Living with and
teaching your Airedale puppy can be and should be a wonderful experience.
“A dog is living in a world it does not understand and therefore we need to
learn to communicate with him in a language he understands” …..Canine
Using a method called “Amichien Bonding” pioneered by Jan Fennell “The Dog
Listener” The method is simple. It is a holistic, kind and gentle approach with
no use of fear, force, bullying, or gadgets. Your puppy will want co operate
with you of its own free will. You need to be Calm and Consistent in your
approach. Your tone of voice and facial expressions are vital when interacting
with your puppy.
The dog is evolved from the wolf pack and the most important message you need to
show your dog is that you are the “Alpha” the leader of the pack and that your
dog has nothing to worry about or fear.
There are 4 key areas to the method
When the pack reunites after separation – who is in charge now
When the pack eats – who will take charge of meal times
When the pack goes on the hunt – who will lead us now
When a pack face perceived danger – who will protect us now
How old should your puppy be when you start working with him…the answer so
simple from the minute you bring him home.
Having arrived home with your puppy the first thing he will probably want to go
to the toilet ….take him straight out into your garden or chosen area and the
minute your puppy relieves himself praise and reward him by saying something
like “be clean”. If your puppy has an accident in the house do not make a fuss
...simply scoop it up and say nothing. Next time he goes outside and toilets
where you want him to, praise your puppy “warmly” and reward him.
Your puppy is going to want to relieve itself when he wakes up and after he has
eaten a meal. So you need to take him out to his area….use your chosen word.
Then reward the puppy when he has done his toileting.
It is important that you establish leadership with your puppy…food is one of
your most powerful tools for teaching your puppy by showing him that you are the
sole provider of his food.
Feeding …….Rules to remember. Don’t let your dog eat between meals (make sure
all members of your family are aware of this). Don’t leave feed around 24 hrs a
day. Don’t stick to meal times, dogs are smart and will very quickly work out
when to expect a meal. By changing the feed times the message you are
communicating to your dog is “ I am the leader, I choose when we eat.”
Mealtimes offer an excellent opportunity to introduce the principles of good
behaviour; they must be calm controlled affairs. If your puppy starts leaping
around and generally being over excited, wait. You don’t need to speak, just
stand quietly with the food on the worktop away from the dog until he calms
down. When your dog calms down put the food down and walk away.
Don’t allow your puppy to walk away from its food….if he walks away from the
food remove the food immediately and do not offer again until the next meal
time. This may seem harsh, but it is a lesson that you dog will learn very
quickly and is invaluable in the relationship you are going to have with your
A key element of the method is reuniting after separation. The importance of
this can not be overstated. This is where you have to overcome your human
A separation happens as person leaves a room and the door is closed not allowing
the puppy to follow. It is when you (and any member of the household) return to
the dog’s space when you step back through that door that this principle of the
method is put into practise you must show the puppy who is the leader.
Your puppy will be overjoyed to see you. But, you must not make any fuss of the
puppy. Don’t interact with your puppy for 5 minutes or so, or until your puppy
has calmed down. Be careful not to make direct eye contact at this time, no
talking to the puppy. If your puppy jumps up push it down gently. After the time
has elapsed, play with your puppy, cuddling making a little fuss of it. This is
so hard for owners to do…… this lovely bouncy gorgeous furry creature with big
brown eyes wants to greet you. By interacting with your dog when you are ready
and able you are giving your dog quality time.
The power of playtime with your puppy can not be overstated they can learn so
much and you can use playtime to positively reinforce training.
Take control of
the “Toy Box”….leave one or two toys around so that your puppy can choose to
play by itself. Toys used for interaction with you puppy
should be kept away where the puppy can not access them. Playing with you puppy
is a magical part of the relationship something which should be cherished and
enjoyed at all times. Do not get into tugging contests with your puppy. Use play
to top up skills like “come” and the recall.
Your puppy may start to mouth bite or nip people. Or they may start to chew
furniture or clothing. If your puppy is doing something undesirable then
distract it by getting out the toy box and throwing a toy for it to chew. It is
important that the puppy’s natural exuberance is not being punished. When the
dog’s interest in the toys begins to wane put them away again. Remember do not
get into tugging contests with your puppy. If your puppy settles down call it to
you and reward it with some food.
When playing with your puppy they are fond of pulling clothing and biting. To
your puppy it’s a potential source of play. This must be nipped in the bud. If
your puppy puts its teeth no matter how lightly around your hand arm ankle….yell
out and walk away! If the puppy persists then isolate it for 5 minutes to allow
it to calm down. Again this may seem harsh but if allowed to continue a growing
Airedale mouthing and nipping can be very painful!
