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Working or Show Cocker?

Discussion in 'Working & Sports Dogs' started by MungoPungo, Mar 7, 2019.

  1. MungoPungo

    MungoPungo PetForums Newbie

    Mar 2, 2019
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    I would really like a working cocker spaniel but read so much about how incredibly non-stop high-energy they are that it is putting me off a bit. I Have had two dogs in my life, first a mixed breed rescue dog (very distantly related to a Border Collie perhaps) and then a Labrador, so I’m not exactly a novice owner. I had them both well trained; I wouldn’t have won any awards at obedience classes, but reckon I was at the “Gold Citizen Award” standard.
    I also have a lot of time on my hands now my kids have left home and I am winding down the work I do (I work from home - private Maths tuition). My husband and I love spaniels and would like a Cocker due to it being smaller (we’re downsizing our house) than a Springer. We live in then country and enjoy lots of walks and I am looking forward to having a dog to train and to teach it tricks and do agility and scent work. I’m always watching YouTube videos on how to train different things, I enjoy spending time with my dog doing this sort of thing and now I have the time I feel a working cocker would be right for us. However, what I would like to know is that when all the fun is over, will the dog settle down quietly in the house? I’ve read some blogs where owners are saying their dog never ever tires and constantly pesters them for attention, and that is putting me off a bit. But are these just first time owners saying these things or are working cockers a definite nightmare to settle down in the house. Are they any worse than labradors? I MUCH prefer the look of them to a Show cocker, so would really like to get a working cocker. Just a bit nervous about it. Should I go for Show even though I don’t like their appearance half as much?
  2. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

    Jan 19, 2014
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    Hi and welcome. To me it sounds as if you are training minded and do activities that a working cocker would enjoy. Some dogs need to be taught an off switch at home and dont settle natrally. See kikopup on youtube for how to train this.

    Also people can make the mistake of thinking lots of exerercise will tire a dog when in reality it make them very fit, winds them up and leaves them wanting more. For most working dogs its more about mentally tiring them out through brain games and giving them "jobs" to do. As you will have time and are training focussed I think you will be able to manage this but will leave it to people more knowledgeable than me give their advice.
    tabelmabel likes this.
  3. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

    Oct 18, 2013
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    I haven't got a working cocker either I'm afraid but I am an ordinary pet owner with a high energy working breed - a Brittany.

    I picked the Brittany probably for much the same reasons as you - plenty of time on my hands, wanted a bright sparky dog that I could do exciting things with, a new hobby really.

    Like you, I did have a few doubts as brittanies are not split into show and working lines - they are dual purpose and the vast majority of people do keep them for rough shooting.
    However, they can also make an excellent pet as long as their minds are kept busy.

    So - after a lot of research, we got a brittany pup almost 2yrs ago now. My goodness, what a journey we have had! She is amazing.
    However, perhaps predictably, we have hit one main stumbling block and i have had to change my way of thinking completely.

    The first 10 months, she wasn't really any more difficult than any other puppy. I am around at home all day, enjoy training, joined an ordinary obedience class for all breeds and also had a few 1:1 sessions with a gundog trainer (absolutely invaluable)
    In those early months she was great anywhere off lead, recall was super sharp. In the house, she was awake most of the day but wasn't a problem, we played hunting games in the house, practised training and taught her to settle and she really wasn't difficult at all.

    Compared to my other dog, she is more opportunistic - she will still try to take food of the table if she thinks she can get away with it, or dash off upstairs where she knows she is not allowed.

    The main area of difficulty in the early months was lead walking. She was absolutely dreadful! I have only just got it sorted as of January this year (19months)

    When she was 10 months old, a problem emerged which is still a work in progress: she disppeared in the woods and was lost for half an hour. That was her hunting drive well and truly switched on.

    I did a lot of recall work with her last summer and got her really good in woods again, it lasted 3 months and then she took off again.

    She has fantastic recall on beaches and public parks but in areas full on scent (pheasant, deer, rabbits) she is at high risk of taking off. She does come back, but often in a hyper, breathless, over excited state.

    If i am going to a 'difficult' area with her, i tend to just go with her on my own and don't try to go for a walk. We will just go to train. So - in woods- i can take her there with some retrieve dummies and if i spend the time engaging and training her, i can keep her focus.

    I cannot just go walking through the woods chatting to a friend - i would need to keep her on lead in woods.

    This was the new way of thinking for me - i realised a lot of working dogs don't go for walks - as they don't walk, they hunt!
    They are taken to the field to train. If I take my brit to a field to train, she loves it and it really tires her out, all the mental work.

    I do have a friend with a working cocker that is perfectly safe off lead walking but just something to bear in mind if you do live in a country birdy area.
    My man does cani cross with our brittany and i still do one regular weekly class plus a bit of gundog stuff. (Just with dummies)

    I probably do about 1.5 hrs exercise outside each day with a little bit of indoor work (15mins or so) she seems perfectly well settled and content on that.

    No destructive or hyperactive behaviour whatsoever in the house. She is crate trained. She does settle nicely anywhere, i take her regularly into cafés and she settles down beautifully and quietly.

    Apart from this tendancy to bog off in woods, she is the perfect dog, very exciting, very fast and super soft and cuddly in the house. I love her to bits!

    I think you will manage fine.
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