Black and white cockapoo laying down on a white background

The capable and cuddly Cockapoo

Cockapoos are a cross breed, a hybrid of the cocker spaniel and the poodle. They were first bred in America but have a large following in the UK too because of their affectionate nature. Poodles are known for being bright and capable. Cockers are bright too but like to cuddle more than poodles. Join these forces together and the result is a smart, lovable dog.

Because the cockapoo is a hybrid dog, you see a variety of different traits and personality types. Yet all are intelligent and loyal. They typically have a high level of energy, which means they’re fantastic fun around children of all ages. Cockapoos make a delightful family pet because of this very charm.

Although affection is often given on their terms, not yours, cockapoos are people-orientated. They don’t like to be left on their own for too long. These dogs can suffer from separation anxiety so won’t settle well if they’re without company. They also need a lot of mental stimulation.

Cockapoos are great assistance dogs because of how they make you feel

Assistance dog Elmo with family

In a family, cockapoos tend to connect best with one family member, rather than all of them at the same time. This devotion to the one person who needs them the most can create a spectacular bond, which is exactly what we’re looking for in our assistance dog partnerships.

It takes time to build this incredible bond with a cockapoo — they make you work for the relationship. They can be highly responsive and have a huge amount of energy they need to burn off. Yet the dog won’t explore the world without a stable base for a sense of security. You have to invest a lot of time bonding with a cockapoo, exercise them well, and be sure to meet their needs for mental stimulation. Only then is the dog a cuddly lap dog, loyal to the core.

Another great reason to use cockapoos as assistance dogs is that they’re small and portable. They can be homed in any type of accommodation, which leaves us with more options than we have with a larger breed of dog on where to place them.

Dogs for Good trainer, Jen, says cockapoos are “very bright and love life!” They are “fun, animated, and bring lots of laughter”, she says.

Training Cockapoos

Trainer Jen with cockapoo laying beside herIt’s easy to train a cockapoo because they’re quite logical. A step-by-step approach works best with these clever dogs, although the timing is crucial. “They keep you on your toes”, says trainer Jen. “If you click to reward a behaviour they’ll do it again and again, over and over, so it’s important that you click the right thing!”

Puppy classes are a must for any cockapoo. They respond well to short and sweet training sessions, so a couple of repeats of a task before moving onto the next one. As a working breed, cockapoos have a high level of drive. They can also be easily distracted when they’re out and about, but love the direct human contact they get from any training session.

We look for medium sensitivity in all of our dogs, which means they’re in the moment with us whilst training and responsive to our handling. If the sensitivity is too high, a dog can be too quick to react to a stimulus. Too slow and they become disengaged. Cockapoos, since they’re so cuddly, are sometimes a mix of low-medium sensitivity but this is a great measure to help us find the perfect assistance dog.

Getting the best out of cockapoos

  • People don’t always think about the mental stimulation a dog needs to stay well. Cockapoos in particular need at least a couple of hours every day alongside physical activity
  • Cockapoos can be vocal so barking is something to watch out for
  • You’ll need to groom any cockapoo regularly to keep their coat in good shape

See how cockapoos compare to other breeds we work with.