When I first got my little black Cocker Spaniel, I was frustrated at how much time he spent scratching the carpet. Every time I turned my back he would start scratching and digging and I thought I would never get him to stop.
To stop your Cocker Spaniel from scratching the carpet you must ensure he is fully exercised and use a crate when necessary. I would make sure all his toys are accounted for as dogs often scratch for lost toys. Make sure he has a comfy bed which he can dig up to make even more comfortable.
Those are just a few of the methods that I used to finally stop my boy from scratching the carpet. I will go into more detail on the above as well as other tips I used but first, let’s look at why dogs scratch the carpet in the first place.
Why Do Some Cocker Spaniels Scratch The Carpet?
Before we look at how we can stop your Cocker Spaniel from scratching the carpet, firstly we need to look at some of the reasons he may be behaving in such a way.
Separation Anxiety Or Fear
Almost every dog, not just the lovable Cocker, will experience some sort of separation anxiety. This usually occurs early on in a dog’s life and with proper training, can be solved fairly easily.
Apart from scratching the carpet and digging the garden, separation anxiety can cause other behavioral problems such as howling and barking when they are left alone.
I highly recommend you check out this online training resource. They offer some free material too.
Often overlooked when it comes to behavioral problems. Cockers need a lot of stimulation or they will never ever settle down for the night and may look for their own source of entertainment. This usually involves a bit of digging and scratching on your living room carpet.
How to Stop A Cocker Spaniel From Scratching The Carpet
Right, so now I’m going to go over some of the best ways I found and used to stop my own Cocker Spaniel from scratching my own carpet.
Actually, my Cocker and my Springer Spaniel that we had preferred to scratch the stair carpet.
1. Efficient Exercise
So I quickly realized that this was the biggest factor in why both my dogs were scratching the carpet. Both my boys were left on their own Monday through Friday because my wife and I both worked full time.
We have retired family members who lives close by and they would pop down and let the 2 boys out into the garden etc and spend 30 minutes or so with them. My wife and I would also take turns to pop home on lunch breaks to check on them.
They were never left alone at any one time for any more than 2 hours but apart from a little time in the garden, they didn’t get any real exercise until I took them out on an evening for their second walk of the day.
We only crate trained one of our Spaniels so he was left in the kitchen during his early months. The end result was he scratched my kitchen lino to pieces. It was my fault though so I never complained.
As I said, they were never really left alone for very long and the boys never howled or barked so I kinda ruled out general separation anxiety. The fact that both dogs scratched even when I was in the same room as they helped me quickly rule that out.
I started taking the dogs out on a very long walk before I left for work. I also gave them plenty of food before I left. Not only were they tired from their walk but their tummies were full so I figured they would settle down for a while.
I also got my family members who were calling in every day to spend some time playing fetch or tug of war with them in the garden.
These tactics worked almost instantly. More exercise and more stimulation seemed to get rid of any pent up energy.
2. Crate Training
As I said, we never crate trained one of our Spaniels but if I ever get another Cocker in the future (The wife says we definitely are) then we will certainly be using a crate to help train the new puppy.
So how exactly does crate training stop carpet scratching?
Well, it simply removes the problem. If they are in their crate they can’t scratch or dig the carpet, simple as that. The idea is that whenever you need to pop out or be in a separate room from your Cocker, this is when he’s gonna scratch so simply pop them in their crate until you are back with them.
Have a browse around some of the forums dedicated to Cocker Spaniels and you will see this is a very common tactic that seems to work well for most Cocker Spaniel owners.
Remember, do not use punishment training. Be gentle and speak gently when you are putting him in his crate. If he has been crate trained from a puppy then he will learn to look at his crate as his safe place.
I know numerous dog owners who still have their dogs crate in the house with a bed inside it and they leave the door permanently open and their dogs often go for a lie down in it.
Do not only use the crate as punishment for your dog scratching or he will learn to resent it and probably you too.
Click Here to check out a very good, reasonably priced crate on Amazon.
3. Are Toys A Problem?
This is one I never thought of until I was doing some research into why Cockers and other dogs scratch the carpet so much.
The idea behind this is to check that all of your dog’s usual play toys and chews etc are visible. Many people believe that a dog that scratches around the carpet or digs in the garden is looking for a lost toy and also because they can smell the scent of the missing toy.
4. Does He Have A Comfy Bed?
There was a recent study that revealed many breeds of dogs that dig in certain areas inside a house are doing so to try and make the surface more comfortable.
