Maybe you didn’t know, but along with the Cocker Spaniel’s endless energy and loyalty, potentially also comes a barrage of barking. It may be useful if your Cocker Spaniel is your hunting companion, but if your loving Cocker Spaniel’s job is being your family pet then the barking has the potential to drive you mad!
Is getting a Cocker Spaniel a guarantee to have a loud barking dog?
Not all Cocker Spaniels bark a lot, but the vast majority do bark excessively. It is in their nature as hunting dogs to use their bark as an alarm and to communicate with their owners that they have located prey or something they are concerned about. Along with barking, they make a wide range of strange noises.
We’ll discuss the reasons that Cocker Spaniels bark as well as a lot of solutions that have worked for other Cocker Spaniel owners. You may not be able to completely silence them from barking (and to be honest who would want that), but you can tone it down with some training, creative tactics, and patience.
Quick tips to help stop Cocker Spaniel barking
It may not work for all Cocker Spaniels but for some, it just takes a bit of redirection when it comes to helping them not bark quite as much. Here are some quick tips, but be sure to continue reading to get a complete understanding of how to get the barking under control.
Reason for Barking
Greeting & Play
Stay calm, quick hello
Boredom / Pent up Energy
Alarm or Fear
Interrupt then redirect
Work on socializing
To hear the Sound of Their Own Voice
No Reason at All
There’s always a reason… investigate
What age do Cocker Spaniels start barking?
A Cocker Spaniel puppy will begin to make vocal sounds at about 2 to 3 weeks old. This is right after their eyes and ears have opened up.
They will start with grunts and whines and around 7 to 8 weeks they will figure out how to turn that into yips and barks. Some dogs may not start barking all the way up to 16 weeks.
Cocker Spaniels learn to bark and whine as part of playing with their littermates. They can also learn how to bark by the example of other dogs.
A lot of Cocker Spaniel owners I talked to said that their Cocker Spaniels learned to bark from being around another dog that barks a lot.
If you are thinking about bringing a Cocker Spaniel home to be part of your family, but you already have a dog that is very vocal and barks a lot, you may want to consider training your dog not to bark before adding another very vocal canine to the mix.
How much do Cocker Spaniels bark?
If you know much about Cocker Spaniels then you know this breed tends to bark more than most. It makes complete sense when you think about the history of Cocker Spaniels and what they are bred for.
Because Cocker Spaniels were originally bred to be hunting dogs it is long rooted in their DNA to bark to scare prey out of the brush and alert their owners to be ready for the kill. They love to be of service and can have a lot of energy. This can explain why your dog may be obsessed with barking at squirrels!
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Even though Cocker Spaniels were originally bred for hunting they are mostly bred for companion animals today, but they still have a strong instinct to do a job. If that job isn’t scaring foxes from their dens then their energy will be redirected into other things such as barking.
In fact, a lot of energy can be directed into barking to alert you of anything and everything. From the wind blowing to someone knocking at the door, your Cocker Spaniel will want to alert you to everything that is happening.
Cocker Spaniels are really smart! Their high intelligence makes them really great at a variety of things. They can be trained to be service or therapy dogs.
The good news is they can also be trained to not bark as much!
How loud is a Cocker Spaniel’s bark?
Loudness may be relative to what your life experiences are, but I as well as most people will tell you it’s pretty offensively loud!
Cocker Spaniels have very powerful barks and howls. This is a trait that they have inherited intended to help them sound the alarm when hunting. They need that loud bark to be authoritative and menacing to the rodents and animals that are larger than them to get them to scare them out of their holes.
If you want to know how loud they can be check out this video.
Not only do Cocker Spaniels bark very loudly, but they can produce a variety of other loud noises such as whining, yapping, howling, and whimpering. Want to know more about Cocker Spaniel whining you can read this article that I wrote. 7 Reasons Why Your Cocker Spaniel Whines (What to Do)
Reasons why Cocker Spaniels bark & how to stop it (in-depth explanation)
Understanding why your Cocker Spaniel is barking will go a long way in knowing how to handle it and how to curb the behavior.
