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Are Cocker Spaniels Smart? Signature Traits & Training

Adam Mann

By Adam Mann

cocker spaniel standing on the grass

When you’re around a Cocker Spaniel, it doesn’t take long to realize how smart they are. But not only are they brilliant dogs, but Cocker Spaniels are also extremely obedient.

This means if you get a Cocker Spaniel, it won’t take you long to train them to follow a wide array of commands. But just how smart is a Cocker Spaniel, and how can you train them? We’ll answer those questions and more for you here!

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Are Cocker Spaniels Smart?

Yes! While Cocker Spaniels aren’t the absolute smartest dog breeds on the planet, they’re near the top of the list. According to the Coren Dog Intelligence Scale, both the English and the American Cocker Spaniel scored in the top 30. Since there are 208 dogs on the list, the Cocker Spaniel is one of the most intelligent dog breeds.

Not only that, but compared to the average dog, the Cocker Spaniel can learn a new task twice as fast. Just keep in mind that while Coren’s Dog Intelligence Scale is the best way we have to measure a dog’s intelligence, it’s an obedience test.

So, just because a dog scores poorly on this test doesn’t mean they’re stupid; they could just be stubborn. But what we do know is that the Cocker Spaniel isn’t stupid, and they’re comparatively easier to train than other breeds.

english cocker spaniel on green grass
Image Credit: andriano.cz, Shutterstock

Other Signature Cocker Spaniel Traits

Outside of their high intelligence, one of the signature traits of the Cocker Spaniel is their happy-go-lucky demeanor. They usually get along great with kids of all ages and other pets in the home, and they’re often used as therapy dogs.

Another classic trait of the Cocker Spaniel is their energy levels. These are hunting dogs at their core, and they have a relentless drive that you won’t be able to wear down.

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Tips for Training Your Cocker Spaniel

If you’re trying to teach your dog new tricks, no matter how smart they are, there are a few tips and tricks you’ll need to follow.

1. Stay Consistent

One of the most important things you can do when training any dog is to stay consistent with your training. This lets your dog know what to expect and gives them more time to soak in different concepts.

Aim for one or two training sessions each day, and each training session should only last between 10 to 15 minutes for maximum effectiveness.

black and tan cocker spaniel
Image Credit: Katrina_S, Pixabay

2. Stay Positive

You need to avoid negative reinforcement when training your dog, and positive reinforcement will give you the best possible results. Extra praise, pats on the head, and even treats are all the way to go. If you feel yourself getting frustrated because your dog isn’t doing what they should, take a break.

A brief moment of frustration will set you back and make it harder for you in the long run.

3. Use Treats

While praise is a strong motivating factor for a Cocker Spaniel, treats take things up a notch. Pick their favorite treats, then only give them to your Cocker Spaniel while training. Don’t overdo it with the treats, though, and slowly wean them off during the training process.

cocker spaniel having treat
Image Credit: O_Lypa, Shutterstock

4. Start Early

The earlier you can start training in your Cocker Spaniel’s life, the easier it will be. While we don’t believe in the mantra that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, they tend to get stuck in their ways. If you can start them as a puppy, it’s much easier, so don’t wait too long before you start training them.

5. Eliminate Distractions

When you’re training your Cocker Spaniel, you want to do everything you can to eliminate the distractions around them. If they can’t keep their attention on you, they won’t be able to figure out what you’re teaching them. Try to find a quiet area free from distractions for the best possible results.

cocker spaniel with ticking pattern
Image Credit: Lukas Gojda, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

If you want a smart dog, the Cocker Spaniel certainly fits the bill. They’re not quite the smartest dog breed in the world, but they’re not far behind! They’re smarter than your average pup for sure, and it’ll only take you a few training sessions to realize just how smart these dogs are.

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Featured Image Credit: Shirebrook Photography, Shutterstock

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