‘’How to train a Sprocker puppy’’ is probably a question that’s been running through your mind ever since you got one. We’re glad you’ve ended up here. Sprocker puppy training is something you’ll definitely want to sink your teeth into – they are busy intelligent dogs with a keen sense of adventure and also a little bit mad – not for the faint of heart!

A cracking mix of the English Springer Spaniel and the Working Cocker Spaniel, the breed was developed for a working home, which means they are very far from being couch potatoes. But give them a job, and they will still love a snuggle on the sofa, don’t worry.

If you’re looking for extra helping hands to get on track in your puppy training journey, look no further than the Zigzag puppy training app. We tailor your Sprocker puppy’s training programme according to their breed-specific needs and their age. We also have a team of brilliant expert puppy coaches, all qualified and experienced dog trainers and behaviourists, available for when you need on Whatsapp, email or via a phone call. 

Prerequisites for training my Sprocker puppy

What age can I start to train my Sprocker puppy?

You can and should start training your Sprocker puppy as soon as you bring them home. They’ll need some time to settle in, but their brains are like sponges ready to soak up every little thing. They’ll be watching, and waiting for you to show them the ropes. 

What do I need to train my Sprocker puppy?

Sprocker puppy training will be much like training a lot of other Gundog or Spaniel-type breeds. It’s not an infinite list of equipment but if you want to be prepared, try and get these before you bring your Sprocker puppy home. 

A collar – By law in the UK, your Sprokcer puppy should wear a collar and ID tags. 

A harness – A harness can really help you manage things if you have an over-exuberant and bouncy Sprocker puppy. It’s also much kinder on their neck – no one wants to be strangled around.

A 2m training lead – This will help you walk your puppy comfortably. They’ll be able to stay close to you, and have enough room to do their favourite thing: sniff! This length of lead is also useful for attaching to a chair leg or under your foot when you’re teaching them to settle

Food and water bowls – Fresh water should always be available for your Sprocker puppy. They love water too, so you might indeed find them trying to have a swim in it.

A treat pouch – This will come in handy as you’re working your way through Sprocker puppy training. Treats will close to literally become a part of you, so you’ll want a treat pouch to avoid having sticky hands and sticky pockets.

A piece of non-slip vet bed, or a travel mat – You’ll use it when teaching your Sprocker to settle. Especially when you start going out to the pub, a piece of vet bed will become quite useful – don’t want them to sneak up on other people.

Kongs and other puzzle toys – Anything that keeps your Sporcker entertained and stretching their brain is a winner. It also means they’re less likely to chew on things they shouldn’t.

Two identical toys – Identical toys will come in handy for retrieve work and for when teaching them how to swap. Sprockers have large mouths, so find something suitable that they’ll find easy to hold.

Tasty treats – Their usual kibble will work just fine, but you’ll also want to use some tastier treats like bits of sausage or peanut butter to pay for a job well done.

A crate and playpen – When training your Sprocker, it can be hard to get them to switch off and have downtime. A crate or playpen can really help get them into a structured naptime.

A soft grooming brush –  To your luck, Sprockers don’t need a huge amount of grooming, but a soft grooming brush will help keep them looking dashing and clean. Having a grooming routine will also help strengthen your bond as most love being touched.

A squeaky ball on a rope – You’ve probably seen the Sprocker and Cocker Spaniels used by Border Force or the police. What do they always have as a reward for them? Yep, a tennis ball. They’re obsessed. Try having the ball on a rope to make it easier to get back – otherwise, you’ll be chasing them non-stop around the country.

Good to know about training Sprocker puppies

What are Sprockers bred for?

Sprockers are working dogs through and through. They have a heavy set physique but remain fast and nimble: full of beans and mischief. They aren’t quite the designer dog that you think of when you cross two breeds, like the Maltipoos or Cockapoos. They’re quite an old cross, designed by working gamekeepers who needed a robust dog to work on estates with them. 

What does this have to do with how I train my Sprocker?

Well, all of this it’s worth mentioning because it will give you a better idea of what your puppy needs and is naturally inclined towards. Sprockers are the kind of breed who need stimulation, a good routine and boundaries; or else they’ll go off on their own to find some trouble. 

They’re highly distracted by things in the outside world, like birds. There’s a good reason for this – it’s literally bred into them. Back in the day, flushing and picking up birds is what they were literally bred to do and therefore often all they’re concerned with, so don’t be surprised if they get hyper focused by the fluttering sound of pigeons when you’re training outside. 

Overview of the training programme and topics we’ll cover

We’ve designed this guide specifically for training your Sprocker puppy. We’ll cover most of the basic manners exercises you’ll need for a life-long friendship. For a more in depth training programme download a free trial of the Zigzag puppy training app to get your full journey started. 

