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Travelling with your Dale

by Lee Entzeroth

As summer approaches some of you may want to take your Airedale with on your travels rather than leaving them at home or in a kennel. This article presents some tips on traveling with dogs.

General Travel Tips

For identification if your dog should get lost, be sure your dog has a collar with tags including a phone number and rabies tag. Permanent identification such as microchips and/or tattoos can also be helpful in identifying the dog if the collar is lost. Be sure the microchip company has way to contact you when you are on the road (e.g. mobile phone number, voice mail or someone at home to contact). Also take along recent picture of your dog for identification. Be sure to take a copy of your rabies certificate. A copy of your dog’s shot record from your vet is also recommended, especially if traveling to Canada. One of our members did have to show these records when clearing customs in Vancouver a couple of years ago.

Make a list of the basic items you will need for your dog on the trip. The list should include a crate, dog food, toys, leashes, poop bags and any medications your dog may need. Since sudden changes in food or water can give some dogs upset stomachs or diarrhea, be sure to pack your dog’s regular dog food and some water from home. A doggie first aid kit is also a good idea.


Before your trip, crate train your dog. Your dog should feel safe and be happy (and quiet) in his crate if you have to leave him for a short time. This will make it much easier to travel with your dog whether you are shipping the dog on an airline or you just need someplace to put the dog at night or when you go out to dinner.

Always exercise good travel manners when traveling with your dog. Keep your dog properly restrained. Clean up after your dog. Don’t let your dog bark incessantly.


Travel by Car

If you are planning a trip of any distance by car get your dog accustomed to riding. The only time some dogs get to ride in a car is to unpleasant places like the vet, the groomer or the kennel. So take your dog on some short trips to fun places (a park, the lake) before you start a long trip. Make sure your dog is safe while riding in the car. Do not let your dog ride unrestrained in the back of a pickup. And of course never leave your dog alone in the car during warm weather.


Travel by Air

If you plan to ship your dog by plane you need to plan ahead. You must make reservations for your dog when you make your reservations. The rules and regulations regarding transportation of dogs vary between airlines and between airports. Also these rules are subject to change, so be sure to double check with the airline just before your trip. Airlines also require a certification of health from a vet, as well as, rabies and vaccination certifications. Find out the airline’s crate requirements. Be sure to check temperatures at the flight’s origin and destination.

If you have never flown with a dog before, try to talk to someone who has experience flying with dogs so you will know how to prepare, what to expect and how to keep track of your dog.


Travel by Train or Bus

Amtrak and interstate bus companies like Greyhound will not accept dogs.



Call the specific establishment (hotel, camp grounds, etc.) to check their pet policies. Many hotels do not accept dogs and those that do often require an additional pet fee. Some hotels limit the size of the dog (often to 20 lbs. or less) and/or the number of dogs.


To ensure that you and your dog will be able to find a place to stay in the future it is important to exercise good manners when you are on the road. Many hotels and even some camp grounds no longer accept pets because of past problems. Respect the rights of the other hotel visitors and the hotel staff. Keep your dog on a leash when walking on hotel property. Always clean up after your dog. Don’t let the hotel room go to the dogs. Keep the room clean. Cover the bed and furniture with sheets from home to keep the dirt off and minimize any residual "doggie" odor. Don’t leave your dog alone in the room. If you have to leave your dog alone for a short period put him in his crate and cover the crate, if necessary, to keep him quiet. Also to keep the hotel staff from entering the room and upsetting the dog, place the "Do Not Disturb" on the door when you leave them in the room, even though the dog is in his crate.



For more information on traveling with dogs checkout these websites: 
AKC: www.akc.org/love/dah/cantrav.cfm
DogFriendly.com: www.dogfriendly.com/server/travel/

Competitive Obedience

by Lee Entzeroth

Competitive canine obedience is a sport where a dog can prove his ability to work as part of a dog-handler team by performing a set of defined exercises. The exercises are performed in a ring under the scrutiny of a judge and obedience titles can be earned. The American Kennel Club began offering obedience competition in the 1930’s. While AKC is the most recognized association in this country and will be the focus of this article, there are other organizations (e.g. UKC, ASCA) which also offer obedience titles. Some of these other organizations accept mixed-breed dogs as well as purebred dogs.

Obedience under AKC

Under AKC regulations any purebred dog over 6 months of age and registered with the AKC can be entered in AKC obedience events. Spayed females and neutered males can compete. Purebred dogs without registered parents can also compete once they obtain an Indefinite Listing Privilege (ILP) number from AKC. (Contact AKC for more information on ILP numbers).

At an obedience trial a dog is scored on his ability to perform a specified set of exercises. The dog must earn more than 50% of the possible points in each exercise and get at least 170 points out of a possible 200 points to get a "qualifying" score (or "leg") on the test. A dog must earn 3 legs at a given test level to earn an obedience title.

AKC obedience tests are given at three levels: Novice, Open and Utility.

