Working Cocker Spaniels As Pets

A lot of people ask if working cocker spaniels make good pets. The short answer is yes but with conditions.

Finding a breeder that will sell a working cocker as a pet is no mean feat in itself as most breeders want to sell to working homes. Once such breeder is Cathy Bowler at Whiteford Working Cocker Spaniels. Cathy is a private breeder who loves her dogs and as such doesn’t over exert them into having too many litters. She is also where I got my working cocker, Joey, so I’m biased.

The first thing you should do when inspecting a litter of any dogs is meet the mother. If the mother’s temperament is good then the chances are she’ll pass it on to her offspring. You also get to see whether she’s healthy and cared for properly. I’d recommend sitting with the mother for a while then when you’re choosing your puppy, just let them run all over you while you sit on the floor. That way you’ll get to witness their personalities first hand. I chose my dog, Joey, because he spent most of his time trampling over his siblings to get to me then when he did make it to me he chewed my arm. I knew straight away what I was getting in to.

As I said before, working cockers can make good pets but only if you’re willing to put some time in to them. My dog gets about 2 hours of walks a day. When I say walks I don’t really mean that. I mean that I walk and he runs everywhere. He is constantly exercising, chasing his Kong, swimming and sniffing things out. If at some point during the walk he hasn’t taken the time out to lie down of his own accord and have a rest then I’m not exercising him enough and he’ll let me know later on by sitting next to me and staring at me constantly until I take him out again. It’s unnerving to be stared at that much I can tell you.

Working cockers are also incredibly loyal. If you want a dog that won’t leave your side then a working cocker spaniel is for you. If, on the other hand, they’ll get on your nerves following you about then think of another breed. If you get up and walk anywhere in the house then the dog will think that there is something going on that’s going to be good fun and you’ll probably end up tripping over him. On saying that, my dog is currently lying asleep next to my feet but then he’s been out swimming for an hour this morning.

Would I say that my dog is good with kids? Erm, no. He dislikes them immensely. Not to the point of biting but he’ll do everything he can to stay out of their way and he is completely disinterested in anything they’ve got to offer. He’s been socialised with children since he was a pup too so it’s not through lack of contact.

Are working cockers clever and easily trainable? Absolutely. Once you start to train your puppy it won’t take more than a couple of weeks before they can consistently do pretty much everything a ‘normal’ dog would do – sit, lie down, stay etc. Then you’ll notice their retrieving instincts. The best toy I ever bought was a ‘Cool Kong’ which is a Kong on a rope that floats. Buy one. Throw it. And keep some ham in your pocket so that when your puppy brings it back he gets a piece. After a week of this my dog wasn’t bothered about the ham – he just loves the retrieval and the running to the Kong. Then you can start to do things like cover your dog’s eyes, throw the kong into the undergrowth where he can’t see it, and let him go after it. Their sense of smell is incredible. Working cockers love the water. I was a bit worried about Joey because he didn’t go in the water until he was nine months old but since then I can’t keep him out of it. Now, he’ll fetch stones off the bottom of the sea – yes, he swims underwater.

Working cocker spaniels, as with the springers I’ve had, are really bitey when they’re puppies. Not in a malicious way but they will definitely bite you and they chew stuff. The chewing can be kept under control by giving them lots of different toys, sticks etc. to keep them occupied but I guarantee that while you’re playing with them you’ll get those needle teeth sticking in your hands every now and again and will find holes in your clothes that weren’t there before you got the dog.

The other thing you should know about working cocker spaniels, and any spaniels in general, is that they are social animals. Please don’t get one if you’re out of the house at work all day every day because you’re asking for trouble. Get a labrador instead.

I hope that this helps with your choice of dog. It’s by no means a bible, but is my experience of owning a working cocker spaniel.




63 Responses to “Working Cocker Spaniels As Pets”

  1. 1 Rick H July 7, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    I have a Working English Cocker, Tuxedo, rescued at about a year old from from a high kill county shelter in eastern Ohio. Tux is about 2 1/2 years old now, and has become a wonderful companion. He is great with kids, loves meeting and greeting people, and has lots of energy.

  2. 2 Dog Breed Dictionary September 7, 2008 at 5:59 am

    This just goes to show that I certainly still have a lot to learn about the Spaniels in general. You write intelligently, and above all offer very sound, honest advice. Your blog is great!

  3. 3 Stu S March 5, 2010 at 6:12 am

    I’ve got a working cocker but he’s very nervous with new people and wont let anyone near him to stroke him (not that we havnt regularly had him around new people from being a pup!) but the rest of your write up is spot on.