Here’s what you’ll be learning about in this guide for how to train a Sprocker puppy:

  • Sitting
  • Lying down
  • Learning their name
  • Coming when you call them
  • Walking nicely on a lead
  • Playing fetch
  • Sleeping in their crate
  • Coping with being left alone
  • Going to the toilet in the right place 
How we build this programme: Push Drop Stick

The Push Drop Stick trick is a useful resource for you to use with your Sprocker puppy. It will help you decide whether your puppy is ready to continue in their training or whether they need additional practice runs.

…but what exactly is Push, Drop, and Stick?

It’s pretty straight forward. Push, Drop, Stick is a method of gradually increasing the difficulty of a behaviour. If exercises are always kept too easy, your puppy will get frequently rewarded for doing the same thing, and will get bored or stuck at that level of difficulty.

If the lessons are too difficult, they will most likely give up and not be motivated to get the exercise right anymore since the rewards will be less frequent. 

Now, Sprockers are clever dogs and will definitely need to be challenged in their training so Push, Drop, Stick will be something you’ll often use.

By maintaining enough momentum, ‘Push Drop Stick’ can help prevent both scenarios: It will keep your puppy engaged and prevent them from quitting, but not so much that they aren’t thinking about how to get rewarded by trying harder.

Ok, so how does Push, Drop, Stick work? 

By repeating an exercise 5 times, we are going to keep track of how many of them your Sprocker puppy gets right. Based on how well they do, you’re going to choose whether to do which of the following:

If they get 4 or 5 reps right, “Push’’ by moving to the next difficulty level.

If they get 3 or 2 reps correctly, ‘’Stick’’ to the level they’re currently at to reinforce their skills. 

If they get 1 or none reps right, better to ‘’Drop’’ and go back to the previous difficulty level. 

Get it? The ‘Push Drop Stick’ will let you track where we are in order to further improve and build stronger behaviours. Onward and upwards!

What do you mean by difficulty?

The ‘Three D’s’ of Duration, Distraction, and Distance are all related to difficulty. These criteria include how long your puppy can do the behaviour for, how distracting the environment is, and how far away they can perform that certain behaviour to us.

Week 1 – Training your Sprocker puppy

In the first week, take time to know your Sprocker puppy’s quirks as well as practise some socialisation exercises, training and husbandry tasks. 

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Let your puppy explore the garden
– Teach your puppy about surfaces
– Name
– Sit
– Recall
– Retrieve
– Crate Training
– Toilet Training
– Alone Training
– Brushing
– Hand Touch
Sleep training 

The first few weeks with your new Sprocker puppy will probably involve a lot of caffeine. Don’t say we didn’t warn you! They’ve come to their new home away from their littermates and have to get used to sleeping alone which can be stressful for them – and therefore for you as well.

Like all puppies (and babies), they’re going to need the toilet once, twice, and sometimes three times during the night. In all cases, it will always be the best choice to get up and take them out. It will avoid lots of things like smelly accidents and you getting into a stinky mood.

We recommend having their crate or bed in your bedroom during the first weeks, just while they’re getting settled. You can always move it later on but for now, it will not only help them feel comforted, but it will help you know when you need the toilet.

Want to know more about your new puppy’s first few nights? Read our full guide to how to get a puppy to sleep through the night, and get them into a night time routine to get you back on restful nights as soon as possible.   

Alone training

Training your Sprocker puppy to be happy on their own will be something you work on week by week. Every puppy is different – some are totally fine keeping themselves occupied, and others are more sensitive and may need more help. How long you can leave your Sprocker puppy alone for will depend on their personality type.

Read our full guide on puppy separation anxiety to get a better idea on what you need to do to leave your Sprocker puppy alone at home feeling happy and safe.  

We also recommend you also check out our article on puppy puzzle toys. These things will amaze you for how handy they are when teaching your Sprocker puppy about being on their own. They’ll act as a fun thing that comes out when the humans are gone. 

Toilet training

Toilet training isn’t usually a problem for Sprockers. They’re clever dogs and can be trained to use the outside as the loo quite easily. Our guide on how to toilet train your puppy is pretty amazing to be honest – take a look and you’ll have it cracked in no time.

With Sproker puppies, what you might find is that you get some ‘excited wees’. Most times, you can definitely take them as a compliment. They can happen when you arrive home or when visitors come over for some tea. They’re often accompanied by your puppy rolling on their back. ‘Excited wees’ can also happen when they are feeling fearful or anxious. Those wees have much more of a serious name: submissive urination. 

If you get frustrated when your puppy does this, it’s important to act neutral and not angry as this will only cause them to wee even more. We know it’s difficult, but it’s for your own good. We don’t want to see you start your own habit of angry poops.  

There are ways you can help your puppy out. For example, by not walking directly towards them head on and waiting until they calm down before you engage or say hello to them. Try talking to them with your body side on, squat down on the floor and make yourself less threatening. You want to make sure your Sprocker puppy doesn’t see you as a threat, or feel intimidated.

