Acquired: Breeder (professional)
Training: I haven't learned care / training techniques
Posted December 21, 2014
When my wife and I first decided to get a dog we checked the local shelters, but were told that most of the breeds we saw would not do well in an apartment, unless they had grown up in one as a puppy.
We ended up acquiring our English Cocker Spaniel, Vila, from previous owners whose work schedules didn't allow them to spend enough time with him. We had heard, and our subsequent experience confirmed, that Spaniels are very social, and don't like to be left alone. Since I mostly work from home, we figured this wouldn't be a problem.
Vila is a wonderful dog, and after a few night of nervous-peeing, he settled in well to his new household. He has boundless energy, and loves to go for walks/runs and never seems to get tired. The only behavioural complaint we have is the degree to which he pulls on his leash, which is not only annoying for us, but potentially harmful to him, since he pulls hard enough to start choking himself. We switched to a harness, which helped for a while, but might have been responsible for him developing a painful edema under his leg, the only serious health problem he has had (successfully treated with antibiotics).
What we have read also says that English Cockers respond far better to positive reinforcement in their training than punishment, which suits me fine, since I'm not the type of person who enjoys yelling at or disciplining a dog. Other than coming when we call (if we need to put on his leash to cross a street, for example) I don't care much about obedience.
He requires some grooming, as the long hair behind his ears and on his belly can get matted and tangled. He loves to wade in the water, which he does at every opportunity, but doesn't like to actually swim. We have never had any issues with aggression towards other dogs or people. Quite playful, at 19 months he still acts like a puppy, very affectionate and people-centered.
Overall, Vila is a comical, exuberant, loving and gentle animal, and a perfect companion for outdoor adventures. As long as he gets frequent and extensive walks, he seems to do fine in an apartment.