual dog, plus your own dog training skills."
That's where I come in. Keep reading my dog training articles (and hopefully buy my book, "Teach Your Dog 100 English Words") and I will help you train your Airedale to be well-mannered and well-behaved. I've been working with dogs for 35+ years, as a dog trainer, canine psychologist, breed advisor, and author of 15 books about dogs.
Dog Training – What Works, and What Doesn't
Some dog training methods are based on what makes the OWNER feel good, rather than what on actually makes sense to the dog. For example, "positive-only" dog training is a big fad right now. Now, treats can be great motivators for training Airedale Terriers, but if your dog will only obey for a treat, then HE is in charge of his obedience, not you. [read more]
Here are my dog training tips for training Airedale puppies and adult dogs:
Teach your Airedale puppy to play fetch. It's an easy way to exercise your dog! Airedales were developed to be working dogs, not pets to hang around the house or stick out in the yard. Your Airedale Terrier puppy comes hardwired with genes for high energy, which needs to be vented through exercise and active play sessions – like fetch games. I show you how to teach these games in my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
Keep your Airedale securely fenced. Many Airedales are athletic climbers/jumpers and will sail right over a 4- or 5-foot fence. Other Airedales will dig under. Training isn't the solution to confining an escape artist. Instead, you need to provide enough exercise to keep your Airedale satisfied, plus an ultra-secure fence to keep him safely contained.
Teach your Airedale puppy that he cannot chase your cat or small dog. Hunting terriers like Airedales have powerful chasing (and grabbing) instincts, and these must be quashed right from the beginning if you want to keep smaller pets safe. In fact, when you have small pets, I recommend not allowing your Airedale puppy to chase ANY living creature (squirrels, rabbits, birds).
Teach your Airedale puppy to respect you. Respect is the key to training your Airedale to be well-haved. [read more about Respect Training]
Teach the right words to your Airedale. My method of training Airedales includes teaching specific words in specific ways so that your dog not only learns the words but also develops the respectful attitude that makes him happy to obey you. "Give", "Drop it", and "Leave it" are important words to teach your Airedale. This breed is constantly picking things up, carrying things around, swallowing things, etc. You need to be able to get your Airedale Terrier to quickly drop an object or give it to you, or not pick it up in the first place. [read more about teaching words to your Airedale]
Stop searching for dog training tips for each behavior problem. Honestly, one of the most common questions owners ask me is: "How can I stop my dog from doing (some specific behavior)?" They're hoping I'll tell them where to find a secret button on the back of their dog's head that will trigger a MISBEHAVIOR-OFF switch. :-) Alas, my answer is almost always the same, no matter what the misbehavior is. Here it is.... [read more about stopping dog behavior problems]
Start training your Airedale puppy the moment you bring him home. But you need to teach the right things in the right ways. If you use the wrong teaching method, your puppy will begin making decisions about how he wants you to fit into HIS life, and that's a recipe for conflict and behavior problems. Here's my recommended schedule (what to teach, when to teach it) for training your Airedale puppy. [read more about training Airedale puppies]
Start housebreaking right away. Airedales are usually easy to housebreak, but you need to do it right. [read more about housebreaking Airedales]
Socialize your Airedale puppy with strangers and other dogs. Some Airedales love everyone and need to be taught to control their over-enthusiasm at greeting people. Other Airedales have protective instincts toward strangers, which means they need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone really does act abnormally. Without careful socialization, Airedales may be suspicious of everyone, which could lead to an innocent person getting bitten, or to paranoid fearfulness. Another concern in the breed is potential animal aggression. Most Airedales are fine with other dogs and cats in their own family. But they can be aggressive toward dogs they don't know, especially dogs of the same sex. And some Airedales can be serious cat chasers. This is a hunting breed, remember! [read more about why your dog acts the way he does toward strangers and other animals]
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