  4. 5 Kerry March 7, 2010 at 7:51 am

    I have a 6mth old working cocker named “Bernie” He is our first dog and VERY hard work! he needs lots of excercise 1 – 2 hours a day – and still never tires. They are highly intelligent dogs and he learnt to SIT PAW LAYDOWN at 9 weeks old! Keeping his mind occupied with retrieving / sniffing out games tires him out just as much as a walk. I put meat scraps in empty boxes for him to find (only took him minutes to realise which contained meat) he got it to them so quick i used a Pringle tubs with the lids on to hid treats inside – in 20 mins at 4mth old he learnt how to hold the tub between his paws and pop the top off with his teeth!
    As for kids, I have 2 children aged 7 & 11 and he loves them as much as they do him. It’s about respect and Bernie knows he’s last in the pack. Best way to show a dog this is the kids eat first (let him watch) then he gets fed or left overs after.
    the only problem I have with owning a working cocker is the MESS! They are very dirty dogs, they never walk around mud or water – they go right on through!!! If you are house proud like me this involes bathing your dog 1 – 2 times per day! Unless you have a very lot of time to spare i don’t suggest a working cocker as a pet. Ask yourself – Can you walk this dog up to 3 hours per day? have you got time to brush it everyday? Can you wash him down almost everytime it goes outside?
    Think about it before you buy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  5. 6 caroline March 30, 2010 at 7:47 am

    I have a year old working cocker called Brake and all i can say he just does not know how to use them. He does not know how to walk and loves to be in the fields bird chasing and lying in the most filthiest puddle he can find and then he is a happy boy the only time he looks good is when he returns from the groomers complete with bow. Your experience with joey is spot on and resembles my own experience with brake (ive never owned a dog before) so everything is new and exciting i must say that your picture of him is exactly like brake not only in colour and white chest but the way he stands with the look of shear delight on his face

  6. 7 kirsty April 3, 2010 at 7:51 am

    We gotta Jet, he is the most loyal, loving and energetic dog i have ever owned. I have had GSD dogs for 15 year but fancied a change- only he turned out to be no where as good as a rest! In to everything and constantly walks bout the house with his shoe hanging out of his mouth ;o) He is everything u write in your blog and i realise now that am not doing anything wrong, He is ment to be still HYPO after a 2 hour walk. I wouldn’t change him 4 the world, but if i could bottle his NRG i woul be a very rich lady. HAPPY DAYZ :O) X

  7. 8 Steph April 11, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    My mum has a golden working cocker- Jake. He’s really sociable, loves everybody and the bit about tripping over him is certainly true- whatever you try to do, he’s in there!

  8. 9 timmy June 15, 2010 at 8:20 am

    are working cockers best kept inside or kenneled outside

    • 10 afinder June 24, 2010 at 2:40 pm

      Mine stays inside but it’s just personal preference. I’m not in to keeping dogs outside for the simple fact that I wouldn’t fancy it myself.

  9. 11 sheena August 17, 2010 at 3:03 am

    we adopted max at 6months old. although he was an adorable pup he was nervous around strangers. 6 months on however he is the most lovable and sociable dog i have owned. we walk miles each day where i see his natural instincts developing. he is all you have mentioned, very mischievous,annoying but most of all loyal and loving! wouldnt part with him as he is part of the family now.

  10. 12 jade little wood December 27, 2010 at 2:25 am

    We have an eight month old Working cocker spaniel called Floyd, he is unbelievable, full of personality and he has brightened our home no end. Floyd is full of energy and has at least two hours exercise each day. He loves to play and he loves shoes. We completely agree with all the above comments. Floyd needs constant stimulation and he is very sociable. He’s just perfect!

  11. 13 Natalie February 5, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Hi, most of the above is a good summary of what Working Cockers are like, in my experience.
    Bodhi is my first Spaniel, I have always had Sighthounds and a few different strays of differing breeds. Have to say that Bodhi is one of the best dogs I have ever shared my time with. He is adorable, incredibly clever and I have never had a more loyal companion. He is now nearly 14 months old. We have had him since 9 wks, although I regularly got to visit him from the day he was born…lucky I know. He was knicknamed Chunk because he was the big one of a litter of 4 pups. He didn’t show much interest in humans whilst really little, just loved to play with toys on his own. The others in the litter wanted our attention. When I picked him up to fuss him, he would wriggle so he could go find the toys again! I totally fell head over heels for him and bought him home to meet my family…They all adored him from the first moment. In the first month or two he started to growl when my youngest son 9 yrs went up to him. I ragged him by the scruff and told him off, about 3 or 4 times….he never did it again. They are now great friends and Bodhi loves a snuggle with my son every day. Just be firm but always loving, let them know that you don’t accept that sort of behaviour and then forget it…That way, they do too. Always be consistent with training, the same commands etc will help them to learn. Respect for each other is paramount. Always respect your dog, remember he is a dog, he needs to do doggy things. Walk him every day. I change Bodhi’s walks, sometimes it’s Town, sometimes we go over fields and in Rivers etc. They do love to get muddy and wet. I take him into shops, banks and the post office, he loves it! I take him to school to meet the boys…and let all the kids stroke and fuss him, just to let him know this is ok and a nice experience. Get them used to car rides asap too. We took Bodhi on hols to Cornwall with us. When we wanted to visit places that dogs weren’t allowed we used a local kennel for a few hours at a time…really loved taking him to the beach! He loved it too.

