Article by Jeanne Combo
Photos of attaching a leash to the car by Lisa Simon

Guidelines For Safely Transporting Rescue Airedales

(or for any canine)

These guidelines are to help ensure the safety of a rescued dog that needs to be transported.  As we know, the majority of these fur faces are frightened, often unsocialized, sometimes can be aggressive, have tendencies to flee from a rescuer and will bolt given the opportunity. And please keep in mind, not all of these suggestions will work in all instances. The objective is to make sure you always have control over the animal and never provide an opportunity for escape.

Prior to the Actual Transport

You will need to think about the dog, her or his reaction to you and the circumstances under which you have obtained the dog. You should do a mental walk through of how you plan to transport the dog; covering as many “what if scenarios” as you can and to try to visualize any and all situations where the dog could get away from you and if that happens, what you will need to do to recover the dog quickly and safely.

Beginning with “you”, the person transporting the animal: Wear clothing and shoes that will allow you to respond quickly and move freely (i.e., wear a pair of sneakers and clothing that will not snag on vehicles, gates, fences, trees, etc) should you need take off running after a running dog. If you are wearing a pair of flip flops you will hardly be able to run, much less through rough terrain. A pair of gloves can be a very helpful item to have along as well, to keep a lead from burning your hands if a dog pulls extremely hard. Remember…somewhere during the transport the dog will probably need a potty break or you may be handing over the dog to another volunteer who is taking the dog on to its destination.

Please remember to get a good nights rest prior to the transport!

Items You Will Need or May Need to Have

ID Tags: Frequently Airedales come into rescue without tags, collar, microchip or any identification.  Make sure you securely attach some type of identification to a collar that is fitted properly to the animal. The identification has to be attached in such a manner that should the dog escape, the ID cannot be ripped off or lost. If at all possible, use the Boomerang stainless Collar Tags.

NOTE: These are used by many Rescue Groups as once attached to a collar are difficult for a dog to lose. Our dogs use one from Rescue and one with personal ID info on it.

If you do not have this type of tag, a luggage tag that either buckles onto a ring on the collar or a plastic tag that a piece of paper with ID information can be slipped into that has a ring that can be attached to the collar, can be used.  Ace Hardware and other hardware stores have these tags. Please attach an ID to each collar. 

NOTE:  Plastic is brittle and can break.  Therefore a flexible luggage tag is probably the best choice.  These types of tags should be for temporary use only.

Collars & Harnesses:  Many Rescue volunteers recommend a Martingale type collar. If you use a Martingale collar, it is absolutely imperative that the collar be fitted properly and the lead attached to the proper ring on the collar or the dog can back out of it. It has been suggested that 2 Martingale collars (or a secondary regular collar) and 2 leads be used. Some volunteers don’t recommend using a choke collar, particularly in a vehicle and especially in a crate due the possibility of the dog strangling if the collar gets caught on something. However, if you are not crating the dog, a choke collar*, along with a Martingale collar can be used.  Just don’t have it on a “crated” dog but put the secondary lead or choke collar on just was you are getting the dog ready to exit the vehicle. You may have to crawl into the back to do this with the doors and windows to the vehicle closed. That way, when you do open a door or tail gate, you are set and ready to go with two leads attached to the dog (and to you.)

NOTE: See the end of this article for an example of a Martingale collar and how to measure and fit it.

A harness can be used in addition to a single collar and can be attached to a second lead. However, many Airedales are extreme “pullers” and you have less control with a harness.  For those draft horse type dogs, the best type of harness is the improvised one where after attaching the leash to the dog’s collar, loop it around the dog’s belly and slip it back through itself on top of the dog’s back. This make-shift harness gives you a lot better control over a strong dog that wants to pull and it makes it less likely that they will strangle themselves a choke collar.

There are also harnesses that work with seat belts but a number of Airedales have been known to chew through seat belts and thus this type of harness may not be appropriate for transport. It would depend upon the dog and a very watchful eye if it is necessary to use this set up. Again, use that second lead, attached to a regular collar if you do opt for a seat belt type harness.

Leads:  Leads that have bull nose snap leads are recommended over leads with clips as they can become easily unclipped.  Also, a 6-foot nylon or leather lead is recommended. Do not use a Flexi-lead. This type of lead will not allow you to have control over the dog.  If you are not using a harness when transporting; again, do the double lead set up. Something worthy of note: some people prefer the “soft” lead-choke style as it can be easily wrapped around the primary lead. It is great for when you need to put a lead on quickly.  When used properly, it acts as a soft choke collar.

Soft Muzzle:  If you are dealing with an aggressive or fearful dog, you may want to use a soft muzzle; particularly if you need to physically place the dog into a vehicle.

