The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Airedale Terriers" by Andrea Berman. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.
Author Credit: Andrea BermanThere are some essentials for your dog that are, well, essential. Before you bring home the newest member of your family, be sure to have on hand everything you’ll need.
To crate or not to crate, that is the question. (OK, so Shakespeare may not have been referring to Airedale Terriers when he came up with his legendary inquiry, but nevertheless, it still deserves an answer.) I’ve done it both ways with my long history of doggy do’s and don’ts, and I am wholeheartedly, 100%, absolutely and positively in favor of the crate. (Do we get the idea that I endorse using a crate?) Here’s why:
We all need our own “space.” Your husband needs (or wants) a man-cave. Sheila needs her “she shed.” Your dog needs a crate. It’s his bedroom, his chill-out space, his safe place. As long as you create a positive association with the crate, it will be his “go-to” spot to sleep, relax, play with his favorite stuffed toy, eat a nice treat, and get away from the neighbor’s noisy kids who’ve just invaded the family room. If used properly, and not solely as a means of punishment or for long periods of time, the crate is your friend. And your dog’s. It’s also quite beneficial to a successful housetraining experience for your dog, and will keep him from selecting your oriental rug as his choice of bathroom location.
You can also have multiple crates, which is something I’ve chosen to do with my dogs. One crate is placed an area where she can just hang out with a toy or a treat, or to take a nap if she’s tired during the day, or just to get away from the household activity. The other crate is next to my bed for night time sleeping. When your dog gets older and you can trust her to sleep through the night, with no accidents, you can allow her some freedom and if she (and you) prefer, take the crate away and allow her to sleep in her own bed. If she absolutely loves her crate, keep it. Consistency: just refer to her crate with the same word: box, kennel, crate, nest, room, space. Use a quiet voice, point, and say, “Time to go in your crate” (or whatever special word you’re using). She’ll soon grasp the idea. And you’ll get the peace of mind that she’s safe, secure, and has a place to call her own.
Size-wise, get a crate that will be large enough for your dog at any age. For an Airedale, a metal crate of approximately 48” by 30” is recommended. Heavy-duty plastic crates are also an option. Some crates come with dividers so that your dog can enjoy a smaller, cozier space when he’s young, but can easily be removed as he grows and needs a bit more room.
Check with the breeder, shelter, or foster home/rescue that your Airedale has called home most recently. They will advise you on the type and brand of food, as well as the amount, that your dog should be eating. Do not change his diet. Your dog will be experiencing enough adjustments in the coming days and weeks, so unless otherwise recommended by your veterinarian or your pet’s previous caregivers, continue feeding him whatever he is used to. If you plan to make changes, this is not the time. Consult with your vet on future feeding recommendations, and discuss any dietary, health, and/or cost concerns that you may have.
Food and water bowls
Metal and ceramic bowls are widely recommended. Plastic bowls are also available, but these can sometimes look like a chewy toy to your dog.
Leashes and harnesses
Most dog obedience trainers will recommend a 6-foot-long leather leash. They may cost a bit more, but will be easier on your hands. The other good news is that this type of leash can last a long, long time. I have a leather leash that I’ve been using for at least 15 years, and although it started off quite stiff, as most leathers do, it’s nicely broken in, soft and pliable, and I will likely have it for another 15 years. Nylon and cotton leashes can fray and irritate hands, and although you might be tempted by the outstanding selection of colors and designs, my advice is to go with the leather. (Be sure to keep the leash out of your dog’s mouth when on walks, and let it be known to your dog that his leash is not a toy.)
Retractable leashes should not be an option with a new dog, young or old, so please put that on the back burner until you are sure your dog is well trained, responsive to commands, and doesn’t pull. Using a leash of this type can be a definite safety issue, so consider your Airedale’s well-being if you’re thinking about purchasing a retractable leash. Your dog needs to be at your side, at least for now. Harnesses are another option that you’ll find recommended by some, abhorred by others. I have personally found that a dog on a harness tends to be less responsive to me, but in some cases, a harness might be the preferred option. When teaching a dog to walk on a leash, I most definitely prefer a collar; however, for more casual activities such as hiking, a harness can be the appropriate choice.
If you opt for a collar instead of a harness, be sure to see that it fits snugly enough so that your dog cannot pull his head out from the collar. This is something I do EVERY time I put the collar on my dog. If your dog is out in the rain, swimming, or just playing, all collars have a tendency to stretch a bit. You may not realize it on a day-to-day basis, but it’s always a good idea to check and make adjustments when needed. With a growing dog, check often for a too-tight fit.