They claim that most dogs prefer to have some sort of slight ‘hole’ to sleep in and that’s why they are digging.
I can vouch for the whole theory. My Cocker Spaniel has a lovely comfy bed (link to Amazon) which he spends a load of time in but he always has a good scratch and digs in it before he settles down. He makes it look rather untidy before he deems it suitable.
So I guess what I’m saying is, make sure that your dog’s bed is a comfy one, preferably with a separate cushion and blanket so he can have a good scratch around in it so he can make it just right for him.
5. Review His Treats, Chews & Bones
This falls kinda into the same bracket as the toys tip.
Cocker Spaniels and most other breeds love to bury then dig up bones and chews. When it comes to bones and hard chews, I highly recommend you limit the amount you give your dog.
I know a bone is good for your dog but it really can lead do scratching and digging problems. I recommend that when you give your dog a bone, you are present and then after quite a long time, maybe even an hour or two, you take the bone back off the dog.
If he sees you taking the bone away he’s less likely to start scratching around for it. Most dogs tend to get bored with a bone after awhile so taking it away should be an easy task.
You are much better of giving your dog some treats or chews that he will consume pretty quickly and won’t go back to in a few days or even a week’s time.
6. Skin Problems And Itchy Ears
Depending on the type of scratching your Cocker Spaniel is doing, he may have some sort of skin condition. What I mean by that is, if he is using the carpet to scratch him for relief rather then him scratching the carpet with his paws, then he may have an undiagnosed skin condition.
Of course, your dog could just simply be having a good old itch of his back or other places he can’t reach with his won paws.
My Cocker Spaniel slides along the floor when he has itchy ears.
7. Introduce An Alternative Scratch Rug
Does your Cocker Spaniel have a right good scratch on the carpet just before he lies down for asleep? If so then this tip is very similar to the ‘bed tip’ I gave earlier on.
My Cocker has a few spots around the house where he likes to lie other than on his bed. He tends to circle around these spots before finally slumping down for a little sleep.
If your dog has areas like this but he scratches them before he lies down, try placing a rug, a blanket or even a thin door mat down in these areas so he can have a good scratch of them before he goes to sleep.
My boy doesn’t dig anymore so I have no need to try these rugs or mats but again, online forums are full of people using these replacements with great success.
If you place them in his scratching areas and allow him to scratch them then he will see them as his go-to areas and won’t worry that you will stop him or put him in his crate if he scratches. In fact, when he does scratch the rug be sure to praise him and even give him a quick treat from time to time.
8. Anti-Bite & Chewing Spray
This tip seems fairly popular in online communities. I’ve never tried it but I’m going, to be honest and say that it doesn’t really appeal to me. I would use this as a last resort although it does seem like a quick and cheap option.
The idea behind this is that you spray any areas where you Cocker Spaniel seems to keep digging. Only a very light spray is needed and the bitter taste and scent are supposed to put your dog off from going anywhere near that area, a repellent I suppose.
Did you ever bite your fingernails as a kid and your parents put that horrible stuff on them to stop you biting? Well, the same idea applies here.
It’s totally harmless towards your dog even if he does taste it, it’s just supposed to taste bad so he won’t want to taste it again……..a bit like school lunches may be, that’s my idea of a joke by the way.
Be sure not to spray it when your dog is present as it can irritate your dog’s eyes.
I would definitely use this as a last resort as I prefer proper training methods and the scent of this spray will wear off and will need to be reapplied.
This process could go on for years I guess.
I appreciate people are often looking for a quick and easy fix and for many, these sorts of sprays will be ideal. If you feel the spray method may work for you, there’s plenty available on Amazon as well as most local pet stores.
I simply cannot stress this enough.
You must never ever use punishment when training your Cocker Spaniel. He will respond much better with positive reinforcement.
So what exactly do I mean when I say punishment training? Well, I’m talking about people who hit or smack their dogs. Even a gentle tap on the top of their nose can have a negative effect.
If your Cocker is a family pet and not being trained as a gun/hunting dog, then not only should you never hit your dog, no matter how naughty he’s being but you should also never shout at him.
I know it can be very frustrating, hair-pulling frustrating to watch your dog go through all this destructive behavior but I genuinely believe that the only way to properly train a Cocker Spaniel to be the perfect family pet and be safe around all family members is through positive reinforcement.
I appreciate it takes time and can be a frustrating time-consuming process but your Cocker isn’t behaving like this to annoy you and trust me, once he’s properly trained you will thank yourself for sticking with it.
CockerSpanielWorld.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com