Do Cocker Spaniels make good dogs for children?
The answer is yes, particularly if the dog is socialized early and given puppy obedience training right from the start.
This question often pops up on this website, so I'm posting the question here, with some answers and comments from visitors.
Hi, We'd like to know if Cockers are safe with children?
Our 7-year-old son, an only child, would love to have a dog.
After weeks of consideration, we've given in to him. We're now looking at which dog breeds make the best family dogs to help us find something suitable for our little family.
My husband thinks Cocker Spaniels are cute and would like to own one.
Unfortunately, my personal experience is different. When I was young, I was frequently around Cocker Spaniels and found them mean and aggressive.
Is this the true nature of Cockers? Are they known to be aggressive?
Or do you think that it is down to the owner's lack of experience with dogs where they display aggressive behaviour?
There are Cocker Spaniel puppies at the pound at the moment, so we might get one this week; however, it depends on the information and advice we get here.
Reply From Pauline
Cocker Spaniels are usually very gentle and loving by nature. The Cocker Spaniel temperament is second to none, and yes, Cocker Spaniels can make good dogs for children!
You are correct in suggesting that when an animal is aggressive, his behaviour may be due to an inexperienced owner or children who don't know how to behave around dogs.
If a Cocker Spaniel behaves aggressively, it could also result from external influences, such as a change in environment or a new baby in the house.
I have found that, generally, Cocker Spaniels can be very stubborn.
They need a firm but gentle hand. They don't respond well to heavy-handedness or (heaven forbid) violence, but they do respond very well to gentle training.
Extra gentle handling will be necessary if you have a nervous or timid Cocker. Otherwise, your dog may shy away or become aggressive (fight or flight syndrome).
However, well-socialized and well-trained Cockers are a delight to have around.
I no longer believe in the concept of the alpha male. However, making your dog work for everything he gets is still the way to go.
If you make it clear to your puppy what behaviour is acceptable and, more importantly, what is not, there won't be any misunderstandings or challenges.
My cocker spaniel used to love playing with children. Unfortunately, since we moved house, he has started to dislike them.
We now have noisy neighbours whose children run up and down the corridors screaming every day, with high-pitched voices.
We also live near the local school, where the kids constantly scream while playing outside in their playground. We can also hear them shouting and screaming on their way home from school.
They make so much noise; I think it's beginning to frighten my Cocker Spaniel. He has become very nervous, and I'm sure it's because of the noise the children are making.
The kids would knock on my door to make my dog bark.
He runs to the door or the balcony when he hears them outside and either growls or barks. Very occasionally, he sits there silently and listens.
He's only 4 years old, and this change in his behaviour has nothing to do with me badly treating him or being inexperienced.
He's very much loved and is a very clever dog.
I think it's got everything to do with him being frightened easily by silly things, and he dislikes people shouting and making too much noise. He usually runs away to hide when things get too noisy for him.
Now, I have to be very careful because he won't let a child approach him, let alone stroke him, and he barks at them when they get too close to him.
My Cocker No Longer Likes Children
I've found that it's usually down to the owner where cocker spaniels are aggressive.
It's either a result of a misunderstanding, miscommunication, or just plain ignorance (I don't mean to be offensive - it's just straight speaking).
If you teach your dog all the relevant obedience commands and treat him kindly, you'll likely have a well-behaved Cocker Spaniel dog.
Sometimes, Cockers (or any dog breed) may behave aggressively, but usually, it's because it is frightened. I believe this type of aggression is called 'fear aggression'.
Generally, I have found that the cocker spaniel's temperament is kind and loving, and they're great with children.
Are Cockers Good Dogs for Children