10 Tips To Stop Your Cocker Spaniel From Howling

How To Stop A Cocker Spaniel From Howling

There’s nothing better than having a loving and devoted Cocker Spaniel in your life. For me, there’s just something about a Cocker that melts my heart and I honestly believe you can’t find a more friendly dog who will love you forever……if they are trained properly of course.

There is, however, one big problem that seems to rear it’s ugly head from time to time no matter what your dog’s temperament is and that problem is the dreaded Cocker Spaniel Howling.

Howling doesn’t need to be a problem if it’s tackled the right way. Here I will discuss the best 12 tips I have found to stop a Cocker Spaniel from howling, many of which I’ve used myself.

I often recommend a fantastic online training resource that you may want to check out….they offer various free training too.

Why Does My Cocker Spaniel Howl?

Cocker Spaniels can howl for many reasons. They will howl as a form of communication. It has been proven that a Cocker Spaniel, like most dogs, will opt to howl rather than bark because the noise of a howl can travel much further than a bark.

The fact that Cockers usually howl when they can’t see their owners proves this theory as they tend to bark when you are in view.

The most common reason for a Cocker to howl is down to separation anxiety.

When Does Your Cocker Spaniel Howl?

Knowing when your Cocker Spaniel howls and what it is that sets him off will be a massive factor in how you can train him to stop so let’s have a look at the most likely scenarios.

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  • Daytime Howling: This usually occurs when you go out and leave your dog on its own. You go to work perhaps or even just pop to the shops but when you come back you can hear your dog howling. Maybe you weren’t even aware of your dog howling but your annoyed neighbor has told you the bad news
  • Nighttime Howling: This can prove to be the most frustrating part of having a Cocker Spaniel. Nigh time howling usually occurs when your Cocker is put to bed in a different room from you. You are probably well aware that Cockers are pack animals so when they are alone they don’t understand and are confused. Like I said earlier, a howl travels further than a bark and because they can’t see you, a howl is their natural communication.
  • Sleeping / Dreaming Howling: This one is pretty common although it won’t happen most nights. My Cocker Spaniel is 12 years old and he still occasionally does it. My Springer Spaniel would do this more of than the Cocker. He would howl in his sleep which would wake him up but he would just look at me or my wife kinda wondering ‘what was that noise?’ then just go back to sleep.

The case of the dreaming howling is kind of like humans having nightmares. There’s nothing you can really do to stop your dog howling in its sleep I’m afraid.

How To Stop A Cocker Spaniel Howling

So just how do you stop a Cocker Spaniel from howling? I’ve pulled together a list of some of the methods I have used with success as well as some other methods that people on forums have used with great results.

1. Crate Training

Most dog owners will use a crate to train their dogs. If crate trained properly, your Cocker will often retreat to its crate for a rest as it’s their safe place.

Well if your Cocker is howling at night, this is where the crate can come in handy. You may need to start off by having your dogs crate in the same room as you. Nighttime it will obviously be your bedroom.

Let your Cocker sleep in his crate in your room to see if this stops the howling. If it does, continue with this for 4 or 4 nights then move the crate outside of your bedroom door. If he howls let him know you are there with a calming voice but do not get up so he can see you.

If you let him see you he will just think that all he needs to do is howl and you will come.

Persist with this for a few nights until the howling has stopped. If your goal is to have your dog sleep downstairs or in another room then just keep repeating this process until you have moved the crate to where you want your dog to permanently sleep.

I won’t lie, I love my Cocker sleeping in my bed with me.

2. Exercise

Ok so this tip may seem really simple but it really does work.

The idea is that if your dog howls when he’s left alone, then you want to really tire him out before you leave so he will spend a good portion of the time that he’s alone, resting or even asleep.

You need to take your dog out for a long and fairly brisk walk to get him really tired and you want to do this just before you are about to head out to work or wherever.

The chances are that once your dog gets home, he’s going to have a drink and then want to lie down for a good while.

3. Playtime

This tip applies the same as above. Spend plenty of time with your dog playing games like fetch. My Cocker loves pulling on a rope so we would spend ages playing that. We would have a good pulling battle then I would make him leave the rope then fetch it from the bottom of our garden.

We also play a game where I make my Guinness stay and I keep saying stay as I walk away and out of sight. I make him stay until I’ve hidden somewhere then I call his name and he comes scampering in to try and find me….he loves that game and it really tires him out.

4. Stuffed Kong

As well as his rope, I often leave Guinness a stuffed Kong. This can keep them entertained for a very long time. Even if I’m in the house when I give him his Kong he can ignore me for a good 2 hours or so while he’s busy with it.

5. Clothes With A Familiar Scent

I’ve never tried this one, indeed I never even thought of it until I read it on Reddit. Because your dog is missing you, hence the howling, the idea is to leave some items of clothing that belong to you which will have your scent all over it.

