English Cocker Spaniel Traits
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“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace.”
― Milan Kundera
I have found that English Cocker Spaniels possess certain traits that seem to be breed related; well, at least in my line. English Cockers love being your shadow. Whatever room you are in, they want to be in the same one. Take care when backing up or quickly turning around as you may find yourself tripping over your "shadow".
English Cockers like anything paper, but their biggest preference tends to be used Kleenex. They will snag it at every opportunity and then proceed to shred it into confetti! Another favorite of theirs is the roll of toilet paper. This is also a hidden opportunity for you to actually see how long a roll of toilet paper is, or rather how far it will un-roll before breaking.
When choosing a crate pad, make sure it is not one that can be plucked, shredded, or opened in any way. They tend to be curious about what is inside things and will do their utmost to open just about anything, be it bedding, stuffed toys, or a Kleenex box.
When walking your dog, I recommend a Flexi-lead. English Cockers are quartering dogs and will quarter back in forth in front of you. If you try to keep them on a short lead, they manage to get between your legs as you are walking. Obedience classes are great, however, you can walk them in the heel position for only a short period of time. Then instinct kicks in and they MUST quarter. I have found it easier to work with their nature than against it.
English Cockers LOVE stuffed toys and many still have the one they were given to go home with from the breeder. Others, however, are determined to kill the darned thing and take out the noise maker and all the stuffing while they're at it! Stuffing and squeakers are NOT digestible and can cause serious intestinal problems leading to surgery!! Always watch your EC to find out what tendencies it has. They can be the "motherly love" kind of dog with their toy, or the "Destructo Dog" that has to dis-embowel every toy it gets. For the latter type, I suggest the large, double or triple knotted rope for them to play with.
English Cockers love to learn the names of things, so take the time to name their favorite toy. In addition, always use the same words for going outside, feeding, and going to bed. You will be amazed at how many words your dog will understand.
English Cockers do not like being bored, so do plan on doing things with your dog. They love going places in the car (always provide either a crate for them to ride in or a seatbelt harness for protection). Though your dog may love going with you, DO NOT take your dog in the car if the weather is too hot. If you had to leave your dog in an enclosed car for even a short period of time, you may find a very sick or dead dog upon your return.
When we travel across country, we are very careful where we stop. We always park in the shade, our dogs are on Cool Pads, have crate fans, and our van has top and side air vents. We never leave the dogs unattended during the day. We stop for lunch at fast food restaurants or take food with us. We find a park or grassy spot at the restaurant and set up an exercise pen while we eat. The dogs get exercise and we have a nice picnic. A total win-win situation. At night, we always have a crate that we take into the hotel room with us and we are very careful never to leave any evidence that we had a dog in the room. I even bring my own quilt to place on the bed so the dog can cozy up while we watch TV. This avoids getting dog hair on the hotel's bedding.
English Cockers love to track, work in the field, and do agility. These are fun events that you can learn to do through a local all breed club or a field club. Attend a local AKC dog show (without your dog) and ask questions of exhibitors after the judging of your breed. You can find a variety of good classes to attend in your area. EC's also make excellent Therapy Dogs working in hospitals and nursing homes all over the country. Tracking work can turn your dog into a Search and Rescue dog. Agility will not only keep your dog toned up, it will tone you as well!
I sincerely hope that you enjoy your English Cocker as much as I have enjoyed mine throughout the years.