Members of the sporting dog group, cocker spaniels are medium-sized, sturdily built dogs with long flowing coats and long ears. They are friendly, intelligent and loyal to their owners, and also good with families. Originally bred for hunting, cocker spaniels have a lot of energy and need to be exercised for at least 30 minutes twice a day. They are good dogs to take on hikes in the wilderness, as this helps burn off some of their excess energy.
Cocker spaniels love many forms of exercise, including walking, swimming, running, playing fetch and hiking. They should not be taken on long hikes first thing, however. Instead, they should be taken on a series of shorter hikes to build up their endurance until they seem fit enough for a long hike.
Always take a pet first aid kit with you on a hike, as your cocker spaniel may injure itself on rocks or sharp sticks, or even get bitten by something if it sticks its nose in the wrong place. Many hiking trails are public areas that need to be kept cleaned up, so take bags to scoop up any mess your dog leaves behind. Water and a bowl to drink from are important to keep your cocker spaniel hydrated. If you are going to be on your hike for more than an hour, take a small amount of food or treats as well.
A cocker spaniel's coat can easily become tangled or dirty during a hike, especially if the dog is allowed to roll around in the dirt or swim in any bodies of water you come upon. Cockers can also pick up fleas and ticks from walking in certain wilderness areas. They will need to be brushed thoroughly when you return home after your hike. If they are particularly messy, they will probably need a bath and a good brushing afterward.
Cocker spaniels have hunting instincts and may chase wildlife if they get a chance. They should always be taken on a leash when hiking, so they cannot run off after an animal or get lost on the trail. They should also have updated ID and rabies tags on their collar, so if somehow they do get away they can hopefully be found and returned to you. Not all hiking trails or parks allow dogs, so be sure to check in the area you wish to go hiking to make sure you are following the rules. It is a good idea to take your cocker spaniel hiking in the morning or the early evening, as they can become overheated during the middle of the day when the sun is the hottest.