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How to choose and train an Airedale for IGP

22 Feb 20 - 19:38

How to choose and train an Airedale for IGP


Many Airedale owners have seen other Airedales doing some sport like IGP, (formerly known as IPO/Schutzhund the new name stands for *Internationale Gebrauchshunde Prüfungsordnung / International Utility Dogs Regulations), then curiosity begins; some others have read about the versatility of the Airedales and will like to do a sport that involves all the great qualities of the Airedale, this desire to comes with many questions; can I do it with my Airedale? Will it damage my relationship with him? Will he become aggressive towards people? How do I teach him to Track, and recently if I decide to do IGP can my pal be trained using only positive technics, Yes he can; as a matter of fact, is the best way. Remember Airedales Work with you, not for you. And the new regulations of the sport have a great emphasis on the dog's attitude when performing any sign of abuse is severely penalized. 
 
And then comes the questions how do I start training? Is my dog suitable for training? When should I start?
 
 
First, let me tell you something that is a myth and that prevents people from practising IGP especially protection, and Airedale well raised and trained will NOT become aggressive towards other humans or children. Remember he is the Royal Guard of the family and the only king that doubles as a babysitter since his early days; so it becomes natural for them.
 
 
How to begin? We will try to begin at an early age, Working Airedales goes to their new homes at 8 weeks 9 the most, this age is very important in the development of the puppy is when the imprinting with their new partners in life will be confirmed, at this tender age they can be introduced to some activities to develop their drives and improve the instincts, Prey, tracking and bite work, Dogs have very a well structured social relation with the members of the pack and now we will be their pack, following the leader is one of the natural behaviours, we have to use in our favour in this early stage, at this point is not real training I like to call it building; a time for education, and start setting in their young brains some actions who later will be commands, as we will not expect that a human baby will understand and do some things is the same with a young puppy we can start by simply taking them to a walk in a safe place where he can be unleashed and follow his human in an easy walk and investigate the surrounding area, this has a double purpose, security and leadership and he is pure curiosity the investigation of the area will build his self-confidence. 
 
Then we come to prey drive that is important for every activity the puppy will do whatever it is IGP, Agility, Obedience, and even Search And Rescue on any of the SAR specialities it has. The puppies have a natural drive to pursue things that move, a ball a furry stuffed toy and if it squeaks the better. 
 
This drive will help us in some training stages and will also be the best tool to create a strong bonding due to play. We must play with them by letting him bite the stuffed toy when he grabs it just hold it gently and when he starts pulling we will hold it gently and when he makes more effort to get it we will let him win it. Never pull it hard so he will not get any discomfort with this. The toy will be later a good reward and will give him confidence.
 
On tracking we can start by putting some small pieces of some treats or preferably sausage, in a small imaginary square in the grass or a field and then take him to it he will learn that by using his sense of smell and lowering his nose he will get a tasty reward. 
 
As for obedience, we can work with simple actions like sitting and every time he does it we will reward him.
 
Please note that this is just a very light look at the beginning, to know more please go to a professional trainer so he can teach you step by step how to do it properly.
 
Now let me go a bit to the beginning of this article, and the other question I have been asked when people knows I do IGP does. Does it consume much time? No at the beginning just a few minutes daily will be enough we are just implanting actions and communication if done correctly this will develop at its maximum level all the drives and instincts of the dog. Do you train by your self, at the early stages I do but as we advance it is very important to train with a team.
 
As for the three disciplines involved Tracking, Obedience and protection, they are natural for the Airedale they are embedded in the Airedale, just make a small analysis of the activities they performed at early times and their later development as police, war, rescue, hunting and family dog.
 
So we will have to work with these abilities in our favour, by developing with play and rewards, we have to make work fun and when the Airedale matures will perform seriously; Now the other thing some people think they are stubborn, this. In most cases is not truth just the Airedale has his mind so the early we begin the better results we will have, L.T. Col Richardson, the one responsible to take Airedales to become war dogs, mention in one of his books that Airedales are great performers but is better to start with them at early age, the most mature they become they develop more their mind and do things on their way.
 
This does not mean that an adult Airedale can not be trained it will take more time but with patience and the right approach to their personality training can be done, they do react differently than other working breeds who work for their masters not with them, the relationship with the handler becomes very personal and the desire to please him is what we have to use in our advantage.
 
The best thing is to approach a training club or with a professional trainer, so together can start a program depending on the age of the Airedale.
 
Working and training with your Airedale will be rewarding and fun and also you will see him differently, as the versatile companion he is.
 
Describing here the different training techniques besides of been too long may not be clear to novices and may confuse you.
 
Well about with kind of puppy select; you will have the chance to look at the whole litter so you may see the puppy with more sucre of himself, the one with more focus on humans and the one whit great appetite especially to new food, this is easy if puppies are well fed when you visit them bring some small pieces of sausage with you, I use the one used to do hotdogs and mainly made of turkey, with the permission of the owner let them approach you and take a small piece and see which one approaches with curiosity to your hand and tries to eat it. This is just samples of what to do. Or better contact a breeder that can suggest you the ideal puppy for work.
 
With Airedales of working lines is much easier, with show lines you must take a bit more time of observation, but serious and compromised breeder can guide you thru this process.
 
Now here comes a question always asked what means working and show lines, is not supposed that the Airedale, in essence, is a versatile dog who can perform?
 
In basis, yes, but I will leave the explanation of the differences of Working and Show lines for a future article, as this subject deserves a long explanation since breeders of both deserves all my respect and admiration for the good work they do when it is well done and with a purpose.
 
I have no special preference for either just choose the right bloodline and puppy for the activity I want to do, I love showing and grooming especially grooming I do enjoy it. But also love to train and compete with my dogs in IGP. 
 
Well until the next time, I hope this can be helpful if you have the desire to do any sports activity with your beloved Airedale. 
 
 
Antonio Gomez
KAMBY AIREDALES
 

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