The importance of grooming, checking ears, mouths, toes and feet being touched
from an early age can not be overstated… it is a good thing to start early.
Getting your puppy used to these things is a very good idea especially for when
you have to go to the vet and he needs to look at them. Start by do these things
when your puppy is really tired.
The life of an eight week old puppy is very simple. Sleeping eating and playing
dominate its thinking. Eating and playing can be capitalised on and you can soon
after the first 48 hrs when the dog has settled into its new environment
introduce your first key command of “come”.
Plan to introduce the “come” for the first time after your puppy has eaten. Be
prepared with a supply of titbits, pieces of dried meat or cheese….which you
will use as a food reward. When your puppy has finished its meal and begun
playing…call it by its name. When he gives you the telltale “Are you talking to
me look?” squat or kneel down, extend your hand with the food reward visible and
ask the dog to “come” using a warm inviting voice.
If the dog doesn’t come stretch your hand to make the food more visible, using a
warm inviting voice. When the puppy comes over reward it and give quiet praise.
Stroke or ruffle the dog’s neck area to underline leadership (touching this
vulnerable area is a powerful signal of leadership in the wild).
If your puppy rushes or jumps up, or alternatively rolls over expecting to be
tickled, get up and walk away immediately. If the dog does not respond to the
invitation to “come” after a couple of minutes again get up and walk away. Try
again a few hours later. If the dog fails to come, go away and get on with your
day, then try again a few hours later. Remain patient. When eventually it
responds you will have laid an important foundation stone.
Dogs are like humans they think “what’s in it for me?” So the only way they will
do this of their own free will is if they make a positive association with it
from an early stage. Using a food reward is the key to achieving this initially.
Teaching your puppy to “Sit” take a titbit, show the dog then bring it towards
and then over it’s head. As you do this say the word “sit” in a kind warm and
unthreatening voice. The dog should follow the food with its eyes and as he does
so its natural reflex will be to arch his neck backwards so that its whole body
tips back and it ends up sitting down. The instant its bottom touches the ground
reward your puppy with absolute praise, stroking it and offering another piece
of food reward.
Remember your puppy is not a mind reader, if it does not respond the first time
then try again and again if necessary, remaining calm and patient. When you have
successfully got your dog to sit, repeat the process once or twice. Your puppy
will soon learn to sit.
Being removed from the litter for an eight week old puppy can be a very
traumatic experience. During the first 48 hrs you will need to compensate for
the absence of his family by keeping him close to you. But you now have to teach
your puppy independence…but this must be done gradually.
Engineer a time when you are going to leave the dog for a period of time by
first feeding and toileting him, then playing with him for a short while.
When you have brought playtime to a close, leave the room ensuring the puppy can
not follow. Stay away for between 10 and 30 minutes. Initially remain in the
house…. find something to do. Perhaps leave a radio on so that the room is not
plunged into complete silence when you leave. Your puppy should be ready for a
sleep. Never make a big fuss about leaving, just go.
When you return….your puppy will be overjoyed to see you. But you must not make
any fuss of the puppy. Don’t interact with your puppy for 5 minutes or so, or
until your puppy has calmed down. Be careful not to make direct eye contact at
this time. After the time has elapsed, and your puppy has settled, play with
him, cuddling making a little fuss of him.
You need to repeat this process on a regular basis, slowly extending the period
of time you are separated from your dog.
This exercise will teach your puppy important lessons….that lengthy separations
are part of its normal life and that separations are nothing to be feared.
Your Puppy’s new home is a minefield of strange inexplicable objects which make
a range of strange inexplicable noises. Your puppy needs your help to
acclimatise to these noises; you are NOT going to achieve this by explaining
what each object is to your dog! What your puppy will understand, is that you do
not fear the object then, provided your puppy trusts you as its new guardian and
protector your puppy will have no reason to be afraid of it either.
If you are introducing your puppy to say, the vacuum cleaner, if possible have
the puppy behind a dog gate preferably with another human it trusts. If the
puppy reacts to the vacuum cleaner the other person should encourage the puppy
to come to them and then they should hold the puppy. Merely hold the dog no show
of affection, stroking or talking to it. It should just be held in a reassuring
way and very calmly, to show there is nothing to fear.
If your puppy has displayed nervousness on first encountering a particular noise
or object then the fear should be tackled head on. A dog gate (or baby gate) can
be very useful to keep your puppy in a particular area so that it never loses
sight of you. This process will not necessarily work immediately so you should
not rush it. Repetition will get your message across. Usually within a week to
ten days your puppy’s fear will have lifted.
