Puppy Care

Just like a new baby, your little man will benefit from a strict puppy care routine and the sooner you set one up for him the better! Get practical step-by-step advice on how to be a good puppy parent and how to set up his daily care routine.

Sleeping Brittany cocker puppy - it will soon be potty time!

Your Cocker Spaniel's care will be based on the following activities:


essential to newborn puppy development;
nutritious food to maintain your puppy’s strength and health;
step by step potty training to help keep your puppy dry;
vital to your puppy’s confidence and happiness;
your puppy should be used to being handled every day;
teach your puppy to enjoy his grooming sessions!
stimulate your puppy’s mind with lots of fun playtime!
he may only be little, but he still needs exercise.

Click on the link if you'd like to see an example of a typical new puppy's daily routine.

Puppy Care and Sleeping

During those first few months he'll take lots of ‘power naps’ during the day, but don’t worry, at this age sleeping is an essential part of his development.

As your Cocker Spaniel puppy gets older he’ll need less sleep during the day and he'll do more of what puppies do best; exploring and getting up to mischief!

So make the most of it - enjoy watching your little cherub sleeping quietly while you can! 

I heartily recommend that all new pet owners crate train their puppy. A crate is a very secure place for your pet and offers many benefits for both dog and owner.

As part of your puppy care routine, get into the habit of putting your pup into his crate after an activity, for example after eating, playtime, or training. He’ll probably be tired and if you give him a little cuddle first to help relax him it won't be long before he drops off.

While he's in his crate, check on him from time to time to make sure he’s still asleep, especially if he’s not yet fully house trained because the first thing he'll want to do when he wakes is pee!

As soon you see him stir, take him outside to his toilet area and encourage him to do the business. Don't forget to praise him if he pees to show him that's what you wanted him to do.

I’m often asked for advice about a puppy’s bedtime routine during the first few nights at their new home so I added a section about a new puppy’s night-time sleeping.

Puppy Care and Feeding

Set up regular feeding times as part of your puppy's care routine and don't be tempted to feed him in between meals - a few treats given as a reward for successful puppy training sessions should be the only exception here.

Feeding your Cocker Spaniel puppy is an important part of puppy care

Always follow the breeder's feeding instructions, or the food manufacturer’s recommendations, and make sure your puppy has plenty of fresh water available in his bowl each day.

This is especially important if you feed him kibble as it doesn’t contain much water.

Feeding will probably stimulate your puppy's bowels, so you'll need to take him outside again after he's finished eating.

Feeding your puppy with the best nutritious dog food you can afford right from the start is essential if he's to grow strong and healthy.

Puppy Care and Potty Training

Although your puppy will try to hold it in, his young bladder won’t yet be strong enough, making it highly likely that he’ll pee as soon as he wakes up.

If you routinely take him outside as soon as he wakes, you'll be helping him to avoid little accidents.

If he's already wet or soiled his crate, please don't scold him. He can’t help it and you weren't there to let him out.

Stay outside with him until he's done his toilet, praise him, and then bring him back inside.

You will need to do this many times a day (at the very least hourly) until your Cocker Spaniel puppy understands what's required of him and is fully potty trained.

Puppy Care and Socialization

It's very important that all puppies are socialized from birth - I cannot stress how important socialization is for your pet.

Cocker spaniel puppy on yellow blanket, barking

Your breeder will have already begun the socialization process and you should continue with this as soon as you can, in fact don’t delay – begin socializing immediately as you only have a short time span in which to do it.

Puppies that have been properly socialized will grow up to be well-adjusted and happy dogs.

Puppies that haven’t been socialized may become very timid or aggressive, and may develop behavioral problems later in life.

Encourage your little boy to explore his environment. He should be exposed to everyday household domestic appliances, such as vacuum cleaners, hair-dryers, washing machines, coffee grinders, to help him get used to sudden noise, light and vibration.

As part of his puppy care routine, your Cocker should be meeting many different kinds of people, such as small children, crying babies, men and women in uniforms, men with beards, people with umbrellas - the list is almost endless.

I can't stress enough that socializing your Cocker Spaniel is a very important part of any puppy care routine.

Puppy Care and Handling

Puppies that are handled often will be better socialized than those that are not and as a result are less likely to develop behavioral problems later in life.

Golden cocker spaniel puppy draped over a leather sofa

It's very important that you (and other family members and friends - the more the better!) pick up and cuddle your puppy every opportunity so that he becomes used to being handled by people. (Now that won’t be too difficult, will it?)

