Caring For Your Cocker Spaniel

Cocker spaniels are recognizable for their compact size, attractive coat, long ears and merry disposition. The cocker spaniel is an intelligent dog that is sensitive to the moods of his owner. The cocker coat needs considerable care on a regular basis. This breed is as happy sitting comfortably by the fire at your feet as it is romping beside you in the woods. The breed’s versatility and good looks have made it a favorite through the years.


Choosing A Cocker Spaniel Puppy

Cocker spaniel is one of the breeds that are often breed indiscriminately in puppy mill facilities. These breeders do not take care to remove defective genes from the breeding pool, and often produce puppies with bad health. Always acquire your puppy from a responsible breeder that is aware of the problems of cocker spaniels genes and only breeds dogs that are free of defects. When choosing from a litter, pick the puppy with an outgoing, unafraid disposition, clear eyes, and good muscle tone.

Feeding Your Cocker Spaniel

Feed your cocker spaniel a high-quality puppy food such as Science Diet, Iams or Purina Pro Plan. Offer food 3 times each day until 3 months old, then twice each day until the puppy is 6 months old. After 10 months of age, reduce feedings to once each day, using the adult version of these dog foods.

Grooming Your Cocker Spaniel

Cocker spaniel coats can vary from wiry to silky. Some owners prefer to let the coat grow long, but you should be prepared to brush the animal daily and shampoo frequently. Many owners prefer to keep the coat shorter, taking the dog into the groomer quarterly to shape the coat, trim the ears and remove excess hair from the bottom of the feet and between the toes. This regular grooming can be helpful if you take your dog for walks in the woods where he may pick up burrs and other items from the bramble. Cocker spaniels shed an average amount. Daily brushing will help to reduce shedding. Hair around the eyes can become stained from tearing. Use a canine eye stain remover product available at pet stores. Clean the inside of the ears at each bath.

Training For Cocker Spaniels

Cockers have a gentle disposition and are respectful of their owner’s authority. Only positive reinforcement should be used with this breed of dog. Repetition of commands, praise and offering treats is generally all that is needed to get good results. As with all dogs, regular practice sessions and consistency are the best methods of training. The cocker loves to have work to do, so training to do small tasks or tricks is accepted readily. Submissive urinating is frequently seen in cocker spaniels. The breed has a gentle nature that reacts by turning on his back and urinating like a puppy when frightened or surprised. Taking your dog out of the house and exposing him to a variety of situations will help to reduce anxiety and submissive urination reactions.

Exercise For Cocker Spaniels

The cocker spaniel breed gets its name from woodcocks, a game bird that the dog often flushed from bushes for hunters. This background gives cocker spaniels their stamina outdoors. They benefit from long walks on a regular basis. They can make good apartment dogs if exercised regularly. A small yard is sufficient for their needs. Lack of exercise can lead to behavioral problems such as aggression, hyperactivity and guarding of objects. Keep your cocker spaniel healthy both physically and mentally with regular walks and socializing with other dogs at dog parks or doggie day care.

Cocker Spaniel Health

Take your cocker spaniel to the veterinarian for annual physical exams and appropriate vaccinations. Ear infections are a common problem with cocker spaniels because their long ears do not allow for airflow. Regular, gentle cleaning will help to reduce infections. Your veterinarian may prescribe eardrops to use on a regular basis. Cocker spaniels can also be affected by patellar luxation, a misalignment of the kneecap, glaucoma, cataracts, hip dysplasia, liver disease and cardiomyopathy. Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia, or IMHA, often affects cocker spaniels. IMHA is a condition in which the dog’s immune system begins attacking his own blood cells. This disease can attack dogs rapidly and lead to death. The onset of the diseases is associating with vaccinations and insect bites. Consult your veterinarian about information on the prevalence of this disease in cocker spaniels.