When guests come over, give your puppy time to calm down before they go out to say hello, and teach your guests how to interact with your puppy. When it comes to socialising your puppies with guests, we have plenty of good socialisation exercises for you to look at in the  Zigzag puppy app that will help everyone in the room feel comfortable, and yes, reduce the chances of accidental wees. 

Socialisation exercises to do this week

Socialisation is teaching your Sprocker puppy about the world around them so they become confident and happy puppies as they grow older. We have an entire guide to socialising your puppy for you to read, but this week let’s focus on:

  • Letting your Sprocker puppy explore the garden

Allowing your puppy to explore your garden is a wonderful and safe way to introduce them to the noises, sights, and delights of the world.

When they’re outside, they’ll be able to feel the wind, rain, and sunshine. But the most essential thing for your Sprocker puppy is what they can smell.

Your Sprocker puppy’s nose is their most important sense since it’s what they use to take in most of the information around them. You’ll have to give them time to do this, there’s no rush in exploring the world. They’re literally stopping to smell the roses – maybe it’s something we should learn from them.

No garden? No problem. Take them outside and sit them on your lap while giving them a treat every now and again. They’ll be looking around and listening to what’s happening which for now, is definitely enough to start with. 

  • Teach your puppy about surfaces 

Your Sprocker puppy will likely be feeling all different kinds of surfaces just by being out in your garden. 

You can lay out items on the grass (or indoors in case you don’t have a garden) such as a metal tray, a piece of carpet, a bristle doormat, or a carrier bag for them to explore. They’ll sniff and sniff…literally breathing in the whole experience of novelty.

Training to do this week

It’s the first week of training your Sprocker puppy so we’ll start off gently but also with a bit of a challenge…your Sprocker will be keen to learn! 

This one will be a breeze, especially when you have delicious treats! 

Teaching your Sprocker puppy a reliable recall will be super important. They’re hunting dogs and will naturally be quite focussed on the outside world when you’re out on walks. Birds and smells will be hugely distracting for them, so you’ll need to make yourself seem more exciting. Use plenty of rewards; verbal praise, treats and toys, and you’ll see your recall training improve. 

  • Retrieve/fetch
    Teaching your Sprocker puppy to retrieve or fetch will come quite naturally to them. They come from a fantastic ancestral line of retrievers, so they shouldn’t struggle too much with this. But if they do, there’s no problem. Everyone is different anyway, no matter where we come from, right? 

How to prepare your Sprocker puppy to retrieve

Prepare your treats and select a toy that your puppy just can’t get enough of. You get bonus points if you have two of the same type as it will really help you later when teaching them how to swap.

How to teach your puppy to fetch 

  • Show your puppy that you have their favourite toy in your hand and make it come to life by wiggling it around and making funny noises with it.
  • When they show some interest in it, throw it – but not too far away! Your Sprocker will then be likely to chase after it and pick it up.
  • If they do, use your voice to urge them back to you by sounding cheerful and excited.
  • Then, the swapping happens. Trade the toy with a treat or another toy and repeat the process by throwing the toy that’s in your hand. See? They’re playing fetch. 
  • Repeat this process 5 times. 

PRO TIPS:

However tempting, try not to chase your puppy when they steal something of yours. Chasing just turns into a fun game for them – and trust us, you won’t be able to catch up. To get them to come to you, create some distance and use excitement sounds – Sprockers love to show off and parade with what they’ve got, so make sure to use your voice to get them to come close.

  • When they have a toy, always swap it for something else, such as a reward or another toy.
  • Practice every day! Sprockers enjoy retrieving games, so teaching them that giving up items does not mean the game is over is key.
Preventing resource guarding

For some Sprocker puppies, holding on to the item is going to be hugely valuable, and if you don’t handle it correctly you can end up with a puppy who starts to guard objects. That’s why we put lots of emphasis on the swap, and teaching your puppy that giving items predicts wonderful rewards! 

Husbandry exercises to do this week
  • Handling your puppy

Sprockers are usually quite happy to be handled so you probably won’t be facing too much trouble with this. However, let’s use these first few weeks to teach them that touching is nice by doing consent-based handling exercises. Yes, consent is definitely a thing with puppies. With all animals for that matter!

How to teach your puppy about handling  

  • Sit on the floor in the room where they spend most of their time in.
  • Allow your puppy to walk freely around you.
  • If they wander off, just leave them be and wait for them to rejoin you when they’re feeling up for it. They’ll most likely start by sniffing and smelling your hands. Yes, regardless of where they’ve been.
  • You can begin softly petting them after they have gained confidence. Begin by massaging their sides and the base of their neck. Keep an eye out for where your dog likes being petted, probably keep their face and paws for later.

