Easy to train, great around small children, lively and affectionate; Cocker Spaniels really do make fantastic household pets. They are also regularly used as sporting dogs due to their high energy and reliable response to commands. In the home, Cocker Spaniels tend to misbehave if their exercise needs aren’t met. They therefor thrive off regular and varied exercise routines and are happiest when handled with consistent rule sets by their owners.
|Good With Other Dogs|
Stories From Real Life Cocker Spaniel Owners
Our Cocker Spaniel Named Lulu
It was a cold and storming night when my wife pulled into the driveway. She had a small bundle in her arms that was crying. I just shook my head in disbelief. My wife has rescued so many animals during our 20 years marriage that I have lost count. I thought “Oh, great! She got another dog!”
She opened the towel to reveal the cutest Cocker Spaniel puppy. She had brownish blonde hair and the prettiest eyes. Apparently, the mother of a friend was put into a nursing home, and she could no longer care for the pup. It was about three months old and needed a home.
I was angry at first because the last thing we needed was another pet. We already had two dogs, and we did not need one more mouth to feed. My mind kept drifting back to the movie The Lady and the Tramp though. I had visions of that little puppy named Lady and how adorable she was. I knew that I was going to fall head over heels in love with this gal, and I did.
Caring for A Spoiled Puppy
At the tender age of three months, our little Lulu did not like to sleep much at night. She was up all hours just like a child. I could not believe that puppies required this much work. How quickly I had forgotten the previous ones, we raised. I found that I did not mind getting up with her. I would take her outside to use the bathroom, but I soon learned what a strong ill our little golden princess had.
Just like a child that is held too much, Lulu became quite spoiled. Now, I am not one to be so indulgent, but this pup had my heart. Even though it was my wife that saved her, it was me that she clung too. She became quite good at getting her way. Whether it was a smidgen of bacon from my breakfast plate or an extra snuggle before I left for work, Lulu had me wrapped around her little paw.
Potty Training the Princess was Simple
Lulu was one of those dogs that I do not remember being a big issue to potty train. In fact, she was fine if I was standing beside her. Sure, it was a pain to go outside in the rain or snow, but I always was willing to go wherever my princess needed too.
The most significant issue that we encountered was her doing number two in the house. She mastered tinkling outside, but it took a bit longer for her to be comfortable enough to do her business. She would often stare at me like she did not want me watching her, which I found funny. I also found it amusing the different shades of the rainbow that was mingled in with her feces. These colors came from a keen interest in eating crayons, but more on her weird eating habits later.
For the most part, I found potty training our Cocker Spaniel to be quite easy. She listened well to my commands, was eager to get her treat when she finished, and she was always glad to just be in the great outdoors.
Great Temperaments Because Everyone is a Friend
One thing I never realized about this breed was how friendly and outgoing they are, and Lulu was no exception. She was so eager for affection, almost desperate, that she would saunter up to any stranger to be petted. There were a few times that her overly friendly attitude got her in trouble. Due to the number of dog thefts in our area, we had to keep a close eye on our baby. She certainly was the desired breed.
My wife and I always have a house full of family. Because we live in a big farmhouse just outside the city, it seemed reasonable that everyone congregates at our abode. During the holidays, it was nothing to have 30 or more people come for dinner, and up to 10 of them were children. Lulu was always the perfect host. She would lay down and demand a belly scratch from each one.
The children played with her hair, dressed her up in silly hats and such, but she never seemed to mind all the attention. In fact, I think she enjoyed the holidays just as much as we did.
She is 13 years old now, and to this day she has never bitten or snapped at anyone. Though in her feeble years she is not as busy as she once was, she still loves affection and plenty of attention. I can take her anywhere, and she is the perfect little dog.
Those who consider this iconic dog because of a movie will be surprised to learn that they are depicted accurately. We could not imagine our lives without our beloved Lulu.
Keep Cocker Spaniel’s Busy
Since Lulu was so little when we got her, we got the joys of going through all the puppy years. Sure, she chewed up a few shoes and ripped a pillow or two. We did not have much problem with our household items as much as we did crayons. We found out about her little habit in an interesting way.
As I said before, we are avid animal enthusiasts and have had several types of dogs. However, on one morning when I took Lulu out to use the restroom, I was horrified when her stool had traces of purple and orange in it. I usually do not observe so carefully, but this day I happened to have a bird’s eye view. I naturally assumed it must have been something she ate, but my mind wondered as it could be dangerous.