    We now have a wonderful, family dog who just loves being with us. He is into everything but when we are sitting quiet at night, he is stretched out at our feet with Bella our Saluki X and the two very dominant cats! Hope he is our companion for many years…..Highly recommend this breed if you have the time to spend with them… If you are out at work all day…get a Cat!

  12. 14 alex July 19, 2011 at 7:15 am

    We have a 13month old golden working cocker called obi,he is very energetic and never tires,this is our problem we can’t seem to ware him out have u got any ideas on how to stimulate him?

    • 15 afinder August 4, 2011 at 11:55 am

      I think it’s important to stretch your dog’s mind as well as its legs. I can exercise mine for hours and he’s always got extra energy for more. One day he swam for 8 hours straight, stopping only to get out of a river to go for a wee. Fetch is a good game but put in a bit of extra mental stimulation by bringing your dog’s nose into it. Make him sniff a ball, cover his eyes and throw it into some long grass. Then tell him to go fetch it. Joey’s nose is good enough to find a piece of gravel that I’ve touched on a gravel driveway so you get the idea of how far you can push them.

  13. 16 mcphee August 31, 2011 at 1:03 am

    We have a working cocker spaniel crossed with a welsh springer spaniel coming home soon. We have been fortunate to have met her at 7 days old and then again on several occassions as she has been growing up. Do you have any suggestion for setteling her in when she comes home in a couple of weeks, in particularly regarding introducing her to the cat?

    • 17 afinder August 31, 2011 at 7:08 am

      Introduce your puppy to your cat as soon as possible. Make sure when you do so that your pup is as calm as you can get her so give her a good bit of exercise beforehand. Don’t let her chase the cat – she’s a puppy and everything she sees is for play but the cat won’t appreciate it. In your case the cat is probably bigger than your puppy will be so it’ll be the cat that will probably establish dominance over your puppy. It took me a few days to stop my cat hissing at the dog and the only way to do it is to force them to be in the same space together. If all the cat does is hiss then don’t separate them, keep at it until they’ve both got used to each other. It may take time but perservere and it’ll be worth it. I often used to pick up the cat and shove its butt into my dog’s nose similar to how dogs greet each other. This had the effect of making my dog dominant over my cat which I have found to be a blessing on a number of occassions when I’ve wanted the cat to stop scratching furniture. My second cat was a totally different experience from the first. He had no idea that dog’s were supposed to be his natural arch nemesis so walked straight up to Joey and became part of the pack without any messing. I guess it all just depends on your cat’s personality really. The big thing is don’t give up and be calm when introducing the dog so that she doesn’t get over excited and want to chase.

  14. 18 Paula September 21, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    We have just got a working cocker spaniel and were not made aware as to the two different strains (working and show) and now worried we cannot allow the time needed for this adorable pup! Can anyone advise us as to keeping a working dog as a pet?

    • 19 afinder September 21, 2011 at 9:00 pm

      You’ll be OK, working and show are both equally crazy especially as puppies. Plenty of running (notice I didn’t say walks), games and training is the way forward. Anything to keep the mind exercised as well as the body – retrieval, sniffing things out etc. If you can make them have to think about things then they’ll get worn out quicker. If you’re leaving your puppy during the day then make sure you have plenty of toys available that you don’t mind being chewed because for all puppies boredom sets in quite quickly and pulling something to bits is a great game (hide your shoes). Enjoy the dog, put the effort in and you’ll get as much out of it as them – probably more in fact.

  15. 20 Bee September 30, 2011 at 12:45 am


    We have a 9 month old working cocker. He is our best friend, loves our children completely, He sneaks off up stairs most nights for a cuddle with my 11yr old. He is extremely obedient when out and is full of fun playing hide and seek at the park, fetch and generally chasing eachother around . We do have a small issue with Ripple and that is our Rabbit! We introduced them to each other from about 6 weeks but they hate eachother the rabbit will dive at the dog from in the hut just as much as the dog will dive at the rabbit. to begin with we accepted it but its getting worse not better, Ripple will go outside after an hour swim in the river or walk in the woods and will dig holes around the rabbits hutch almost to show off. When the rabbit has escaped from the run Ripple has caught her and carried her about in his mouth ( not hurting her so far ) This is now starting to get us down and we are thinking about sending the Rabbit to live with Nan but wondered is this still a puppy thing to grow out of or will the digging and rabbit hating continue?

    • 21 afinder September 30, 2011 at 6:46 am

      It’ll continue as long as you let it. To the dog, the rabbit is a toy. To the rabbit the dog is trying to kill it. You’re going to need to have a lot of patience with this one and spend a few hours in one whole lump getting them together. Basically, sit in a room with both of them. Make sure you’ve got your dog sitting or lying down as calmly as possible, hold the rabbit and let your dog sniff its butt for as long as you can. Then, let the rabbit go, lie your dog down and make the dog like on its back so it’s submitting to the rabbit. Your dog will probably go a bit mental at this point but use your fingertips around the throat area to apply a bit of pressure to keep him down – this is like having a bigger dog’s mouth around his neck and it probably won’t take much to keep him in position. Keep getting that rabbit closer to your dog’s nose whilst he’s submitting. You’re just going to have to perservere with this one. I did the same with Joey on a farm with rabbits, chickens, and anything small and furry when he was a pup and now he takes no notice of any of them. He’ll happily hang around wallabies, roos, cats, bandicoots etc. now without me having to worry about him chasing them. Perserverance and patience and you’ll get there.

