Acquired: Breeder (professional)
Training: I haven't learned care / training techniques, Attended conferences / shows, Books
Posted February 20, 2013
Cocker spaniels have been my parents’ dog of choice for the last 30 years beginning with a golden character named Rowlf (after the Muppets), to the current tiny blue roan (black and white) version named Lucy. They were/are all unique but with wondrous strong personalities. Cockers are never boring! Determined little souls who ingratiate themselves into your world, your heart and your daily routine - the cocker is decidedly a “people dog” and likes to be part of your life. Whether you are gardening, walking, doing crosswords, watching television, having a barbecue…. they will be there – in the thick of it. My Mum used to find it somewhat difficult to weed the garden with Rowlf sitting between her and the garden bed! Lucy sits on the futon while Dad reads his paper. Togetherness is a good thing for a cocker.
They train well. Cockers can be trained to Companion standard if you take them to classes, or you can settle for the basics. I highly recommend early socialization for this breed, in the form of Puppy Pre-School. It prevents them being scared of other dogs, and this is particularly helpful whilst out walking.
In tropical climates it is advisable to keep their coats clipped short in summer to keep them more comfortable.
Like all spaniels, cockers will happily overeat if given the chance, so it is best to keep a firm hand on their daily intake. Having to put a cocker on a diet is not a happy experience – for either the cocker or the owner. I find it best to regiment the daily meals and leave room for those treats which they do adore, and are particularly useful for training and when you go out.
Cockers love walks. Ours seem to like to choose where they will go, and have all had remarkably definite opinions – including refusing to go down some streets! I carried an aged cocker home for a distance of 2 blocks once because she had decided that was as far as she was prepared to go.
We’ve often had children and cockers together with no problems at all. The dogs were remarkably patient with small children and babies, allowing liberties to be taken that no dog would permit an adult. As the children grew, the cockers played with them – chasey; hide and seek; ball games. Admittedly, cockers don’t always follow the rules, but they do have fun.
There is a genetic condition affecting Cockers known as Rage Syndrome. It pays to be aware of this when choosing your pet. It is a rare, although serious behavioural problem. The dog becomes momentarily aggressive, before reverting to its usual personality without seeming to recall what has happened. Rage Syndrome (sometimes known as Sudden Onset Aggression) appears to be more common in solid coloured dogs as opposed to the multi-coloured dogs. Ask the breeder/pet shop etc about the parents and gather as much information as you can. As it is a genetic condition, knowing the history of the parents will help you to choose your pup. This is rare and should not put you off the breed at all. In my time with Cockers I have not come across a single case.
Our Cockers have provided some excellent watch dog moments, some moments of utter love, and side-splitting mirth. They are comfortable in a city walking sedately around the block, or as a country dog running across the paddock. Cockers are not massive dogs, but they do have massive hearts.