Lil' Airedales

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First Nights at the puppies new home.


While not required, but highly recommended, the use of a crate (available at most pet and feed stores) is actually comforting to the puppy AND is a safe environment for the puppy.  Dogs are pack animals by nature and your puppy has spent their whole life sleeping, eating and playing with their mom and litter mates.  At our house the puppies have a separate area for sleeping and rest from where they eat and play.  Sorta like a den.  A crate is like a den for the puppy where they can feel secure and rest.  Rhythmic sound of a clock is also comforting to them.


Yes, the puppy will whimper a bit at first but with consistency, occasional reassurance and patience your puppy will grow up knowing the crate is "their" space.  Over time you may find that your dog will retreat to their crate without prompting.  Use of a crate also provides a safe place for those times when you cannot watch the puppy.  Extended periods of isolation of the puppy or adult dog away from humans effects the dogs socialization skills and makes their behavior more detached.


The crate should be large enough for the puppy to stand up, turn around, and stretch out but not large enough to play and frolic.  The crate should have ample ventilation and some bedding material to snuggle into.  We used a large plastic coated wire crate with Annie and Bentley that allowed us to adjust the size (length) as they grew.  As adults, both Annie and/or Bentley can be found frequently in a small alcove (about the size of their adult crate) in the laundry room.


Crates also are great for house breaking your new puppy.  Puppies are raised to sleep in one area and another to use the bathroom.  This teaches the puppies that the area they sleep in is not the area they go to the bathroom.  As they get a bit older (and before they go to their new owner) the puppies begin to take frequent trips outside to go to the bathroom as well as run, play and explore.  These are the first steps in house breaking.


By using a crate for the puppy to sleep and rest in, you as the new owner are reinforcing the training.  The puppy will associate the crate with their sleep area and start to build up "stamina" to hold for longer and longer periods as they grow.


House Breaking


Three critical factors to success of house breaking your puppy - consistency, patience and praise.


Consistency - Puppies will need to "go" about every 2-3 hours after waking up up until bedtime.  Speaking of waking and bedtime.  Puppies like babies love to wake up early and go to sleep early because like babies they are growing while they sleep.  The main difference is babies have diapers and puppies, well they have you to wake up because they have to "go".


Expect your Airedale puppy to need to "go" as soon as they wake up in the morning.  When you take them out, take them out the same door every time.  This will help teach them how to communicate to you they need to go to the bathroom during the day while they are roaming the house.  


Consistency is also about bedtime.  If you have a set bedtime especially while the puppy is young, it will teach the puppy when it is time to sleep but also eat.  At night, pull their food about 3 hrs before bedtime and their water about 2 hrs before bedtime.  Take your puppy out as the last task before they go to their crate. 


Finally, if you use the same singular word to indicate it is time to go to the bathroom outside and a singular word that indicates you want them to go to their crate, they will learn what is expected of them when they hear these words.  Combine these singular words with a consistent bedtime routine and morning routine and your Airedale will be house broken before you know it. 


And a final word of caution.  When your Airedale first gets home everything is new to them - smells, sounds, voices, etc.  Airedales are curious and love to explore.  So, don't entrust just because you let your Airedale puppy go outside that they in fact did what they were supposed too regardless of the consistent use of the word "outside".  When you take your Airedale outside, go with them to encourage and most importantly PRAISE them when they take care of their business.  We have also been told that playing with your puppy before they go to the bathroom is a distraction that can lead to the dog not completely "finishing" their business.  This will happen too as they go through their teens and early adult stages.  They get distracted with a scent or a sound.



Praise - Airedales enjoy having task and love to please and be praised.  House breaking is a great opportunity to reinforce the affection you have for your new puppy.  If they go to the door and sit or whine or maybe even a light bark, praise them.  When you take them outside in those early days and weeks and they use the bathroom, overly praise them and then play with them or take them for a walk.  The praise is what reinforces to your Airedale that you are happy with their behavior which is a reward.


In general, praising, words and touch, your Airedale for desired behavior will return results much faster than ignoring or getting upset at bad behavior.  A mistake often made is coddling your dog when they behave badly because that coddling is reinforcement of the bad behavior because the dog cannot tell the difference between coddling and touch praising.


Patience -  Airedales are an incredibly smart breed who are also curious, a hunter, and enjoy affection.  Like a child or teenager, sometimes they get distracted or they just need to test the edges of their boundaries.  Being consistent with your commands and routine, and supplying ample amounts of praise for good behavior will get results that you will be happy with.  Airedale's are smart but they won't learn a new command, new task, or expectation the first time around.  It takes patience and persistence but you will quickly find your Airedale is behaving exactly how you desire.


Patience and persistence is not only need while house breaking but also as they learn new expectations as they gain more freedom to roam the house.  Unless you keep your house completely picked up, put up, and cleaned up, roaming the house is like a long walk at a new location.  So many sights, and sounds and smells to explore and possibly play with every day.  So as a behavior appears that is not acceptable, immediately address the behavior (try to avoid using their name so they don't associate their name as "bad") and then when they have the opportunity to repeat the behavior but don't, PRAISE them.  It will take time but it will correct.  


Airedales are "Mouthy"


Airedales sometimes attempt to show affection or to engage you in play by putting their mouth over your hand or fingers or even around your leg.  This behavior may be "natural" but should be discouraged since it teaches them that is how to get your attention (petting or playing with them).  It is much easier to teach a puppy this is not good manners than waiting until they are older and it becomes a nuisance.


A tip to try for a mouthy dog include the Lip Curl which requires you to quickly curl their lip under their tooth and press quickly and with firm pressure.  A teething puppy will especially dislike this because their teeth and gums are sore which is a negative reinforcement of the behavior.  When the puppy comes up to you and does not get mouthy praise them.  This ill provide the positive reinforcement they are seeking.


Another tip is to use Apple Bitter (available at pet stores) on your hands before playing with your puppy (or older dog).  The puppy will taste the Apple Bitter and typically it does not take more than a few sessions before they associate putting their mouth on your hands with a very bad taste (but a nice touch).


A note of caution with your Airedale.  As stated before, they love to work and explore.  This is especially true with teething puppies.   When their teeth start to fall out, they will fall out in multiples quickly.  Your puppy's gums and new teeth will be sore and the baby teeth will hurt because they are trying to fall out.  Add a lack of exercise and play and you have a bored, teething puppy running free exploring in your house.  So, get some raw hide bones, put them in the freezer and by all means move all of your cherished items and keepsake out of puppy range.  The height of teething last for only a short period but dogs will chew if bored.  Use of the word "NO" sternly and giving them their toy or raw hide, when your puppy or dog is chewing on something they are not supposed too will help redirect them.‚Äč