The individual personality of Irish Water Spaniels vary from dog to dog. Some are energetic and outgoing, others are shy and prefer to laze around the house. You can't really tell what your adult Water Spaniel will be like based upon his behavior as a puppy, either. However, all Water Spaniels are loving family companions who adore their families, have a zest for life and have a propensity for clowning around. He can make a game out of just about any activity, and no matter what he's doing he appears to be having the time of his life. Water Spaniels are spirited companions and will want to be included in all family activities. They are polite to strangers and can be trusted around well mannered children.
Irish Water Spaniels need a lot of activity to maintain health and happiness. As their name suggests, this breed loves water and people with swimming pools should expect to find their dog swimming and splashing about. Hunters can take them into the field, as they are reliable trackers and retrievers and have the stamina to work all day. Couch potatoes would be better suited for another breed. Even a lazy Water Spaniel will come alive outdoors, and if he doesn't get enough exercise will quickly become hyper active and destructive.
This breed is too large and requires too much space to be confined to an apartment, even if a commitment is made to exercise.
Water Spaniels are fairly easy to train, but they do have a willful streak which can can make them inconsistent students. Positive reinforcement and lots of treats help the process along, as does mixing up training activities. Keeping training sessions light and fun is also helpful, as Water Spaniels will enjoy any activity he thinks is a game. Once leadership is established and basic obedience mastered, Water Spaniels should graduate on to advanced obedience or agility training to keep their bodies and minds active.
Early and frequent socialization is important to building an even tempered Water Spaniel. While they adore their own family, they are often wary of strangers. Teaching him early on to accept new people and new situations can keep them from becoming shy or fearful.
Water Spaniels are eternally happy animals and often never outgrow their bounciness. Even an old dog will bound to the door and jump to greet you when you get home. They are not the most graceful dogs, and this bouncy behavior can lead to toppled lamps or spilled drinks. “Stay” and “down” are two important commands that should be mastered early on.
They can be aggressive toward dogs of the same sex and are prone to chasing cats or smaller animals. Water Spaniels should be kept on a leash or in a fenced in are to avoid potentially sticky situations.