Respecting Cocker Spaniel Sensitivity

Let me start this out with a warning: I had a heart breaking experience last night. Those who are in a great mood might want to skip this blog post. Those who want to defend our lovable, sensitive Cocker Spaniels, however, will want to read this and then think of ways to protect Cocker Spaniels from improper treatment.

Ready to hear my tale? Thank you in advance for your love and support.

I’ve mentioned the fact that we foster kittens, right? We’ve done this for a while – in fact, I just took in my tenth litter of kittens to foster. We love up on them and socialize them, making sure they know how to interact with strangers, kids, dogs and other cats. We’ve adopted out nine litters of healthy, well-adjusted kittens.

Well, last night I ended up visiting one of my old fosters, quite by coincidence, and this kitten, who once was friendly and confident (we used to joke that she was wild and fearless), hid from me and would hardly let me pet her. The adopter laughed it off and said, yeah, she’s a little skittish now, but she had to discipline so she’d stay off the counters and mind her manners, right?

It was obvious to me that this poor kitten had been stripped of her confidence and reduced to a cat who will probably always treat human beings with suspicion. There is no evidence of abuse or neglect, and the kitten looks healthy and okay, so I can’t do anything to revoke the adoption (it’s been months since the adoption anyway), but I left the adopter’s house feeling so sad.

What does this have to do with Cocker Spaniels, you ask?

Cocker Spaniels Need Special Care

We all know Cocker Spaniels are sensitive dogs, right? It’s what we love about this breed so much. They are loyal, gentle and in tune with our emotions. They lift us up when we are sad and rejoice with us when we’re happy. They act like mind-readers, and they respond to the emotional shifts in our household.

This is wonderful… unless a Cocker Spaniel ends up in a home where a dog is treated… well… like a dog, if you know what I mean.

Cocker Spaniels can be incredibly loving and loyal… or they can end up being incredibly shy, insecure and damaged, if raised by owners who believe in harsh discipline. While some “dog rules” still apply, they need to be applied in a softer, gentler manner than can be used on a St. Bernard, for example.

Anyway, my experience with that sweet kitten made me think of all the Cocker Spaniels out there who get dumped into rescue groups or turned into animal control because they have problems like piddling out of fear or nipping because they are afraid of being physically disciplined. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of those who foster Cocker Spaniels, who help those that have been abandoned or abused recover, or who take the time to just plain train their dogs properly the first time around. Let’s do our best to help each other understand the sensitivity of this breed so we’ll all raise loving, secure, happy Cocker Spaniels.

 

Do You Find The Dog Whisperer’s Advice to Be Helpful?

We get a lot of questions on our Facebook page about Cocker Spaniel behavior issues.

Cocker Spaniels are a sensitive breed. They are very in touch with our feelings, which is part of why they are such loving, loyal companions. However, they are also easily upset and can be affected by a number of changes including:
* A new pet being introduced into the home
* Emotional issues with family members
* Moving to a new home
* Travel
* Staying at a kennel
* Having a dog sitter for an extended period of time
* The birth of a baby or new family member or roommate moving in
* Hormonal changes (due to delay of spay or neutering)

I personally really like Cesar Millan, also known as The Dog Whisperer. Has anyone else found his advice to be helpful?
Dog behavior issues? Cesar Millan can help!

Please leave your thoughts and advice in the comments section of this blog.

Thanks in advance! Advice you share can help our friends who love their Cocker Spaniels but who are running into behavioral problems.