Picking A Puppy That's Perfect For You Is A Serious Business: Learn Why Here!

Picking a puppy is a serious business; it shouldn't be taken lightly. Choosing a puppy with the right temperament and personality for you and your family will make owning a Cocker Spaniel a delightful walk in the park!

Here's how to ensure you get the best puppy that's perfect for you!

Choosing A Puppy: Take Your Time And Get It Right!

When picking a puppy, choosing the first cute Cocker Spaniel that comes trotting merrily towards you is so tempting. But if you do, you'd be wrong!

Much like our children, puppies have different temperaments; they're all individuals with little personalities of their own, and some are much easier to manage than others!

For example, you'll find Cocker Spaniel pups ranging from being just a little subservient to very timid (so timid, they're scared of their own shadows!) and others that are very dominant.

Also, some pups can be fiercely independent, whereas others may be tiresomely dependent upon their owners and follow them everywhere. Yes, even to the loo!

Golden cocker spaniel 'mum' with her three black and tan puppies. White background.Picking a puppy just became more difficult! How could you possibly just choose one?

In addition to that, and surprisingly, not all puppies like human contact.

Some will deliberately move away to avoid being touched or stroked, some may patiently tolerate human contact, and others would love to be stroked and cuddled all day!

All of these characteristics can have a significant impact on your puppy's future behaviour. They can predict how easy your chosen pup will be to train and manage and even how friendly he will be.

But how do you ensure you pick a puppy that will be perfect for you and your family?

Well, there are some simple dog temperament tests that you can carry out (with the breeder's permission) that will help identify the pup's personality.

A responsible breeder will have begun socializing the litter to help each puppy become familiar with all the new and strange sights and sounds around them and get them used to being handled by people.

The breeder probably already knows the temperament of each one of her pups and will most likely steer a first-time owner away from puppies with a dominant nature.

I recommend you take advice from your breeder; however, if you'd still like to carry out your own testing, follow the steps below.

Puppy Testing Tips To Help You Get It Right!

The ideal age for choosing a pup is between 7 and 9 weeks, when their personalities will begin to show.

Bear these tips in mind when 'testing' the puppies:

  • Do the testing somewhere quiet; otherwise, you won't have the puppy's full attention;

  • Only test one pup at a time;

  • Don't test a pup with a full tummy. Once fed, your puppy will want to sleep it off; he won't be interested in cooperating!

  • Don't lean over the puppy when testing; he may feel threatened and insecure. Instead, kneel on the floor, either facing him or to the side, lean back slightly with your hands on your lap, and don't make any sudden moves;

  • Keep your voice light, cheerful, and reassuring. Make it seem like fun!

Puppy and Dog Temperament Tests

The following temperament tests will help you to choose a puppy with just the right temperament for you and your family.

How Friendly Is The Pup You're Testing?

Understanding how friendly the puppy is towards people and other dogs is always helpful. This particular test should be carried out with at least one or two additional puppies and one or two people present, children too.

Two golden cocker spaniel puppies play-biting with each other.These are my lovely puppies; they're so sweet!

Spend a few minutes watching the pup playing.

How does he interact with the other puppies and humans? Is he friendly?

Does he play nicely without displaying 'bullying' or biting behaviours, or does he trample over all his litter mates or try to nip at ankles and feet?

If he shows any inappropriate signs, such as growling, snarling, showing his teeth, curling his lip or holding his tail stiffly and high, I recommend you leave that one for someone more experienced; otherwise, you truly will have your hands full.

You may even end up with an aggressive adult Cocker Spaniel as a result of your inexperience!

Picking A Puppy: Dominant Or Subservient?

Picking a dog with a dominant personality is not necessarily a bad thing, but I'd never recommend a dominant Spaniel for a first-time owner - not unless you're prepared to put in a lot of hard work training and disciplining and are prepared for many challenges! (or should that read battles?)

The same applies if you have young children because it's doubtful they'll be capable of managing a headstrong Cocker Spaniel.

So, if you've never owned a dog, I recommend choosing a quiet, subservient pup, as it will be easier to train and manage. Whatever you do, though, don't choose the runt of the litter; you'll have your work cut out for you if you do. Even with solid socializing, the runt may still be scared of its own shadow!

If you already own a dominant pet, you may want to choose a subservient puppy to help make things easier when you bring him home, as a less dominant pup will settle quietly into your 'pack'.

Picking A Puppy: Dominance Testing A Puppy

Gently roll the puppy onto his back and stroke his tummy.

Lying on its back is not a natural position for a dog (it makes it feel vulnerable and uncomfortable), so there's a good chance that he'll try to get up.

If he struggles to get free, place your hand gently but firmly on his tummy and keep him there for about 30 seconds or so.

A dominant Spaniel will struggle wildly and try to get up. In contrast, a more subservient pup may struggle a little before settling down.

