How to Control a Cocker Spaniel That Is Barking

The cocker spaniel can be a friendly dog that needs only moderate exercise and is usually peaceful with other pets. However, this breed can develop separation anxiety when left alone for too long, which may lead to destructiveness and excessive barking. And the breed does have a tendency to sound the alarm at every sight and sound. If you own a cocker spaniel that barks too much, you must determine what is causing the barking and learn how to put a stop to it.

Figure out what is causing your cocker spaniel to bark. If it's because she is left alone too much and needs more exercise and mental stimulation, you will need to address these issues. Have a dog sitter visit if you work long hours, walk your cocker spaniel more, or entertain him with stimulating toys such as a Kong stuffed with treats.

Make sure you are not unknowingly rewarding the barking. If you are petting your cocker spaniel and he barks as soon as you stop, and then you pet him some more, you are reinforcing the barking behaviour. If you open the door when your cocker spaniel is barking, instead of when she quiets down, you are encouraging her to bark. Work on giving your dog attention only when she is quiet.

Determine if your cocker spaniel is engaging in territorial barking. If he is barking when seeing people or other dogs pass by your property, it may help to minimise your dog's view of the outside. The ASPCA' s Virtual Pet Behaviorist says it helps to apply plastic film to windows or to use spray-based glass coatings to obscure the areas your cocker spaniel so eagerly guards .

Control you cocker spaniel's barking by teaching the ''quiet command." When your dog barks, approach her and calmly but firmly say ''quiet.'' Prompt her to stop barking by readily feeding small treats one after another. Repeat as necessary, until your cocker spaniel understands what quiet means. Gradually, increase the length of time between the quiet command and the giving of treats.

Fill an aluminium can with several coins and shake the can when your cocker spaniel barks. The sudden noise startles your dog and make him stop barking. Right when he stops barking, calmly say ''quiet'' and then feed your dog some treats. Repeat as necessary.

Put your cocker spaniel in a citronella no-bark collar when all other tips to reduce barking have failed and after you have ascertained your dog is not barking out of fear, anxiety or compulsion. A citronella bark collar can be an effective tool against nuisance barking by delivering a mist of citronella every time the dog barks.


Increase exercise, mental stimulation and social contact to reduce barking due to boredom. If your cocker spaniel is barking out of frustration, the best way to deal with this is to teach better impulse control. If your cocker spaniel tends to bark when left outdoors in the yard, bring her inside: Dogs are social animals and do best when in company of their owners. Many dogs learn to stop barking when wearing a no-bark collar and start barking again once it is off.


Never physically punish your cocker spaniel for barking. This may encourage defensive aggression. Avoid saying ''Who's there'' or getting up to look out when your dog is barking. Do not punish your cocker spaniel if she is barking out of fear or anxiety. Doing so will only make the problem worse. Never tie your dog's muzzle shut or use a muzzle when your dog is unsupervised. This can be inhumane and downright dangerous.

Things You'll Need

  • Kong
  • Plastic film
  • Spray based glass coating
  • Dog treats
  • Aluminium can with lid
  • Coins
  • Citronella bark collar
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About the Author

Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.