American Cocker Spaniels are intelligent, playful, happy, and usually friendly, although some can have a high amount of energy. They are commonly quite food motivated, which facilitates learning and training, furthering the dog's bond to its family. In particular, use of food rewards for giving up (relinquishing) items can help to manage any tendency for retrieving or guarding items not intended for play. Although occasionally fearful behaviors are seen in American Cocker Spaniels, reward-based training can help to minimize them. Because of their reputation as a good family dog, children are frequently allowed around them; however, as with all dogs, extremely close supervision is needed to prevent accidental injury to the dog and its subsequently developing fear-based defensive aggression.
The American Cocker Spaniel was one of the first Cocker Spaniels introduced into the Americas and it is a breed that has become very popular in the United States. Their ancestors may be traced back to fourteenth-century Spain to a breed known as the "Spanyell." Legend has it that the ancestor of the American Cocker Spaniel, the English Cocker Spaniel, was on the HMS Mayflower when the boat arrived in the Americas in 1620. Since that time, Cocker Spaniels have been the constant companion of settlers and have played an important role in hunting and guarding the family. The American Cocker Spaniel is much smaller than its ancestor, the English Cocker Spaniel.