PRO TIP: Try taking your hands away for a few seconds and see if they try and get your hands to touch them again. Did they? Great! If they don’t, no worries, let them walk off. Love is like a fart anyway – if you force it, it comes out like sh*t. 

Week 2 – Training your Sprocker puppy

How did the first week of training go? We’re sure it’s been going great. Let’s get into Week 2:

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Fireworks
– Watch the world go by outside your house
– Play dress up
– Sit in the car
– Invite friends over
– Alone Training
– Crate Training
– Toilet Training
– Name – in garden
– Recall – cue word
– Fetch
– Drop
-Sit – add a cue word
– Leadwalking
– Grooming
Socialisation exercises to do this week
  • Fireworks

Fireworks can be a bit of a nightmare for some dogs (and humans). Fortunately for Sprocker puppies, they’ve often been brought up in working homes so it’s likely they’ve gotten used to  loud noises around them.

If your puppy gets upset with the sound of fireworks, check out the Sound Proof Puppy App. It’s one of our favourites for acclimating puppies to loud sounds. You can also check out our lessons in the Zigzag puppy training app – we go through some good tips on how to get your puppy used to all kinds of sounds and things like fireworks, vacuums and your loud snores.

  • Watch the world go by 

Although walks on the floor might not be on the menu for your Sprocker puppy just yet, you’ll want to start taking them out in a safe way to let them see the world. 

What to do:

  • Choose a time of day when there are people around but it is not outrageously busy.
  • Carry your puppy outdoors and let them look around at what’s going on.
  • Stay for around 10 minutes. That should be long enough for them to notice the things around them like the birds, cars, and your good-looking neighbours. 
  • Give your puppy a treat every minute or to keep them happy and comfortable.
  • Play dress up

You’ll be doing the dressing up, not your puppy. Puppies need to get used to novelty, so seeing you dressed in all kinds of ways will be part of their socialisation and habituation process.

Use something you already have at home to wear about the house like it’s no big deal — here are a few ideas, but feel free to get creative. 

  • Cycle Helmet
  • A yellow gilet or hi-viz jacket
  • Welly boots
  • Sit in the car

You want to show your puppy what wonderful world we live in, which means you’ll probably have to hop in the car every once in a while. The car can be quite scary to a Sprocker puppy: it rumbles, jolts, and the motion can make them feel a bit queasy so let’s start off nice and easy. Our article on puppy car travel will tell you everything you need to know about hitting the road.

For now, there’s no need to drive around. Just sit in the car with your puppy and give them some treats, so they simply know that good things are bound to happen in the car. 

PRO TIPS: 

Although you’re not driving yet, start thinking about how you’re going to keep your puppy safe when travelling in the car. Our puppy car carriers guide has some great options you might want to look at.

If you have to travel with your puppy already, try and have someone else there to keep an eye on them and give treats as you roll to build up positive associations to being in the car.

Training to do this week
  • Alone training – It’s worth starting with this early and building up the time your Sprocker is comfortable on their own. This week try moving from room to room while your puppy is eating and see if they can manage that. 
  • Crate training – Using a crate can be a great management tool for toilet training, alone training and sleep training. That door needs to be closed very gradually so that your puppy doesn’t get worried about being confined. Now would be a bad time for them to become claustrophobic.
  • Teach them their name in the garden

Remember before how we said being outside was going to be really distracting for Sprockers? Chances are it still is. But we still have to get them to react to their name – especially when they’re outside. This week is your chance to practise teaching them their name in the safety of your garden to get them ready for the great outdoors later on. Make yourself super exciting and cheerful so that your Sprocker actually feels like coming your way. 

PRO TIP: Let them have a good sniff around the garden before you start the training. That way they know what’s going on in their surroundings and are ready to give you their full attention when they’re done.

  • Recall training: add a cue word

Any word will do, but ‘come’ or ‘here’ are generally the preferred ones. Perhaps boring, but to the point. Whatever you pick, make sure that you stick to it since it will be the cue you’ll use for recall – to make your puppy come towards you. Remember to use plenty of treats, and even try moving away and getting your Sprocker puppy to chase you, and make it an overall fun training.  

Has your Sprocker puppy had a great time showing off how good they are at retrieving? See if you can throw their toy a bit further this time, and remember to swap it when they come back. Sprockers could play this game for hours, but try not to overdo it. Our article on how much you exercise your puppy will tell you how long they should play without going overboard. 

You’ll want to put in quite a lot of work into lead training your Sprocker spaniel. You see, once they step outside the front door they will find it really hard not to be interested in the exciting world that surrounds them. We recommend you find a nice harness and training lead as well as plenty of treats to teach them not to pull on the lead. 

PRO TIP

Start off without a lead on, in your house or back garden as they’ll be less distractions. Keep up with the treats, rewarding them for being next to you and following you round like little shadows.

