Cocker Spaniel Puppy Games

"Surely I Don't Need To Teach My Puppy How To Play Games?"

Yes, you do. Puppies may play, but puppy games don't just come naturally to them. Your pup won't always understand what you want from him, and you need to teach him the 'rules'.

Orange roan cocker spaniel puppy playing with blue nylon leash

There are a few good reasons why you should teach your Cocker Spaniel to play:

  • Puppy play can teach control and discipline in a way that's fun for you both and, as an added bonus, playing with your puppy can help to strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

  • A puppy who is allowed to play (controlled) games regularly will develop into a well-balanced adult dog who rarely gets bored; a bored Cocker Spaniel can become destructive, developing anti-social chewing behaviours.

  • Puppy games will help stimulate your puppy's metabolism. The exercise your Cocker puppy gets from playing games can help to keep him fit and can also help to keep him trim.

    Overweight dogs
    are unhealthy dogs!

  • Cocker Spaniel puppy games can help with training and reinforcement of your puppy's learning.

  • Structured puppy play is also a great way of establishing and reinforcing your status as pack leader.

  • You can use Cocker Spaniel games as a reward instead of treats; rewarding your puppy with play may also help to stop your puppy becoming overweight.

The Rules Of Playing Cocker Spaniel Games!

There are two different types of toys available to your Cocker Spaniel puppy. There's pacifier toys, which are toys he can chew and play with on his own, and interactive toys such as balls, ropes, and Frisbees - the toys he shares with you.

Your puppy should be free to play with his pacifier toys, but keep the interactive toys hidden away from him. The interactive toys are those you use to initiate play.

Never allow your puppy to initiate play - you control when puppy play begins and when it stops; you are the pack-leader!

Chocolate cocker spaniel with orange ball in his mouth - he just love's puppy games!

Always stop play before your puppy becomes bored - leave him wanting more.

Don't allow your Cocker to wander off with the toy when the games are over; he should only be allowed to play with these when you say so - they are your toys!

If your puppy attempts to bite or chew on anything other than his own toys, be sure to take it from him (see the 'Drop It!' command) and immediately replace it with an appropriate toy.

When playing games with your puppy, you need to give instructions using a firm tone of voice to get his attention and co-operation.

A high pitched, excited, squeaky voice will not establish any control - in fact, it will only serve to heighten your puppy's excitement.

Don't over-excite your Cocker during puppy play - an over-excited puppy is not good!

Over-stimulation may be caused by teasing or taunting your puppy with a toy before throwing it to him - for example, dangling the toy above his head, or hiding it behind your back.

Whilst this may seem like fun, a puppy who's taught to play in this way soon becomes over-excited, which can lead to an increase in dominance; encouraging him to become more pushy, boisterous, and ultimately, very difficult to control.

The only time when teasing is allowed is if your puppy is timid and shy. Teasing in this way can help to bring him 'out of his shell' and build his confidence, as well as teaching him how to play and have fun!

Don't allow puppy games that involve tug-of-war with your fingers, hands, or clothing - you need to establish that you are his pack leader and not simply a member of his pack.

Don't chase, or play similar games, with your pup until he's fully trained - find out why here!

Play-fighting is not a good game to play with your dog.

It teaches him that it's okay to jump up and wrestle with humans and encourages mouthing, biting, and chasing.

Play-fighting puppy games can also provoke leadership challenges and encourage dominant behaviours in dogs.

This can be especially dangerous in already confident, dominant dogs.

Don't allow your puppy to demand your attention. If he displays attention-seeking behaviour, ignore him - attention should be given only on your terms.

Teaching Your Puppy To Play Fun Games

Your puppy must learn that he is to sit and wait before he's allowed to play games - this discipline will establish control and help to reinforce his obedience training.

You can teach your Cocker Spaniel puppy the rules by using the following commands:

  • 'Sit!' and 'Wait!' - your puppy is not allowed to play with the toy until you give him the relevant command;

  • 'Off!' - there's no jumping or leaping allowed, if he does either of these, give the 'Off!' command and stop play for a couple of minutes;

  • 'Be Quiet!' - strictly no barking;

  • 'Leave It!' - lunging is not allowed - if your puppy lunges at your hands for the toy, use the 'Leave It!' command.

Your puppy will learn that if he follows your rules he'll be rewarded with being allowed to play puppy games with you; if he doesn't follow your rules, he'll soon learn that play will stop.

Playing Puppy Games

We've listed a few puppy games for you and have written notes on how best to introduce your puppy to them - believe it or not, it doesn't always come naturally!

Golden cocker spaniel headshot - sitting patiently waiting for playtime

We hope you and your puppy enjoy them!

Fetch It!

Tug of War

Find It!

Hide and Seek

We hope you and your puppy enjoy these puppy games, but before we go, in case you've not yet discovered this for yourselves, dogs love soap bubbles!

Whether they're bubbles spilling over the bath at bath time, or they're blown from the bottles of liquid bubbles you can buy for children - dogs love them!

Try blowing bubbles for your Cocker Spaniel puppy and watch his expression as he chases and 'catches' his first soap bubble.

It's magical!

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1. Bigdog3c at Flickr
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3. Todd Poling at

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