A quick call to our local vet put my mind at ease. It seems that many dogs prefer the delicacy known as crayons. Sure enough, my wife is a teacher, and she keeps a box on the bottom shelf in our office. The dog could go in there and get all the crayons she wanted. Since we only fed her once a day, she would get hungry and help herself to these multi-colored treats. We had to adjust her feeding schedule quickly.
I wish I could say that this was the only thing that Lulu did that caused us great alarm. Since Cocker Spaniel’s are part of the hunting category, going outside was sometimes an adventure. There was one specific day that I remember well. It was beautiful and breezy, and she wanted to go for a stroll without me.
When my wife opened the door coming home from work, Lulu sprinted like a Jaguar outside. It was clear she was not going to let me catch her, so we let her go. She came home about two hours later, and she was covered entirely in briars. Her long, beautiful hair was a complete mess.
In fact, it was so bad that we had to take scissors to cut the briars from her to keep her from hurting further. We had to have Lulu shaved the next day. She lost all her beautiful hair, but it did grow back. The groomer found our story quite common, especially for the area.
It was her inquisitive nature that got her into a scuffle with a skunk. Oh, the smell of that event, I will never forget. Our farm has plenty of skunks, and she was a hunter by nature. Only this time she was after the wrong thing. The poor dog came out of our building covered in skunk oil. She frightened a mama skunk with her babies, and she sprayed. She rubbed it on our carpets trying to get it out. Long story short, it cost us about $500 to have the all carpets cleaned and deodorized.
The Grooming Nightmare
First, anyone who is considering adopting a Cocker Spaniel should know that their hair is beautiful, but it takes a lot of work. We must brush Lulu’s hair every single day. We also must take her to the groomers every couple of months. The hair is prone to tangles and knots. We must stay on top of it to keep from having any serious issues, and if we let it go much beyond two months’ time, we will have serious issues.
During shedding season, you can see Lulu’s hair floating around the house. She is quite the hairball. It also depends on how long you allow their hair to grow and your grooming practices. We got one of those combs from television that says it strips the undercoat, and it has helped greatly. She is not hypoallergenic, and we always have some level of hair on the furniture.
The Madness of Numerous Ear Infections
Lulu’s ears were one of the things that I loved most about her. The fluffy little things were so much fun to play with. However, they also were a magnet for ear mites and infections. I have lost count how many this pup has had in total, but I can say that she gets at least one per year.
Our vet told us that with the proper grooming and diet, it could do wonders to help with these painful occurrences. We already did all those things, so I cannot imagine what it could have been. Sadly, Lulu has suffered from so many infections that she has little hearing in her left ear. While it could be age related too, we are sure that it has something to do with the tons of infections.
The Battle of the Bulge
We already talked about her crayon habits. However, it seemed that she would eat just about anything she could get her mouth on. The average Cocker Spaniel should weigh between 15-30 pounds. When Lulu tipped the scales at 38 pounds, her vets said it was time for her to go on a diet. It seemed that diet was just as hard for us as it was for her. She loved bacon and cream cheese most of all, but we wanted her to live.
I was shocked that she weighed that much. However, I was distraught too. It turns out my worries were founded. When Lulu was ten years old, she was diagnosed with diabetes. Even though we went to great levels to get the weight under control, it was too much for her little system. She hates getting a shot each day. Table scraps are always plentiful on our farm, but it was something that we had to get control of.
Life with Lulu
Life with Lulu has been great. We travel with her, and we have made her as much a part of our life as you would a child. She is always eager to greet me at the door, even in her old age. While her hearing is not the best, her keen senses are something that never seems to go away.
I am dreading the day when my precious pup will no longer come to the door eager for a pat on the head. I will miss her wagging her tail when I walk in the room. I look forward to those times as much as she does. For me, Lulu has been the child we never had. In some respects, we have treated her more like a human than a dog, but she does not seem to mind one bit.
Those who may be considering a Cocker Spaniel for your family should do your homework. While the hair care and ear problems are an ever-present issue with our dog, it was never enough of a challenge to make us give up. She was so easy to train, listens to every command, and showers us with never-ending love and affection. I could have never asked for a better dog.