How to Potty Train a Cocker Spaniel

June 19, 2022

Learning how to potty train you Cocker Spaniel is one of the most important first steps of dog ownership. Your new puppy does not know the house rules, will need to pee every one to two hours and cannot hold it in, almost like babies.

Your home has so many new strange smells that the cocker puppy will want to add his own smell to gain security. This is why training process needs to start on day one and below advice can help.

Remember, Cocker Spaniel is a sensitive breed and will not respond well to harsh behaviour, so positive reinforcement is the best way to go.

Basics of Cocker Spaniel Potty Training

It is a natural instinct for dogs to mark new territory and leave their scent behind. This combined with the anxiety of an unknown area and a small bladder will mean your puppy can make little puddles while investigating his new home.

But, you can teach the little Cocker Spaniel puppy the rules and keep an eye on signs that suggest it will need a pee or a poo. Each sign is a chance to toilet train your dog.

When to Take the Cocker Spaniel Out?

A Cocker Spaniel puppy can be quite predictable. If you have a routine for when to feed the Cocker Spaniel and a regular daily schedule, it can be easy to know when to take your dog out:

  • First thing in the morning and after naps.
  • Twenty minutes after eating. Cocker Spaniels will need to poo quite soon after a meal.
  • Ten minutes after drinking. He might not always pee, but better safe than sorry.
  • Last thing at night before bed.
  • After spending time in the crate. The pup might be holding it in, not wanting to soak his own bed, so safer to take him out straight after.
  • After play time. Running around can make them more likely to need a pee.
  • Every 1-2 hours as puppies have small bladders. Yes, that includes a night time pee.

Signs to Watch Out for When Potty Training

  • Sniffing the floor
  • Circling the same spot
  • Squatting
  • Crying
  • Running back and forth to the back door

When you notice any signs of this behaviour, pick up your puppy and take him from the room to the yard and encourage him to go.

Cocker Spaniel puppy should not be left alone for more than a few minutes when toilet training. The pup has a small bladder and you need to watch him to not miss accidents like urine puddles on the carpet.

Also, separation anxiety can trigger a pee.

When fully house trained, they won't require to be taken out this often.

Puppy Potty Training Top Tips

Have a Command

Train you puppy to have a command. Same as you teach your dog to wait and sit, you should have a word to support Cocker Spaniel potty training.

Example phrases to use are "be quick", "go pee" or "do toilet". Remember, you might be using these words when out in public through your training process, so make sure you are comfortable with the chosen phrase.

When your Cocker Spaniel starts peeing use the selected phrase to encourage him and to train your puppy to associate the words with the action.

Have a Potty Spot

Cocker spaniels become creatures of habit. For example, a dog who is trained to toilet only on a long walk will expect this as the norm.

However, it is a good idea to train a Cocker Spaniel to have a location in the garden as their go to spot to toilet.

Having a spot will also make it easier for puppy owners to know where to pick up the poo and avoid the mess.

It is best to pick a spot that is not too close to the house to avoid the smell.

The first visits to the spot should be done on lead. The owner can walk the cocker to the spot and wait until the business is done. The leash will stop the puppy from running around the garden and helps him learn that this is the spot.

Praise your Cocker Spaniel Puppy

The house training can be a confusing process for the puppy. Sometimes he will just not get it right.

That's why it is important to give positive reinforcement to the puppies. Good behaviour needs to be praised to make the toilet training a wonderful experience for the puppy.

Praising puppies after doing toilet outside will make them feel happy and eager to continue training.

We do not recommend giving treats, as puppies will need to toilet frequently, you can end up overfeeding them.

Be Persistent

It is important to stick to training however hard it gets. Consistency is key. While dogs can stop peeing in the house within weeks, it normally takes around four to six months to establish a solid toilet routine.

When you take your dog out, you need to stay next to him until he has done his business. Otherwise, the dog might forget what he is there for and start sniffing around and playing.

Sometimes when you take your cocker out, they might not do anything. In that case you can take them back inside and try again in 15 minutes.