  16. 22 wendy October 8, 2011 at 5:05 am

    we have a 14 week working cocker called summer, she is so active and i’m sure i’ve aged 6 years in the 6 weeks we have had her. I’ve kept a few different dogs in the last 22years but summer is by far more active. We do love her loads and i just need a rest.

  17. 23 wendy October 8, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    please could you give me some advice on how to stop pulling on her lead and choking, everything is so exciting the leaves, stones, smells just about everything she sees. We only walk her for 15 to 20 minutes a day as she is so young

    • 24 afinder October 11, 2011 at 7:56 am

      Hi Wendy

      With the pulling, have you ever watched the Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan? He uses a lead which basically slips over the dog’s head and you position it higher along the neck. Up here the neck is not solid muscle so to control the dog you can use way less force. Sure, your dog will have a cough and complain about it until they’re used to it but as soon as they are you won’t get any pulls on your arm again. With spaniels it also helps to keep their noses above the ground. It’s instinct to sniff everything – that’s why they make excellent sniffer dogs – so with their faces in the air you’ve got less to distract them.

      But you need to give your dog more exercise. At that age Joey would have been getting at least 2 hours a day.I know that seems like a lot but they’ve got more energy than a Duracell bunny. And really, walking is not exercise to a dog. You need to run her. Whether you do that by actually taking her for a run or whether you play games of fetch in the park is up to you. But what you will notice is that if your dog is tired on the way home she won’t pull anyway.

  18. 25 wendy October 12, 2011 at 5:36 am

    thank you so much for the advice. We were advised by our vet to exercise 5mins per 1month of age, but if you think she needs more we will take her more. The vet said we should let her bones develope and 6 monthswe could exercise her more. Summer is so hyper and into everything all her waking day. We weren’t told the difference between working cockers and show cockers but we certainly do now. Wendy

    • 26 afinder October 12, 2011 at 6:40 am

      No problem. I was fortunate in that where Joey grew up there were loads of people with young dogs so him and the other pups used to do the whole dominance, play fight thing for hours on end. That’s a great way of tiring them out. By then he’d already got a healthy obsession up with Kongs too so throwing that helped for him but don’t even bother trying for the first time until she’s a bit tired otherwise the attention span just won’t be there.

  19. 27 wendy October 13, 2011 at 6:03 am

    hi sorry its me again. Do you think summer would be better off in a working home as she is so hyper, tonight we got back from her walk in the rain that she loved, got home she went to sleep for about half an hour then had her dinner and since then she has been so hyper, biting, and bouncing off the walls. I want to beable to keep her but worry that we are not good enough for her. Wendy

    • 28 afinder October 13, 2011 at 7:29 am

      HI Wendy.

      All spaniel puppies are mad. Most puppies are mad full stop. Over here a lot of people go for those spoodles which are spaniel poodle crosses – both working dogs = mad.

      One thing that may help you is a puppy pen. It sounds like your pup has free run of wherever you are in the house which means getting under your feet etc. When Joey was Summer’s age we lived in a flat in London. He had a puppy pen in the corner so that he could see everything going on in the living area and the pen was full of Kongs and other toys that he could destroy to his heart’s content. I would watch TV with him in the pen and he was happy as long as he could see everything and felt involved. Only when I’d finished leading my normal life did I let him come out of the pen and play with him in the house. Your puppy will always outlast you whatever you do regardless of breed but that pen was worth its weight in gold. If you do get one don’t use it as a punishment pen, feed her in there, put her toys in there, make her feel like she’s got a little safe place she can go to. It sounds like you just need a bit of a break indoors. Once out of the pen you won’t stop your puppy being crazy. That’s what they do. They should be with another group of litter mates play fighting for 24 hours a day and to them that’s what you are. So when you take her out expect her to be ridiculously playful and only take her out when you’re prepared for it. Don’t worry about the biting either – kids touch everything, dogs use their mouths in the same way, it’s just sharper. If she’s destroying any of your things then you need more soft toys in that pen so that she can distinguish between what’s hers and what’s yours.

      You’ll crack it. It’s about getting the life balance right between what’s right for you indoors and their exercise regime and gets easier as they get older. Get that pen – it’ll be a big help.