There will be different approaches based on the reasons behind why your dog is barking and what he is trying to tell you.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the reasons that your Cocker Spaniel may be barking and what approach might work best to help quiet the barking.
Greeting and play
Often excitement over something happening or seeing you or a beloved family member after an absence will get a great deal of excited barking.
Maybe you are getting the leash and your dog knows it’s time for a long-awaited walk.
Yipping and barking are how dogs will communicate to their pack that they are excited. These barks tend to be a bit higher in pitch and intermittent until the excitement has dissipated.
Sound & body language
They will often be wagging their tail, alert and perked up ears, and possibly a happy grin.
It’s also common for them to spin in circles or quickly tap their feet. This indicates their excitement and should communicate to you: let’s get going!
What to do
This type of barking is really not too bothersome for most people. The reason a lot of us have a dog is for companionship and to have a furry friend to play with, so this type of barking should really be allowed to a certain extent.
If your dog is barking very loudly and excitedly way too much of the time during play or greeting there are a few things you can do.
While playing with your Cocker Spaniel when the barking is out of control take the turn-off approach. When you want your dog to stop barking turn away from him and stop all attention and play you are giving.
Wait until he stops barking then turn around and reward your dog for being quiet.
You can also try to slow the pace down of your playing and talk in a whisper to try and shush your dog and make them bark a bit more quietly.
Attention seeking or begging
When your Cocker Spaniel wants to get your attention, they will bark at you. This type of barking tends to be a long string of single barks with pauses between them.
There are a few reasons why he may be trying to get your attention and it’s important to try and figure out what it is.
Some reasons your Cocker Spaniel may want your attention include but is not limited to.
- I need to go outside
- I want to go on a walk
- I want to play
- I want you to pet me
- I want your food
Sound & body language
This bark is a bit less energetic and a little more relaxed. Their tails may be straight or slightly wagging, with their ears down in a more natural position or at attention.
What to do
Decide if the attention should be rewarded or not. If your dog is barking to go outside to use the bathroom then yes you should reward that by letting her outside.
If your dog is barking to beg for food, only reinforce that behavior if you want her to repeat it in the future.
If you don’t want your dog to keep barking for attention for certain things make sure all her needs are met, then ignore it the best you can.
Boredom / pent up energy
The Cocker Spaniel breed is a very busy, smart, and energetic dog. Even though they do sleep a lot (read this article to see how much sleep is normal for your Cocker Spaniel) they still need sufficient physical and mental stimulation to keep them from being bored or having destructive behaviors.
When dogs are bored, they may bark to get your attention or to try to engage you or others in your household (including animals) in playtime.
Your Cocker Spaniel wants to work and do a job it’s part of what makes their breed unique. Your dog should be getting at least 1 hour of exercise each day.
Not only will your dog bark more if not getting enough exercise they can also turn to more destructive and worrisome behaviors like chewing or obsessive licking.
Sometimes your Cocker Spaniel will give you obvious hints to what he wants by bringing you a ball, toy, or his leash. If not you will have to try and notice if there is a pattern to their barking.
Does it happen at the same time every day, does he do it after he wakes up from a nap, does he do it if he’s had plenty of exercise.
Sound & body language
These boredom barks are seeking your attention specifically to play. They sound like “harrr-ruff” barks. They might be lower in tone and happen one at a time.
Similar to attention-seeking behavior, the body posture can be neutral and include having their ears drawn back with their tail straight out.
Some Cocker Spaniel will lower themselves into a play bow (front legs down with their bottom in the air) and add a slight bounce to let you know they are ready to play.
What to do
- Plenty of exercise
- Practice learning new tricks and commands
- Stimulate their brain with puzzle games and scent work
- Play with your dog more
- Hire a dog walker or pet sitter if you need to be gone for long periods of time
- Rotate her toys so she doesn’t get bored or tired of seeing the same toys all the time
Alarm or fear
When your Cocker Spaniel is startled by something or surprised by something they weren’t suspecting they can react with a bark.