For an older dog with mobility issues or painful joints, a harness can provide support and assistance in standing or walking. Mobility issues also affect people, as we’re all aware, and for those who have bad backs and problems bending, a harness may be difficult to maneuver when it comes to getting it on and off your dog. A nylon collar could possibly cause injury to a dog’s trachea, thyroid, or ears on a dog who has yet to learn the concept of “no pull.”
You can see that there are positives and negatives to collars and harnesses, but the choice ultimately must depend upon the age, behavior, and health of each individual dog. It’s to everyone’s advantage to work with a trainer who can determine whether your dog’s temperament, responsiveness to commands, and physical needs are best suited to a collar or harness. If you have a preference or reason for using one over another, discuss it with the trainer in advance.
No dog should be without an ID. Even if you haven’t decided on a name for your Airedale yet, get to a pet store or online vendor ASAP and have an identification tag imprinted. I prefer NOT to put my dog’s name on the tag, and simply state, “If found, please call 781-555-5555.” Again, it’s a personal decision. Additionally, your dog should have his rabies tag as well as the town’s dog license number tag on his collar or harness. My dog wears her microchip tag as well. There’s plenty of contact information if your pet is found wandering. If you prefer not to listen to metal tags jingling whenever your dog walks by, an easy solution is to wrap a small piece of Velcro around all of the tags. Voila! No more noise!
Yes, your dog needs her own bed, her safe place, her space. If you’re crate-training your dog, you can put her bed in the crate, and when and if she no longer needs the crate, you can move her bed elsewhere. As with so many other recommendations, there are pros and cons to having a dog sleep in her human’s bed. I am wholeheartedly against the idea, but it’s a very personal decision. My reasons? I’ve seen too many dogs with aggression issues, and in many of those cases, it centers around the bed. It’s a chicken or egg situation. Did being on the bed create the aggression or was the aggression there first? Cause/effect, no one knows.
Yes, it’s cuddly, warm, and in some cultures, preferable and totally acceptable to sleep with your pet, but here are a few things to consider: Is your dog outside during the day, walking on dirt and asphalt, just like you? Is there a reason you remove your shoes before going to bed at night? Your dog can’t, so count on the dirt and germs to accompany her into your bed. Do you like a good night’s sleep without getting poked and prodded by not two but four legs? What if you’ve got a dog who considers your bed his personal domain, and when you reprimand him, he responds by urinating on the mattress? It happens more frequently than most would care to admit, but dog trainers see it all too often. The owner will then have the additional issue of keeping the dog OFF the bed. Not an easy task. So my question would be, why start? I have always compromised and kept the dog bed in my bedroom, NEXT to my bed. Everyone’s happy, and we get a decent night’s sleep.
What Kind of Dog Bed?
So many beds, so little time…What’s the best type of bed for your dog? Have you ever gone into a mattress store and felt thoroughly overwhelmed with the number of selections? Start off with size. Big dog = big bed. Likewise, small dog = small bed. (If you’re awaiting the arrival of a puppy, remember that your dog will grow quickly and will soon need a bigger bed.) Next, consider bolster type, flat, fluffy, firm, Memory Foam, round, square, rectangular.
If your dog is older with joint soreness or limited mobility, there are also off-the-floor cot-style beds as well as orthopedic beds. For warmer or cooler climates, there are heated and cooled beds. If you will be crate-training your dog, get a bed that will fit in the crate. Will your dog’s sleep mode be the sprawled out version, or will she curl up fetal-style? If your dog is still with the breeder or in a foster home, add to your list of questions: How does my dog like to sleep? This can give you some guidance when purchasing a bed.
Little and big paws alike can be especially sensitive to the elements, as well as sand, salt, and ice melt products. Although it may be a bit of a struggle to get your Airedale used to wearing them, consider boots for your dog if you live in a cold climate. Whether you live in snowy Wisconsin or sunny Florida, it’s a good idea to purchase a jar of paw wax. Not only will it protect your dog’s feet from ice, salt, and snow during winter months, but also from sand and hot sidewalks in the summer. It moisturizes paws as well, so it’s less likely your dog will suffer from cracked pads.
