Cocker spaniels are wonderful family pets that are devoted to their families and make fantastic playmates. However, these energetic dogs may not be the best choice for families with small children or that plan to start a family in the future. While some experts claim that Cockers are sensitive to the needs of smaller children and are perfectly suitable, others say that children under the age of six may play too rough or even the dog may play too rough with them. In this article, we'll take a look at the pros and cons of Cocker spaniels and small children.
On the whole, Cocker spaniels are excellent pets for families. They make wonderful companions to children, are full of energy and love to play. However, Cockers should be trained from the time they come home with you to learn what is expected of them, which will go a long way in helping them get used to their new surroundings. Cockers respond best to cheerful, positive obedience training with praise and food as rewards, and negative, forceful training can result in a dog that will lash out to those around him. Cockers are also devoted to their families and need a lot of attention; those who don't receive sufficient attention could react with destructive behavior such as chewing or destroying objects and lashing out.
There are those that claim that Cocker spaniels are perfectly fine with small children as long as they are properly supervised. The thinking behind this is that children sometimes don't know their own strength and may play too rough with the dog, particularly when it is a puppy. With supervision, they can be prevented from playing too roughly that could end with a child getting bitten or injury to the dog.
Then there are others who say that Cocker spaniels are not suitable at all for younger children. They claim that Cockers are not tolerant of young children's quick movements or loud voices and could become shy or stressed, leading to defensive biting, as a result. There are some breeders that feel so strongly against it that they will screen families before agreeing to an adoption and will reject those with small children or even those thinking of staring families in the near future.
If you've decided to adopt a Cocker spaniel for your family, it is highly recommended to find a breeder, even if you have to go a bit out of your way to find one that will allow adoptions to families with small children (and yes, they do exist!). It is never a good idea to purchase a Cocker spaniel from a pet store, as too many of them rely on "puppy mills" that often do not make health or temperament screenings before becoming available for adoption. Unfortunately, many of these dogs will end up having serious health problems and may even have bad temperaments that contrary to the breed. In the case of Cocker spaniels, this could include neurotic behavior, biting and aggression.
If you're still not sure about adopting a Cocker spaniel for your young family, try to contact breeders and other Cocker spaniel owners (through kennel clubs or associations) in your area for advice.