Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Training Airedales For Hunting (Vintage)

Training Airedales Article-Tips out of "Recreation Magazine" 1916
 By Felix J. Kerr

THE complaint that the Airedale is over-rated as a big-game dog will usually be found attributable to two things, the dogs were not bred from hunting stock, and no training. I have not had experience training or hunting dogs on such game as cougars or bears, but I have found the Airedale, when properly bred and handled, as good a 'coon dog as I ever have had.

On the other hand, perhaps one out of every two kennel-bred Eastern Airedales isn't worth his keep as a hunting animal, and can't be improved. Get a good, upstanding, alert, aggressive puppy from hunting stock—dogs that have not been kept on chain all their lives or carried around in automobiles, but that have been let run and have been hunted in season—and you have something to start with.

Give this puppy plenty of freedom, give him practice in trailing by making him hunt his meals, which you hide from him, let him chase cats, don't be backward about letting him mix in with other dogs, take him afield all you can, let him run his head off after crows and rabbits, and take him out in the fields at night. When you start hunting him in earnest, take him out with an older dog that is a hunter, and see to it that he has had a meat diet and is not overfed or coddled.
What Mr Kerr wrote 100 years ago still rings true today especially about acquiring properly bred Airedales if one is serious about hunting them. His quote "kennel-bred eastern Airedales isn't worth his keep as a hunting animal, and can't be improved" is even more important today.

I keep harping on these facts that one can not produce high performing hunting dogs of any breed if they are breeding for show or pets but are yet not constantly testing their breeding stock in the field on game. Then and only then using only their  top performers who actually put game in the bag for breeding and continuing doing this testing every generation after generation after generation.  The end result goal is to gain constant improvement no matter how small it is to your dogs, this aspect of breeding hunting dogs can never be stopped because it takes only one bad mating to bring down and possibly ruin a line.

Al Kranbuhl

Monday, April 3, 2017

Airedale Breeder's Performance Selection

As a breeder who tries my best to produce top hunting Airedales  I was asked by a show breeder how I went about selecting my Airedale for matings to make such dogs. Below is what my reply to that breeder was, a brief summary of my thoughts on that subject.

Al Kranbuhl

Airedale performance breeder selection summary:

While I like a beautiful specimen and perfect example of a breed as much as anyone looks are last on my list when it comes to breeding for performance decisions, be they big, small, slick coat, long coat, hard coat, soft coat, heavy eared, if they are best performing "HUNTING DOGS" they are the ones that are bred and hopefully reproduced.

 When it comes to a hunting dog as a breeding prospect I will assume nothing. They will have to show me! I have seen far too many dogs with supposedly can’t miss pedigrees that ended up being sorry. I will introduce them to targeted game and check for bred in instincts needed by a hunting dog and to see if there is enough potential to mess with. I look for a desire, drive and ability to hunt, traits like a good nose, tracking, locating and treeing, grit, etc.

Evaluating pups for hunting is not a heck of a lot different that a little league coach looking over a bunch of 10 or 11 year old boys playing ball for the first time. If you know what to look for it’s easily seen. The talent will rise to the top with time and while all the kids will be able to throw, swing a bat and run it will soon be apparent who can throw, hit and run and stand out doing it really well.

I evaluate pups much the same, I will take them afield at ten to twelve weeks old and set them up to show me what they were born with. First of all stay away from bottled scents, there is a big difference in the scent of an animal's natural scent and some piss in a bottle. I always use real animals to test dogs, either fresh intact dead, or live in roll cages. I will lay simple short scent trails, put out live animals, put them up in trees to check for natural treeing traits. I will walk the pups through these setups without doing or showing them a thing myself. I am looking at how they react naturally. After doing these types of drills for many years and watching hundreds of young dogs, I know what kind of reactions I am looking for.

Like the young ball players, there will be those that will just stand out and you know with the right kind of experience and work they will progress and be good ones. By the same token the cold hard facts are there will be some that all the coaching and training in the world is not going to help a whole lot.

For the young dogs that get over the hump in my first assessment go around I will then take them in the woods and field on wild game and alternately hunt them hard with a broke dog half the time and alone by themselves the rest of the time. I let them have a chance to show what they are made of. You then can pretty easily separate the pretenders who want to be and think they are a hunting dog from those that ARE hunting dogs and prove it doing good work on a consistent basis by putting game in the bag. The ones that show they can get it done, are the ones that get bred. Nothing revolutionary here, old school stuff that I learned through experience and from picking the brains of old timers that produced winners. The key is sticking with it.

Disqualifying  qualities and traits that will eliminate an Airedale in my kennel.

1. Overly aggressive toward other dogs and wanting to fight all the time.

2. Overly aggressive and ill toward people, any tendency to bite a person for no reason.

3. Scatter-brained, mentally retarded, can’t sit still for a minute, too hard-wired. (like humans there is a wide range of intelligence and mental stability in dogs.)

4. Shy, skittish, cower at loud noises, afraid of their own shadow, tail down all the time.

I like to see what other hunters think and what their opinions are in such matters so for kicks I once went to several hunting dogs sites from Terriers and Hounds to Bird Dogs and put up polls asking those hunters what they considered the one worst fault a hunting dog could have. I tallied all the the responses I got and this is what played out.

1. 1973 listed Dog on Dog aggressiveness as the worst,

2. 1528 listed shyness/timidness,

3. 688 listed poor nose/inability-lack of interest to track targeted game well enough,

4. All other assorted combined responses 598.