This could happen if your Cocker Spaniel wasn’t paying attention and something or someone snuck up on him, or sudden movements or sounds.
Sometimes dogs with poor hearing can be startled more easily.
Sound and body language
This is usually one or two barks with most dogs then after barking the alarm and you acknowledging it they will usually calm down. With some Cocker Spaniel however it may be something that sets them off on a barking tirade and then they just keep going until they are redirected.
It can sound higher in pitch at the beginning and may include a yelp and then will move to a deeper more protective sounding bark.
Their body posture is hard to predict because they are surprised and not expecting to bark in the first place, but you may see them startled or jump quickly from a resting position into a defensive position.
What to do
Try to figure out what startled your dog or what their fear is based on. Some dogs don’t like vacuums some don’t like garbage trucks, most are scared of fireworks.
The more you socialize your dog and get them used to things in their world the less likely they will be to react to things in their everyday environment.
I always teach my students in my new puppy classes the importance of exposing your puppies in a positive way to as many different sights, sounds, people, and animals as they can in the first year or so of their dog’s life.
Your Cocker Spaniel may be feeling very anxious or upset when left alone. If they are so attached to you that they follow you everywhere, can’t stand it when you leave, and howl or bark at your absence then they probably have separation anxiety.
Sometimes when they notice that you are getting ready to leave they will seem upset or agitated. When you leave you may hear your dog reacting with barking or howling.
When you return it may seem like they haven’t seen you in ages.
Sound and body language:
If your Cocker Spaniel is barking because of separation anxiety the barking will be persistent and accompanied by howling or high pitched whining. Your dog will be tense and possibly pacing or digging and scratching as well. Extreme separation anxiety will have other behaviors with is such as going potty or poop in the house and chewing up things that they shouldn’t.
A dog who has separation anxiety might bark or howl when left alone or when separated from his guardian. This kind of barking or howling is persistent and doesn’t seem to be triggered by anything except being left alone.
What to do
Your response to this depends on how deep the anxiety runs and how long your dog barks and howls while you are away. It’s important to have some way to assess how your dog is doing having a camera or some way to monitor them while you are gone is important.
Something like this treat tossing wifi pet camera (affiliate link) found on Amazon could help.
If your dog has mild separation anxiety then you will just need to work on creating a positive association with you leaving. Extra treats while you are gone. A new or favorite toy saved for when your dog is alone are some ways to make this better.
Sometimes getting a friend or playmate can help, but read this article before you do that.
If your dog has severe separation anxiety and is destructive you may need to get some professional help and spend quite a bit of time working on desensitizing your dog to being left alone.
Territorial & protective
This type of barking whether you see it or not is almost always prompted by someone or something that your Cocker Spaniel feels is a threat.
Because they were bred to detect prey and sound the alarm they can also be very protective of their owners.
Most Cocker Spaniel tend to do well with other family pets. But if your Cocker Spaniel goes crazy when it sees a stranger, another dog, cat, or another animal they don’t know and you can most likely expect them to start a barrage of barking.
If there is a new person or pet around your Cocker Spaniel could be showing signs of jealousy by barking at them.
They may also bark if they are feeling trapped with no clear way to escape a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable.
Sound and body language
These barks will usually be deeper and may have a growl with them. They will also keep going low and continuous until your dog feels like the threat has passed.
Their body language may be different for different types of dogs.
Usually, the dog will have their body a bit lower to the ground. Their head will be in a lower posture. Their tail will most likely be stiff, or possibly very slightly wagging.
A less confident dog will have its tail between its legs and maybe slowly backing up.
If your dog stops barking and is only growling continuously and looks as if they are frozen in place you need to be very careful as this is a warning that he may be about to attack.
For anxious/fearful dogs, their body language will usually include a tail between the legs, hackles raised, and low head posture.
Either way, your dog will be very tense.
If it’s just territorial barking, then the body posture may include having the ears and head at attention and the tail straight. This is the dog’s way of indicating that they are larger and may bite.
In both scenarios, the dog’s body will be tense.