Husbandry tasks to do this week

Sprocker coats don’t need a huge amount of grooming, but grooming your puppy is a lovely thing to do just for the sake of bonding. While you’re at it, you’ll also help get their coat looking shiny and neat by getting all dirt, debris and dead hair out. 

Week 3 – Training your Sprocker puppy

Week 3 already! How are you getting on with toilet training and sleep training

Don’t worry if it’s taking a little while longer than you thought. Every puppy is different and you’ll be just fine. There’s no set time in which puppies learn things; they all have a different rhythm. But you’ll both get there eventually.

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining Exercises to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Scent Trails
– Go for a drive
– Invite Friends Over
– Write a puppy socialisation checklist
– Recall – outside in the garden
– Four Paws on the floor – Not Jumping up
– Down
– Generalisation
– Alone Training
– Harness fitting
Socialisation exercises to do this week

Each week you’ll be building on the experiences that you’ve taught your Sprocker puppy about so far. It’s all a part of socialisation and habituation. 

  • Scent trails

Your Sprocker puppy will absolutely adore that Scent Trails game. It will come really easy to them and will be begging for more! 

How to Do It

  • Place your puppy outside the room or have someone hold them while you set down a trail of 10 biscuit style treats around half a metre apart.
  • Set a small pile of treats at the end of the scent trail as a jackpot.
  • Bring your Sprocker in and show them the first treat. They’ll most likely follow the rest of the scent trail on their own, looking much more like a turbo hoover than a puppy from the excitement. 
  • As your pup trots down the trail munching the treats, use a cue phrase like “Find it’’ to keep their energy up.
  • Invite friends over

You can think of inviting friends over as exercise, all about teaching your puppy that people who look different, or smell different to you are not frightening. Except you when you’ve just woken up…that look could startle anyone. 

How to do it:

Invite only one or two friends to your home at a time. More than that may overwhelm your Sprocker. Remember we talked about excited wees earlier? Don’t want that to become a thing do we?

We know it’s tempting, but make sure everyone understands not to instantly touch or cuddle your puppy. Instead, request that your guests sit on the floor and let your dog to approach them.

Allow your puppy to sniff them as they like. Fun fact, if they smell anything unpleasant, they will usually want to sniff more – so you’ll probably be able to tell which one of your friends needs a mint.

Let your friends give your puppy a treat or play a light game with them. It’s not really a bribe to get your puppy to like them…just a gentle encouragement.

PRO TIP: Invite as many different and diverse people as possible to come over in the next few weeks to ensure your puppy is comfortable meeting all types of strange appearing humans – to them. We’re not mocking your buddies, we promise. For example, think of friends with glasses, helmet-wearers, or cowboy hat enthusiasts…if you have any of those. 

  • Go for a drive with your Sprocker puppy

Make sure they’re safely buckled in and see if you can go for a drive around the block. Just a short ride is fine for now. 

PRO TIP: Lots of puppies get car sick. Sometimes it’s the motion and sometimes it’s related to stress or anxiety. Make sure your puppy has a reasonably empty tummy before you set off, a full belly will not be good for your car interior, trust us. 

  • Write a puppy socialisation checklist for your Sprocker puppy

It’s good to write down the things that you get up to in day to day life that you’ll be wanting to have your Sprocker tag along with. Here’s a few ideas for things you might want to write on your list:

  • Take your puppy on a bus/boat/train
  • Visiting a dog friendly store like a DIY or Home store.
  • Going for a walk on the beach and let them feel sand between their toes
  • Play some storm or nature sounds
Training to do this week
  • Recall: 

This week, you’ll be teaching your puppy to come when called – outside. Calling your puppy outside will be much more difficult than it was inside, you’ll find out soon enough. There’s just so much going on for your puppy (birds!) and they’ll want to take in every single bit of it.

Here’s how to teach your Sprocker puppy to come back when you call them outside!

  • Choose a quiet-ish area in your garden
  • Begin simply by calling your puppy’s name and saying “come.”
  • When they approach you, say your marker word ‘good,’ and then toss them a treat.
  • Now it’s time to make it fun. Let’s have some fun now! As your puppy approaches, take a few steps back. Take care not to run into a wall.
  • When they reach you, say the word ‘good,’ and then give them a treat.
  • Repeat this 5 times and gradually increase the distance you sprint backwards, so your puppy comes closer each time.

Teaching your Sprocker puppy not to jump up will be really important and is definitely something to pay some close attention to if you don’t want muddy paw prints on your trousers. Sprockers can sometimes feel like they have springs in their legs!

Puppies jump up for a few different reasons. Sometimes it’s excitement, and sometimes it’s because they feel overwhelmed and stressed. Keep an eye on the situations your puppy does it to see if there’s anything you can do to help. 