Crates:  Crating a dog during transport is the safest and most secure way to assure he or she arrives safely. WalMart has inexpensive soft crates that can be kept folded in the car. And even when crating, please make sure you have 2 leads on the dog while he/she is crated. Attach at least 1 of these leads to the crate (I don’t think this will work work on a soft crate) or to a secure tie down just outside of the crate. Before allowing the dog out of the crate, check to make sure that lead is still attached to the crate or tie down. Slowly open the door and take hold of the second lead (the loose lead), making sure you have a firm grip on it (end around your wrist if possible) and now you can allow the dog out of the crate and release the other lead and place it around your wrist. This can be a critical moment and is often one when a dog escapes so you will need to be ready to move and react quickly.

NOTE: If you are NOT using a crate during transport, it is a MUST that a leash from the dog’s collar or harness be attached to a tie down or a seat belt or to some other SECURE place in the vehicle so the dog cannot escape when you open the door or tail gate. Also, prior to releasing the primary lead, secure a second lead to the second collar or use a choke collar, making sure that it too is secure around your wrist before allowing the dog out of the vehicle.  And never, ever allow the dog off lead, even in a backyard, until the dog is voluntarily making eye contact and is responding consistently to the “Come” command.

Using a carabiner to teather a leash to the car.

Looping the leash through a tiedown or seatbelt.

How to Measure & Fit a Martingale Collar

(Taken from Around the Hounds)

Since Martingale collars come in several sizes:  small (1” collar adjusts to fit neck size 12” to 16”), medium (1 ½ collar adjusts to fit neck sized 13” to 17”) and large sizes (2” collar adjusts to fit neck sizes 14” to 18”),  you must determine the correct size for the dog. Most Airedales will use a medium size. For the really large Oorange type ‘dales, a large will probably work the best but take the following measurements to be sure.

To find the size most appropriate for your dog: Using a soft tape measure, measure

  • Around the mid-part of the neck, just where you want the collar to lie.
  • Around the narrowest part of the neck, just behind the ears.
  • Around the widest part of the head, just in front of the ears. (most important measurement for a non-sight hound)

NOTE: these size measurements may be a little different by brand name (the above is for custom collars). For instance, see this from for Premier Collars.


8"- 12"


10"- 16"


14"- 20"


18"- 28"

A Martingale style collar goes on over your dog's head. With a leash or your hand, the Premier Collar tightens to give greater control and reduce the risk of escape. Because it offers limited closure, it's safer than traditional choke collar. The escape proof design reduces coat damage. The Premier Collar is very popular around our offices.

Measuring Your Dog:  Use a tape measure to measure your dog around the top of the neck directly behind the ears. Then use that number and the girth indicated above to find your collar. If your dog falls within two collar sizes, get the smaller of the two. Please note, the Premier collar has a looser fit than regular collars so that it provides a limited choke - more humane than a choke collar. If it is fit too tightly, it will be used as a choke collar.

Adjusting a Martingale Collar: To ensure your collar is properly adjusted, move the collar up to the narrowest part of the neck and pull upwards on the control loop (the part of the D-ring is attached to). The two metal slides should come together but not touch. You should have at least a two finger distance between the two slides. This will ensure the collar will continue to tighten should the dog back up and will prevent the collar from slipping off.

Martingale collar in use

The main thing to keep in mind when using a Martingale Collar, once you have it fitted properly, is to keep the dog’s head/nose pointed away from you (as when you are walking a dog on a lead.) Do not allow the dog to face you and pull away or back from you. There is a small chance that this could provide an opportunity for the loop to become a bit slake and the collar be pulled off over the dog’s head. Again, use that second lead/collar combination.

Additional comments:

I do use 2 leashes on unfamiliar dogs.  1 is very thick (like a horse lead, so it doesn't burn my skin should the dog pull it through my hand) but my best advice is ...
I close the leash handle in the door or tailgate.  It does NOT flap around and damage my vehicle.  It not only allows me to grab the leash BEFORE opening the door (or tailgate) but it keeps the dog in back (where it belongs) while driving down the road.

Carol Guthrie

The content of this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute advice. All information is intended to be accurate, complete and timely as of the date of writing; however, the Board of National Airedale Rescue does not guarantee the accuracy, timeliness or applicability of any of the contents and therefore, shall not be liable for any losses caused by such reliance on the accuracy or timeliness of such information.

The information in this article might include opinions or views which, unless expressly stated otherwise, are not necessarily those of the Board of National Airedale Rescue or any person in relation to whom they would have any liability or responsibility.

No information in this article is intended to serve as professional (i.e.
legal, veterinary, etc.) advice. Such information should be sought from a professional licensed to practice such profession in the state of your residence.

Reference in this article to any specific commercial products, process, service, manufacturer, or company does not constitute its endorsement or recommendation by the Board of National Airedale Rescue.  The Board is not responsible for the contents of any "off-site" web page referenced in this article.


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