Do Cocker Spaniels Bark a Lot?

May 15, 2022

Cocker Spaniels are kind-natured, affectionate dogs. But they do have a reputation for being notorious barkers.

While all dogs bark this breed is known for being a bit more of a prolific barker than others. Barking is your dog's way of communicating with you. This is definitely not to be confused with growling and in the vast majority of cases has nothing to do with aggression.

Anyone who has a cocker spaniel will happily tell you they are gentle souls.

In this article, we will cover what makes cocker spaniels bark, and a few strategies you can employ to stop or reduce the amount your dog barks.

What Makes a Cocker Spaniel Bark?

Let's start by defining what makes a cocker spaniel bark. Broadly speaking, dogs bark as a response to situations, events, stimuli, people, animals, excitement, or to communicate their dissatisfaction.

Sometimes if you can't see what your dog is barking for it can be quite frustrating hopefully after reading this article you'll be well equipped to recognise and deal with excessive barking.

There is no shortage of reasons why your dog may bark. We will dig into each of these areas and more in detail below.

Being Left Alone

Cocker Spaniels are very social dogs and don't respond well to being alone for long periods. Cockers need companionship and require a lot more interaction than other dog breeds. You should not leave them alone for more than a few hours at most.

When left alone Cocker Spaniels can bark, or even howl to get attention. Being left alone can also lead to more destructive behaviour such as destroying furniture, chewing, or ripping up any letters or other paper lying around.

This breed also suffers quite badly from separation anxiety. This is bad for their mental health. Not a problem unique to Cocker Spaniels.

There are quite a few things you can do to curb negative behaviour which is the result of frustration, loneliness, or boredom. This includes ensuring your dog gets plenty of exercise, mentally stimulating puzzles left for them, or even a second pet like a cat or another can help here.

Looking for Attention

A very common reason for barking is that your dog is plainly just looking for attention.

There can be a number of reasons why your cocker spaniel might bark in this situation. Not all of which are negative.

A few reasons a cocker spaniels bark for attention could include:

  • Desperate to go to the toilet
  • Looking to go out for a walk
  • It's dinner time. Dogs have an accurate internal clock for this.
  • Simply making demands. This can be when you are making your own food. Is that chicken I smell?

While you should ignore your dog just making demands you can't give them into trouble for needing a pee or having too much pent up energy. That comes down to the owner really.

Territorial Barking

Next up we have territorial barking. This is actually one of the most common reasons you'll hear a dog bark.

Dogs are naturally territorial and form a strong bond with their families. This bond paired with the protectiveness of their home can make a Cocker Spaniel a bit defensive.

You can hear warning barks about perceived danger in a broad range of situations.

Examples of this could be:

  • A delivery driver or postman
  • The doorbell ringing/knock on the door
  • A cat in the garden
  • Strange noises around the house
  • Other dogs
  • Phone ringing
  • Smoke alarm

The list goes on. And barking gets louder as the 'threat' comes closer.

It is easy to mistake this behaviour as aggression. But it is not really, it's just a dog being territorial.

One of the main problems with the scenarios above is that barking can make the 'threat' go away.

Take these examples:

  • Cat in the garden. Cocker barks. The cat moves along.
  • A delivery person knocks on the door. Cocker barks. Parcel delivered and guy leaves.

In both of these situations, your cocker spaniels barked and the problem went away. So next time this happens again naturally they'll go to what worked before.

In fairness, this behaviour can make cocker spaniels good watchdogs, as long as they are not seen, of course. Too cute to be scary.

This part can be particularly challenging to deal with but there are still ways we can reduce the amount it happens as you'll learn in the next section.

Not socialized

A poorly socialised cocker spaniel is likely to bark more often. There might not even be a discernable reason.

This can actually relate to the territorial barking above in that a cocker spaniel who is not used to its environment can act defensively.

This defensiveness doesn't only apply to their home but can also include:

  • Other dogs in the park
  • Other animals. Cats, squirrels... or cats again.
  • People or even just children
  • Specific environments. For example, busy cities if they only lived in rural areas.

It is best to try to tackle this one while they are still a young puppy. Socialising your dog in later life can be more challenging.

Place your dog in these situations more often and show them that there is no reason to be defensive. Attending puppy classes can also help here.


Dogs can also bark out of excitement. Just like people, they like to express themselves when they feel excited.

This can occur in many situations. Here are a few examples:

  • About to be fed
  • Going for a walk
  • Playing with toys

Cocker spaniels are intelligent dogs and will pick up on patterns of behaviour or any pre-walk or feeding cues. This could set them into a barking spree.

Pain or Illness

Your cocker spaniel can also bark when in pain or discomfort. This bark will be notably different from the excited bark being a bit more continuous and low-pitched.

There can be a little sadness in this bark. Your dog is asking for help.

If you hear your cocker spaniel barking in the way described above check them over for injuries and call the vet to have a professional take a look. Much better to play it safe.

Compulsive Barking

Compulsive barking is when your cocker spaniel barks for no reason more than the enjoyment of hearing their voice.

This type of barking is a behavioural issue and can be a nuisance. Unlike other reasons for barking where we can tie it to a specific trigger. This is just random.

It is common to see your dog run in circles or have other repetitive movements while barking.

The solution to this issue is obedience training sessions with a dog trainer.

How Can I Stop or Reduce the Amount My Cocker Spaniel Barks?

Yes, spaniels bark a lot. But the good news is that there are many ways you can stop or cut down the amount your dog barks and the triggers they respond to.

