Are Cocker Spaniels Good Family Dogs

May 1, 2022

Cocker Spaniels make excellent family dogs. As anyone who has had a dog of this breed will tell you, this breed is intelligent, playful, and has a soft, affectionate nature. This personality is what makes this Spaniel such a sound choice for a family dog.

A Cocker Spaniel also adapts well to children and other pets such as other dogs or cats. It can easily fit well into any home. You'll find Cocker Spaniels have a lot of love for their family and want to be involved in everything, especially if you are in the kitchen.

Adding a Cocker Spaniel to your family is a lot easier to do with a puppy than with an adult dog. This way, you find both the child and puppy are learning together. Of course, both the dog and child need to understand how to interact with each other safely and respectfully.

Are Cocker Spaniels Good with Kids?

Their playful and loving nature makes Cocker Spaniel's the ideal dog for children.

Always up for fun and games, a dog can be an excellent companion. From lounging around cuddling on the sofa to spending the day outdoors, your Spaniel is up for anything.

They have a high energy level that can match an active family. Cocker Spaniels are undoubtedly one of our favourite breeds.

It is essential, however, to make sure your child understands how to treat a dog. Cocker Spaniels can be a little sensitive and do require a gentle hand. They shy away from cruel treatment or rough handling.

Setting firm rules for kids can help them understand how to have a healthy relationship with their dog.

It is best to start with having a puppy with a small child. Bringing an adult dog into a home with young children might not go as smoothly, particularly if the dog was not brought up in this environment.

Cocker Spaniels are intelligent dogs and respond well to training. Its smarts and trainability is another factor that helps it become a fantastic dog. Obedience training is a breeze. This also makes this breed ideal for a first-time owner.

Setting Rules for Children with your Cocker Spaniel

To make sure your kid has a good relationship with your family pet, setting a few ground rules is a great idea.

Kids ground rules:

  • Must understand that your dog won't always want to play.
  • Always be gentle when playing with the Cocker Spaniels.
  • Understand that a dog is not a toy.
  • Never strike the dog.
  • Never shout at the dog.
  • Understand that the dog might need a little alone time. Let sleeping dogs lie and all that.
  • Children need to stay out of the dog's bed.

Keep to these rules, and you are sure to be off to an excellent start to having a great family pet.

Things to Consider when Getting a Cocker Spaniel

As already touched on, Cocker Spaniels don't respond well to negative treatment. And sometimes, kids can be a little rough. Especially when excited or playing. This is where things can go wrong.

If subjected to severe treatment, a Cocker Spaniel can become defensive and aggressive. Owners will find this behaviour very confusing how their behaviour changes so suddenly. Especially seeing how affectionate this breed usually is.

A dog may try to warn children first by growling. Unfortunately, this is often interpreted as cute and ignored. However, this can be a warning that a bite may be next.

If children keep playing rough with a dog, you will find it progressively gets more aggressive. Steadily moving through growling, snarling, showing its teeth, nipping, and then eventually, biting.

The other issue this can pose is that as the dog learns that aggressive behaviour can get them what they want, it will continue to be the go-to strategy to get their own way.

If left unchecked, this behaviour will escalate and begin to impact your relationship with your dog. It will take time to rebuild the trust you once had.

How to Make a Cocker Spaniel into a Good Family Dog

While a Cocker Spaniel will undoubtedly make a great addition to your family there are many actions we can take when looking for a dog and bringing them into our home that can help them settle in well. 

Look for a Good Dog Breeder

Spend time looking for a good breeder before you get your dog. You’ll want to ask questions around the conditions the puppies are living in (in a home or kennel), how many litters they’ve had in the past, if they do this for work or as a hobby, and details about the puppies parents with pictures, details on health, and any awards they’ve won. You can also see if they only breed Cockers or deal with other dog breeds too.

Be very suspicious if the mom isn’t available to see. You could be at a puppy farm. 

Don’t get your Cocker from a puppy farm. These unscrupulous breeders generally have very poor practices and can use inbred dogs which leads to more aggressive cockers which are more susceptible to health problems. Unfortunately, many inexperienced owners have fallen prey to this in the past. I'd like to think those who've had a few dogs have a clearer picture of this.

Socialise your Cocker Spaniel Early 

Having your Cocker Spaniel spend more time around other animals and people as a puppy can help it have a lovely temperament. 

There is actually a socialisation window where you’ll want to do this before 12 weeks. If you picked up your Cocker from a home breeder this might already be done in part if it came from a family home. You’ll just need to continue the good work. It is of course possible to keep the socialisation going after that but it will take a bit more work. 

Socialising with other dogs can be very handy as other pups will quite happily show your Cocker Spaniel if they have crossed a line with a little nip or growl. Dogs quite quickly learn good manners with rough play. All things that help them become good family pets.

By being more accustomed to the environment they will spend time in, people, and other animals they are more likely to be comfortable with change. 

If you don’t ensure your new dog is properly socialised you might find yourself with an overly cautious and easily scared pup who can display more aggressive or fearful traits that can be linked to behavioural problems down the road. 

Take your Dogs Training Seriously 

One way to get the most out of your new best friend is to take their training seriously. 

Now we are not talking about fancy tricks but even just the basic training that you would have to help make your dog a great family member.

The best way to train Cocker Spaniel puppies is to use positive reinforcement when they complete a positive action such as a trick or behave in a certain way. By rewarding positive behaviour, your dog will associate positive actions with the treats.

Cocker Spaniels are one of the most loving breeds I’ve ever seen and they always go out of their way to please their owners. 

Don’t Let Bad Behaviour Go Unchecked 

Speaking from experience I can say all dogs like to test the boundaries as puppies. We’ve all seen those big eyes when they know they shouldn’t have done something, just waiting to see if they are getting in trouble for it. 

You need to take action in these situations and let your Cocker Spaniel know that this behaviour is not acceptable. Be gentle though, Cockers are usually a sensitive dog breed and don’t respond well to harsh treatment or physical punishment. Again, positive reinforcement will be your best friend here.

If you let bad behaviour become an accepted habit then it will be very hard to break. Especially if it's set into an adult Cocker Spaniel. They are a smart breed but it will be a challenge to break the habit. Think about that time you said the dog will never sleep on the bed and let them up one time. Good luck telling them they can’t come up anymore. 

Final Thoughts on Cocker Spaniels as a Family Dog?

So, are Cocker Spaniels good family dogs?

Thanks to their gentle, loving temperament Cocker Spaniels are a brilliant breed to have as a family pet.

As kids can be a little rough it is important to keep making sure your kids understand the importance of respecting your dogs gentle nature. 

There are many steps you can take to improve your odds of having a good family dog including taking the time to find a good breeder, taking training seriously, and generally ensuring that your Cocker Spaniel feels loved.

No matter if you are looking for an English Cocker Spaniel or an American one, these handy tips will help you ensure you have a great family pet for many years to come.

Allan  Noble
Hi, my name is Allan! I am the owner of Spaniel Advisor and I've got over seven years experience of owning Spaniels.  
I hope this article was helpful for you! 
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