Cocker Spaniel Crate Training: The Complete Guide

July 25, 2022

Have you just brought home a Cocker Spaniel puppy or maybe an adult dog? Crate training puppies or adult dogs is one of the best ways to prevent dog owners from experiencing long-term behaviour problems.

Cocker spaniels are energetic, inquisitive, and intelligent dogs. As with all breeds, however, they can develop destructive habits if not provided with adequate outlets for their mental and physical energy. One of the best solutions for minimizing destructive behaviour is crate training.

It is an excellent way to keep your cocker spaniel puppy from tearing up your home while you’re away or sleeping. A dog will feel more secure in a closed space than in open areas, potentially exposing them to danger. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about crate training puppies, specifically, a cocker spaniel. We include what it means, why you should do it, and how to get started right away!

What Does Crate Training Mean?

This is when you train your dog to sleep in a crate at certain times, such as when you’re not home to supervise them. Another common instance where you might use crate training is when you’re training a puppy, as it can be helpful for potty training. Cocker Spaniels can be prone to anxiety, which crate training will help to prevent. 

When you’re crate training a dog, start out by putting them in the crate for short periods of time, then gradually increasing the amount of time over several days or weeks. Start with putting your dog in the crate with a treat, like a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter, to help associate the crate with something positive.

If putting your Cocker Spaniel in a crate gradually will not work for you due to work schedules, it is strongly recommended to hire a pet sitter or trainer to help you with this for the first few weeks. Helping your dog keep a positive association with the crate is paramount, and locking them in there against their will would undermine the training process. Remember that this is temporary and an investment that will serve you for the lifetime of your dog.

Why is Crate Training Important for Cockers?

Cocker Spaniels are very social and playful dogs. This could mean they engage in destructive behaviours while you’re away, such as digging, chewing, or barking. These can be dangerous for your Cocker Spaniel. This holds true for other dogs too. When a dog does not know how to be content when required to be still, it can easily develop some serious anxiety problems that can affect them for life.

With a little time, patience, and a few treats, you can prevent these issues. This allows you to leave your cocker spaniel at home without needing to hire a dog walker down the line. It can also prevent you from paying hefty vet bills, or sadly, even death if your dog were to ingest something dangerous while unsupervised. 

Because this breed has a tendency for anxiety, providing them with a space where they can rest and relax without being disturbed can help with many other instances where they may experience anxiety. For example, if you have a very vocal cocker spaniel who barks while you’re away, they may feel more secure inside a crate than loose in your home.

How to Crate Train a Cocker Spaniel

Before you begin your training session with your cocker spaniel, follow these tips for success. 

  1.  Choose the right crate, especially for a young pup- Puppy owners tend to buy crates that are too big for the puppy inside. To prevent unwanted accidents inside the crate, smaller dogs will need to use a smaller crate, while bigger dogs will need a larger one. Generally speaking, crates should be just large enough for the dog to stand up, turn around, and lay down comfortably in the single direction they choose. 
  2. Pick the right time to crate train - Your training will be most successful when done in short spurts. Do not start crating your cocker spaniel when you’re gone for several hours at a time. Start with a short period, like 15 minutes, and build up from there. 
  3. Give your Cocker Spaniel something to do - Keeping your dog’s mind occupied when they're in the crate, such as with a bone or Kong toy can be helpful in building a positive association with crate time.
  4. Do not release your Cocker Spaniel from the crate if he is crying- This is a common mistake many owners make. If you release your dog from his crate when he is whining or crying, he will learn this is the key to being released from the crate; therefore, causing a bad habit. This is why it’s important to start when you’re home and have plenty of time to supervise and wait for your dog to quiet down.

Where to Put the Crate

It may seem obvious, but you’ll want to pick a place for your dog’s crate that they feel comfortable in. Pick a place for the crate that’s not too hot or cold, out of direct sunlight, and away from loud noises. You want to make the crate feel like a comfortable place where your dog can relax and sleep, not somewhere that’s too hot or cold or where they can’t escape the noise in the house.

Tips for Successful Training

  1. Feed all their meals in the puppy's crate by putting their food bowl inside and placing it at the very back of the crate. This will help tremendously with building positive associations. There is no need to coax your dog inside; let your puppy explore on his own. Once he realizes there will be a reward, he will go in.
  2. If your dog is afraid to go in, do not remove the food to allow him to eat, simply leave it there. Soon enough your dog will learn that unless they muster up the courage to get in the crate, there will be no food. No healthy dog is going to starve itself. Even if they’re anxious, they will go in eventually so long as you do not try to force them.
  3. Things that can help with calming are covering the crate with a tarp or blanket to create a more “den-like” experience. Having a radio on in the room with classical music on also helps. Remember, no matter the age of the dog, you’ll need to gradually increase the amount of time they spend in the crate every day. 
  4. Try crate games! Do a google search for “dog crate games” and you will find several fun games you can play with your dog involving the crate. Again, building a positive association with the crate is key.

When is the Best Time to Crate Train a Dog?

The best time to begin crate training is when your Cocker is still a puppy. Ideally as soon as the dog comes home. Earlier is better as no rules have been set yet and if a crate is all your dog knows then it will just see it as a normal way of life.

Start out as you mean to go on and you will have a far easier life with your new family member.

Also, puppies are sponges and learn very quickly. It is best to take advantage of that and ensure your Cocker understands everything that is required of them.

Can I Crate Train an Older Cocker Spaniel?

Yes. It's possible to crate train a Cocker when they are a little older. There can be many reasons an adult dog is not crate trained such as being a rescue dog or the owner might never have needed to consider it. Whatever the reason its good to know it can be done. After all, Cocker Spaniels are an intelligent breed.

This will take a bit more effort than if you started when the dog was still a puppy, but with some determination and consistent effort your dog will adopt this new behaviour.

All of the advice above on this article still applies to older dogs so just start with those steps and you will get there in no time. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?!

How Long Does it Take to Crate Train a Dog?

You may be wondering how long it will take to get your Cocker crate trained. Unfortunatley the amount of time it will take will vary dog to dog.

Thankfully given a Cockers keen intellect and eagarness to please thier owners you shouldn't have to wait too long before you begin to see signs of your efforts being rewarded. Many dogs take as little as four to six weeks to become comfortable in a crate while some can take up to six months.

The main consideration here is not to rush your dog. Just understand that they will get it in their own time, be supportive, and keep using postitive reinfocement when training. They will get there.


Crate training a cocker spaniel is an important part of being a responsible dog owner. It’s the most effective way to keep your dog safe while you’re away from home or sleeping. This method works best with puppies and young dogs, so make sure to start this process as soon as possible with your new cocker spaniel friend and they'll be crate trained before you know it.

Allan  Noble
Hi, my name is Allan! I am the owner of Spaniel Advisor and I've got over seven years experience of owning Spaniels.  
I hope this article was helpful for you! 
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