Before taking any action it is important to identify the reason your cocker spaniel is making noise. Not all actions below will work with each issue.

Some methods used to address excessive barking are very simple and straight forward while others require constant training or even professional help.

Let's run through your options now.

Ignore the Barking

First up is a simple and very effective yet often overlooked option. Just ignore your cocker spaniel for as long as they bark.

While they are barking you should not look at, touch, or talk to your cocker spaniel. Any action will only reward their behaviour and show that they can make some noise to get their way.

What you want to do instead is reward your dog after they stop. Dogs are smart they'll soon enough draw the connection between this behaviour and treats.

It is worth noting that this method will take time and consistency to work. If you live with others you will want to make sure everyone is taking the same approach if your cocker spaniel barks.

Also, this will be far easier to do inside than outside given the fewer distractions.

A well-trained cocker spaniel will pick it up faster. If you are finding it challenging to make progress. Don't fret, just stick with it and your cocker will catch on soon enough.

Just make sure as previously mentioned that you are not ignoring your dog if they are barking to go to the toilet or due to a health problem.

Works best for:

  • Looking for attention:
    • Looking for food
    • Playing with toys
    • You just came home.

Keep your Cocker Spaniel Tired

Ensuring your cocker spaniel is well exercised both physically and mentally can have far more benefits than just reducing barking.

It's very likely they just have far too much pent up energy.

There is a fairly easy fix to this.

You just need to ensure your cocker spaniel gets plenty of exercise. Especially if you are planning to be out for a while.

For a physical workout take your cocker spaniel out for a nice long walk or throw the ball in the park for a while.

To make sure your dog is mentally satisfied get plenty of dog puzzles to solve for treats. There is no shortage of options available here. It's only limited by your imagination really. You can buy one from your local pet store or even just make one on your own.

There are also Kongs you can stuff treats into such as banana or dog peanut butter. This will keep your dog occupied for ages.

Works best for:

Being alone/separation anxiety

Being tired from a long walk will mean that your dog is sleeping or working out how to get that tasty treat out of the puzzle.

All of this is less time to focus on a strange noise or the fact you are not home.


If your cocker spaniel has been out for a long walk it's likely they will just want to sleep on the sofa


This method of dealing with when a cocker spaniels bark excessively aims to reduce the number of things your dog recognises as a threat.

Try to place your dog in as many situations, environments, around people, and other animals as possible, gently and let the dog set the pace. Over time this will desensitise your dog to specific triggers.

For better socialisation, if your dog is not a fan of other people and barks when one comes to your home. Perhaps you could gradually introduce him to a family friend who they are less familiar with showing that new people are just new friends.

Treats will of course help here. Cocker spaniels love anyone who offers food.

It is best to start this young for maximum effectiveness. This can work with adult dogs too, it will just take more time.

This method will work well for territorial barking or dogs who are a bit weird with people or dogs. Please just remember to go at your dog's pace. We know our dogs and it's easy to tell when they are not comfortable.

Desensitisation to Stimuli

This one is very similar to the above section on socialization. Work out what the triggering your cocker spaniels to bark and begin to introduce this more showing your dog that it isn't a treat.

Sometimes our dogs react to things we highlight as issues. They are read us so don't make a big deal out of things and it's likely your little friend won't either.

For example, does the dog keep barking at the doorbell? Ring your doorbell more frequently and show your cocker spaniel that nothing exciting is happening.

You can train them to get used to whatever is causing the barking.

Strict Policy of Food

Does your dog bark every single time you are at your kitchen counter? Perhaps they have just got into the habit of knowing that making noise will result in getting some of that tasty food being prepared.

This point kind of circles back to the ignoring your dog section. Just draw a hard line on feeding your dog outside of mealtimes or treats. But not when you are preparing food.

Keep this up and soon enough they will get the message. Barking is futile, no chance of food.

Create a Distraction

Taking your cocker spaniels focus away from what is causing them to bark can be a quick and effective strategy. Particularly for territorial barking.

Use could use your voice or throw a toy. Just be careful not to accidentally scare your dog as this could cause a wide range of other issues.

Be careful if you choose to play to distract your dog as this might make them feel rewarded which they may associate with barking. If you are using this method you will want to preempt the cocker spaniels bark.

Seek Help from a Dog Trainer

Not having much luck with the above methods? Might be time to enlist a professional dog trainer or dog behaviour expert.

These canine professionals have the skills and experience to break through to even the most stubborn barkers.

This method can work for any of the reasons for barking and can be the most effective for compulsive barking out of this list.


All dogs bark. It would be unreasonable to expect otherwise. Cocker spaniels bark quite a bit more than the average dog. No matter if you have an English cocker spaniel or an American one. They are very vocal dogs.

It happens for a wide range of reasons. The good news is that no matter if your dog is barking for your attention or at a delivery guy there are plenty of ways to reduce the amount it happens.

This behaviour is a natural response to a wide range of stimuli. And that is what you need to pay most attention to. What is causing your dog to bark? From there you will be able to make a plan on how to move forward.

If you are implementing some of the advice above remember to stay positive. A cocker spaniel won't respond well to harsh treatment. And definitely be consistent. It might take time for your dog to catch up.

Hopefully, this article has armed you with useful strategies on how to effectively deal with a when your cocker spaniel bark.

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! 
Spaniel Advisor aims to be the top online resource for sharing information about all Spaniel breeds. 
Copyright 2022 - All Rights Reserved.