Cocker Spaniel: Are Cocker Spaniels hard to train?

We recently got a cocker spaniel puppy as the new fur baby in our home.  She is adorably cute and sweet, but we want to know if she will be hard to train as some dogs can be.  We have a lot of time to devote to her training but would rather spend our time doing fun things with her like playing ball.  We’re also curious about what type of commands might be useful to start with if we decide to train her ourselves.

We decided to research on the internet, which has a lot of valuable resources.  It can be hard to distinguish which ones are the most informative, so we thought we’d share.  Read on to learn more.

Are Cocker Spaniels hard to train?

Are Cocker Spaniels hard to train?  No.  The cocker spaniel is a breed of dog that is rather easy to train.  They love nothing more than to please their owner and be beside them, which can make training easier.  They respond well to all instructions given because they are such a people pleaser, and the more positive reinforcement they receive, the better their training will go.  

Cocker Spaniels can also be playful at time, which can make training more fun for everyone. Those potential owners who want a dog that will be happy by their side, following instructions, and learning this breed will be perfect.

If they trained as a puppy, this makes things even easier if that is possible.   Puppies like young children learn more comfortably and faster because they are more receptive to learning new skills. 

If a cocker spaniel starts training while still with their littermates, this can help them learn passively through mimicking each other.

Cocker spaniels can sometimes be nervous dogs, owners should use care not to shout or be overly loud.  This can delay training if the cocker spaniel gets scared.

What are some training commands for a cocker spaniel to learn?

The most basic of dog training consists of teaching a few simple dog commands.  Sit, lay, stay, come, off, and leave it.

When a dog’s commanded to, Sit, they learn to respond to their trainer or owner.  This command gives the owner more control over the dog’s attention and behavior.  Lay is like sit, teaching a dog to relax in a variety of scenarios.  This command can make those around the dog feel more at ease, which can be a problem for bigger dogs.

Stay allows the dog to remain in a safe position for them and those around them.  Should a frisbee fly out into the street, the stay command helps keep them from getting hurt.

Come, is a command that is probably one of the most important for a dog and owner.  Should a dog run out the back gate headed for traffic, this command can prevent the dog from getting harmed.

Off is an excellent command when a dog owner wants to teach them where they shouldn’t go.  No jumping on the bed, off!

Leave it is a command that helps prevent a cocker spaniel from touching dangerous or poisonous items.  Anything that might hurt them, like picking up that dead bird while hiking.

Most people think training commands are only to teach a cocker spaniel or other dog how to behave.  These commands also work to keep the cocker spaniel healthy and safe.  When used correctly and for the right reasons, they can sometimes be a lifesaver.

When should training a cocker spaniel begin?

The best time to begin training for a cocker spaniel is when they are a puppy.  This time is accurate for every dog regardless of breed.

If a dog owner has an adult cocker spaniel that needs training.  This situation doesn’t mean that they will be less successful than the cocker spaniel that is a puppy.  It may mean that their training may take longer or require a bit more patience and time.

The cocker spaniel is so easy to train differences in age won’t affect success.

What affects training success or failure?

What affects training success or failure for a cocker spaniel is the personality and schedule of the owner.  Another factor that can affect training is the dog’s personality, environment, and health.

A dog owner that wants to train their cocker spaniel must start before the training begins.  When they are in the right mindset while ensuring that they have the proper tools and necessary time will guarantee success.

If they start the process and don’t have treats as positive rewards or lack of time to implement and instruct the cocker spaniel, they will be more likely to have difficulties. 

Cocker spaniel owners must be prepared with patience since each dog learns differently.  They should also be ready to repeat the training repeatedly, for as many times as it takes for the cocker spaniel to learn and accept the training.

Once the owner is ready, training can begin.

The environment the cocker spaniel lives in can make training easier or harder.  If there are a lot of distractions, the cocker spaniel may get lost and need more repetition.  Having a positive and loving environment for the training will make it easier; this will enhance how they feel.

A cocker spaniels’ personality can affect training.  If they are a dog that has a strong will or gets distracted easily, it can be harder to train them.  Thankfully, the cocker spaniel breed is easy going, loving, friendly, and playful.  Their personality makes training easier for dogs and owners.

Health is another factor in training.  If their health is less than perfect, they won’t perform at their best.  Health issues should always be taken into consideration when deciding to train any dog.  Age and health issues can make training harder but not impossible.

How should I use positive reinforcement to help train my cocker spaniel?

A cocker spaniel owner should use positive reinforcement in various ways to make training smoother.   Positive reinforcement can be in the form of words of praise.  Cocker spaniels love nothing more than to receive words of affection from their owner and family for a job well done.

Affection by a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears means a lot for a cocker spaniel.

Combining words with actions double the impact and increase success.

Another form of positive reinforcement is with the use of treats.  Use this method lightly since most dogs respond well.  Who doesn’t love a well-placed treat from time to time?  Did someone say cookies?

Treats can increase the caloric intake for a dog, which can lead to obesity.  A great way to minimize this happening is to break the treats into even smaller pieces.  During training, these teeny, tiny morsels can be offered at particular moments when they do exceptionally well.

Combine with a good ear scratch and some words of praise, and before long, the cocker spaniel is trained.

Will training have to be repeated at any time after it’s complete?

Yes.  Everyone needs a review from time to time, even a cocker spaniel.  Once training is completed satisfactorily, a cocker spaniel owner will find that they need to review from time to time.  This review is a normal part of life for a dog owner.

They may have an occasional accident in the house if they are a puppy or senior.  They might forget that they shouldn’t table surf or sit when their owner says the command.

Having a daily ritual in place can help.  When training is complete, setting up a regular review will reinforce the positive behaviors while reminding them how to behave.  Perhaps a 5-minute review of training commands and rules daily after a good long walk together will benefit them and their family.

Are Cocker Spaniels hard to train? How should I use positive reinforcement to help train my cocker spaniel?

With this ritual, there might still be a moment or two where the cocker spaniel needs a thorough review of a part of their training.  If the cocker spaniel does something wrong, it is best to have patience and remember that this will go away.

Taking your dog to a dog park or socializing them in various environments also helps enforce good behaviors.   If they are socializing with other dogs at the park, those dogs behave a certain way. 

These other dogs might have good or bad behavior.  The cocker spaniel will see the reward or consequence for the behavior (leaving the dog park if they don’t behave!).  This learning can also passively teach them how to behave.

In Conclusion

Each dog is unique in personality regardless of breed.  The cocker spaniel is a very loving and people-pleasing dog.  The cocker spaniel personality enhances training, naturally making it less stressful for everyone involved.

No matter how easy or difficult training the cocker spaniel is, they are an adorable breed.  Even if it takes a long time to train the Cocker Spaniel, think of all the cuddle time that can be shared while training is happening.

Life as a dog owner is an adventure. Why rush it!

Hannah Rose

Hannah loves animals and has been writing with Embora Pets since 2018.

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