Posts Tagged 'dog'

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.