American Water Spaniels are friendly dogs with a great desire to please. A true family dog, they will run and play with children, but will also relax on the lap of an adult at the end of a hard day. As the name suggests, this breed loves to swim and retrieve in water, as well as on land. They crave companionship with people and like to be included in outdoor activities.
This active breed needs plenty of exercise and enjoys running, hunting and swimming. Their medium size may be appealing for apartment dwellers, but too much confinement can lead to chewing and other destructive behavior. While they enjoy long walks, this breed needs space to run. Families with yards to run in, or pools to swim in are ideal matches for the American Water Spaniel.
American Water Spaniels are good with children. They are patient, and open to rumpus playing. They will snap, however, if startled, so children should be taught never to disturb a sleeping dog, and never approach a dog from the rear.
Intelligent and eager to please, the American Water Spaniel is easy to train. Harsh discipline can cause them to distrust people, so a confident, but gentle positive-reinforcement strategy works best.
There is no need to train the American Water Spaniel to fetch. They are born with the innate desire to chase, hunt, and retrieve, and can spend hours engaged in this activity. Once basic obedience training is completed, this breed should be enrolled in advanced training, or agility training to keep them challenged and mentally stimulated.
Unlike other breeds of spaniels, the American Water Spaniel is wary of strangers. They will bark to alert a stranger's arrival, but can can grow to be distrusting of strangers, if not properly socialized. The earlier this breed is exposed to new people and new situations, the more easy-going they will be in adulthood.
Because they crave companionship, American Water Spaniels can develop separation anxiety, barking or howling behaviors, especially if they are bored or left alone for long periods of time. Plenty of exercise and play can stave off boredom while the family is away.
This breed is very vocal. They bark when they are happy, they bark to get attention, they bark when left alone. They are also prone to whining and howling. If corrected early in puppyhood, these behaviors can be kept in check.