Novice: In the Novice test your dog must demonstrate his ability to heel (on and off-lead) at different speeds with turns and he should sit automatically in heel position when the handler stops. He will also have to heel (on-lead) in a figure 8 around 2 people. He must also come when called from a sit-stay, stand for examination by the judge and hold stays (sit and down) with you standing across the ring. The dog must get 3 Novice legs under 3 different judges to earn his Companion Dog (CD) title.

Open: For the Open test your dog must do all the heeling exercises off-lead, he must also perform some jumping and retrieving tasks and the stays become longer and are out of your sight. The dog must get 3 legs in the Open ring to earn a Companion Dog Excellent title (CDX).

Utility: At the highest level of obedience competition the dog must perform exercises in scent discrimination, directed jumping, and use of hand signals instead of verbal commands. The dog must get 3 legs at this level to earn a Utility Dog (UD) title.

After achieving a UD, a dog can continue to compete at the Utility level to earn addition titles. Ten UD legs qualifies the dog for the Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) title. And the dog can continue to earn points in the Open and Utility rings toward the prestigious Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH) title.

Training for Obedience Competition

Novice level obedience requires your dog to have basic obedience skills and the ability to concentrate on the task at hand for several minutes. This requires training beyond a basic obedience class. You and your dog must be much more polished to earn a qualifying score in the obedience ring. If you are new to obedience competition you will probably need both private and group lessons. Group lessons are great for learning to work around other dogs and for practicing those long sits and downs. Private lessons with an experienced obedience instructor will help sharpen your techniques and footwork.

Look for a trainer who has experience in competitive obedience. Competitive obedience training clubs are a good place to start. A personal reference from someone competing in obedience in your area is the best way to find a good trainer. You may also want to talk to LSATC member Marjorie Bradshaw who actively competes in obedience with her Airedales. Marjorie’s e-mail address is bradm@idworld.net.



Getting Started in Agility


by Lee Entzeroth

Canine agility has become a very popular sport. My airedale, Charlie, and I have been competing for about 1½ years. We are having a lot of fun. Preparing Charlie to compete in agility has taught me a lot about dog training. But more importantly it has really strengthened my relationship with my dale. Charlie and I would like to encourage other airedale/handler teams to try agility. In this article I will introduce the sport of agility and offer some suggestions on getting started. In a future article I will discuss competing in agility trials.

Many of you have probably seen an agility competition, at least on TV. Dogs fly over jumps, run through tunnels, climb A-frames and snake through weave poles. But agility is very much a team (dog/handler) sport. The layout of every agility course is different. The dog’s job is to correctly perform each obstacle on the course as he encounters it. The handler’s job is to learn the course and direct the dog around the course as smoothly and as quickly as possible. So the handler has to learn to communicate effectively with the dog on the run. This requires a good deal of training and practice.


Is Your Dog Ready for Agility?

Agility is a sport that requires your dog to run, jump, twist and turn. Your dog must be physically fit to safely perform and enjoy agility. So before you start agility training evaluate your dog’s fitness. He should be structurally sound. If he is overweight put him on a diet. Make sure he gets plenty of daily aerobic exercise. If you are not sure of your dog’s fitness level, ask your vet. Even puppies can start learning some agility skills. But a puppy’s bones are still soft and growing so limit jumping and keep the jump heights low (below elbow height) until they are at least 12 months old.

Dogs also need some basic obedience skills before they can start agility training. Agility is an off-lead sport. The dog should be dog friendly and able to work off lead in class without bothering other dogs and people. This is not as hard as it sounds. If you make doing the agility exercises with you really fun and exciting your dog won’t need to create entertainment with other dogs or people.


Finding an Agility Trainer

Agility classes are offered by professional dog training schools and by agility clubs. Finding a good agility trainer is the most important factor for achieving long term success and enjoyment in the sport of agility. A good trainer will not only teach your dog how to correctly perform the agility obstacles, but will use training techniques that will motivate you and your dog. Take your time and choose your trainer carefully, even if you just want to do agility for fun. In the long run you are much better off learning agility right the first time rather than trying to retrain. Those of you that have attended Corally’s seminar know that dogs (and people) always remember the first behavior they learned the best (even if it is a wrong behavior). This means that even if you successfully retrain a problem behavior, under stress (i.e. a trial) the dog or you may revert back to that first problem behavior.

The first step in finding a good agility trainer is to familiarize yourself with the sport so you can make an informed decision. You can learn about the sport from an introductory book on agility or by visiting some agility websites. Also try to attend an agility trial to see it in action.

The best way to find a good trainer is through personal references. Talk to people you know who are doing agility. Go to a local agility trial and talk to handlers that seem to be doing well and having fun.

Finally contact the trainers you are interested in to determine which one will best meet your needs. Some factors you might want to consider when evaluating a trainer:

  • Training style and philosophy
  • Agility experience. How long has the trainer been involved in the sport of agility? What are the trainer agility qualifications or accomplishments (titles, championships, agility judging certifications, authored articles on agility etc.)
  • Trainer’s personality.
  • Try to observe the trainer working dogs (and students) in class and running dogs in a trial. Are the dogs (and students) motivated and having fun?
  • What types of dogs has the trainer worked with?
  • What kind of classes are offered? Is the class schedule convenient? Does the trainer offer only beginner classes or does he offer more advanced classes and training sessions that can support you even after you are competing?
  • Check on the availability of the equipment. Be sure you will have access to the agility equipment for practice in between classes.