  • Generalisation – different locations

Teaching your Sprocker puppy to generalise will mean teaching them the same exercises but in different environments and locations. For example, getting them to sit at home, as well as at the pub and in the park. Once they’ve masted a few different behaviours like sitting or responding to their name, try it first in different areas of your house and garden. Then, try it in the park or at the ultimate challenging location: the pet store. Reward heavily, generalisation is a tough one to do! 

There’s many different reasons you might want to teach your Sprocker puppy to lie down.It’s a pretty useful skill that they pick up pretty quickly you’ll want to ace for getting them to settle when out and about. 

Read our full guide on how to teach a puppy to lie down to know the ropes. Make sure to  find a piece of non-slip vet bed and plenty of treats for this one. 

  • Alone training

Keep on building up the time you can leave your puppy alone for. Some weeks are harder than others as your puppy goes through different sensitive periods. 

This week (and for the weeks to come), your mission is to keep practising with alone training as much as you can. Even if it feels you’re not getting far, every little bit counts!

If you need support with your puppy’s separation anxiety, or you’re having problems building up alone times, download the Zigzag puppy training app and talk to one of our expert puppy coaches. They’ll give you a world of tips and tricks, and provide amazing support when you need it the most. Even emotional support at times – it’s good to have someone to get things off your chest to, we know! 

Husbandry tasks to do this week
  • Harness fitting for a puppy. You might be taking your puppy out for walks by now, how exciting! It’s a good idea to fit your Sprocker for a harness since it’s a whole lot more comfortable than walking them on just a collar.  

Check out our guide to harnesses to choose the right one for your Sprocker puppy. Something light and comfy so they don’t feel like a horse pulling on a carriage.

Here’s how to fit a harness onto your Sprocker puppy:

Get set up

  • Choose a harness that is comfortable for them. A cushioned one that does not pinch them too tightly will be ideal.
  • Adjust the harness to fit your puppy’s size. If you’re unsure, it’s always better for it to be too big rather than too little.
  • Have a bag of super yummy treats your puppy loves nearby to help them feel content.

Putting the harness on

Let your puppy make friends with the harness. After all, they will be meeting each other very often,so we want your puppy to technically think of it as a friend. When the harness shows up, they’ll link it to going on a walk so we want to make sure they create a positive association with them. 

  • Sit on the floor while holding the harness and let your puppy sniff and investigate. 
  • Drape the harness across them and give them some treats. All good? Great.
  • Encourage your puppy to put their head through the harness and praise them when they do with treats and a happy voice. They should think of the harness as a positive item that offers lots of rewards. 
  • When your dog feels comfortable with their head in the harness, gently secure it around them and reward them with a jackpot of treats. (By ‘jackpot’, we mean many!)
  • Remove the harness and practise putting it back on three times – remember to keep on praising your puppy! 

Week 4 – Training your Sprocker puppy

So. We’re halfway through this guide, but you are not nearly halfway through training your Sprocker puppy just yet. They have a lot to learn, but they’ll be great at it. Just wait! 

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Meet another dog
– Find a puppy class
– Settle on a mat
– Lead walking
– Recall games
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Grooming sensitive areas
Socialisation exercises to do this week
  • Meeting another dog

Sprockers are usually pretty friendly with other dogs. Let’s help them get into it by  introducing them to a nice calm adult dog. We’ll guide you through it in our guide here.

Do your friends have cats? Have a read of our guide on introducing a puppy to cats so it all goes smoothly next time you pop over with your Sprocker. Cats and dogs can be friends. 

Puppy socialisation classes can be a great way to train your Sprocker puppy around other dogs, so that they get to interact with them from a safe distance. Read our guide to puppy socialisation classes and find one for your Sprocker to go to. We recommend it’s taught by a trainer of one of the UK dog behaviour and training charter organisations so you can be sure the methods used will be up to date and kind. How lovely does that sound?

Training to do this week

Are you managing to fit training into your day to day routine with your puppy? If you feel like there’s not enough hours in the day, grab some treats before your puppy has their meals and squeeze in a mini training session. Doesn’t need to be so long – the Zigzag app has great ones you can do – even as you’re watching telly. 

  • Settle on a mat
  • Lead walking – you’ll need to work on this one a lot as your Sprocker puppy is going to be really strong when they’re older. Don’t underestimate their strength…you don’t want to get a surprise dislocated shoulder. 

 Use a well-fitting harness, a training lead, plenty of treats and start training in an environment which is easy for your puppy to focus in. 

  • Recall games – Play tennis with your puppy! Call a friend and place yourselves spread out at opposite sides of the garden. Have them call your puppy’s name and reward them with treats when your puppy gets there. Then you do the same, and watch your puppy sprint towards you. Then repeat…get it? It’s almost like playing tennis with your puppy acting as the ball. 

We have more training games in the Zigzag app, and in our article on 50+ training games for every scenario, there’s plenty in there to keep your Sprocker puppy entertained! 

