Cocker spaniels are lively, intelligent dogs that were originally bred as working gundogs. Nowadays the breed is divided into two types, the show-type Cocker and the Working Cocker. Very few show-type Cockers are trained to the gun these days but they have still retained many of their instincts. They make very good companions and family pets provided they are given careful training and socialisation as youngsters. If left to their own devices they may quickly develop behavioural problems. A Cocker is not a dog that can be left on it’s own for long periods of time as it will become disruptive and destructive. Cockers are not suitable for people who are out at work all day.
The Cocker Spaniel is generally a healthy breed of dog with a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. Hereditary eye conditions can occur in the breed and for this reason breeding dogs and bitches should be eye tested. Joint problems can also occur but these are not as common as in larger breeds of dogs. The beautiful coat of the Cocker does need regular grooming and trimming. Ears and teeth need checking regularly. Cocker Spaniels customarily have their tails shortened and their dew claws removed.
PURCHASING A PUPPY
If you have decided that a Cocker Spaniel is the breed for you and you have the time and money to devote to this lovely dog then it is essential to contact a reputable breeder. There is a network of 22 Cocker Spaniel breed clubs throughout the country and the secretaries of these often keep a list of people with puppies available. The purchase of a puppy should not be a spur of the moment decision. Breeders will usually allow you to meet other relatives of your puppy so you can see how your little fluffy bundle will develop. You should also make sure that the relatives of your puppy are not nervous or aggressive.
The Cocker Spaniel Breed Council has developed a Code of Ethics approved by the Kennel Club that all their members should adhere to. This gives general guidelines for anyone breeding a litter of cocker spaniels.
HOW TO REAR A HAPPY COCKER
Once you have purchased a cocker puppy from a reputable source the real work starts. Cocker puppies look adorable at 8 weeks and many people make the mistake of treating them as babies or little fluffy toys. However they are dogs and within 6 months they are virtually full grown so there is a lot of growing, developing and training to be fitted into a short time.
Dogs are pack animals and as such they need a pack leader, this should be the owner. If you let the puppy get the upper hand at an early age you will have problems for life. For the purpose of this article we will assume that the puppy is going into a family environment, possibly with other pets present.
When you are playing with a puppy always give lots of praise or titbits when he comes to you. When you start having longer walks with the puppy, flexi leads allow freedom at a safe distance and you are able to get the puppy back to you very quickly if you need to.
If you watch litter mates playing together you will see them play fighting and biting. They might well try this with you, try to discourage them from biting you by playing with a toy and not flapping your hand around in front of a puppy. If the puppy inadvertently gets your hand make a noise and finish the game so the puppy knows this is not acceptable to you. If games ever get out of hand calm things down and put the puppy back in his space.
THE LAST WORD
Following these simple guidelines should ensure that you have a happy, well adjusted dog for life!
Breeding a litter of puppies from your pet cocker bitch will not improve her health or temperament. It just leads to a lot of hard work, sleepless nights, mess, responsibility and heartache for the owner. Similarly your handsome male does not need to be mated to a bitch. It can lead to marking territory and seeking out bitches in season. If your cocker needs a companion it is lot easier to buy one ready made.
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