Are you considering getting a Cocker Spaniel but aren’t sure if the breed will be right for your family? Maybe you have a baby on the way or small children at home? Here’s everything you need to know about whether Cocker Spaniels make good family dogs!
Are Cocker Spaniels Good Family Dogs? Yes, Cocker Spaniels can make good family dogs! Affectionately known as ‘The Merry Cocker’ they’re an affectionate and loyal breed that are easy to train and eager to please. They adapt quickly and fit well into most busy households with children of any age.
Read on to find out what the breed is like around babies and children, and whether Cocker Spaniels can live happily alongside all family members.
Never use the advice in this article as a substitute for professional veterinary advice or treatment. I am NOT a Vet, qualified dog trainer or dog behaviourist. This article is based on research, personal opinion and experience of owning dogs over the last 12+ years.
Are Cocker Spaniels Good With Kids?
Yes, Cocker Spaniels can be great with kids! They’re a fun-loving, cheerful breed who form strong bonds with children of all ages!
Being gundogs, they learn fast and are quick to adapt to loud or sudden noises, making them good dogs for busy families.
However, if you have young kids, it’s best to put some general rules in place so they (and their friends) know what they can and can’t do when playing with them.
If your Cocker Spaniel is handled too roughly, shouted at, or hurt in any way, they do have the potential to growl or bite. Any play must be gentle and respect must be shown to the dog at all times.
This can sometimes mean they’re better suited to slightly older children that understand how to behave appropriately. If you have younger children, it’s best to supervise them together at all times.
Here are some rules that kids should follow:
Leave Your Cocker Spaniel Alone When Eating
Cocker Spaniels are a greedy breed that love their food! It’s always best not to disturb them at mealtimes or when they’re eating a treat.
They might become protective over their food and could growl if they think you’re going to take it away from them.
Let Your Cocker Spaniel Sleep
Cocker Spaniels are an active breed, who love to be up to something fun! However, it’s still important they’ve got plenty of time to rest too.
When they’re sleeping or resting, no one should disturb them. They may be grumpy if you wake them up suddenly and could growl or even snap if startled.
Don’t Pull Your Cocker Spaniel’s Ears Or Tail
It might be tempting for kids to pull on your Cocker Spaniel’s wavy-haired ears, but this could hurt them!
So it’s important that no one grabs or pulls their ears or tail, because they may growl or try to bite if they get hurt by accident.
Don’t Sit Or Climb On Your Cocker Spaniel
Although Cocker Spaniels are a fairly robust breed, they can still get injured if they’re climbed or sat on.
If a child clambers on their back, it could potentially damage their spine or other joints.
This could potentially hurt them or cause pain, so it’s best not to let your children sit or lay on your Cocker Spaniel at all.
Give Your Cocker Spaniel Space
Cocker Spaniels often want to join in with whatever you‘re doing, but there may be times where they feel uncomfortable and need their own space.
If they show signs of stress or anxiety, such as licking their lips, yawning or avoiding eye contact, then it’s best to leave them alone.
Never force your Cocker Spaniel to do something if they look uneasy about doing it.
Don’t Put Your Face In Your Cocker Spaniel’s Face
Making prolonged eye contact with your Cocker Spaniel could be seen as threatening to them.
This can be particularly risky if you’re down on their level with your face right up against theirs.
If they felt scared they could potentially bite, so it’s best to ask your children to keep a safe distance away from their face.
Don’t Pick Your Cocker Spaniel Up
Cocker Spaniels are classed as a medium sized breed, so some children might want to try and pick them up.
Although they look cuddly with their wavy hair and floppy ears, it’s unlikely they’ll want to be picked up or manhandled all the time.
A child might not be strong enough to hold or support them properly, which could hurt your Cocker Spaniel or make them feel scared enough to react or bite.
Are Cocker Spaniels Good With Babies?