The method of holding your puppy calmly and quietly without fussing, stroking or
talking to him is the process you should apply when you encounter any noises
which may frighten your puppy……. for instance fireworks and thunder storms. If
you talk to your dog you are only worsening the situation and adding to its
You can now start to teach your puppy to walk to heel….you can do this in a room
a corridor or in the garden somewhere you can walk a dozen or so paces to begin
with. This should be done without the use of a lead. It is vital at this stage
that your dog retains the option of flight. Decide which side you will want your
dog to walk on….most people choose the left. Which ever side you choose the key
thing is once the decision is made stick to it. Begin by arming yourself with a
piece of food reward. Turn your back to your dog making sure that your food
reward is ready. Put the food in your left hand and bring it down along the left
side of your leg until it reaches a height equivalent to the dog’s nose level.
As you are doing this call the dogs name and request it to “heel”. The presence
of the food reward should bring your dog to your side. If he approaches as
requested reward and praise him warmly.
may take sometime to get this right. If for instance the dog is attracted to the
smell of the reward and arrives at your side uninvited then he must be ignored
for a couple of minutes. Then start the routine again. If your dog does not
appear abandon the exercise and don’t try it again for at least an hour. There
should be no interaction between you and the dog during this time.
When your dog responds to the heel request then you can begin walking slowly. If
you dog remains at your side for the length of the walk, it should again be
rewarded and praised at the end. Remember your dog is not a mind reader…it is up
to you to speak its language. If he wanders off slightly then encourage him back
to the correct position by use of positive association. If your dog does not get
it right immediately be patient. Keep repeating the exercise. If your dog
becomes agitated looses interest or starts jumping around the exercise should be
abandoned and no interaction for an hour. Calm things down and start again
As you dog learns to walk to heel with you… the length speed and direction
should be changed. You should stop and start again occasionally using a few
softly spoken words so as to gain the dog’s maximum attention. It is vital that
you have this preparation for the day when you and your puppy will face the
outside world and you have to negotiate all sorts of routes.
You can now introduce your dog to the lead …a slip lead is all that is required.
Bring your dog to heel...as it stands at your side gently place the lead without
fuss over the dogs head. You should now begin walking encouraging your dog to
stay at your side as normal. If the dog begins pulling on the lead, you should
stop and calmly stand your ground. Do not get into a tugging match with your
dog. The lead is NOT a weapon to be used to jerk or yank the dog around with.
Ask your dog to come to heel once more. If the groundwork has been done
properly, your dog will return to its starting position easily. The walk should
be resumed once more, with you rewarding your dog each time it successfully
completes each length without your pulling and calling it back to heel each time
it tugs on the lead.
You should now slowly extend the length of your walk using your available space
to its maximum effect. As you develop this skill you should become less aware of
the lead even existing. Also you can introduce the wait, turning left and right
and importantly the recall.
At all times it is important you remain calm consistent and take your time….when
the time comes when your puppy is ready to take that all important big step into
the outside world going for a walk make sure you are happy and in control!
Walking your puppy on lead a word of caution - not to over exercise your puppy
when walking, particularly on hard surfaces like roads or pavements, can put
pressure on growing bones and joints.
An Airedale puppy has such a lot of growing to do and problems can occur if too
much strain is put on developing bones and joints. A lot of your puppy’s energy
is going into growing…it needs energy to grow.
Don’t be tempted to think your puppy needs masses of exercise. A puppy between
when you get it to the age of 12 months needs very, very little. Your puppy
should be able to stop doing what it is doing when it wants to.
If you go into the garden or a field with your puppy where he can tear around,
throw things, play and have fun - if your puppy can stop when their body says
so….that is what good and most important. What is not good is lead on and road
work….roads are pounding and their joints and muscles are forming and this can
Don’t walk your puppy a mile so that he is tired…if that happened and your puppy
is tired then carry your puppy back!
By using this method I have described showing your puppy that you are “Alpha “
you will have a stress free loving relationship with an Airedale who has learned
self control. You will have created the foundations on which you can continue to
build and work with your dog in whatever way
you wish to whether it be in the show ring, or agility or purely as a pet.
By using kind gentle approach with reward your dog will co operate with you of
it own free will. You and your dog can do it together at home!
I have owned Airedales for many years and I presently have six of these
wonderful creatures. The method does work!
Material References: 'The Practical Dog Listener' and 'The Seven Ages
of your Dog', both by Jan Fennell