However, if you know your dog has just had a big drink or has just woken up, you need to be persistent and just wait. Your cocker will soon realize there is a reason you have taken him to the pee spot and do what is needed.

Methods of House Training

There are a few methods you can employ to house train a dog. The most popular is training pads. Cocker Spaniels are smart and will pick it up quickly. Another great method is crate training.

Let's look into these options in more depth.

Puppy Training Pads

Most supermarkets will sell puppy pads. These sheets are scented to attract the puppy to do their business on the pad that is normally absorbent and easy to pick up and throw away.

You can also use a newspaper, which is cheaper, but can be messier.

There are some positive reasons to use puppy pads.

  • Convenient to use to avoid accidents, especially if you live in an apartment or have impaired mobility that stops you from getting to the garden fast.
  • Easy clean up and you can place them anywhere.
  • Great to keep your dog safe if you have a shared garden and need to wait until you pup has gained immunity from vaccines
  • The puppy owner can avoid going for night time pees.

However, puppy pads can also have drawbacks.

  • Can make the training process longer. The whole premise of toilet training is to teach your dog to go outside, so giving a spot inside will give the cocker mixed message.
  • Chewing risk. Your cocker may want to chew the pads and carry the mess around the house.
  • Can make the puppy dependent on pee pads.

There is no right or wrong answer regarding puppy pads, it is really up to the owner and what best suits them.

Crate Training for Cocker Spaniels

A way to train a Cocker Spaniel puppy is crate training. A crate can also help with establishing a good toilet routine.

A puppy will not want to go where it sleeps and soak his bed, so you can use the crate to avoid accidents at night or when you are out.

Just remember to take the dog to toilet as soon as you open the crate.

It is likely you will hear puppy cries when getting the dog used to the crate.

Tips for Potty Training at Night

While the puppy is still young, it cannot hold the bladder through the night.

To get an idea of how long they might be able to hold their bladder use one hour for every month old your puppy is. Of course, this doesn't scale past your pup being several months old. It does offer a good guideline for young dogs though

To continue a solid routine, it is best to set an alarm during the night and take the puppy out to the spot as usual.

With time puppy's bladder will become bigger and he won't need the night time pee anymore. Or if he does, the dog might ask for it himself.

Another option is to keep the puppy in a small area during the night and cover the floor with puppy pads so the dog can go there instead.

While this will not speed the process of having your dog fully house trained, it will help you have a proper sleep.

Never put puppy pads in the crate. You do not want to encourage them to consider the crate as an option.

Also, it is recommended to restrict your dog's water intake before bed. Let him have the last drink about 2 hours before bed, so they will need less pees and poos through the night.


Accidents will happen from time to time.

Do not make a big deal over an accident and never put your puppy's nose into it when you find a puddle. Your dog will not understand he has done anything wrong.

If you catch your dog when he gets ready to poo, you should interrupt him by telling "no" and quickly take him outside. This will make him understand the pattern.

The most important thing is to clean the accident up as soon as you can. If the smell lingers, it can make the dog want to use the same spot again.

While you can use soap and hot water, the best option is to use biological dog specific odour removal cleaners which will eliminate the smell.

Potty Training Adult Cocker Spaniel

It might also be the case that your new dog is not a puppy. Maybe you have got a dog from a kennel or a stray who has never been house trained.

The good news is, the tips are still the same for training. You need to be consistent and keep taking the dog outside.

Also, it is likely your older dog will need less trips than a puppy.

However, if he keeps peeing inside, it can also be a sign of a medical issue that is worth talking to the vet about.


House training your puppy is not difficult, but it does take persistence and patience.

You have to remember that accidents are not the dog's fault as the little puppy will need to empty his bladder one way or another.

You will need to keep an eye on the dog to notice the signs that your companion needs a pee or a poo and take him out regularly.

Your little pup may even force you to wake up in the middle of the night.

However, if you are consistent with training, the pup will learn the house rules and you will not need to be afraid of stepping in to puddles in your house no more.

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.  
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