The Cocker Spaniel is an extremely intelligent, loyal, loving, and sometimes strong-willed dog that is generally very outgoing and happy. These little dogs will make great additions to almost any family situation, and can be easily trained to be beloved members of any household. If you’re curious about their behavioral tendencies, let’s take a look at the Cocker Spaniel temperament and personality.
The Cocker Spaniel Temperament
In short, the Cocker Spaniel is not a temperamental dog. They are gentle, loyal, loving companions that will be eager to please their family and be around them as much as possible. However, they can also be strong-willed, and sometimes even very sensitive, making them wonderful contradictions.
Some dogs will pee with excitement, be easily frightened, or show signs of canine aggression if they feel trapped, but for the most part, Cocker Spaniels will be able to handle almost any situation, as long as they are properly socialized when they are young. They may still be naturally submissive, but shouldn’t exhibit nervousness.
More often than not, the Cocker Spaniel temperament makes them outgoing, extremely sociable, and just overly happy dogs. This, coupled with their smarts, makes them an extremely popular breed. Bred to flush out and retrieve birds on land during a hunt, they are now mainly best suited for being a trusty family companion.
They are sweet and affectionate, get along great with children, and will often be good friends with other dogs and cats, as long as they are socialized early. They crave and thrive on human attention and will need a heavy dosage every day to be happy. They also are rather active despite their small size, and make great companions for your adventures.
The Cocker Spaniel Personality
As mentioned above, some Cocker Spaniels are known to develop a strong will, making them a bit stubborn. This is partly due to their supreme intelligence, but also mostly seen if they are not trained or taken to puppy obedience school. If you want a well-mannered dog, obedience training is highly recommended, as they will often grow to become very sweet, eager-to-please dogs.
Cocker Spaniels are highly intelligent dogs that love to please people. This makes them easy to train, as long as training begins early and they are socialized when they are puppies. If not, this is when they can become stubborn, or overly sensitive.
They are sensitive dogs to begin with, making positive reinforcement and patience the best training methods. Be gentle, and use calm repetition of commands, rather than reprimanding them when they don’t respond right away. They don’t have the longest attention span, so short sessions a few times a day will provide better results than longer sessions.
Bred as hunting dogs, Cocker Spaniels do still have a strong hunting instinct, which makes them highly alert to the presence of birds or other small animals. This means your Cocker Spaniel should be kept on a leash at all times when they are outdoors or they may take off after a bird or squirrel. Cocker Spaniels are generally happy little dogs, but some may be quite shy, while others can even be slightly aggressive.
The personality of a Cocker Spaniel will be heavily influenced by how much they are socialized when they are young. This important period begins as early as two months old until around six months. Expose your dog to as many situations, dogs, people, etc., during this time.
The smallest “Sporting Breed” recognized by the American Kennel Club, Cocker Spaniels are highly energetic, making them very active and playful dogs. They would love to be taken along for hikes, to go swimming, or participate in any activity their family engages in.
Their small size and adaptable nature make them suitable for apartment living, as long as they are given enough time to exercise outdoors. Long daily walks will often be enough, but more vigorous exercise can often make for a happier, calmer dog. Cocker Spaniels are natural retrievers and will love to play fetch any chance they get. Keeping your Cocker Spaniel active and engaged is vital to prevent him from resorting to his own devices for stimulation, often resulting in destructive behavior.
Possessiveness & Food Guarding
The Cocker Spaniel does have a reputation for being possessive and guarding their food. This also spills over into being protective of their family members and even their toys. This behavior can be trained out of the dog in many cases, but some will still be rather possessive of their toys, people, and food throughout their lives.
You may not be able to completely eliminate the behavior, but should be able to correct it to the point that they will not become aggressive if something is taken away.
Overall, the Cocker Spaniel temperament and personality is one of a very happy, social, friendly dog who will make a great family pet in any home.