What to do
- Make sure your Cocker Spaniel is strong with basic commands
- Work towards 100% recall
- Don’t let your dog resource guard
- Socialize him well
- Make your dog work for everything, treats, and affection (be the alpha)
Pain or discomfort
If your dog has been injured recently or is getting older and has other ailments barking may be a way for him to communicate to you that he is in pain and wants your help.
When dogs lived in packs in the wild they would use their verbal skills such as barking whining to communicate to their pack what was going on.
Sound and body Language
This bark is more high pitch and can also sound like a bit of a yelp. Your dog may back up when you try to touch or pet them.
What to do
Make a visit to your vet. Make sure to observe your dog carefully so that you can supply your vet with as much information as possible about the possible causes of pain in your dog. Taking videos of your dog when they are acting this way can also arm you with more information to give your vet.
To hear the sound of their own voice or for no reason at all
Let’s be honest sometimes we have no idea what our Cocker Spaniel is barking at. It may seem like she just enjoys listening to herself make noise. For Cocker Spaniels that are a 10 on the barking scale (meaning they never stop), it may be that they are so used to barking that they like the way it sounds or it could be just a bad habit.
Sound and body language
Your Cocker Spaniel is barking for no apparent reason at nothing in particular. He may be just sitting or standing or even lying down while in a normal position just barking at nothing or the wall.
What to do
Check out our list in the next section of what other Cocker Spaniel owners did to try and curb their dog’s barking.
Can you train a Cocker Spaniel not to bark?
Training a Cocker Spaniel not to bark or at least to not bark as much as possible. The most proactive strategy is to start with your Cocker Spaniel puppy and be as consistent as possible at training from day one. The older your Cocker Spaniel gets and the more he is allowed to bark the more difficult it will be to train better behavior.
Always remember to reward for quiet behavior, and address any persistent or underlying behavior that may be causing recurring problems.
Don’t yell at your Cocker Spaniel or bark back. This will not teach them to stop barking.
Cocker Spaniels don’t bark. If you believe that, then they also do not shed. – Cory M.
Here are some other suggestions from Cocker Spaniel owners on how to help teach your dog not to bark as much.
- Use a plastic bottle filled with popcorn kernels or coins to shake at your dog just to get their attention then redirect them to do a task or a command. Reward when they do that task and they are no longer barking.
- Use a spray bottle with water (not recommended by most professional trainers. This article talks about the pros and cons of this method).
- Teach your dog the speak and be quiet commands.
- “He barks mostly outside so instead of having freedom we are going out on a leash and correcting excessive barking. It sucks but I’m hoping for improvement. No barking = freedom in the yard.” Madison S.
- Citronella bark collar (affiliate link) Read about how effective they are here!
- “Tugging on the leash, talking calmly/firmly/reassuringly. Being calm & consistent. I’ll say things like “Manners, young lady” “That’s ok, they’re our friend”, etc.” -Cheryl R.
- “My Kozmo is a big barker and barks at everything! I got a collar that beeps and vibrates ( it has shock but I never use that function). I put it on him when he goes outside. When he starts barking I beep it twice then I use vibrate. It works great! He usually doesn’t even bark anymore with the collar on unless he sees a squirrel. If it beeps 3 times he knows it’s time to come inside.” – Christina M.
What if my Cocker Spaniel doesn’t bark?
Well… my first thought is to tell you how lucky you are, but I also know that it might feel a little concerning. Maybe your dog rarely barks, but you would like them to at least bark a few times here and there to notify you if there may be something wrong.
If your Cocker Spaniel rarely barks it could be because he has a shy or timid personality. If your dog used to bark and no longer seems able to it could be due to a medical reason such as respiratory conditions, chronic vomiting, trauma to the larynx or trachea, or metabolic disorders.
While we strive to give the most accurate and helpful information about your pet’s health that we can, this article is meant to be informational only and not medical advice. Never disregard, avoid or delay in obtaining medical advice from your veterinarian or other qualified veterinary health care provider regardless of what you have read on this site or elsewhere.