The idea is that this will calm your dog and have a soothing effect on your dog.

The most popular items of clothing that people seem to leave lying around for their dogs are old T-shirts and pajamas…..basically, clothes that you would wear to slob around the house hahaha.

Many readers on Reddit said this has proved to be one of the very best methods they have used to stop their dog howling, during the day especially………damn, why didn’t I think of that all those years ago?

6. Radio / TV on

This is another one I have never tried and not sure what sort of impact it would have had on either my Springer Spaniel or Cocker Spaniel.

Both of them never really paid any attention to the TV and never batted an eyelid when it was turned on.

I used to have an old portable CD player that I would sometimes plugin and just leave it on the floor. If the volume was quite loud, my Cocker would lie fully on top of the CD player as though he was trying to smother the sound.

I couldn’t see it having any sort of calming influence on him however people seem to use this as a viable tactic.

I suppose if you have music playing in the background all day then leaving it on when you go out would make sense as you would be keeping this ‘normal’ for your dog.

7. Ignore Your Dog

Yeah, you heard me right. I know it’s hard but if your dog is howling when you are in the house then you must ignore it almost completely.

You can communicate with it so that it knows you are there but never, ever go to your dog or even let him see you when he’s howling.

It’s pretty much the worst thing you can do, It’s the same when your dog is barking or if you have a new puppy and it’s crying.

If you go to your dog in these circumstances then it will always think that all it has to do is be vocal and you will come running……..please DO NOT do that!!!

I read somewhere that this is called “Accidental Rewarding

If you have put your dog in a separate room and he’s howling but you ignore him and he eventually stops then, by all means, reward him for his good behavior.

7. Reward Your Cocker For Being Quiet

One of the biggest tips I can give any dog owner who’s Cocker Spaniel is howling a lot, is to use treats to reward your dog when he is quiet.

I know this type of training is one of the oldest tips in the book but that’s because it flat out works and is usually very effective fairly quickly.

As soon as you Cocker has a quiet spell, reward him with a treat. You will also want to randomly reward him with a treat anytime he’s being quiet.

This is the quickest way to teach a Cocker that he gets rewarded for not howling or barking for attention.

When you have a howling Cocker Spaniel, it’s going to be hard to get him to be quiet just because you have a treat so you need to start small. I’m talking a quiet spell of only 10 seconds or so. Hey, you may only be able to get your Cocker to be silent for 5 seconds.

That will be enough to start. Reward him and then ignore him if he starts howling again. Then when he’s quiet again, pop in another treat and repeat the process.

You want to gradually increase your Cocker’s quiet time before you reward him with any treat.

8. Dog Classes

I would suggest you take your howling Cocker to dog training classes. Especially the group training classes. The first reason for doing this is to get your Cocker interacted with other dogs and properly socialized.

Another big reason is that most dog classes work on a “dog rewarding” process. When your dog does things correctly he gets rewarded.

Using the same tactics at home to combat his howling should enable your dog to pick up the idea that he’s getting rewarded for being quiet quicker than a dog who hasn’t been trained this way.

9. To Say Goodbye Or Not

This is a subject that seems to cause some debate, especially amongst the online communities.

My Cocker Spaniel never howled when I went out to work. I said in other posts that we have family close by who would come and check on his regularly so he was never really left alone.

As a result, as soon as I say ‘bye-bye’ he goes over and sits on his bed waiting on his treat. As soon as he’s eating his little treat and lies straight down on his bed.

Sometimes I’m only out of the house for 30 mins and when I come back, I sneak in and sure enough, he’s still in the same place as when I left.

But I appreciate others who don’t have this sort of luxury.

I have read time and time again that dog owners just put their coat and shoes on and just go out without even speaking or touching their dog.

Then when they return, they do pretty much the same thing. Shoes and coat off and hung up. Shopping put away etc and kettle on. All of this is done before even petting their dog.

And they will only pet their dog once the dog is calm.

I can totally see where they are coming from with this ‘cruel to be kind’ method and I can see why it would work.

I’m just grateful that I have never had to do this as I love making a massive fuss over Guinness when I come home.

10. Never Use Punishment

OK, so this is a biggie.

The bottom line is that when a Cocker Spaniel howls he is doing so because he’s suffering from separation anxiety.

The absolute worst thing that anybody can do to a dog that has separation issues is to use some sort of punishment in their training.

Believe me, your dog will think it’s being punished enough when it’s left alone and you aren’t responding to it howls.

When I say no punishment, I mean no tapping on the nose, no shouting at your dog, etc.

Remember, a Cocker is a pack animal and you are the leader of the pack and it just wants to be with you.

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