How to manage your Cocker Spaniel's barking

Cocker Spaniel

Dogs bark! It’s natural for them to bark and is a trait of a Cocker Spaniel.

Yes, it can be annoying. Yes, it can be disruptive if your spaniel barks incessantly.

Some spaniels bark a lot, while others tend not to bark or only bark in particular circumstances. It all depends on the dog, its background and its upbringing. There’s certainly not a one rule fits all when it comes to a Spaniel’s barking.

But, it’s not always bad, and there are some simple things you can do to help or at least manage your Spaniel’s barking.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • What causes a Spaniel to bark
  • What situations make them bark
  • How to manage their barking
  • And, lots more…

Why do Cocker Spaniels Bark?

Dogs bark, it’s a natural thing for them to do. But barking excessively or, worst still, constantly can become an issue or simply be draining for you as an owner. 

Each individual Spaniel will display different behaviour towards barking, some make a lot of noise, and others only bark in certain circumstances. But, it is likely that your Spaniel will bark for one or more of the following reasons.

Attention Seeking

Cocker Spaniels, above pretty much all other dog breeds, need human interaction. They are people pleasers and want nothing more than to spend time with you…and to have your undivided attention.

This can often manifest itself in them simply barking to get your attention because they want to play and for you to occupy them

There are also a number of practical reasons why they bark, which in this instance is their way of communicating. As an example, they might need to go to the toilet or see a bird or squirrel in the garden.

Ultimately, one of the most common reasons for barking is they want your attention or are needing to communicate something with you. 

Territorial Barking

Territorial barking can present itself in many different ways. 

For our Cocker Spaniel, she barks when she hears the Postman’s van getting near. She knows it’s the postman and regardless of the time of day and barks until we open the door and she can give him a cuddle. Our postman loves a cuddle by the way!

Whilst not as routine, she does the same when other delivery drivers pull up outside the house. It’s simply her making sure they know that this is her house.

Other dogs might bark when neighbours walk past the house, or when other dogs are close by. There’s likely to be a pattern as most dogs will habitually bark to let others know that they live “here”.

Barking with Other Dogs

If you’re dog struggles being with other dogs or hasn’t been properly socialised they often find meeting other dogs stressful or exciting and continually bark. Whilst this isn’t necessarily abnormal it can be annoying and, dare I say it, embarrassing for you as an owner.

The more time your Spaniel can spend with other dogs in its formative months, the better it will be around other dogs and the less it will (hopefully!) bark.

In addition, to barking when with dogs, there will be occasions when your dog hears other dogs barking in the area and will join in with the dog chorus. In our experience, this “chorus” only lasts a few minutes and will peter out soon enough.

Again, you could argue that this is “territorial” barking and that your dog is simply communicating with other dogs in the area. We’ve all seen 101 Dalmations, right..?

Boredom and/or Loneliness

If your dog is bored or lonely barking could be the start of more disruptive behaviour. Barking will be the start of them seeking to get your attention, but if not dealt with, could result in the more disruptive behaviour traits of chewing.

Separation Anxiety

Cocker Spaniels are prone to suffering from separation anxiety. They love being around people and can struggle if they are regularly left alone or are on their own for long periods of time.So, whilst it’s not always easy to tell if your Spaniel is barking whilst in the house on their own, you should check with a number or, better still, install a dog monitor or indoor camera.

How to Stop a Cocker Spaniel Barking

This is the million-dollar question and I can almost guarantee that it won’t be a one-size fits all scenario. You will need to apply multiple tactics and implement a trial-and-error policy. But, with some time, effort and focus you certainly can manage your Spaniel’s barking.

Ignore them

This is probably the most difficult tactic and will take an extreme amount of willpower if you have a very barky dog. And, it might not work…

The premise of this tactic is that the dog thinks it will get what it wants, ie your attention if it barks. Your reaction of ignoring the noise and only offering attention to your dog when the barking stops is rewarding the behaviour of not barking.

It won’t work overnight and will require lots or perseverance.

Make sure they’re socialised

One of the main underlying reasons why dogs bark is due to a change in their environment. They might be meeting a new dog, or a new delivery driver is dropping off a delivery. All these things can have an impact on their ability to deal with certain situations.

One of the best ways to prevent them from barking and to give them the ability to deal with these different situations is to expose them to different environments, other dogs and different people as early as you can. The younger they are (post 8 weeks and their immunisations, obviously) the more able they are to cope and, hopefully, not present barking behaviour.

So, start early and certainly in their formative months. Get them to meet other dogs at your local park and open the door to delivery drivers with you. It will really help! 

Keep them Occupied

Cocker Spaniels need to be occupied and kept busy. If you spend time with them, play with them and generally pay them the attention they will bark less. There are numerous games and activities you can do with your dog to keep them busy and, importantly, tire them out both physically and mentally:

The games you can play with your dog to keep them occupied, include:

  • Throw and Fetch
  • Tug-of-War
  • Hide and Seek. This is a great one to include all the family
  • Plush Toys
  • Interactive Toys

I promise, occupying your dog’s body and mind with some of these games and plenty of toys will have a big and positive impact on their barking.

Final Thoughts

All dogs bark and Cocker Spaniels are no exception. Barking is a natural thing for dogs to do, but, in certain cases can become a problem for you as an owner.

However, there are ways in which barking can be managed to give you and your dog a happier, healthier life.

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