The cocker spaniel is a common hunting dog breed known to hail from Spain. The name of the breed was originally known to be 'spaynels'. The word 'Cocker' got connected to them on account of their wide use in hunting Eurasian/ American Woodcocks. The breed is broadly differentiated into two subtypes viz. Field Spaniels and Springer Spaniels. Further classification such as the American Cocker Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, Welsh Springer Spaniel, Sussex Spaniel, Clumber Spaniel and Norfolk Spaniel took place with the diversity in their use and regions of their breeding.
To begin with, one must understand the psyche of this breed. Spaniels are very smart dogs with a soft and sensitive nature. They love to be around children. They are peace-loving animals and resist responding when yelled at or scolded. Never ever hit your dog. After all, he is there to be your best friend! Patience, love and gentle firmness is all it takes to train these dogs. Another important fact to be kept in mind by the trainer is the consistency or uniformity in the training exercises. A calm environment with repetition in the training exercises helps the dog to get trained quickly. If a particular behavior pattern is set, the same needs to be uniformly adopted by all the members of the family at all points of time when handling the dog. This helps to avoid the animal's confusion in understanding the master's commands.
Some of the basics in Cocker Spaniel training involve potty training, leash training and kennel training. We would be looking at each of them, here. We would also be looking at separation anxiety training for Cocker Spaniels, as these dogs fear loneliness and tend to feel anxious if left alone for long.
This process begins with making the dog understand some specific words such as "Potty!" or "Time to pee!" that helps them respond to your calls whenever they have to be taken for potty sessions. Make sure that the dog uses the outdoor spaces like your backyard or your lawn for this as they are habituated to pee at a fixed spot and sniff for its scent the next time they go out. They usually let out a whine to make the master understand that they have to go for potty. However, it may not be possible to open the door and let out the dog every time. So one can either have a special doggie door or a bell. When taking the dog outside for a pee, make sure to leash him firmly to avoid wastage of time by way of the dog's 'fooling around'. Reduce the dog's water consumption before it goes off to sleep to avoid late night 'pee sessions'. Lastly, make sure to pat or appreciate the dog for a good potty behavior.
One can leash train the Cocker spaniels by making them understand the meaning of certain leash sensations, such as pulling of the leash might mean that he needs to stop running. Make sure to use words like stand, sit, run, etc consistently while training the dog. In fact, it is suggested that you use a particular tone while saying each of these words, so that the dog can grasp your commands during the training. Similarly when the dog gets into a sprint make sure to be firm with the leash and start walking in the opposite direction. This helps the dog understand that he needs to follow you rather than the other way. A spaniel can be trained well by controlling his attention, appreciating his good behavior while on leash and by avoiding the practice of yelling if the dog tugs at its leash. Make sure that the dog is comfortable with the tightness of the leash around its neck.
Kennel training or crate training is a must. Cocker spaniels are peace-loving creatures and love to have a 'comfy' corner to retreat from time to time. Make sure you provide the dog with a clean confined area that will help it calm down. It should be spacious enough to give the dog, enough space to sleep. Avoid making the kennel space a punishment zone for misconduct. The Kennel training has proven to have successfully curbed the problems such as excessive barking, depression, anxiety and housebreaking issues. If kennel training is given in the initial months, it can be effective in curbing the pet's urge to sleep in your bed or on your couch.
Separation Anxiety Training
Dogs by their natural instincts are always in search of a pack leader. With pet dogs, this position is assumed by their master. Cocker Spaniels, by their nature find it very difficult to cope with separation from their master or adoptive family. They get really hyperactive when they feel they will be left back alone and tend to go into a depression. However, the only way to handle the situation is to continue doing your daily errands religiously. To start with, avoid excessive patting and cuddling with your pet just before you are leaving. Similarly, behave in a normal way when you return home. The dog will then understand that this temporary separation is a routine activity. Never reward a dog for staying alone. However, it helps to have a short walk with your dog just before you actually leave. This is known to help them cope with the separation in a better way. Plus it has an added advantage of being a routine exercise session for your pet.
Lastly, build a healthy relationship with the animal by making him understand who the true boss is. This helps the dog learn to obey your commands and relax in your presence.