For those of us who must grin and bear the cold winter weather, we suggest you invest in a coat for your dog. Airedales are hardy souls, but especially for a young pup or a senior dog, a coat will be most welcome, and you’ll be surprised at the amount of heat you’ll feel from inside the coat when you remove it. Water-repellant coats are also great for rainy days. We prefer a vest-like coat, with Velcro enclosures rather than full jackets. It’s just easier to get on and off, but if you’d prefer something a little fancier, there are plenty of styles from which to choose. Lately I’ve noticed that some of the dogs in my neighborhood are dressed better than I am. Not sure if that’s a good thing.
The first consideration when choosing any toy for your dog should be safety. If your dog tends to disembowel every toy you give him, you’ll be at the pet store on a daily basis replenishing the supply to keep him occupied. If you’re handy (lucky you!), making your own toys is always an option. In either case, your dog will need a variety of
“Friends” to hang out with. Kong toys (or similar brands) which can be filled with small treats are highly recommended once your dog is able to easily digest the treats. Balls that squeak are always a favorite pastime, and many Airedales can’t resist a fleecy stuffed companion. Chewy rubber-like toys are loved by most dogs. There’s no end to the variety, and every dog will have his or her favorite.
For a young dog, I’ve found that wetting a heavy sock or wash cloth with water, wringing it out, and placing it in the freezer for a few hours will give plenty of comfort and fun to a teething dog’s sore mouth. Another do-it-yourself toy (again, the old sock trick) is to stuff an empty plastic water bottle minus the cap into a tube sock, tie off both ends, and let your Airedale enjoy the “crunchy” texture and noise. Tug of war type toys should be introduced with a word of caution: if your dog shows any aggressive tendencies, these should be avoided. Unless your dog understands “drop it” and can play tug of war on your terms (i.e., letting go when you ask her to), find a better alternative. Rawhide, sticks, and any toy that can be swallowed easily are definite no-nos. Safety first, and keep a watchful eye at all times.
Poop bags/bag holders
You can get fancy here or not. We choose the latter. Spending more money than is necessary on poop bags just doesn’t fit our style. Our local supermarket sells a box of 75 clear plastic bags with ties for about $1.50. When duty calls, we slide our hand in a bag, scoop up the poop, turn it inside out, and tie it in a knot to close it off. (No need to use the more expensive and not-so-practical “slide enclosure” bags. We keep a small covered trash can in the garage to dispose of the bags until trash day. Easy-peasy. You can purchase special poop bags online or at pet stores, but the no-name storage size bags work just as well and are much cheaper. We don’t particularly care if they’re green or pink, or have little paw prints stamped on them. The dog doesn’t really seem to mind, either.
One of the best investments in our vast array of doggy equipment has been a small rubber poop bag holder that attaches to the handle of your leash. For a whopping $4.95 (online or in most pet stores) your hands are free to hold the leash, your pockets don’t smell like “essence of dog droppings” when you hang up your coat in the closet and forget the bag is still in there from the day before, and you’ve got a free hand to wave to the neighbors or give your Airedale a head pat.
Small training treats will help make your dog respond nicely. It’s so much easier to get your dog to pay attention to you when you’ve got a pocket full of yummy goodies. Lots of praise works nicely, but reinforcing good behavior with a little something extra for your chow hound is an added bonus for both you and your dog. Treats should be of the bite-sized variety. Check with your vet to see if there is a preferred brand.
This is an item where it’s best to buy a high-quality product that’s especially made to remove dog urine and feces stains and odors. If your new dog has an accident (and more likely than not, she will) removing the odor in a timely and effective manner will discourage her from using that same spot in the future. Do not use ammonia- or vinegar-based products, which can imitate the smell of your dog’s urine and encourage her to use that spot again. There are many good brands available, so have plenty on hand, just in case.
Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray
This product has saved many a wonderful dog/human relationship, not to mention furniture and fabrics. Keep a bottle handy to spray anything your dog shows an interest in that you’d prefer he didn’t. We’ve used it on sofa legs, carpet edges, decorative pillows, you name it. You can even use it on your dog if at any time he develops hot spots (check with your vet first, please). If your dog is obsessed with chewing his leash, this may deter him, so apply some Bitter Apple directly on the leash. It’s non-toxic, usually sells for less than $6 per bottle, and you won’t smell it, but your dog will. Of course, there’s always a chance that you’ve got that one dog who won’t really care that it tastes bad, but in most cases, it’s definitely worth trying. It’s advisable to spray a small amount first on items, to be sure there won’t be any damage or fabric discoloration, but we’ve never found this to be the case in many, many years of using it.
