It’s not long before cocker spaniel owners desperately want their energetic pup to calm down. I know how you feel! These little balls of energy can be hard work when they’re at full steam. Thankfully, with some good advice and tips, calming down your cocker spaniel isn’t as difficult as it seems. I’ll also explain something pretty important that many owners get wrong.
Only a few cocker spaniels calm down with age alone after 3-5 years. For most, they will continue to be very energetic well into their senior years. Owners should not rely on aging as a way to get a calm cocker spaniel.
When Do Cocker Spaniels Calm Down?
Is there an age when cocker spaniels calm down? It’s one of the most common questions I receive about these bouncing balls of energy!
Unfortunately, the vast majority of cocker spaniels do not calm down with age, or if they do, it’s hardly noticeable. Most other breeds do mellow out after a few years, but for cockers, it’s unlikely.
To be fair, we have had some owners report a “slight maturing” anywhere between 3 and 5 years, but this definitely doesn’t mean their cocker went from full energy to peaceful monk.
What To Do If You Want a Calm Cocker Spaniel
After the info given above it seems clear, but I just wanted to state it straight: You can’t wait or rely on age alone if you want a calm cocker spaniel. Proactive measures must be taken to avoid hyperactivity and calm them down.
Ultimately, it’s down to us to provide our spaniels with sufficient outlets and healthy ways to release their energy. To do this we need to make appropriate daily routines that stimulate our dogs as much as possible.
I quote a dog behaviorist “A bored puppy, is a frustrated puppy, and a frustrated puppy, is a nightmare!
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5 Tips For a Calm Cocker Spaniel
Your cocker spaniel will wake up each morning with a full tank of gas ready to go, so managing their energy levels requires us to set a good daily routine that we stick to. Here are 5 of the best tips I know of to keep hyper dogs calm, sensible, and content.
1. Exercise twice per day
Adult cocker spaniels (over 15 months) need around 60-90 minutes of exercise per day. Instead of doing this in one session, it’s infinitely better to split this up into two 45 minutes walks or runs (once first thing in the morning, and the other in the evening).
By doing this, your cocker spaniel is already starting the day by expending a good chunk of energy. This will prevent boredom and frustration at the start of the day which is key.
Puppies (under 1) shouldn’t receive this much exercise. Although they are teeming with energy, we must protect their developing joints and muscles. So before they’re fully grown, it’s best to stick to the 5-minute method puppy exercise plan.
2. Use puppy pens to your advantage
I’m a big fan of puppy pens, and despite the name, don’t have to be limited to just puppies. A puppy pen is essentially a crate, just much bigger and not enclosed.
If you introduce the puppy pen carefully and correctly (ie, not to be seen as a punishment zone) then it can be a place your cocker spaniel loves to be. A positive association can be achieved by putting in new toys, treats, and offering plenty of praise upon the introduction.
Okay, so how does it help calm my spaniel down? Well, because the puppy pen limits movement, it automatically encourages dogs to relax and settle down, not being physically able to bomb around the entire house is already a step in the right direction. Throw a few toys in there or maybe a dental chew, and your spaniel will calm down quickly.
3. Increase & prioritize socialization
This is a little harder to add to your routine, but it’s crucial. Increasing socialization will result in your cocker spaniel being sufficiently mentally stimulated… And a mentally stimulated dog is a happy and content dog.
You could provide as much physical exercise as your heart’s content, but if the mind isn’t tired, your cocker spaniel will be ready to go again after a short 20-minute nap.
Socialization is one of the most powerful forms of mental stimulation for dogs, so it’s worth spending extra time at the dog park, inviting friends and their dogs round to your home, or checking out what local doggy meet up groups are available online (Facebook is great for that).
4. Keep going with command training
One thing most owners do is stop command training the second the commands are learned. After all, it doesn’t take dogs to learn the classic sit and stay… But for how long do you hit home the basics after a few successful runs? Not much is the likely answer.
But little do most know, basic command training can and should be continued every day for at least the first year. You can spice it up and make it slightly harder by increasing the time required to sit and stay. That’s just one example, but with a little creativity, there are many.
By providing basic command training every day not only are you stimulating your spaniel’s mind and fulfilling their desire to solve problems and “work” but you’re also spending more time with your spaniel. And they’ll LOVE this.
A well-trained and stimulated cocker spaniel is a happier calmer spaniel.
5. Interactive puzzle toys
Puzzle toys can really help your spaniel stay occupied for quite some time, depending on which ones you go for. Some puzzle toys are set-and-forget style (perfect for when you leave the home), and others are more complex and require your assistance.
Whatever you choose, puzzle toys will occupy your spaniel’s mind, keep them busy, and ultimately lead them to feel rather satisfied.
We recommend the StarMark or a Snuffle Mat for when you need to leave your spaniel alone, and something like the Nina Ottosson when you have a moment to sit down and assist.
Puzzle toys are essentially just another form of high-quality mental stimulation.
What’s The Trick To Calming Down Cocker Spaniels
A common theme among the tips given above is that they are all stimulating. It’s all about stimulation! Hyperactive dogs are usually understimulated and bored.
If spaniels receive enough physical AND mental stimulation each and every day, they have no reason to be hyper, and they won’t be. Dogs that are sufficiently stimulated will nap and sleep during all other times they aren’t doing something.
If you’re currently dealing with a hyper cocker spaniel, then try your best to increase their stimulation every day. Whether it’s splitting up two walks at the start and beginning of the day, increasing socialization, or continuing with training, it will improve your situation.
Cocker spaniels are like this because they are working dogs. All working dogs need their minds put to work and solving tasks. If they feel that sense of achievement they desire, their behavior will improve, and they’ll be substantially calmer.
Cocker spaniels are bundles of energy and playfulness, and honestly, that’s what makes them such a wonderful family pet. We just have to provide them with sufficient physical and mental stimulation in order to get the calm behavior and obedience we wish for.
And one thing’s for sure, if you aren’t proactive in managing their energy, it’s unlikely time alone will help!