Why Cocker Spaniels Howl? And What you Can Do About it

May 1, 2022

Howling is your Cocker Spaniel's way of communicating with you and the world. Many Cocker owners notice their dog howling when they are not around. They choose this over barking as the sound travels further. Your dog is hoping this sound can reach you and you come home. 

The most common reason for this is separation anxiety. Cocker Spaniels are pack animals. This means they don’t do well left alone. If your neighbour is telling you that your dog is howling while you're at work, this is most likely the reason.

If you're looking for a way to stop your dog from howling then read on. We will cover the main reasons for this behaviour at different times of day and what you can do.

When Does Your Cocker Spaniel Howl? 

A Cocker Spaniel can howl at different times of the day. There are different reasons for it depending. 

If your dog is howling during the day it's most likely due to you not being out at work or being in a different room. As mentioned above, Spaniels are social, pack animals. 

Depending on your dog's sleeping arrangement your dog might howl at night. If your Cocker doesn’t sleep in the same room as you they can experience separation anxiety. 

This can be a challenge if you're trying to train your dog to spend the night in a specific room. Your Spaniel might go through a time of adjustment until they are accustomed to it.

Cockers can also howl in their sleep. Like people, dogs dream and can have nightmares. It can be incredibly cute. Thankfully it is unlikely this will happen that often but there is not much you can do about it.  

Top 10 Tips to Stop a Cocker Spaniel Howling

The good news is there are many solutions to a howling cocker spaniel. Here are our top 10 tips to stop your spaniel howling at day or night.

#1 - Exercise Before you Leave

First up is exercise. If your Cocker Spaniel suffers from separation anxiety while you're away during the day, tiring your dog out can be a great solution

It doesn’t matter if it is going for a walk, throwing the ball in the park for a half-hour or even just playing inside. After they’ve had a good run around your Spaniel will want to do nothing but rest and will spend a lot of their time relaxing or sleeping. This means they won’t have the energy to make noise. 

#2 - Give your Dog a Stuffed Kong

A stuffed Kong is a great way to keep your Cocker occupied for hours. There is no shortage of fillings to pack it with. Your dog will be distracted for at least an hour. 

This solution is great if you need to nip out for an afternoon and have a particularly vocal dog. 

#3 - Leave the T.V. or Radio On

Leaving the T.V. or radio on while you're out can offer a little comfort to your dog. It can help keep them calm and make them feel like someone is home. And the voice will soothe and help with anxiety.  

This tip gets mixed feedback from dog owners. Definitely worth a shot if you're struggling to keep your Cocker quiet during the day.  

#4 - Leave Clothes with a Familiar Scent

There is one smell that can make your Cocker Spaniel feel calm and relaxed. That is your scent. Studies have shown that the reward centre of your dog's brain lights up when they smell their owner. 

This scent can soothe and relax your dog and is a great way to mitigate separation anxiety. Try leaving a piece of clothing that you have recently worn and they will feel like you are close. 

#5 - Use Crate Training

Crate training is very popular with dog owners. It offers a safe space for your dog to call its own and retreat to when it. A crate can be a useful tool when it comes to making your dog feel comfortable and relaxed. Particularly during the night. 

If you are trying to get your dog to sleep in a specific space like downstairs but finding that your Spaniel is howling during the night you might want to try a crate.

The first step is to place that crate in your room. Allowing your dog to be close to you so they don’t feel alone. Over time gradually move that crate further and further apart. Firstly move the crate outside of your room. If your dog howls once it’s moved make sure you don’t go outside your room. It will just show your dog they only have to make a noise to get your attention. Just speak to your dog through the door. 

Move it away step by step until you have the crate in the place you want the dog to sleep each night.

#6 - Reward Good Behavior

Another way you can reinforce positive behaviour with your dog is to randomly reward good behavior. If your dog is quiet and not creating a ruckus show him you appreciate it. Cockers are smart and will soon pick up on what they need to do to keep the treats coming.

#7 - Don’t use Harsh Treatment

It’s important to remember that a Cocker Spaniel will howl as a result of separation anxiety. Giving your dog a hard time is a terrible idea. They miss you and should not be punished for it. 

Also, Cocker Spaniels are gentle souls and don’t deal well with harsh treatment. 

#8 Ignore your Dog

This may sound mean but ignoring bad behaviour can be a great solution to the problem. If your Cocker realises that they get attention when they make noise they will do it every time. 

I know this one can be hard to do. Especially if your dog is making noise late at night. Unfortunately giving in will only encourage this behaviour in the future.

Once their behaviour improves be sure to reward it as detailed in tip six.

#9 Don’t Make a Big Deal of Leaving and Arriving Home

Any time you come and go don’t make a big deal out of it to your dog. Don’t make a big deal of it for the first few minutes before you come home or leave. 

#10 Take your Cocker Spaniel to Dog Classes

If you find you’ve tried a few of the previous tips with limited success, dog classes could be the solution. Working with a professional can be a great solution. Their expertise and knowledge can help even the most prolific howlers in check. 

Search online for a dog trainer in your local area. 


Can Howling Mean Something is Wrong?

In short, yes. While the most common reason is separation anxiety, it is possible for a Cocker Spaniel to howl when they are sick or in pain. 

If you notice your Spaniel howls more than usual and is a bit more lethargic you want to take them to your Vet. It is always better to be safe than sorry. 

Do Cocker Spaniels Howl for Attention?

Once your dog realises that they can howl to get their way, they will. No matter if it is for food, attention, or toys. If this happens, ignore this behaviour and reward silence with a treat, petting or a toy.


Cocker Spaniel does howl but there is always a reason for it.

Most commonly this is separation anxiety. It’s crucial to remember that Cocker’s are pack animals. They love their family and don’t like to be left alone.

It will take time to solve this. You can expect it to last a few months to get it under control. But by integrating the advice above you’ll manage to stop your dog from howling with ease. 

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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