Cocker Specific Discussion > Puppies

Feeling anxious and overwhelmed…(plus extremely foolish) … new cocker parent!!!

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Hi all… taking a deep breath as I write this. Here goes……… We’re now a few days in with an 8 1/2 week old cocker bitch. She’s our first dog. Always been cat people previously (and still have one remaining). We’d been thinking about a dog for a year or so and settled on a show cocker for many different reasons. We did our homework, we viewed litters, we asked loads of questions. Then we viewed a litter where there was a lovely bitch who the whole family connected with (as we felt she did with us too). The day we bring her home she’s wonderful: playful, then happy to chill in her crate. Since then, things have got slightly more challenging… Then I look her up on the KC website and check out her pedigree, only to find numerous field  trial champions on her mothers side. Then the penny dropped with a very large clunk. What we’d actually got was a half show half working pup. I must admit I felt slightly sick, not to mention extremely foolish. I had assumed the pups were show pups since I knew the sire was, and from what I’d read, didn’t think it was really the done thing to mix the strains since people tend to seek out one type or the other. So I never asked the breeder about this and consequently I feel like an idiot. I mean absolutely no offence to the working strain, but we had discounted one on the basis that we feared we wouldn’t be able to give one what they were likely to need in terms of environment and regime. I think our anxieties over this are making the challenging puppy behaviour seem that bit more daunting than it would otherwise have been. We literally cannot walk across the room without our feet being attacked and clamped onto. She lunges at us all, grabbing our clothing and then tugging and growling. But then we pick her up and she’s like an angel and she’s faultless with her crate: will nap in it during the day and sleep in it all night. I hope in time that our bond will solidify and once the crazy puppy days are done we’ll have a wonderful addition to the family. But right now I guess I could use some reassurance that we haven’t made the gravest school kid error ever and that it might just be ok? Thanks for reading.

Hi and welcome and congratulations on your new bundle!  :luv:
First of all, if you read through the puppy section on here you‘ll see that your pup is displaying all the normal behaviour for her age regardless of strain (and probably for the most part, breed). Most puppies are challenging, I always think the bitches know what they’re doing when they start to encourage them to leave the nest at this age!  :005:. There‘s no denying that‘s there is a difference in energy levels between the two strains but  every dog is different, you can never predict the temperament exactly and just because there is working strain in the pedigree doesn‘t necessarily mean you’re destined for a life of endless exercise, although both breeds need a certain amount of stimulation, both mental and physical, to keep them out of mischief!!  :lol:
However, as you‘ll also find on here, the vast majority of the challenges are short lived and eventually sort themselves out and you‘ll end up with a wonderful friend. If you’re really concerned, then maybe have a word with the breeder who should be able to reassure you but I would advise, just take each day at a time and get to know your pup, stick with us here on COL, you’ll get loads if support and advice (any sympathy when nexessary!  :lol:). The puppy stage is SO short lived, enjoy the moment and celebrate every little step forward. One last bit of advice - make sure she gets plenty of rest! Nearly all the „difficult“ behaviour is caused by over tiredness, they need lots and lots of sleep at this stage.
Look forward to hearing how things go!

Thanks so much for your reply bizzylizzy - really appreciate it. We’re coming to terms with the fact that it’s all very normal puppy behaviour. I think it was the anxiety about the whole working strain thing that was making me view it through a different lens if that makes sense. And yes I get that there’s no guarantee on temperament and that it was entirely possible for us to have ended up with a show type  who turned out to be much more full-on than we were wanting/expecting. Don’t get me wrong, we’re a pretty active family (otherwise we’d have gone for a different breed) but we still wanted to take on this commitment on the slightly less hectic end of the scale! She is brilliant with her crate though. We introduced it the moment we got her home and she’s very happy to either sleep or sit quietly in there at regular intervals during the day so I’m pretty confident she’s well rested. I’m sure there will be some bumps in the road ahead but we are really excited to be on this journey with her and that we’ll hopefully end up with a wonderful sixth family member!

Hi Poppy, congratulations on your new little wee machine cockerdile and future best friend! I'm a new cocker parent too and have a 9 month old working cocker bitch called Ivy. I won't lie, she was challenging as a young pup and is very 'fizzy' BUT at 9 months, she has calmed down in the house and is a joy to be with. As I'm writing this, she's asleep at my feet and we haven't even been for our morning walk yet.

One of the best tips I can give you is don't make the mistake we did and think that lots of physical exercise is going to tire pup out, it won't - it will only wind them up more. Focus more on mental stimulation and tire pup out this way. We thought that having a worker (with field triallers in her line) would mean we would have to take her on lots of long walks a day, but actually, I only take her on x2 30 minute walks a day where we play retrieves, scatter feed, and practice whistle commands and basic obedience. It tires her (and me!) right out and she gets sleepy at 7pm every night and just wants to snooze and cuddle on the sofa.

I hope this eases your worries about having a pup with workers in the bloodline. They do have an off switch, it just takes a bit of trial and error to help pup find it! There are also some big pro's of having a dog with workers in the line - traditionally, they are kept in kennels and as such take to crates really well. They're also quite mentally stable and won't be as reactive to loud noises and things that go bump in the night as other dogs. I've certainly found this to be true of my girl - she's the least vocal dog I've ever known and on fireworks night(s) she happily sits in the garden watching them with me.

Wishing you all the best with your little one. This forum has been a real help to me and hope it will be to you too!

Sidenote - I always think cockers with a mix of show and working are very pretty and have the best curly ears  :luv:


Hi and welcome to the family. We have a working cocker. On reading your post, to me you have a normal puppy who is enjoying life  . Some trials we just have to go through. Don't get fixated on the working side. Our gemma is a couch potato, loves comfort and cuddles. Yes she worked when she was younger but foremost she is a house pet.   Look in the puppy file, every possible question or scenario has been asked and answered. You are not alone.


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