  20. 29 wendy October 13, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    hi thank you so much. We have got a pen in our room but she does protest when we put her in there. We will put more soft toys and kongs in for her and yes she does act like a naughty child all the time, im so gratful for your very positive advice it made me believe we will crack it. We also put her in her cage in a different room which is her bedroom or when we are not here and so far she is very good as she must know its her quiet time where she sleeps. I feel alot better today and thanks again so much. Wendy

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  22. 31 Sue November 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    H Wendy, just rehomed a 16 week Working cocker called Gumpy he is gorgeous got him this Tuesday so very very early days – are they known for their barking when you leave them to do day to day stuff around and about the house or when you leave the house to go shopping or whatever – or do you think this is him just getting used to his new family – i have three other dogs so hes not on his own – have read all your other advice and thought if this barking was going to be an issue i need advice please on how to nip it in the bud. Thank you soooo much for being out there to help with your expert advice on these truly gorgeous pooches. xx

  23. 32 Mark December 5, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    wendy October 12, 2011 at 5:36 am

    Your vet is correct and their rule of thumb [5mins/month] is sound even for a working dog. Excessive exercise could harm your dog and can lead to increased bone/joint problems when older, as the bone/muscle in a dog that age is not fully formed. No reposnsible owner would exercise a 14 week old puppy for 2 hours.
    At that age we were physically exercising our working cocker puppy maximum 20-30 mins.
    Mental stimulation/training was undertaken in 5-10mins bursts a few times a day, as at that age your puppy cannot concentrate for longer than that.

  24. 33 Rachel December 7, 2011 at 10:20 am

    feel so much better after reading all these comments, i have an 18 week working cocker spaniel dexter, also didnt know there was a difference in working cocker spaniel and was a complete shock after having a american cocker spaniel, dexter has loads more energy and basically never stops! was startig to doubt if we had done the right thong but am feeling more confident after reading the above, thankyou 🙂

  25. 35 Crabby January 9, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Thank you so much for your articles they have helped me enormously.

    Ten long, long weeks ago I was a happy, energetic woman and full of optimisms and excitement took on a rescue puppy believed to be a spaniel mix. Unknown to me, she (Sophie) was a working cocker. Sophie is spectacularly beautiful and cute which is just as well because her behaviour is frankly driving me bonkers. I am middle aged and my son will be off to Uni in October so I thought it would be super time to take on a pup. I have had a dog before and she was so easy, polite, well-behaved, eager to please etc. Sophie by contrast has been a nightmare – house training took 9 weeks of hourly trips out and in the end we finally cracked it by my putting on a one woman carnival show after each evacuation in celebration of the achievement. She had come from a rescue home that is over burdened and had been allowed to get covered in faeces on a regular basis and had dreadful diarrhoea when I received her which was the result of a parasitic infection so I suspect she did not receive the relevant and critical early lessons. My carpets are now all ruined but we have cracked it.

    Sophie is a little fire ball of energy, determination with a penchant for nipping (I use the term nipping because frankly it sounds better than biting!). I have followed religiously from day one the guidelines about how to encourage bite inhibition, I can now yelp better than most dogs. i have also stared into space ignoring her, put her for time out, given myself time out, growled (it always makes me choke so I’ve given up on that one) etc. etc all to no avail. I have recently started to spray her with water which helps a lot (well revenge is sweet is it not?). She is SO prey driven and it seems cannot help herself she will not stop attaching herself to our clothes (did I say clothes?- rags) and shaking, pouncing on us andnd worst of all nipping or acting as if going to nip (not really hard.) Whenever she is pushed away or told not to do something she will look as if about to nip. She is not dominant in that I can take anything off her, brush her, clip her nails etc with no trouble even when she doesn’t like it. She knows all the essential, basic commands – sit, stay, leave, drop, fetch my G and T and is walked off lead in open landscape where she will come back to my whistle and meaty treat. When excited by other dogs she will ignore everything and I feel have little control at these times. She approaches other dogs beautifully and flops down making herself look absolutely tiny, cute and vulnerable and then once she is sure she had duped the other dog into thinking she is sweet and ‘ickle’ she pounces on thier bag an nips their tails. I am desperate for a dog to give her a good telling off but they are all too well trained locally so I end up having to put her back on lead. Ah and there is another problem – lead control, I regularly have to reinsert my arms back into their sockets like playing with a barbie doll as a child (maybe that was just me!). I have tried the suggested techniques but she is either being obstinate or she is thick. The truth is, it must be failing to communicate what I want/expect her to do. I’ve watched the entire series of the dog whisperer, read every book going and quite frankly feel like a failing parent with a hyperactive toddler-teenager. I love her dearly (when asleep) but surely it shouldn’t this exhausting and this demoralising. Please tell me other people feel like this and that she won’t end up out of control.

    She is walked slightly more than recommended, played with, taken out for all sorts of social experiences. She has every type of toy, chew available plus some of our own inventions – a loo brush (new) is one of her favourites! She is fearless – fireworks, thunder, emergency vehicles do not bother her which is great but neither does her angry owner. We can be out on a walk and I’ll blow the whistle and have 5 dogs all sitting for me waiting patiently for a treat (none of them mine!). I have thought of just running off, swapping her for someone else’s dog as it waits patiently outside a shop for its owner but then she looks up at me, comes for a cuddle and licks my face and we are aright again.