Yes, Cocker Spaniels can be good with babies as long as they’ve been properly introduced and trained to behave calmly around them. Even though they’re a friendly breed, they’re also energetic and boisterous, so you should never leave them alone with your baby.
Unfortunately, their bouncy and excitable nature could cause them to knock into something or even knock over a baby’s crib. So you must always keep your Cocker Spaniel under close supervision when around your baby.
Here are some tips to help your Cocker Spaniel adapt to your new baby:
Play Baby Sounds
Cocker Spaniels tend to be able to quickly adapt to loud or sudden noises – after all, they’re bred as gundogs!
However, it can make it easier for them to adjust to baby noises if you play them regularly before your new baby arrives.
This’ll start to desensitise them to those types of sounds, before your baby even comes home.
You’ll find loads of these types of tracks on YouTube. Just search ‘baby noises’ or ‘baby crying sounds’.
Introduce Baby Equipment Early
Set up any equipment you might need, including the pram, crib, changing station, play gyms and high chairs, before you bring your baby home.
This should give your Cocker Spaniel the opportunity to get used to these new items being in their home. Let them explore them all by sniffing them, and then praise them when they do.
Let Your Cocker Spaniel Sniff Your Baby’s Belongings
Before you introduce your new baby to your Cocker Spaniel, give them a blanket your baby has used and let them sniff it. This can help to prepare them for what your baby will smell like before they actually meet them in person.
This may make the smell of the baby less over-exciting for them, as it’s something they’ve already experienced before.
Reward Your Cocker Spaniel For Calm Behaviour Around Your Baby
Find a treat that your Cocker Spaniel really loves and use it to reward them for showing calm behaviour around your baby.
Not jumping up on your baby’s equipment, not jumping up at you when you’re holding the baby, moving slowly around the baby and sniffing the baby calmly, should all be rewarded.
This teaches your Cocker Spaniel exactly how you want them to behave.
Exercise Your Cocker Spaniel Daily
Cocker Spaniels are an active breed, with adults needing at least an hour of exercise a day. It’s important that you try and stick to this amount of exercise daily, before and after your new baby arrives.
Without this, your Cocker Spaniel will have more excess energy and could quickly become frustrated.
This can make it more difficult for them to stay calm and behave appropriately around your baby. If you’re struggling for time, get friends or family to help or hire a professional dog walker.
Make A Den For Your Cocker Spaniel
Making a comfy den for your Cocker Spaniel can help them feel more secure. This should be an area away from your baby, where your Cocker Spaniel can go and relax.
Crates that are left open can be useful for this, provided they’re already used to being in one.
Make sure they’ve got a comfortable bed and have access to it at all times so they can take themselves off there if they’re feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Keep Your Cocker Spaniel’s Toys And Baby Toys Separate
Cocker Spaniels are bred as working gun dogs. This makes it likely that they’ll want to carry things around in their mouths, just like they would when they’re working.
Your Cocker Spaniel may not know the difference between their own toys and your baby’s cuddly toys. So, it’s best to keep them separate from each other and keep any baby toys out of your Cocker Spaniel’s reach.
Give Your Cocker Spaniel Plenty Of Attention
Cocker Spaniels are very loving and loyal dogs. They love getting as much attention and affection from their owners as possible.
So, it’s important that you keep giving your Cocker Spaniel plenty of fuss, even when your baby arrives.
This can help to reassure them that they aren’t being left out or ignored – and that they’re still a huge part of the family!
Are Cocker Spaniels Good Dogs For Older People?
Cocker Spaniels can be good dogs for older people, provided they get enough daily exercise to release their pent-up energy. They’re a highly energetic breed that can boisterous, so may be too much for some older people to handle at times.
That’s not to say it won’t work. But their energetic nature wouldn’t be suitable for someone who wants a quiet life.
Cocker Spaniels are best suited to active people who enjoy long walks in the countryside!
So there you have it! Cocker Spaniels are fun, affectionate and loyal dogs that make good all-round family pets. They’re easy to train and fit well into most busy households and families.
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