Husbandry tasks to do this week
  • Grooming a puppy – Focus on grooming sensitive areas this week. Often this will be around your Sprocker puppy’s face and mouth. See if you can check their ears are nice and clean, as ear problems can be common in Spaniels so it’s worth keeping on top of as a regular grooming routine. 

Week 5 – Training your Sprocker puppy

In Week 5 of how to train a Sprocker puppy, we’ll be cranking the difficulty level of exercises up…including going to the pub with your puppy. Bet you can’t wait for that! 

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Go to the pub – you deserve it!
– Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist
– Alone Training
– Recall – outside using a lead
– Lead walking – outside
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Pretend nail clips
– Grooming
Socialisation exercises to do this week

Socialisation is always worth trying to fit into your day to day life. It’s always going to benefit your puppy in some way, you can trust us on that! This week we’ll encourage you to 

  • Go to the pub/dog friendly café – you deserve it! Worth calling ahead, or going somewhere you know you can sit in a quiet corner with your puppy. Prep your puppy’s bag with a nice stuffed Kong, or puzzle toy so that they have something to do while you’re enjoying a nice pine or a slice of pie. 
  • Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist – the pub or cafe may well be on here!
Training to do this week

One way of keeping things interesting is increasing difficulty which is exactly what we’re focusing on this week.

  • Alone training: Increasing time alone will be important. Although we know you want to take your puppy everywhere, the world isn’t so ready for that yet unfortunately which means they have to stay home. Our guide to puppy separation anxiety will get you through the rocky paths of alone training.
  • Recall – Start to train your Sprocker puppy outside, this will be difficult because your puppy is still very curious and motivated about all the smells and birds out there. Use a lead or a long lead to keep your puppy safe, and prevent them from running off.  You’ll be dealing with a lot of distractions, so make sure to have plenty of high-value treats, and your Sprocker puppy’s favourite toy. Do frequent recalls so that the training stays top of mind for them!
  • Lead walking – Hopefully you’ve been practising your leadwalking in an area your Sprocker isn’t too distracted. This week we’re going to try it outside! Loose lead walking can be more of a struggle when there is a lot of stimulation around, so try to make sure your Sprocker has been to the toilet or else they might just be dragging you off somewhere for a poo.
  • Push/drop/stick on known exercises – Have a read back and see where you can increase difficulty on known exercises using the Push/Drop/Stick method. 
Husbandry tasks to do this week
  • Start pretending to clip your dog’s nails – Your Sprocker probably has their dew claws which will definitely need to be clipped from time to time. Start off slowly by just pretending to do it. That way when you actually come to do it for real they will have got used to you touching their claws with the clippers and it being a rewarding experience with lots of treats!

You can read our full guide to cutting your puppy’s claws here. We also have a guide to the best nail clippers too. 

Week 6 – Training your Sprocker puppy

Week 6! Time is flying by. 

Puppy training is not all about training for obedience. Your puppy’s emotional health, socialisation and learning important Life Skills are just as important. Have a read of Zigzag’s guiding principles to understand why we train the way we do, and why we want you to train the same. 

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Tick 3 things off your personal checklist– Following on walks
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Check puppy’s mouth
Socialisation exercises to do this week
  • Tick 3 more items off your socialisation checklist. Maybe you’ll just sit on a bench in the park and watch the world go by, or have them come with you to pick up the children from school.
Training to do this week
  • Following on walks – For your puppy to be safe off-lead, we recommend you do lots of training on following you on walks. Pack the tastiest treats and your puppy’s favourite toy so you can reward them when they catch up with you. It’ll make you a lot more valuable in their eyes, which will make them want to hang around you more and be less interested in everyone else. 
  • Push/drop/stick – We don’t want a bored Sprocker Spaniel do we? Keep on raising the difficulty to keep them on their feet, but not enough so they’re struggling to stay motivated. 
Husbandry tasks to do this week
  • Start checking your puppy’s mouth and teeth. This should be a daily activity that your puppy starts to get used to, ready to get used to having their teeth brushed. 

Week 7 – Training your Sprocker puppy

Seven weeks in. If your Sprocker puppy could say thank you, they definitely would for all the wonderful training you’re giving them. For now, you’ll have to settle for their lovely, enthusiastic tail wags.

Here’s what we’ll do this week:

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Puppy Parkour
– Tick 3 things off your personal checklist
– Wait
– Walk with a friend’s dog
– Recall – off the lead
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Pretend ear drops
Socialisation exercises to do this week

Puppies are always learning about the world around them. Here’s some suggestions of new things you can show and teach them: 

  • Have a go at puppy agility – although proper agility should be reserved until your puppy is old enough to be safely jumping, you can start puppy agility and learn the foundations when they’re still young. 
  • Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist – Maybe you could take your puppy for a swimming lesson? Or let them watch the cricket at the local village green?
Training to do this week
  • Teach your Sprocker puppy to stay – You’ll soon find out that Sprockers aren’t ‘great’ at staying still, but they can definitely be taught, don’t worry. A stay is a nice static position for a Sprocker to learn from and will come in handy for lots of different situations.
  • Go for a walk with a friend’s dog: We know you can’t wait to go on days out with friends, so let’s try going on a stroll with just one dog to begin with. 