If he doesn't struggle and/or licks your hand, you're almost certainly holding down a very subservient little boy.

If he's somewhere in between, for example, he wriggles for a few seconds and then gives up completely, he'll likely be neither dominant nor submissive (in my view, a strong candidate for the ideal puppy!).

Picking A Puppy: The 'Cradle' Test

Gently roll the puppy onto his back and stroke his tummy.

Lying on its back is not a natural position for a dog (it makes it feel vulnerable and uncomfortable), so there's a good chance that he'll try to get up.

If he struggles to get free, place your hand gently but firmly on his tummy and keep him there for about 30 seconds or so.

Interlock your fingers underneath the puppy's tummy and gently lift him about 30 cm off the floor - his legs should be allowed to dangle on either side of your hands.

A dominant Cocker will wriggle like crazy and try to get away. He may even try to bite you!

Depending on the level of subservience, a less dominant Cocker will quietly allow himself to be suspended, squirm a little for a few seconds before submitting, or stiffen or freeze.

Picking A Puppy: Is He Happy To Be Stroked?

To find out how much this pup likes being handled, pick him up and hold him securely in the crook of your arm, with his back facing up towards you.

Two golden cocker spaniel puppies play-biting with each other.I love my brother!

With your other hand, stroke him firmly from head to toe. Be sure to stroke his head and massage his ears, and pick up each paw in turn and squeeze gently.

Your handling and stoking won't bother a subservient puppy.

A dominant pup, however, will object to being stroked, particularly on the head, and he probably won't like his paws being handled either and will try to pull away.

If you're looking for a pup that's relatively easy to manage and train and a Cocker Spaniel that you and your family can give lots of cuddles and hugs to, picking a puppy that is happy to be handled is a definite must, so choose a puppy with a subservient nature.

Choose A Puppy That's Not Too Independent

This test will help to confirm his level of curiosity and desire for your (people's) affection and attention....in other words, his independence.

Go to the puppy and get down to his level.

Make a gentle fuss of him, stroke him, talk to him for a few minutes, and then stop.

Get up and walk away. If the puppy doesn't follow you, clap your hands to get its attention.

You want him to follow you instinctively and willingly.

If he follows you but hesitantly and with his tail tucked under or lower than usual, this pup is likely to be reasonably submissive.

If he tries to get under your feet, nips at your ankles, or tries to run in front of you, he probably has a dominant personality.

Picking A Puppy: Do Noises Worry Him?

To test if loud, sudden noises bother him, make sure he can't see you, and then either clap your hands or whack a rolled-up newspaper onto a table.

If the pup has more of a subservient nature, he may be curious and move towards the sound to discover what caused it. However, a dominant pup may bark or ignore the sound completely.

If he shies away from the sound, as if frightened, he may be too timid or may not yet have had enough socialization.

Picking A Puppy With A Low Prey Drive

If you've small animals in your home, guinea pigs, rabbits, etc., you'll need to know if the puppy's prey drive is high or low.

Roll a small tennis ball across the floor. He probably has a high prey drive if he pounces on it or chases it. In that case, he must be supervised carefully around smaller pets.

If he ignores or follows it but doesn't try to pick it up, there's a good chance he won't bother other pets in your home.

If the pup you choose has a high prey drive, you'll need to work hard on the recall command, particularly if you plan to walk him off-leash in fields.

However, a well-trained Spaniel with a high prey drive will likely make an excellent working dog!

Picking A Puppy: Summary

The advice about picking a puppy on this page assumes that all the puppies in the litter are plump and healthy.

Two golden cocker puppies lying down against a white background, They have adorable eyes!I know I'm adorable, Mum!

Generally, their eyes should be clean and clear, with no discharge from the nose or bottom. Their ears should smell warm and sweet (certainly not offensive), and their coats should be clean and shining.

As soon as you've worked out what kind of personality and temperament the pup has, you'll be in a much better position to decide whether or not he's the right one for you. If he's not, re-do the dog temperament tests on another pup until you find your perfect Cocker.

I'd always choose a pet with a healthy curiosity, is not too timid, but is not dominant either - somewhere between the two is just right.

However, your choice is personal and should suit you and your circumstances. By taking the time to consider what temperament will suit you and your family, you'll be removing any element of chance from picking a puppy.

If you'd like more on the subject of choosing your perfect Cocker Spaniel, follow this link.

Good luck, and enjoy choosing your puppy!

Photo credits for Picking a Puppy:
1. LiliyaKulianionak at https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/spaniel-puppy-gm155607399-19248914
2. LiliyaKulianionak at https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/family-english-cocker-spaniel-gm154010455-19086842
3. Tootles at https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/puppy-play-gm90647311-776052
4, 101Cats at https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/cocker-sisters-gm173001944-7102083