How Much Exercise Does a Cocker Spaniel Need? + 5 Ways to Exercise your Dog

June 20, 2022

Cocker Spaniels are known for having boundless energy and are always ready to play. To stay happy and healthy Cockers need a blend of physical activity and mental stimulation.

There are many ways you can meet your dogs needs. Most dog owners opt for a blend of walks, throwing the ball in the park, and dog puzzles. There are many ways you can keep your Cocker Spaniel in good shape.

But how much is enough? And how much is too much?

In this article we will answer these important questions many dog owners have wondered in the past. If this piques your interest read on.

As a bonus we will also cover six ways your can mix up your Cocker Spaniels exercise routine.

How Much Exercise Does an Adult Cocker Spaniel Need?

A Cocker Spaniel needs around 45-90 minutes of physical activity per day. This can be broken up throughout the day depending on your schedule.

Where your dog sits on this scale will depend on quite a few factors. The main ones which can influence it are age, health, and the type of Cocker Spaniel.

When it comes to age puppies, adult Cocker Spaniels, and senior dogs all have different physical needs. Puppies and senior dogs both need to have less exercise than adult dogs.

Health conditions can also impact the level of activity your Cocker is capable of. This will vary widely depending on what is wrong. If you feel a health condition could impact what your Cocker should do book an appointment with your vet.

When I talk about the type what I'm referring to is if you have an English or American Cocker Spaniel. Working or show Cockers also have different needs.

Lets look at each of these in more detail.

How Much Exercise Does a Cocker Spaniel Puppy Need?

The main consideration around puppies and exercise is that their bodies are still growing. This means that their bones, joints, and muscles are all still developing. If you do too much you risk causing long term health problems and hinder growth.

But how do you know if you are doing too much for a small dog?

For any Cocker Spaniel under one year old you should give five minutes of exercise for every month old they are. So for a three month old dog this will be 15 minutes, and a six month old 30, for example.

It won't be too surprising to learn that this method is known as the 5-minute method. Simple, yet very effective.

Offering a progressive approach to your puppies exercise it does a great job of ensuring you don't strain your dog while they are still developing. I know how tempting it can be to take your dog on a long walk on a nice summers day. You will just have to hold off for now.

Keep in mind that playing indoors counts here too. If you are making your pup run around for hours on end this can also cause harm. Just take it easy for the first few months. It flies past quicker than you would think!

If your puppy is under three months old they will not have had all of their vaccinations yet. You will need to be cautious taking them outside at this point for their own safety.

Follow this advice until your Cocker Spaniel is around 12-18 months old.

How Much Exercise Does a Senior Cocker Spaniel Need

Once your Cocker is classed as a senior dog they will need to ease off the physical activity a little. For medium dog breeds this is around 8-9 years old.

As dogs age their energy levels drop. I know with Cocker Spaniels this statement could confuse some owners as no matter their age all Cockers unleash their inner puppy at times. It is one of the best parts of this breed. Their playful natures.

Senior Cocker Spaniels still need to remain reasonably active, just not to the same level as adults dogs do. Exercise still plays an important role in the health of older dogs. Keeping your dogs muscles and joints mobile and managing their weight can keep your Cocker active well into their teens.

One thing to remember is that the exercise they do has to be at a slower pace and reduced duration. Senior dog exercise is all about preservation of their health.

It's time to trade in running with your Cocker Spaniel for a casual walk in the park. Swimming is another way you can get an older dog safely exercising.

Aim for around 30-45 minutes a day. Their changing needs are also reflected in their diets too.

As they age dogs can pick up a few physical conditions which could inhibit their ability to exercise. If you have any concerns or doubts about how much your dog should do speak to your vet.

What if my Cocker Spaniel has Health Conditions?

Cocker Spaniels of any age can be afflicted by health conditions that might influence the about of exercise the can do.

This could be joint problems from doing too much as a puppy or a wide range of other conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or infections to name a few.

You will need to speak with your vet if your dog has be diagnosed with any of these conditions to understand what level of physical activity they should be doing.

English Cocker Spaniel Exercise Needs vs American Cocker Spaniel

Although they are both Cocker Spaniels the English and American variations of the breed do have slightly different physical needs.

A lot of this stems from what they were bred for. As English Cocker Spaniels were bred for hunting they have greater energy levels and a higher prey drive. This means they need more physical activity to stay in shape and satisfied.

By contrast, the American Cocker Spaniel was mainly bred for companionship and need a bit less.

Aim for 60 minutes of exercise per day for a healthy adult English Cocker and 45 minutes for an American Cocker.