  26. 36 sue February 7, 2012 at 5:20 am

    Hi Crabby and Sophie, dont have any helpful tips for you both but roared with laughter reading your very funny blog ( or whatever people call it nowerdays !!!!! ) – where do you live, near me i hope as you could also make me laugh in person and you could join up with my three mutts – Sophie will calm down im sure with age he he he he he but we do love them dearly – I live in Richmond, Surrey.

    • 37 Crabby February 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm


      Sadly I’m in the West country so a bit far to travel for our daily constitutional otherwise that would have been great but I could pop the dog on a train if you like!


  27. 38 Sandra February 11, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Hoe do I stop my worKing cocker spaniel barking at other dogs when they come to the house? When we are on walks she is submissive but at home she seems threatened and occasional is the same on a walk with a young dog.

  28. 39 Irene February 14, 2012 at 2:41 am

    Hi Wendy/Crabby/Sue et al.

    I’m hugely relieved that I’m not alone!!! I rehomed Flurry (9–12 months, vet thinks) just before Christmas. i was completely taken in by his looks and his size. My previous dog was a boxer and a bit difficult to manage when she became ill and could no longer manage the stairs. Not a problem for ‘Flur’, he barely touches them! His energy is unbelievable, my husband makes repeated observations about perpetual motion and ponders ways to hook him up to the National Grid but I’m the one who has to try and wear him out. As many of you have observed it seems working cockers are incredibly easily distracted. The tiniest piece of paper on the pavement and he’s on to it — I have to stop every few yards to take something else from between his teeth — and a lot of the time thats pretty revolting! I know I only have him two months but he DOES seems a little slow on the training. Wendy, I SO empathise with you regarding the ‘am I good enough’ feeling. It seems like no amount of exercise or attention is enough for Flurry, I really am beginning to wonder if he’d be better off in a working environment. Of course, then I then worry that the poor little chap could be emotionally scarred by another change of home. He’s terribly sweet and loves to snooze on my lap when I eventually get to sit and watch telly at night. Well, we’re off to our second obedience lesson this evening. Just hope it all begins to kick in soon. Would love to hear further updates from you all!

    • 40 sue March 28, 2012 at 6:02 pm

      We have just had a dog castrated at 8 months he is fine – i reckon its a personal choice.

    • 41 The International Property Guide April 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm

      Hello. Glad to have found this blog site, as five weeks ago we acquired a fabulous Spaniel, now named Bella, from a rescue centre. We are so chuffed with her and she really is a complete delight, with not a single bad bone in her body. We are told that she’s “somewhere between 12 and 24 months old ” and was “probably a working dog in Ireland, before being shipped over to UK.

      As I don’t know what sort of training ( if any,) she had, I’m finding it quite tricky to “re train her” in terms of recall etc. I’m guessing that it’s probably harder than training a pup from scratch………… should it be?

  29. 42 Bee March 26, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Morning our working cocker is now 15mnths old. Our question is should we castrate or not?

  30. 43 Bee March 28, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Not sure if it helps but we went to obedience classes along with labs,poodles,etc and were just glared at when we couldnt manage Sit & Stay without jumping up into my arms. After about 4 weeks we gave up and signed up to Gun Dog Training (we are not to actually going to work him though) I have to say that after 3 sessions we have seen a massive improvement. Our dog is now much more controlled and not so frenzied when out ( he still has moments but its only been 3 sessions). He also seems happier as he knows where he stands with us. Its not expensive at all and i would really recommend it

  31. 45 sue March 29, 2012 at 2:39 am

    Hi Flurry’s family – i rehomed a working cokcer spaniel in November when he was 17 weeks ( Gumpy ) he is adorable and ozzing with energy as they all do, he also follows me around everywhere as do most spaniels – he is also the GREEDIEST dog i have ever had so training is reletively easy with him, just being consistant i reckon works – he does not realy like the lead he pulls (havnt knocked that on the head yet !!! ) they also i heard get quite bored with the same outings so i try and vary his runs as much as i can and also tennis ball retreving – please keep him as he would HATE ianother move in his young life – i do also feel that they could keep going ALL day but life does not work that way so my dogs have to get used to my way of life which some days maybe 2-3 hours a day or 1 – if you would like to have a chat i would gladly give you my number – xxxxx Sue

  32. 46 Rory April 29, 2012 at 6:17 am

    your story is basically the same as mine, i have a golden working cocker called bella. she was the most beautiful puppy id ever seen and still is as beautiful as a young bitch. shes tough and wants to guard the house, if she hears a noise during the night she barks and runs off to investigate, but the cuddliest thing every, if you sneeze she runs through and sits on your lap and literally ‘hugs’ you too make sure your ok. im talking an arm either side of you head with her nose touching yours! she follows me everywhere round the house as you described and i also walk her 2 hours down the woods which she absolutly loves. she learned things so quickly, was house trained within days and only had an accident a handful of times. people may not belive me but she was retireiving things the day we got her home at 9 weeks old with no reward!

    she came from a very strong working strain, the day we went to see her the farmer walked in with his shot gun in one arm and bellas father stood proudly beside him

    she does need more excercise than i first expected but i love seeing her happy so i dont mind walking with an umbrella for a couple hours in the pouring rain. when i researched the working cocker i read they were in the ‘medium’ band of exercise. this i would definetly disagree with after owning one…. but i wouldnt change her for the world.

