Just like any other dog breed, Spaniels can quickly become destructive (and trash your home!) if they’re not entertained.
But they’re active, energetic and alert dogs, and won’t stop playing until they’re literally exhausted–traits that make it difficult to keep your puppy entertained (especially before their vaccinations).
…How can you keep them mentally stimulated without taking them on mile-long hikes every evening?
Along with walking them for the minimum 60 minutes every day, you could also play these fun games with your Spaniel pup to keep them out of trouble at home:
Let’s take a look at them.
1. Hide and Seek 🐾
One of our favorite puppy training games is the good ol’ hide and seek. But instead of hiding in your home and waiting for your friends to come after you, it’ll be your puppy trying to sniff out your hiding place!
(This is why it’s also a great indoor training game for your puppy. They don’t need tons of outdoor space, nor for you to follow them around in the rain, to play.)
To play this game with your Sprocker pup, you’ll need to have them trained to stay. Use the “stay” command to make sure they don’t follow you to your hiding spot, then call your dog to signal it’s time to come and find you.
Once they do, praise them. They’ve followed their command, and used their sniffing talent to find you. They deserve a reward for that hard work!
2. Tug of War 🐶
Tug of war is a great puppy training game because it teaches impulse control and manners.
Grab a rope or long toy, and allow your puppy to latch their jaws onto it. Who can keep hold for the longest?
There’s a myth surrounding this game: That tug-of-war can make dogs aggressive. While that makes sense (they’re testing their biting and stubbornness), the opposite is true. In fact, research by the University of Bristol has found that dogs who play tug of war are usually more obedient and confident than those who don’t.
However, this Spaniel game comes with a warning: Don’t be too tough on your dog’s teeth. They can have weak teeth (puppies especially) that could break if tugged too hard, so know your dog’s limits before ripping the chew toy from their mouth.
Sprocker puppies have also coined the nickname “Sprockerdile”. They’re especially keen to chew and bite during their puppy stages–a behavior which tug of war could worsen if not played correctly.
Always make sure to stop the game when your pup’s teeth touch your hand. This can be as little as 30 seconds of no-play, but it’ll teach them to associate biting you (not the toy) with playtime ending… Meaning they’ll be quick to stop their Sprockerdile habits!
3. Brain Training 🧠
While it’s recommended that you exercise Spaniels for upwards of 60 minutes per day, it shouldn’t all come in the form of physical exercise (like running.)
Spaniels need lots of mental stimulation to be happy dogs.
(Not just happy dogs, but happy owners, too! Over 90% of pet owners in the UK say that owning a pet makes them feel happy–but that won’t happen if your puppy is destructive because they’re bored.)
A great way to get that mental stimulation into their routine is to do some brain training. You can do this without any equipment, for example: Get three plastic cups and hide a treat beneath one. Slowly switch the cups around, and ask your dog which cup contains the treat.
But if you want your dog to play independently and use their own initiative, there are toys you can buy specifically for mental stimulation, such as puzzles (where your dog needs to move things around to get the treat). Here are some of my favorites:
4. Find the Treat 🍪
Another puppy training game you could play with your new Sprocker follows the same “brain training” theme.
This time, you’re telling your dog to stay (and helping them practice this command), while hiding a treat somewhere inside your house. Instead of sniffing to find you, they’ll be looking for a juicy snack.
This is another game you can play indoors when the weather isn’t on your side. Simply grab a few treats from your Sprocker’s daily allowance, and sprinkle them across your house.
…How fast can they find them? (You might be surprised by the answer!)
5. Fetch 🎾
Fetch is an age-old puppy game that teaches your dog basic training commands, such as:
- “Leave” or “Drop”
You could play fetch with anything from a frisbee to a tennis ball.
Practicing these commands is a great way to build a strong bond with your new puppy–especially if you’re playing fetch in a large garden before they’re allowed to go on walks. They’ll learn to come back to you after you call, and drop anything they’ve picked up along the road that shouldn’t be in their mouth!
6. DIY Agility Course 🎪
Sprocker Spaniels are known for their success in agility training. Training centers all over the U.K. run some form of agility sessions, but you don’t always need to take your dog to an official event to practice.
You can create your own DIY agility course in the comfort of your own back garden, or the local park!
Grab a handful of cones, see-saws and tunnels, and set them up in your backyard. Allow your puppy to suss-out their new toys, and then start to introduce the idea of them using them.
You might need a few treats to get them through tunnels or down slides, but once they’re on, you’ll struggle to get them off!
7. Lickimats 👅
Lickimats are pieces of plastic that contain small grooves.
The aim is to stuff your dog’s Lickimat with their favourite foods, and allow them to put their nose to work by trying to get it out.
What’s your favorite puppy training game?
As you can see, there are many different training games you can play with your puppy.
Whether you’re stuck inside on a rainy day or want to build up some basic command training before your puppy is allowed out in public, these games are bound to build a strong connection between you and your new pet.
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