Sussex Spaniels are gentle, easy-going, affectionate dogs who enjoy being active participants in family life. They are happy to be lazy on the couch for a relaxing Sunday afternoon, but when they are outdoors the Sussex springs to life, running, leaping and playing like a puppy. These hunting dogs were designed to withstand long days in the field, working in rough terrain and all types of weather. This background gives the Sussex energy to spare, so don't take this little dog for a couch potato. He needs several walks a day and plenty of time to run, but as long as the activity involves the people he loves, he is happy. The Sussex Spaniel is good with older children, gets along well with other family pets and makes an all-around fine family companion.
Sussex Spaniels need a lot of vigorous activity to keep them healthy, happy and even-tempered. They are small enough to live in an apartment or condo, but owners should be prepared to commit to an active lifestyle. The Sussex enjoys walks, short jogs, hikes and dips in a pool or lake. They also enjoy basic backyard games and can entertain themselves with kids for hours at a time.
This breed is very smart and agile, and if possible should be enrolled in agility or flyball activities to burn off energy while using their brains. The Sussex gets bored easily and needs to have interesting activities to do, so that he doesn't entertain himself by chewing your furniture or digging up your garden.
The Sussex is an easy going spaniel, but can be difficult to train. Breeders encourage owners to begin training as soon as you bring your puppy home, at about 8 to 12 week of age. Positive reinforcement and treats are the best method use in order to get your Sussex to respond. Harsh discipline will cause your dog to simply ignore you. They are little dogs but they can exhibit dominance, so leadership is an owners 24 hour responsibility. If you bend the rules just once for a Sussex, he will take that as an invitation to walk all over you.
Though they can be a handful to train, once leadership has been established and basic obedience has been mastered, you should enroll your Sussex in advanced activities like agility or flyball to keep him on his toes mentally and physically.
Sussex Spaniels bark in the field to communicate with hunters, and their tendency to be vocal carries into their home life. A Sussex will bark to let you know someone is approaching, walking away or crossing the street. They are very quick to alert you to every little thing that goes on around him, which makes the Sussex a good watchdog, but an annoying housemate. Teaching your Sussex a command to stop barking can save your eardrums and your sanity.
Sussex Spaniels, when properly trained and socialized have a very enjoyable temperament and are polite to strangers and other dogs. When not properly trained and socialized, they can be wary of strangers, possessive of their family members and impatient with other dogs. It is very important to expose your Sussex to new people and new experiences as much as possible when he is young, so that he can grow to be a well-adjusted dog.
Separation anxiety is common in the Sussex. They love to be around people and can become depressed and anxious when left alone for long periods of time. While proper exercise can help, it is best for a Sussex to live in a home where the work schedule is flexible or there is a stay at home parent.