It will help your puppy not to be so overwhelmed by too many people and dogs, and also give you a chance to concentrate on actually enjoying a friendly conversation with your friend. Make sure you’re also able to juggle rewarding your puppy and getting some training in there at the same time!

  • Recall – off the lead. Doesn’t that sound nerve-wracking. We know, it feels a bit scary but you have to start somewhere right? You’re better off letting your puppy off-lead once they’ve had some training but while they’re still young; now is a sweet spot for training this – just before they turn into hormonal teenagers full of confidence and not wanting to listen to us. Build a history of lots of rewards for staying close by and coming back when you call them.
  • Push/drop/stick on known exercises. You know how this works by now – don’t forget to check their progress every week.
Husbandry tasks to do this week

Pretend ear drops – Those floppy, thick furred ears can hide all kinds of things inside them, so it’s worth keeping them nice and clean! You’ll possibly want to trim or cut the hair, but you’ll definitely want to use an ear cleaner. This exercise is all about repetition. 

Here’s how you do it:

  • Have a handful of treats and start by just lifting your puppy’s ear and then giving them a treat. Repeat 5 times.
  • Then, show them the bottle of ear drops (lid on) and give them a treat and again, repeat 5 times.
  • Lift the ear and pretend to put drops in and give them a treat. And yes, repeat 5 times. 

We’re not actually putting any ear drops in, we’re just teaching them that we’re going to do stuff to their ears and they’re going to get treats for it. Simple as that. 

If your puppy is itching their ears already, check out our article on puppy scratching ears for advice.

Week 8 – Training your Sprocker puppy

It’s the last week of our guide to training your Sprocker puppy, but training isn’t over, nope! Let’s get your Sprocker to learn some new exercises, and show you how clever they are at scent work.

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Joggers and Cyclists
– Tick 3 things off your personal checklist
– Practice exercises in different locations
– Teach a hand target
– Introduce nose work
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Nail trims
Socialisation exercises to do this week

Don’t forget to teach your Sprocker that they will experience many new things in their lifetime and that this can often be made smoother with food, and rewards in general.

  • Joggers and Cyclists – These guys are fun to chase, but not so fun if you’re on the receiving end of a Sprocker at your heels. Teach your puppy to be calm around them by giving them lots of praise, rewarding them for staying chilled or focussed on you and if it’s all too much then use a long line to keep them safe.
  • Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist – Keep on going with showing them new places and teaching your Sprocker all about the world. 
Training to do this week

Let’s teach our Sprocker some new things in this final week of training a Sprocker puppy, shall we? 

If you’re looking to do more with your puppy, we’ve got plenty more to do at the Zigzag puppy training app. You’ll never run out of options – trust us, we’ve written everything down. 

  • Practice exercises in different locations – Generalisation needs to be kept up. It really needs lots of practice, it will be challenging but rewarding in the end .Think about Sprocker friendly places you could be visiting like garden centres, the dog park or larger parks with plenty of distractions in them like other dogs, people, ducks and ponds. 
  • Teach a hand target  – The hand target exercise is one that dogs generally love. 

It’s a firm favourite for many dog trainers too, as it can help to give your Sprocker direction and encourages the dog to really think about what got them their reward.

  • Introducing nose work to your puppy – Teach your Sprocker to find a hidden toy, get them to sniff out chamomile tea, or do a sniffy intelligence game. Whichever type of nosework you choose to do with your Sprocker puppy, we would put money on them surprising you at how good they are! 
Husbandry tasks to do this week

Trim your Sprocker puppy’s claws – This week we’ll be trimming the claws for real. Make sure you’ve got the right nail clippers for your Sprocker puppy and read our full guide to cutting your puppy’s nails to be fully prepared.

What’s next for your Sprocker puppy?

You could do so many things with your Sprocker puppy. Of course, you’ve probably seen them as police detection dogs and that’s because their nose is really quite a wonder. Now, you might not quite be ready to join Border Force, but why not try a scentwork club local to you? Yes, these kinds of things exist. 

You’ve made it to the end! Looking for more puppy training tips? The 50+ training games for every scenario might be a good one to follow up on.

Why not take a look at some of the other training you can do with your Sprocker puppy in the Zigzag puppy training app? You’ll find more in-depth training, games and socialisation advice – access to a team of puppy coaches to help you every step of the way. They’re awfully friendly too.