Before the Labrador and Golden Retriever set the modern bar for the “great with kids” family pet, no breed was more popular or beloved than the Cocker Spaniel. Their popularity reached sky-high after the release of the Disney classic Lady and the Tramp.
Nothing pleases these dogs more than when they are pleasing you. Cocker Spaniels are as happy to snuggle on the couch with their favorite humans as they are to romp around the yard with the kids.
However, if the scenario in which a Cocker Spaniel unexpectedly starts barking and you almost spit out a mouthful of coffee sounds familiar, don’t worry. You are not alone.
But, why is this? Why do Cocker Spaniels bark a lot more than most other dog breeds?
Cocker Spaniel dogs bark a lot because barking is a natural response. It is usually a warning or their reaction to a certain situation.
Somebody ringing the doorbell, knocking on the front door, the telephone ringing, and other similar noises are all things that can trigger a Cocker Spaniel barking.
In this article, we offer you more detailed answers to this topic as well as how to stop the barking, or at least reduce it to more appropriate levels.
Modern Cockers descended from the Spaniel family, and it is generally believed that they originated in Spain.
By the 1800s, Spaniels were divided into two groups: gun dogs (used for hunting) and toy dogs (who were primarily companions). The Cocker Spaniels got their name for their excellence in the field hunting woodcock.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in 1885. The first Cocker to be recognized was Brush II.
Today, this breed still makes for excellent sporting dogs and watchdogs.
Why do Cocker Spaniels bark so much?
All canines bark; it is a fact of life. Not only will some canines bark more than others, but some breeds are naturally more prone to barking than others. And, the sweet Cocker Spaniel is one of the most notorious barkers around, despite its lovely temperament.
So, why do Cocker Spaniels bark a lot? As we’ve mentioned above, a dog’s bark is its way of communicating. It is your pup’s way of letting you know things. That is the answer, plain and simple.
However, we are sure that you will agree that it is rather annoying when their way of communicating reaches excessive barking levels. At these times, your doggie seems to bark at anything and everything and for no reason at all.
Have you ever noticed that your pup, or maybe your friend’s pup, is capable of producing different-sounding barks?
For instance, some dog owners report that their dogs have their usual typical bark either when they are playing in the garden with a toy or if the doorbell rings and it gets excited to see who came to visit.
But, the same owners state that their dogs have a more aggressive-sounding bark if they bump into strange dogs when they are out walking that aren’t too friendly towards it.
This is a more rough-sounding bark, almost with a bit of a growl in it. It comes with a threatening tone towards the incoming ‘danger.’
Hopefully, you get what we mean by different-sounding barks, so we can continue on with our ‘why do cocker spaniels bark a lot’ guide…
A Cocker Spaniel will continue to bark a lot for the rest of its life if you don’t step up and get it under control. The first step you should take is to try and understand what makes your dog bark.
So, why do Spaniels bark a lot?
We won’t lie to you here. There are numerous reasons for your dog’s barking, and we will explore the most common ones below in no particular order.
• Attention seeking: Every dog loves attention, but none more so than a Cocker Spaniel. Actually, this goes for any Spaniel.
Does your dog bark when it wants to play or go for a walk? Maybe it is just letting you know that it is time for its toilet break?
Or, if your pup is like most Cocker Spaniels, it barks when it wants to jump up on the couch next to you, but there is no room… Well, guess what, he or she will jump anyway.
• Poor socialization: This is probably the most common cause of dogs barking. The best thing you can do with a new puppy is to get it around other humans and especially other dogs early in its life.
For example, group puppy training classes are an ideal place to start. We know it can be rather difficult to get your puppy to listen when there are so many new friends distracting it, but it will pay off in the long run.
Photo from: @nellyandruby___
• Loneliness or boredom: We touched on boredom a bit earlier when we suggested that your dog may bark when it just wants to play.
However, if your neighbors tell you that your pup is barking when you are not home, or you can hear it barking when you come back, your poor pup may simply be lonely.
• Separation anxiety: This sort of falls into the same category as loneliness above, but it is a more serious thing. Usually, a pup that suffers from separation anxiety will start barking the moment it is left alone. And destructive behavior is typically sure to follow.
• Other dogs are barking: This is perhaps the most annoying one for all dog owners, dog lovers, and the tiny percentage of humans that don’t fall into either category. The second your CS hears another dog bark, he goes off barking like mad, often breaking out into a howl. It might be kinda cute and quite funny at first, but it quickly wears off.
• Territorial barking: This is more common than you might think. Territorial barking is just that a dog barks when another dog or human it doesn’t know approaches its territory.
Usually, this is the back or front garden. If a stranger enters your pup’s territory, and you have a territorial barker beneath your feet, find your earplugs because you are in for a loud time.
How to stop the barking
Ah, the holy grail of answers… In all honesty, you probably don’t want to stop your pooch from barking entirely. It needs to somehow tell you what it’s feeling, right?
We’ve already answered the question, “do Cocker Spaniels bark a lot?” So, let’s take a look at the situations we listed above and see how you can go about stopping your dog from barking in each one.