While you're handling your pup, talk to him. If you’ve already chosen his name, say it to him while you pet him so that he becomes used to the sound of your voice and his own name.

Examine and touch all areas of him regularly; his eyes, ears, mouth, teeth, bottom and 'boy bits', tummy button, and paws – especially the front paws.

Frequent handling of these areas will help him to become accustomed to touch which will pay dividends when your groomer needs to work on him or when your vet needs to examine him.

Puppy Care and Grooming

I recommend you begin grooming your puppy from day one. Yes, I know he won’t need it, but it really is essential to get him used to being groomed so that when his feathers have grown in and need brushing and trimming, he'll sit quietly for you or your groomer and won't be startled by any of the grooming tools used.

Brushing Your Pup

Get him used to the feel of the brushes and combs, and don't forget scissors.

Acclimatize him to the sound of snipping. You don’t need to cut any fur, just simulate it so he can hear the steel of the scissors.

If you have a rubber glove, wear it and stroke him with it. Not only will it help him get used to being handled, it will also help to keep his coat clean and shining, and when his feathers grow in, brushing your dog will help to keep his coat tangle-free.

A few words of caution, be very gentle with him, especially when using the slicker brush. You don’t want it to penetrate his coat and scratch his delicate skin.

Bathing Your Puppy

American cocker spaniel in bathtub, wearing showercap

Your puppy will need to be bathed from time to time. How often will depend upon where he plays, where he's walked, and how dirty he gets.

It's best to acclimatise him to this too, while he's still a young pup, because if you leave it until he's a fully grown dog before bathing him, you may be in for a very difficult time!

Discover the best way to bath your puppy without tears and tantrums!

Brushing Puppy Teeth

Whilst it's important to keep your puppy's teeth clean, the practicality of brushing his teeth may not always be straight forward - anyone who's ever tried to brush their dog's teeth will know what I mean!

Black, white and tan cocker spaniel puppy face, resting on armchair

However, if you take a very gentle approach your pup will gradually become used to the feel of a toothbrush in his mouth and will soon learn to sit quietly while you brush.

I recommend you begin brushing his teeth as early as possible so that he gets used to his teeth being brushed as part of his normal routine. 

At first, you may need to persevere, but once you and your pup get used to it, you'll wonder what all the fuss was about!

Puppy Care and Playtime

All puppies need the mental stimulation that play-time can give.

Playing with your puppy is so enjoyable and there are many games you can play together.

Golden cocker spaniel playing with colourful ball

Hide the treats is our favorite. I ask Max to ‘sit and stay’ while I hide treats all around the house (very small treats - I don't want him to become overweight!). On my return I release him and say the words, ‘Go find them’ and he’s off like a rocket!

We also play fetch with his ball until one of us gets tired – guess which one that is?

Here's some neat ideas for playing puppy games.

I recommend that you teach your puppy very early on that he has his own toys to chew on and that anything else is out of bounds.

If you catch your puppy chewing something you don't want him to, simply exchange it for one of his chew toys, but don't scold him - he's too young and won't understand.

If your pet develops a bad chewing habit, (chews your new shoes or your favorite book) you’ll find our top tips on how to stop your puppy chewing very useful!

Don't forget to take him to his toilet area once again after playing - stay with him for a few minutes until he 'does the business' or that you're certain he's not going to do anything.

Puppy Care and Exercise

Your puppy will probably be too young to be taken to public parks just yet, however it's important that he's exercised every day.

Golden cocker spaniel with tongue out

You can do this in lots of ways, for example:

  • You can play games with him and get him running around inside your home;

  • Training sessions will help to exercise him, both mentally and physically;

  • You can play in your garden, but make sure it’s fully secure. If it’s not, I recommend you use a long training lead. This will allow him to run about safely, but stay with him – never leave him alone in your yard.

Once he’s old enough to go into public places (usually after final vaccination at 12 weeks old – your vet will advise you) the sky’s the limit – walkies anyone?

Puppy Care Matters!

If you make sure that each of the above activities are included in your puppy’s daily puppy care routine, three or four times each day, your puppy will thrive.

Colourful roan cocker spaniel puppy - simply divine!

As your baby develops and becomes fully house-trained, he'll still need a regular routine, but it won't be as 'busy' as the one above.

Use your own judgement on this one as puppies are individuals and often have different rates of development.

Never leave your puppy alone for too long; always keep a watchful eye on him so that he won’t come to any harm.

If you have any questions or pressing concerns about puppy care, or your puppy’s health, don’t put it off, get in touch with your vet or veterinary nurse as soon as possible.

› Puppy Care

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