Like most terriers, the Irish packs a lot of personality into a small body. They are lively dogs who love to play and like to hear themselves bark. They are quick to posture around other dogs and won't back down if challenged. In the home, they love to be the center of attention, and aren't above making mischief to receive the attention they crave. Irish Terriers have spunk and sass, and many owners swear their dogs “talk back” to them. They are generally patient with kids, and enjoy playing in the yard with anyone willing to give chase. But at the end of the day, the Irish Terrier will want to curl up on someone's lap for some affection and relaxation.
Irish Terriers don't require an excessive amount of exercise. Daily walks and the weekly chance to get out and run will keep your dog quite happy. Outdoors your terrier will want to chase things, so playing ball or romping with children are excellent choices. Indoors you can play ball and tug of war with your terrier as well.
Their size makes them good apartment dogs, but they are adaptable and can live basically anywhere. On farms they are useful vermin catchers, in the suburbs they are lively family dogs, and in the city they will like to strut their stuff on walks about town.
Irish Terriers, like many terrier breeds can be a challenge to train. They have a mind of their own and prefer that they be the ones in charge of the home. Training an Irish Terrier requires absolute consistency – if you bend the rules once for these guys, they'll walk all over you. Training should be conducted with lots of treats and even more patience. Never treat an Irish Terrier harshly, as they will stop responding to you all together. They are prone to defensive reactions – if an Irish Terrier does not like the way he is being treated, he will snap or bite.
Once leadership is established, however, Irish Terriers can pick up on tricks and can be graduated on to advanced obedience or agility training. These activities are a good way to keep the dog's mind active, as they require a lot of mental stimulation.
Irish Terriers can't be trusted off a leash. Their instinct to chase after anything that moves is strong, and it is nearly impossible to call off a terrier who has given chase. Yards should always be fenced, and your Irish Terrier should be supervised when outdoors, as they have been known to dig under fences in search of adventure.
Irish Terriers are best suited for single-pet households. They can be aggressive toward other dogs and will try to chase and hunt cats or rodents.
They exhibit all of the common traits of a terrier: yappiness, posturing toward other dogs, fearlessness and poor impulse control. Though these dogs are small, they pack a lot of energy and personality into a tiny package. Potential owners should be ready to handle these big dogs trapped in little bodies.