Cocker Spaniels are in general sweet natured, happy, gentle and playful. They are a small sporting-breed who, when well-socialized, are friendly and peaceful with strangers and other animals, and make wonderful family pets.
Cocker Spaniels can be very “high maintenance”, requiring regular exercise, and a lot of brushing, combing, clipping and bathing. Gorgeous looks usually come with some effort. Healthy dogs should not shed excessively, and if they do, should probably be checked for thyroid or other underlying conditions. The Cocker breed because of their long ears covering the ear canal, have previously been prone to ear infections; however, regular grooming of the hair from under and around the ear canal and a new veterinary-approved ear treatment (BNT ear treatment) have been extremely effective in eliminating this problem in many cases.
Immature bladder control or excitable/submissive urination is also rumored to be a trait with this breed. Most dogs will grow out of this when they mature as they gain confidence through a stable, calm home environment and training. Understanding that almost all rescued dogs in a new environment will have a few accidents while they learn your routine, where you want them to go (and how to get there), and being taken out frequently at first, will go a long way toward making the transition of a new, rescued dog into your home much easier. (Please see our Housebreaking Tips under “Caring for Your Cocker/Training Tips” section of this website).
Cockers are also a very “sensitive” breed who in general bond intensely with their human families or owners. This is what has made them so immensely popular as a breed for so long. This also makes them responsive to persuasive, cheerful obedience training that includes praise and sometimes food treats. However, as with any other breed, dogs who are not socialized can exhibit aggression due to fear or other experience-triggered, defensive automatic responses – these are the dogs for whom formal training is absolutely necessary along with enforcement of strict behavioral rules when in the household. All dogs can benefit from structured socialization and training, and this will help insure a long, happy life with its family. Lack of commitment to training is probably the #1 reason why most dogs are surrendered to shelters in the first place – so it’s usually not the dog’s fault it wound up where it shouldn’t be. Formal training can solve a multitude of problems and is encouraged.
Also, as with all breed of dogs who come into a rescue program, their history and experiences can be hidden from view. Using appropriate caution and care when interacting with these dogs – and any unknown dog -- is recommended. Dogs, whether rescued or purchased directly as puppies, never come with warranties on their personalities – neither do children! It’s up to the dog owners to educate themselves on good training practices and implement behavioral rules and habits that will ensure a safe, happy environment in which the dog can thrive.
DFW Cocker Spaniel Rescue hopes that you will start the process of applying for, meeting and doing a no-pressure trial with one of these wonderful, sweet, deserving dogs who will blossom and thrive with your love and attention. You’ll be doing your own heart a favor, too!