I was recently asked do Cocker Spaniels make good family dogs? As I have a Cocker Spaniel and 3 children aged between 5 and 10, I feel comfortable in answering this question honestly.
Cocker Spaniels can make brilliant family dogs especially if they are socialized from a very young age as well as trained properly. Renowned for being a sensitive breed, it makes good practice to set some ground rules for the kids when they are handling a young puppy.
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My little Cocker Spaniel is called Guinness. He’s actually the second Cocker that I have had. When I lived at home with my parents and older brother, we were given a 3 year old Blue Roan Cocker who was called Dusty.
Her owners were unable to care for her any longer so we took her on.
I have loved Cocker Spaniels ever since and in my opinion, yes, they do make good family pets.
Before you get all excited about getting a new puppy, let me go through all the pro’s and cons of being an owner of a Cocker Spaniel.
Why Should I Get A Cocker Spaniel?
Cocker Spaniels are very loving and devoted dogs. The adapt to all environments very quickly and are equally at home indoors as they are outdoors.
I will add though that although Cockers love being around their owners and lying around the house, they absolutely love running around outside no matter what the weather.
In fact, my Guinness would turn around and go straight back out for another hour long walk if I gave him the opportunity.
A young Cocker is willing to learn and please their owner and with the correct training environment, this is the basis of what makes them good family dogs.
One of the major downsides of a Cockers need to please their owner is that they are prone to suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for too long.
We were fortunate in that when we got Guinness, we already had an English Show Type Springer Spaniel called Noodle to keep him company.
My wife also worked shifts and I worked close by at the time and was able to pop home so the 2 dogs were very rarely left for any more than 2 hours without human interaction.
These days, my parents have retired and pop in regularly to keep an eye on Guinness which is even more important since we had to say goodbye to Noodle in late 2016.
One of the best things about walking through the door is the way a Cocker will greet you. My Guinness must bring me or the wife something.
He will pick up the closest thing he can find which is usually one of his toys or a slipper.
If there’s nothing handy, he will sprint upstairs to find something to bring to us…..we love it, it never gets old or boring.
You Must Train A Cocker Spaniel Properly
Before you read on, I highly recommend you visit this fantastic online training resource, especially if you struggle for time taking your Cocker to training classes.
When trained properly, a Cocker Spaniel has the most wonderful and loving temperament which is why he continues to one of the most popular family dogs around.
When I say trained properly, what I mean is, a Cocker can react badly to poor training. You have to be patient with your training and you must not, I repeat, you must not be harsh or aggressive towards the puppy.
Cockers are typically shy and sensitive as puppy’s and will not respond well to any sort of aggression.
If you persist with poor training as I’ve just mentioned, your Cocker will very likely become more and more aggressive.
The main key to proper Cocker training is to continue to be kind and gentle towards your puppy.
With this in mind, you must ensure that your children do not play rough at all with a young Cocker pup. A cocker Spaniel will love playing with children but if a child is too rough, especially with a young Cocker, it will nearly always lead to trouble.
It was a different scenario for our family. We actually had both of our Spaniels BEFORE we had any children. For obvious reasons, we were very cautious about introducing our new born to the two dogs.
Noodle, our Springer, had a really good sniff of our new born daughter Katie and seemed satisfied if that makes sense.
From then on, he was always near her and on a night time, he would sleep under her cot. They ended up really really close the older Katie got.
As for Guinness, he took the introduction of our 3 kids in his stride and they didn’t bother him at all. I will say though that the older the kids get, the more he plays with them.
I put that down to him only been used to adults before the kids came along.
I guess we have been lucky really. You often read stories of how people have had to get rid of their beloved pets as they wouldn’t accept new born children into their home and were aggressive towards the kids.
If you do get a puppy and notice the little one starting to growl or generally not seem very happy around your children, you must act quick.
Get the kids to back off and be much more gentle with the puppy when they are interacting with him.
The last thing you want to see is your Cocker displaying signs of growling and barking towards the kids. These are strong warning signs from your dog that he’s not happy and the next action it’s likely to do is snap and bite.
Generally, when a Cocker barks and displays the behavour I’ve just described above, it’s usually referred to as ‘fear aggression’.
My Cocker is almost 12 years old now and whenever he sees a dog or human he’s never met before, he always barks at them.
However he quickly calms down after a few sniffs and his little docked tail is always wagging super fast.
Yes, Cocker Spaniels Do Make Good Family Dogs
With proper training and interaction, a Cocker Spaniel makes one of the best family dogs you could wish for.
It will however, be a learning curve for both you and a new puppy so please take your time and do things correctly, for you and your new puppy and you simply won’t regret it.