Working Cocker Spaniel Exercise Needs vs Show Cocker Spaniel

Working Cocker Spaniels are the most energetic and physical or all Cocker Spaniel variations. These guys are capable of longer hikes and or swims and are intended to help on shooting fields to flush out game.

Given how active their lives are it will come as no surprise that they need the most intense workout.

If you have a Working Cocker you should aim to exercise them for around 90 minutes a day.

What Can Impact the Level of Exercise my Cocker Spaniel Needs?

As we have discussed in the previous sections there are many factors to consider when creating your Cocker Spaniels exercise schedule. From young pups still developing to older dogs who need a bit more care, there are many points to consider.

It is important to ensure that your dog is getting the correct level of activity to match their needs and capacities.

Making Sure your Cocker Spaniel has Enough Mental Stimulation

Much of the article so far has focused on the physical side of a dogs exercise. However, mental stimulation is just as important to satisfy your dogs needs.

If you don't manage to scratch this itch your Cocker Spaniel may start to misbehave.

This can take many forms such as destructive behaviour like chewing, ripping up papers left lying around, or any other mischief they can get into.

At times this behaviour is just labelled as a badly behaved dog but this is often just that they are not feeling mentally challenged. A dog who doesn't feel cognitively engaged is very likely to act out.

The good news is that this is easily remedied.

How to Give your Cocker Spaniel Mental Stimulation?

There are a range of options at your disposal for stimulating your dog mentally.

This includes dog puzzles that make your dog think (usually in the pursuit of food, snuffle mats that engage their senses and get those hunting noses working, or even just hiding a toy in the house and letting your Cocker Spaniel hunt it down.

Signs your Cocker Spaniel is Doing Too Much Exercise

At this point you'll understand that your Cocker can easily do too much. And it can be easily done. It's not like we are heading out with a timer on.

So, with that in mind how can you recognise when your dog has had enough and needs to rest. This is more likely to become apparent when doing more intense exercise like running or some of the more extreme dog sports.

Doing too much can lead to muscle damage, damaged paws, or joint injuries.

If we take running as an example your Cocker will often try to keep up with you. Even if they are not feeling up to it. This is where being able to identify the signs they've done to much can be really handy.

Here are the signs to watch out for:

  • Excessive panting
  • Extreme thirst
  • Slower pace
  • Lying down

Ideas on How to Exercise your Cocker Spaniel

There are many ways your can give your Cocker Spaniel a good workout. Here are our top give tips.


Walking is a staple of any dogs exercise regime. This could be just talking a walk in the park, at the beach, trails close to home, or exploring further afield. It is nice to vary things up a bit from time to time.

If you are heading to the park you could also take ball with you and play fetch at the same time. Also a great way to get a workout.


Taking your dog swimming is another great way to give your dog a workout. It provides a good cardio workout as well as is a nice way to cool your dog down on a hot day.

It is also joint friendly as the water takes your dogs weight making it a good choice for any Cocker Spaniels with joint problems.

Try to plan this in advance though as if your Cocker Spaniel has a longer coat and gets in the water they'll need a towel or two on hand to dry their coats. The last thing you will want is a wet dog in the back of your car.

Cocker Spaniels love swimming so this activity will be a big hit with your dog.

Agility Training

Agility training is a brilliant way to keep your Cocker in good shape and mentally engage your dog at the same time.

This activity strengthens their muscles, improves their coordination, helps keep their minds sharp with constant decision making, and

Search online for agility training in your local area. There is sure to be something nearby.

More Extreme Dog Sports

If you are a very active person yourself you may consider one of the more extreme dog sports. A few options here include Bikejoring which is biking with your dog, Skijoring which is skiing with your dog, or Canicross which is cross country running with a dog.

Mental Games

Create situations where you Cocker has to think to get a result. This could be saving a portion of their food for a snuffle matt, or in one of the more complex toys. Saving part of their meal is a great way not to overfeed your dog with too many treats.

You could also spend time teaching your dog new tricks, as long as there is food involved you have their undivided attention.

My personal favourite is to show my Cocker a toy and ask her to stay then hide the toy somewhere else in the house or out in the garden. After its safely hidden I tell her to go and she hunts it down.

Cocker Spaniels love this as it feeds into that hunting dogs history that is in their genes.


All Cocker Spaniels need a good workout on a daily basis. However, the amount does vary depending on several factors.

For instance, Cocker Spaniel puppies of course need less exercise given they are still growing. Ease into that to avoid any harm coming to them.

Try to keep in mind the advice laid out above and you will ensure your Cocker Spaniel who has their mental and physical needs well taken care of.

Allan  Noble
Hi, my name is Allan! I am the owner of Spaniel Advisor and I've got over seven years experience of owning Spaniels.  
I hope this article was helpful for you! 
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