Eventually you will probably want to join an agility club. Agility clubs are great places to learn agility because the people in the club are competing and have experienced many of the problems you will encounter. Many clubs offer formal agility classes, as well as, work sessions for club members and access to the agility equipment for practice.

Seminars on agility are another way to improve your agility training program. Many very good seminars are offered in Texas each year. These seminars are a great way to learn new training techniques and ideas.


Getting Ready for Competition

The biggest mistake people make is rushing their dogs into competition before they are ready. This can lead to problems which can be difficult to solve. Take your time and enjoy playing agility with your dog. Wait until your dog is solid in training before entering a trial.

Agility competitions are noisy events with lots of distractions. Take your dog to some agility trials as a spectator and work on teaching him to concentrate on you in spite of all the activity around him.

A good way to get your Airedale ready for competition is to enter agility fun matches. Fun matches will give you and your dog a taste of a real trial. Fun matches usually offer competition level courses. There will be people and dogs milling around. There will be a judge and ring crew. But at a fun match you can train in the ring. This means you can reward, correct or redo problem sequences in the ring.


Agility References

One of the best places to look for all sorts of information on agility is a Dallas-based website called Agility Ability (www.agilityability.com). This site offers discussions on many aspects of agility from getting started to competing. The site contains a list of many of the Texas/Southern Region’s agility clubs and training schools. It also contains a fairly comprehensive list of agility events (trials, seminars) in Texas and surrounding states. The site has lots of links and a good list of agility publications (books, magazines and videos).

Another good website for agility links is Dog Patch (www.dogpatch.org/agility/). This site has links to many websites with articles and forums on agility, as well as, the websites of agility organizations and agility product distributors. It also has links to websites with sample courses.

Rally Obedience


by Lee Entzeroth

Rally obedience (Rally-O) is a new form of canine obedience competition. The rally style of obedience offers a more relaxed, natural approach to obedience competition than the traditional obedience competition. In rally obedience, the dog-handler team follow a course, performing a series of obedience exercises that are indicated by the signs along the course. If you are interested in obedience competition or just want to take your obedience training a step beyond the basics, rally obedience can be a good place to start. Unlike traditional obedience competition, handlers have a lot more freedom to encourage their dogs throughout the test. For example, handlers can talk to the dog, praise the dog, repeat commands, whistle, or pat their leg during the test. This more natural interaction usually helps keep the dog focused and relaxes both handler and dog while getting them used to being in a ring. Also since a rally test is continuous with no breaks in activity it is usually a little easier for a green dog (or handler), including lively young Airedales with short attention spans.


What is Rally Obedience?

In a rally style obedience competition, a course is set up with a series of signs to guide the handler. Each sign indicates a different obedience exercise to be performed. As in agility, the layout of every rally course is different. The handlers are given time to walk the course and study it, without their dogs, before the start of the class. During the test the dog-handler team heels from sign-to-sign performing the exercise indicated by each sign. The judge does not issue any commands or directions, except to tell the team when to start.

Rally style obedience can be offered at two skill levels (Level 1 and Level 2). In Level 1 the exercises are performed on-lead with 12 to 15 stations. Level 2 is performed off-lead with 15 to 18 stations, including at least one jump. There are about 45 different exercises that can be used in a rally course. Most are basic obedience commands such as "sit", "down", and heeling at different speeds and with turns. Some of the more advanced exercises, such as jumps, pivots and heeling in a figure 8 around bowls filled with food, are only used in the Level 2 courses. See AKC and ADPT websites for rules and a list and description of the exercises (see below).


Preparing for Rally Competition

Once your dog has completed a basic obedience course he is ready to start working on rally obedience exercises. Although rally is still very new some obedience clubs and dog trainers are beginning to offer classes in Rally obedience. Rally involves a lot of heeling, but the more relaxed rules encourage the handler to really interact with and motivate the dog. Use positive training methods. Keep the exercises short and work on getting and keeping your dale focused on you.


Rally obedience competition

Rally obedience competitions are sanctioned by two organizations (AKC and ADPT). There are slight differences in the rules between the organizations. The description in this article follows the rules for the American Kennel Club’s Rally Obedience. At the present time, AKC offers Rally-O to purebred dogs as a non-regular (no titles given) class. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (ADPT) also offers rally obedience competitions. Under ADPT dogs can earn titles and all breeds of dogs, including mixed-breed dogs and dogs with disabilities, are allowed and encouraged to compete.



AKC: www.akc.org/pdfs/ROR999.pdf
ADPT: www.adpt.com/RallyO.htm
An Introduction to Rally Style Obedience by Charles Kramer
"The New Title for Teamwork", Pat Miller, Dog Fancy 33(1): 39-41.