The Irish Terrier is an active and compactly sized dog that is suited for life in both rural and city environments. Its harsh red coat protects it from all kinds of weather.
The Irish Terrier is full of life, but not hyperactive; it should be able to relax inside the house and be roused to full activity level quickly.
Irish Terriers are good with people. Most Irish Terriers love children and tolerate rough-housing to a certain extent. Irish terriers are not always the best choice of dog, as they are very energetic and sometimes challenging to train. It is important that they have a strong leader, for whom they have natural respect. New tasks are easily mastered, providing the dog is motivated to learn; Irish terriers have less of an eagerness to please people than some other breeds. Food and toys work equally well as motivation to learn. Training will not be as easy as with other dog breeds that have stronger willingness to please people. They respond best to firm, consistent training from a relaxed, authoritative person. As with all dog breeds, violence should never be used - it is always best to outwit and lure. When seeking a trainer, one should look for a person who has experience with terriers.
Irish Terriers are often dominant with other dogs, and same-sex aggression is a common problem. The Irish Terrier will commonly be attracted to species of the same-sex. Poorly socialised individuals can start fights with minimal, if any, provocation. Thus, early socialisation is a necessity. Most have strong guarding instincts and when these instincts are controlled, make excellent alarming watchdogs, but if they are not controlled, your dog will be very aggressive and not very compassionate towards the owner.
Most Irish Terriers are show dogs. There are however more and more people joining organised dog sports with their terriers. The obedience training required at a certain level in most dog sports is fairly easy, though the precision and long-lasting drive needed in the higher levels may be hard to achieve. Many Irish Terriers excel in agility, even though it may be hard to balance the speed, independence and precision needed in the higher levels. To date there is one Agility Champion in the US, and a handful of Finnish and Swedish Irish terriers compete at the most difficult classes.
Irish Terriers have a good nose and can learn to track either animal blood or human scent. Many Irish Terriers enjoy Lure Coursing, although they are not eligible for competition like sight hounds are. In Finland one Irish Terrier is a qualified Rescue Dog specialising at Sea Rescue.
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