Irish terriers were bred to be hunting dogs, and their instincts tell them to chase things, and to dig their heels in and fight when faced with conflict. Terriers in general have a tendency to have a bit of a "bossy" nature and are quite happy to be in charge of the household. Let run amuck, a terrier can be a nightmare of a pet. Irish terriers, in particular, can be very stubborn and have been known to be very aggressive with small animals like cats. They have even been known to be aggressive with dogs double their size and even with children who might inadvertently step on a paw or play a bit rough. They have a tendency to flee when left off leash and are prone to chasing cars. So, why, you ask, would anyone want to own an Irish terrier?
Well, in addition to the negative attributes mentioned above, Irish terriers have some very positive characteristics about them that make them wonderful pets. They are extremely loyal and affectionate with their owners. They are small enough to keep in an apartment if needed. They hardly shed and are very low maintenance pets. They make great watchdogs and are very devoted pets. But, to get the Irish terrier to be a great family pet, they require plenty of training. Some very specific things you need to know about training an Irish terrier include:
You must teach your Irish terrier that you're the boss. Irish terriers are quite happy to be the "alpha dog" in your home, so you must quickly educate him that the "alpha dog" distinction belongs only to you. This will require consistency; you cannot let little issues slide with an Irish terrier or he will interpret these mixed signals as permission to assert his opinion.
You must not use corporal punishment with Irish terriers - Irish terriers are more likely than many other breeds to growl or snap at you if they feel that your punishment is too harsh. Correct your terrier consistently with your voice and lavish praise when his behavior is appropriate but don't use physical punishment - it might backfire on you.
Give your Irish Terrier the opportunity to exercise - Irish terriers are active and athletic dogs by nature. If they are not allowed to exercise and vent some of their energy, they may be prone to destructive behavior. Keeping your terrier properly exercised is important to helping his behavior.
Professional obedience training is in order - Irish terriers benefit more than most breeds from professional obedience training. Working with a professional trainer can help get your dog's behavior under control more quickly and can help the owner better understand how to handle this willful breed.
Irish terriers can be wonderful pets, but they need owners who are willing and able to take on their willful nature and teach the dog who's boss.