  33. 47 Tina April 30, 2012 at 10:09 am

    We purchased 2 working cockers after our 2nd show dog died who had unfortunately inheritated eye and kidney disease. We decided on having 2 puppies this time so they would have company and were less likely to have these inheritated diseases. Daisy & Maisie are now 10 months old and have brought so much joy into our lives. We are very fortunate to live on the edge of a golf course and also plenty of wooded walks as they need so much exercise as every one has mentioned already but they are worth every minute spent exercising them and also it doesn’t hurt the waistline.

  34. 48 TLPG May 4, 2012 at 6:47 am

    anyone have any tips on RE-training a 12 month old rescue Spaniel. Not knowing what went on prior to my acquiring our new dog, it’s quite tricky knowing where to start & how to. Recal is the main problem, forget sit or heel…………. !

    • 49 workingcocker May 4, 2012 at 4:30 pm

      I used little bits of chicken (a great favourite with my dog) and a whistle. In the home I whistled or called for her several times a day and always rewarded her with chicken. She soon caught on and came immediately. I then transferred the same technique when out and about. With a slightly older dog I’d adapt the technique and go for a walk when there are very few dogs around in a safe off lead area, but keep the dog on an extendable lead for the first few times and whistle them back when there are no distractions and reward then when they come easily. I would then stop rewarding for an easy recall but reward if they come back when there is a distraction ie. another dog, an interesting scent. I’d then try off lead, take a few Valium and pray (I’m an atheist!). Another thing is to go out when the dog is hungry so that the chicken (or whatever their preferred meat) is a reward worth returning to. Hope this helps – the trouble is each dog is different but it worked for my Sophie.

    • 50 workingcocker May 4, 2012 at 4:30 pm

      I used little bits of chicken (a great favourite with my dog) and a whistle. In the home I whistled or called for her several times a day and always rewarded her with chicken. She soon caught on and came immediately. I then transferred the same technique when out and about. With a slightly older dog I’d adapt the technique and go for a walk when there are very few dogs around in a safe off lead area but keep the dog on an extendable lead and whistle them back when there are no distractions and reward then when they come easily stop rewarding for an easy recall but reward if they come back when there is a distraction. I’d then try off lead, take a few Valium and pray (I’m an atheist!). Another thing is to go out when the dog is hungry so that the chicken (or whatever their preferred meat) is a reward worth returning to. Hope this helps – the trouble is each dog is different but it worked for my Sophie.

  35. 51 David Dean August 2, 2012 at 5:48 am

    We have a black English working cocker called Jasper. He is so loving and friendly and at last has become obedient. Jasper is now 2 years 3 months old and I take him every day for at least an hour running in fields and woodlands off the lead with his sister Darcey (my adult daughter owns Darcey). They love being together and run around non-stop “working” in the woods, and the long grasses and shrubbery etc. etc. If there is a river or a lake they are in it – they love swimming. When I say they are working, they really are, in their minds at least, I am sure. They are constantly running, chasing and looking everywhere. No playing, just running and looking and constantly looking out for each other. They are always back within eyesight within one minute now. I never need to call them. They have the most incredible sense of smell. Will always return to see where I am. Occasionally they disturb a bird such as a pheasant hidden in the undergrowth. The bird flies away and they chase it frantically in vein, barking hysterically. This seems to be the highlight of the “working” day. Success, they have unearthed something. It is as if they have achieved what they set out to do. Sometimes they will see a rabbit and give chase in much the same way, but never catch anything and no matter where I take them they never seem to come across very much wildlife at all. Very strange as I would have thought the English countryside was teeming with wildlife.

    Jasper is now the most loving and obedient dog any one could ever own. He loves everyone he meets and does as he is asked, sometimes reluctantly and sometimes not when first asked but in the end he is always obedient now. Very different from the first 18 months which was an absolute nightmare. It was like having a baby in the house, only one that destroys everything as well as having to give all your constant attention. Why nobody could ever advise us is beyond me. All they had to say was remember your cocker spaniel is a baby until 18 months. You need to be patient, give him lots of attention, train him, take him for walks, work him on the lead – all the things you read regarding training, but be patient. It will all come good. Just like the new baby will eventually walk and talk, the puppy cocker spaniel will eventually come back to you when you demand. You have to have perseverance, patience and long suffering and give your love to your dog for a year or 18 months and expect nothing back. Whatever you get is a bonus and when your cocker is 2 years old you will have as good a dog as you could possibly wish for.

    And what a great way for me to get exercise as a 60 something.