Is your dog barking when the doorbell rings?
Do Cocker Spaniels bark a lot when they hear the doorbell? Of course, they do.
This type of barking usually boils down to two things: Your dog is either very excited to see who is coming to visit, or it is the result of poor socialization.
Well, it can be one more thing… Your dog knows that somebody unfamiliar is entering its domain. So, this doorbell ringing can also fall into the territorial barking category.
But, what is the solution, you ask?
Well, as we already mentioned earlier, getting your Cocker Spaniel puppy socialized with other dogs and humans from an early age will go a long way in sorting out this type of barking problem.
If you have a young pupper on your hands, enrolling it in group puppy training classes should do the trick. But, if your pooch is an older dog, correcting this problem might be a bit more difficult and require a lot more time.
Note: Some people like that their dog barks in these situations as they can act as a deterrent towards potential burglars. But, it is really not recommended to keep letting your pup bark this way.
Is your Cocker Spaniel barking for attention?
To find out why do Cocker Spaniels bark a lot more than some other breeds? the first thing you should look for is the signs of attention barking.
The easiest way to figure out if your dog is attention-seeking with its barking is by its behavior. What we mean by this is, when your pup is barking, is it followed by lying down or rolling on its back?
Does it look like it is alert and ready to run, jump, and play the same way it does when playing fetch with it? If this sounds rather familiar, then yes, your pup barking, in this case, is definitely attention-seeking.
In this case, whatever you do, you should not acknowledge that your pooch is behaving this way. Try to completely ignore it, and do not give in under any circumstances.
In most cases of barking for attention, a dog will give in after some time or at least go quiet for a period of time.
The next step towards perpetual blissful silence, once your pup has been quiet for a little while, is to call it to you but have it sit and pay attention to you.
If it had a toy when it started barking, it obviously wanted you to play. So, make sure you play with your dog using that toy.
The main goal behind this is to not give in and pay it attention whenever it wants. It will just send your dog the wrong signals, and it will think that all it has to do to get its own way is to persistently bark at you.
If you keep doing these two things – ignoring your dog when it barks, and calling it when it is quiet – your furry companion will quickly learn that barking doesn’t lead to what it wants.
This is probably the hardest type of barking to correct, according to our research. According to many forums and Facebook groups, this is the biggest problem among Cocker Spaniel owners.
Basically, territorial barking is when your pooch feels threatened by other people or dogs near his territory.
Usually, if a Cocker Spaniel is in the front part of the yard and people walk past or its mortal enemy the postman is trying to do his job, you can expect the dog to bark away like mad.
This type of barking can also happen when you are out for a walk. The territory your pooch is protecting is you, his owner, his whole life, really. This problem is magnified if your pup also has poor social skills.
What is the solution for territorial barking?
Well, a great tip to stop the barking, at least when the postman arrives, is to leave some treats for the dog on the gate so that he can throw a few of them to your pup. Some owners report that this trick works really well.
However, if you live in a country where it rains a lot, and often, your dog will probably not be outside when the postman arrives. The result might be that your dog will bark even more because it is missing its treats.
Your dog is lonely and bored
This is one more very common problem when it comes to barking. Most of us have lives that involve going to work and, as a result, our beloved canines are often forced to spend many hours on their own.
The thing about Cocker Spaniels is that most of them will start barking from almost the second their owners leave the house. It is truly heartbreaking.
These small dogs have a lot, and we do mean a lot of energy. Take your pup out for a very long walk before you head off to work. Make sure it is fully exercised and tired before you have to leave him alone in the house.
By doing this, you give your pup the best chance of settling and resting before it eventually starts getting bored.
Also, make sure it has its favorite blanket and a selection of toys, so not only is he comfortable, but he can also have a good play and chew whenever he gets the urge.
If you can go home on your lunch break, wait until just before you are about to leave again before you feed your pooch.
After eating a meal, most pups will make a trip to the bathroom and then settle down to sleep off their lunch. This is ideal if it is going to be left alone.
Cocker Spaniel health and lifespan
Why do cocker spaniels bark a lot can sometimes be linked to their health. It might be a way your pup is telling you something is wrong. So, let’s take a look at the most common problems this breed faces.
Cocker Spaniels are generally healthy, but, like all other dog breeds, they are prone to certain diseases and conditions. If provided with care, affection, and high-quality dog food, these doggies can have a life expectancy of twelve to fifteen years.
• Eye problems: These problems can strike a Cocker in several ways, including progressive retinal atrophy, a disease of the retinal cells that progresses to blindness; cataracts, a cloudy layer that forms over the eye; glaucoma, an ailment in which pressure builds up inside of the dog’s eyeball; and eye abnormalities or deformities. If you notice any redness in your dog’s eyes, or if it starts rubbing its face a lot, take it to your vet for a checkup.
• Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA): This is a health problem in which a pup’s immune system attacks its own blood cells. Symptoms include fatigue, jaundice, and pale gums. A swollen stomach is also an indicator as it signals an enlarged liver. Most affected dogs of this breed do well with treatment, but they should not be bred.