As early as feasibly possible, get your dog used to a grooming routine. Whether you plan to groom him yourself or choose to bring your dog to a professional groomer, it should be done on a regular basis. At least once a week, preferably twice, brush your dog with a slicker brush or wire brush with soft “pin” tips. Some Airedales have sensitive skin, so be gentle. Your Airedale’s beard will be a dirt magnet. Be prepared to keep it clean, especially after feeding. (A wet washcloth works well.) Airedales drip. Get used to it. Ears must also be cleaned frequently (no cotton swabs, please! A soft cloth or cotton ball is recommended here).
Teeth brushing should also be part of your dog’s good grooming routine, and while you can use a soft brush made for humans, there are specially designed brushes for our canine companions. However, do NOT use toothpaste made for humans. Fluoride and other chemicals in the toothpaste can be hazardous. Brushing your dog’s teeth on a daily basis is ideal, but several times a week is a good hygiene habit for your dog.
If you need to bathe and shampoo your dog, do it no more than once every few months. Airedales are prone to dry skin, and frequent shampooing can remove moisture and oils. Not a good thing. If you DO need to bathe your dog, be sure to brush and comb him out before bathing, to remove any loose hair. Otherwise, you may need to keep a good drain cleaning service on speed dial. Use a shampoo that’s made specifically for your dog’s type of coat, and never, ever use shampoo or any soap made for humans.
Most of the Airedale grooming process is fairly routine and easily learned, but “some of us” will readily admit to being squeamish when it comes to clipping a dog’s nails. If you have any hesitation whatsoever about this, allow your groomer or veterinarian to do the honors. I can do most anything that I set my mind to. Except trim a dog’s nails.
Dog car seats, harnesses, tethers, restraints
What dog doesn’t love going for a ride in the car? Well, okay, there’s always one. But if you’re hopeful that your new Airedale will be a great car companion, you’ll need to consider your options. Where and how will she ride? There is a wide variety of restraints, from the simplest seat belt adapter, to pricey car seats, and everything in between. A few states require dogs to be harnessed or seat belted when riding in a vehicle, and other states are in the process of taking this under advisement, so it is important to adhere to your state’s laws. For the safety of your pet, and for your own safety, do not allow your dog to ride “shotgun” in the front seat of your car. A sudden stop could be deadly to your pet. And please, please, please, don’t let your dog sit on your lap while you’re driving. It’s just plain dangerous.
Fencing, dog gates
If you are fortunate enough to have an enclosed yard, the fence height must be high enough to keep your dog from jumping over. You would be very surprised at the height a springy-legged Airedale can attain when they are so inclined. A 5- or 6-foot fence is preferable. Don’t overlook the concept of locking your gate, if possible. A friendly dog, outside alone, can be enticed by anyone desiring an adorable Airedale. Your letter carrier or delivery person may inadvertently leave the gate door open. Suddenly, you’re missing your beloved dog, so don’t take a chance. Electronic fences are another option, but professional installation is recommended, and your dog MUST also be professionally trained as to respecting boundaries.
Dog gates, baby gates, and dog play pens are great to have in the home, and will give your Airedale sufficient room to explore. All gates should be secured correctly. It’s easy to put your pup in a small room, thinking it will keep her out of harm’s way, but that’s not always the case. Sad (and costly) example: A neighbor had a dog who was afraid of thunderstorms. As he had to be away for an hour or two, he put his dog in a good-sized bathroom, with plenty of toys to keep him amused. Cue the thunderstorm. The dog was terrified, and managed to chew his way through some plumbing. The owner returned to find his dog very scared, his bathroom very wet, and his home very flooded.
Accidents, disasters, and unforeseen situations happen without warning. It’s a good idea to put together an emergency preparedness kit for your beloved pet. Include: a list (and phone numbers) of local hotels who will accept dogs (check in advance), a leash and/or harness, blankets, a first aid kit, a pet carrier, food, bottled water, food/water bowls, a few toys, a copy of your dog’s up-to-date health records with the name and contact information for her veterinarian, and any medications your pet needs. Be sure she is wearing her collar with identification tags. Keep a photo of your dog on your phone or in a handy location. If, for some reason, you and your pet become separated, you will be able to make copies of the photo to circulate online or on posters.
To read more from "The Complete Guide to Airedale Terriers" by Andrea Berman, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below: