Portuguese Water Dogs are known for two things: their skill in the water and their sense of humor. This breed was used on Portuguese fishing boats to herd fish, catch fish, and carry messages between boats. The fishermen regarded them as part of the crew and allowed them to eat the fish and even paid the dogs for their services. The camaraderie of the fishing boat made them people dogs, they love spending time with their families and want to be included in all family activities. Perhaps the fishing boats were were they learned to be showmen, as well. Owners report their dogs are prone to silly behavior, repeating it when it gets a laugh, and each time adding a little more flair. These dogs are excellent with children and make a companion for active families.
Portuguese Water Dogs have stamina to spare. These guys can run all day and come back for more, so couch potatoes need not apply. They are too large for apartment living and are best suited for homes with lots of room to run. They make excellent jogging, biking and hiking companions, and swimming pool owners will have a hard time getting their dogs out of the water. One to two hours per day of vigorous activity will keep your Portuguese Water Dog happy and healthy.
This thinking breed needs to work their minds as much as their bodies. Many owners find their dogs excel in agility activities, and this gives the dogs a chance to run, think, and bond with his favorite people.
Portuguese Water Dogs are fairly easy to train. Some can have an independent streak, so training early is the best way to ensure success. They respond to praise and treats, and should never be treated harshly. Discipline, physical correction and shouting will cause your dog to develop avoidance behaviors. They possess the desire to please, and are generally well-behaved by nature, so they rarely test the patience of their trainer.
After basic obedience has been mastered, your Portuguese Water Dog should graduate on to advanced obedience or agility training.
The hardest behaviors to train out of your Portuguese Water dog are chewing and jumping on people. They get very excited when you return home or when a visitor comes to the door, and they will grab an object and bound to the door as a greeting. This can go on well into adulthood.
Separation Anxiety can develop in this breed, especially if their exercise requirements are not met. Portuguese Water Dogs express anxiety by chewing destructively, so before you leave your dog alone, you should exercise him and leave him with plenty of interesting chew toys in order to save your furniture and shoes.