Cocker Spaniels are often referred to as "merry." They are happy, playful dogs that seem to wag their tails most of the time. Because Cockers are very people-oriented dogs, they love to be part of the family and with their people as much as possible.
Because they are so attached to their owners, Cocker Spaniels generally are not happy when left alone all day. Cockers are not an ideal choice for people who are away at work all day. Many Cocker Spaniels are anxious when left alone and are likely to develop behavioral problems like excessive barking, chewing and digging.
While Cocker Spaniels can make great family dogs because they are so attached to their people, they are not usually a good choice for families with small children (or for people who plan to have children). Cockers can be great playmates for older children who understand how to behave around a dog, but many Cockers can be frightened by the sudden movements and rough handling of children under the age of eight years or so. Cockers exposed to inappropriate handling by young children can react by biting. In particular, children who put their arms around a Cocker's neck to "hug" it risk being bitten in the face
Here are some helpful guidelines when teaching kids how to approach a dog.