English Cocker Spaniels are happy, easy going animals that make excellent companions for families of all shapes and sizes. Their personalities are more consistent than those of their American Cocker cousins, as puppy mills aren't as attracted to the larger English Cocker Spaniel. They are polite to strangers, tolerant with children and easy to train, making them an excellent choice for first time dog owners and families with kids. They love the company of people, and will be thrilled to accompany family members anywhere they go.
Unlike their American counterparts, English Cockers need a good deal of exercise to remain happy and healthy. They are small, but are generally not happy living an apartment or condo lifestyle. Instead, this breed prefers a home with a large fenced-in yard to run in, preferably with a sturdy fence to keep him from chasing birds or small animals into traffic.
If possible, Cockers can do well when enrolled in agility and tracking activities. They are not the most intelligent or agile breed and may not steal the show, but they enjoy the activities none the less.
Cockers are easy to train, especially when the reward system involves food. This breed is incredibly sensitive and takes it personally when someone treats them harshly, which results in avoidance behaviors, or in some cases, retaliation. Positive reinforcement is always the best road to take when training a Cocker Spaniel.
The biggest mistake people make with English Cocker Spaniels is not exercising them enough. When this breed isn't allowed to properly burn off energy, they can develop severe anxiety which results in barking, howling and destructive chewing when left alone. English Cockers crave companionship, and even if properly exercised can still develop severe separation anxiety. For this reason, Cockers are better suited for families with a stay at home parent, or for people who do not work long hours.
Barking is a common problem with Cockers, even when they aren't alone. They are alert little watchdogs and will sound the alarm when there is an incoming biker, jogger, car, truck, cat, dog, rabbit or bird. Training them to obey a stop barking command can maintain the sanity of the neighborhood.