  36. 52 Carolyn Bench August 20, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Great blog, what a help…just had my first week with my new found friend..hes 14 months old rescue dog Kidstone Brill week

  37. 53 lesley January 5, 2013 at 9:06 am

    I have a 17 month old cocker spaniel who has just started to growl at the children occasionally. They have not tormented him in anyway, I have been reading articles on cocker rage and that the working cocker should not be around children. Do you have any comments as I am really worried that he is getting ready to become an aggressive dog.

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  40. 56 TLPG January 29, 2014 at 12:12 am

    Well, it’s been nearly 2 years since we acquired our rescue dog Bella, or Bells, as we now call her, a chocolate Working Cocker and I can honestly say that every minute with her, has been and still is, a great pleasure.

    She has not a bad bone in her body and thoroughly kind and well mannered in every way……….. a little stubborn from time to time, but that’s because, I’m sure. she probably knows best.

    We do a couple of hours hard rough country walking ( working, in her case) every morning, plus an hour of socialising, in the park opposite our house, where she crashes around with a few other dogs, at about 4.30pm.
    She’s the first Spaniel I’ve owned…… Labs previously and I love them to bits………. they make me laugh just watching them bumbling around and their joie de vivre is wonderful.

    I’m seriously considering another one, to keep Bells company and to make me smile even more. The one thing that concerns me is that I would hate to think that Bell’s nose might be put out of joint……… I know that might sound rather daft, but I really don’t want her to feel that I’m being disloyal………………….how soft can a fellow be?? !! ??

  41. 57 Rebecca April 19, 2016 at 12:44 am

    We have a 6 month old working cocker, Amber. She is lovely, but extremely hard work. She is our first dog and I’m seriously worried we have made a mistake. We don’t mind the walking, or the training and dedicate lots of time to it in short sharp bursts. But we have two main issues I think. The first is recall, of which we have none – despite having let her off the lead from being young, she now just bolts so is on a long line, which we still have to hold as sometimes I can’t get my foot on it quick enough if she sees a bird and runs!. The other is she won’t settle down unless we put her in her crate, so there is never a relaxing moment, despite chews, kongs, puzzles, boxes, you name it.
    I think I would feel more positive if the training seemed to be progressing things but it doesn’t.
    Or maybe this is normal and she will just start to settle with age and consistent training??
    I would love to feel a glint of optimism that we just need to stick with it….

    • 58 Anna June 23, 2016 at 3:59 pm

      Amber sounds very like my Sophie at that age, she drove us mad. She is now five and just grew out of most of the impossible traits. I am sure you have tried this but I used to take her on walks hungry and used chopped liver and chicken pieces to encourage recall. I took her out when there were fewer distractions and combined a whistle -just a chidren’s one will do. I twinned the whistle with a treat at home and used to unexpectedly whistle throughout the day and if she came she got a treat. However her recall was not reliable until about two and even now if a deer happens to be near she turns deaf. I was also told not to keep shouting for her to come back because that reinforces that they can ignore you so I had to trudge long distances ti get her when she had run off to play with a friend. Sophie was difficult when she was two – her teens. It is really hard work with the high energy workers and some are much harder than others but it does get easier and there is no dog so loving and cuddly than a working cocker. They need to be kept busy so you might try gun dog training later or agiity. Having had Sophie, I am now of the opinion that this breed should only be sold to really active families where someone is at hoe all the time. As much as I love my Sophie, I wouldn’t do it again but I don’t regret it for he is sweet, funny, loving and oh so beautiful. Keep going, I used to despair and come home after a bad walk and cry. It is like raising a toddler and most of us are not prepared for that.

      Good luck – it sounds like you have the right approach and are trying really hard, it takes longer with many working cockers.

  42. 59 Philip Cook May 9, 2016 at 2:44 am

    Eveyting above us true. But there a lovly companion and I wouldn’t be without mine

  43. 60 Sue montgomery June 23, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Rebecca don’t give up 😀 I have three and they are wcs and all different. Reg who is the youngest is not good at recal but one has to keep going with it. I am lucky enough that I have an enclosed park area near me and I do the recal there – I let him off to run around smelling saying his hellos to other doges etc then start the recal practise – it is easier for him and you in an area where hes not that far away from you and of course rewards (treats whatever he loves) it’s very boring but consistency is the key. I’m afraid I can’t help with the indoor advice,as mine are calm in the house.
    Sorry I’m unable to help more !
    Good luck with your little baby girl.

  44. 61 Jessica August 23, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    I have a 2 year old working cocker called jett.. I have 3 children 5,3 and 19 months.. He’s amazing and so loyal he’s fantastic with the children and an absolute dream of a dog he’s friendly and so affectionate and loves to play and fetch but as much loves to snuggle on the sofa or floor with me and the kids. X

  45. 62 Wendy Baillie September 12, 2017 at 4:48 am

    Joey is beautiful I have two working cocker spaniels my oldest is 1yrs 9mths and the youngest is just a year old they are quite a handful but I love both equally to bits they both know the basic commands of stay come sit lie down ect but the two of them are murder on the lead they are driving me to despair and feel physically I can’t keep on with the pulling all the time any suggestions?

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