Otis: The highly intelligent Airedale Terrier

An Airedale Terrier can be a handful and Otis is no exception.

But his owner is the one who really causes me to smile. Charlie is a retiree taking his young charge through my current class to learn a few manners. He’s doing the work and making good progress, but he’s also a guy who’s got enough years under his belt to understand not to sweat the small stuff. His wry sense of humor keeps me guessing what he might say next.

There are eight dog handler teams in my current basic obedience class. We have a Lab, a Golden, a Yorkie, a GSD, a GSP, a Pit mix, a Rottie and the Airedale Terrier. It is a fantastic group and a great mix of personalities.

The course teaches some basic manners like loose lead walking, sit-stay, down-stay and place behaviors. I teach Place to mean “go onto your bed or mat and stay there until you have permission to get up.”

For all of these active breeds, including the Airedale Terrier, the behavior is extremely useful around the house for teaching the dogs to chill out in one spot for a while. It is a great option rather than having to crate the dog when you want a little down time.

It is also valuable for use outside the house. It is nice to be able to go to the park and ask the dog to place on a bench or boulder for a moment if you want to be able to step back and take a photograph. Or it is great to drop a towel in the back of the car and have the dog place on it so they aren’t constantly moving to and fro causing a distraction to the driver.

But in order for the dog to generalize the concept of place from the dog bed or mat to other locations we have to go through the practice time of teaching other possible items.

This was the challenge I gave to my group class last week. “Go out and find one unique or new object and teach your dog to place on it.” I figured it makes the work more interesting as we add some challenges to the training course and it is great for the dogs because it actually builds self confidence to move up and onto weird or unusual objects.

I also told the class I wanted photographic proof they’d taught a new place to their dogs. I got back pictures of dogs on chairs and step stools, old tree stumps and park benches.

But the photo I got back from Charlie made me laugh out loud. It was titled, “Self taught place”

Given the fact that we’ve had mostly negative temps all week here in Iowa Charlie decided that Otis’ new behavior of taking over the couch counted as a new place and he was pretty content with Otis’ initiative of teaching it to himself so he didn’t have to travel outside to learn it!

Plus, he sent me the photographic evidence to prove it.

Leave it to the Airedale Terrier to outsmart me! 😉




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