• Hypothyroidism: This is a disorder of the thyroid gland that is thought to cause health issues such as epilepsy, obesity, lethargy, hair loss, dark patches on the skin, and other skin conditions. It is treated through diet and medication.
• Primary seborrhea: This is a skin problem caused by the overproduction of skin cells, including sebaceous cells. The dog’s skin becomes greasy and scaly and has a foul odor. Treatment includes medication and medicated baths.
• Idiopathic epilepsy: Often an inherited condition, it causes mild or severe seizures. But, you should know that seizures can be caused by many things other than idiopathic epilepsy, such as infectious diseases, metabolic disorders, tumors, exposure to poisons, head injuries, and more. Therefore, if your pup is experiencing seizures, it is important to take it to the vet as soon as possible.
• Hip dysplasia: With this health condition, the femur bone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip socket and can cause pain and lameness. Canines diagnosed with hip dysplasia should not be bred. If you are buying a Cocker Spaniel puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the pup’s parents have been tested for this condition and are free of problems.
• Patellar luxation: Patellar luxation involves the dislocation of the kneecap. With this health issue, the knee joint slides in and out of place, causing severe pain.
• Ear infections: Cocker Spaniels are prone to all sorts of ear infections because of their long ears.
Do Cocker Spaniels shed a lot?
Well, this depends on the types of Cocker Spaniels you are thinking of. You probably already know this, but there are two types of Cocker Spaniels:
• The English Cocker Spaniel
• The American Cocker Spaniel
In terms of personality, the two breeds are similar. However, in terms of physical build and coat, they are quite different.
English Cockers are a bit shorter with longer necks. They also have a longer snout and sport a shorter coat. The American variety, on the other hand, is a bit taller with shorter necks, shorter snouts, and long coats.
If you are wondering whether or not these dogs are hypoallergenic, the answer is definitely no. Even though English Cockers shed less hair than American ones, they both produce allergens.
Cocker Spaniels have a double coat. The undercoat is dense and provides protection from water, wind, and cold. The outer coat has a smooth or rough texture and is longer than the undercoat.
These pups blow their coats twice a year. You can expect these heavy shedding periods during spring and fall. The increase and decrease in daylight hours result in a hormonal shift in your pup, leading to increased shedding.
To keep their silky coats free of mats and tangles, Cocker Spaniels require weekly brushing and combing. Also, their coats require clipping and trimming every two to three months. And, if you keep their coats really short, they are much easier to care for.
The best thing you can do is take your pup to a professional groomer. They are professionals for a reason and will take good care of your dog’s coat. They also know how to clean their ears and trim their nails, so you don’t have to worry about it.
Cocker Spaniel training
To figure out why do Cocker Spaniels bark a lot more than you might expect? sometimes you should turn to their physical and mental needs.
Cocker Spaniels enjoy the physical and mental stimulation they get from obedience training. It is a great opportunity to spend time with your furry friend and begin the bonding process.
Puppy training classes are excellent for the dog training and socialization that Cocker Spaniels need. Your pup should learn the basic commands such as sit, come, stay, down, and heel.
These commands will do wonders in keeping your dog safe and in check in many situations. Fortunately, Cocker Spaniel puppies are very easy to train.
However, like all dogs, Cockers are creatures of habit and thrive on routines. Try to develop a consistent and structured dog training plan that will make your pup feel secure.
Once your pooch is used to the routine, try to mix in different training methods to prevent it from becoming bored.
Also, keep in mind that adult dogs are much more difficult to train and handle, so make sure you start teaching your pup from an early age!
Cocker Spaniel highlights
• Since Cockers are very popular, you should carefully research breeders to find one that is dedicated to improving the breed.
• These sensitive family dogs can be a bit nervous, even when they are from a good breeder. So, don’t be surprised if your pooch exhibits submissive urination (peeing when excited).
• As we’ve seen in this article, Cockers can be quite the barkers, so the response to a “quiet” command should be among the most important things you teach your pup.
• These pups are eager to please and enjoy being close to their family. But, keep in mind they were bred to be hunting dogs, and don’t be surprised when they chase birds or other small animals. This is why you should always keep your Cocker on a leash whenever you are not in a fenced area.
• Cockers have a delicate personality. Harsh training methods will make them fearful, so try to use gentle training and positive reinforcement with lots of pets and praises.
• Their long ears are both a part of their beauty and a potential health problem. Check your pup’s ears every week for infections, clean them thoroughly, and it should be just fine.
• Keeping your Cocker’s coat beautiful and healthy is expensive and a lot of work. Plan on brushing its coat every day and paying for a professional groomer every two to three months.
Do Cocker Spaniels bark? Final thoughts
As you might have deduced, if you have one of these pups, they tend to practice excessive barking from time to time.
But, the answer to why do Cocker Spaniels bark a lot? can be because of several reasons. It might be because your dog is lonely or bored, or it could be because it feels threatened.
Whatever the case may be, it is your job, as a responsible owner, to figure out what is causing your dog’s barking and work towards a solution.
We hope that your dog’s barking problem falls into one of the reasons we listed above, and you can follow the solution to make your house a place of happiness for both you and your furry companion.