Hello! Max is such an adorable guy. I have a 1 year old male cocker too, and we are going through some similar stuff. We did an obedience class together starting about 4 days after we got him, and that was helpful to all three of us (my husband and I, and Blue). Blue was 8.5 months when we got him, and although he is a sweet, friendly guy, he completely lacks confidence, so we are working really hard on it.
Some of the things I think you are going through are just Max’s newness with you. As he gets used to you, and his new life, he will probably stop being quite so reactive, but you will still have your work cut out for you! I bought and read “The Cautious Canine” by Patricia McConnell and liked that a lot. She talks a ton about things like barking/growling on the leash and how to help stop that behavior. Mostly, I know that Blue is just nervous and so what we have done is get some of our friends to “coincidentally” run into us on the street and greet Blue. That has helped a lot, and those positive encounters have made him less nervous when we approach other people. We have also been working hard at having him meet our friendly neighbors, friendly/dog savvy people we run into on walks and just have worked hard to keep every interaction positive and to not overwhelm him. I don’t walk him up to the huge black lab lunging on the leash; we go to the other side of the street when we see a situation that may be a little too exuberant for him. But somebody walking by themselves and not distracted by a phone or music is usually more than happy to say hi to Blue, and it is SO good for him. You can practically SEE him thinking “Oh, that was fun!” It is neat. Cockers are so cute that it’s REALLY easy to get people to say hello!
So I guess my initial advice would be- obedience class will help everyone’s confidence, meeting friendly people is great, and don’t expect too much of him at the very beginning. It has been a slow process for us, but we are getting there. I try to keep reminding myself that it’s not Blue’s fault he is nervous…the poor little guy had 3 homes before he was 9 months old, and none of the transitions were his fault! No wonder he’s nervous. Same with Max, I’m sure.
I saw you wrote another post on housetraining…I’m not sure what issues you are having with it, but I saw that you and your wife work during the day. That’s tough. If you can, a doggie door will change your life. If that’s not an option, you may have to arrange to come home at lunch. If that doesn’t work, you might have to pay somebody to come over and walk Max. We’ve got a doggie door, and we also send Blue to a doggie daycare/hiking company two days during the work week so he can hang out with doggie friends and go for an off leash hike while we’re at work. Yep, it is expensive, but we kind of knew when we adopted him that we’d have to shell out. A 1 year old Cocker plus two full time jobs just don’t mix. We’ve found that two days of playing during the week, plus our attention in the mornings, evenings and weekends works just fine. I work 8-5 and my husband 9-5.
Oh and the bed…well, Blue is our 2nd Cocker. Betty loved her doggie bed next to our bed. She had no interest in our bed. Blue…absolutely desperately wanted to sleep in our bed. After 3 nights of no sleep while he stared up at us and cried or jumped up on the bed and we put him down, we said forget this and plopped him up on the foot of the bed. He’s slept like a log ever since and so have we. Sigh. It’s different, but he does wake me up every day by licking my fingers. There’s definitely worse ways to wake up! If you’re worried about the physical jumping, then yes, I’d get stairs to your bed.
I wish you lots of happiness with your little guy and just keep on getting him out there! It really does help.
Betty- Buff, adopted 7/24/05, lit up our lives until 6/3/12
Blue- Chocolate Roan, born 11/1/11, Adopted 7/18/12, "Hey guys, let's Plaaaaaaay!"