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Can a Cocker Spaniel Be Left Alone at Home? Facts & Safety Tips

Written by: Greg Iacono

Last Updated on June 28, 2024 by Dogster Team

Cocker Spaniel Puppies

Can a Cocker Spaniel Be Left Alone at Home? Facts & Safety Tips

The Cocker Spaniel is affectionate, energetic, great with kids, and one of America’s favorite dogs. One thing that you might have heard about this breed, though, is that they tend to suffer from separation anxiety. That raises the question: Can a Cocker Spaniel be left alone at home? According to many veterinarians and dog experts, the answer is usually no, and when it’s strictly necessary, you should only leave them for a maximum of 4 hours.

Of course, not all dogs are alike, and some Cocker Spaniels might be able to handle being left alone better than others. If you’re adopting this breed but are worried about leaving them home by themselves, keep reading for safety tips.

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What Is Separation Anxiety in Dogs?

If you’ve owned dogs before, you know that when left alone, some can be destructive and disruptive. However, a dog suffering from separation anxiety will show signs of distress before you leave the house, including barking, drooling, and exhibiting anxious behavior.

Some dogs with separation anxiety will try to escape the house after you leave and in doing so, injure themselves, sometimes severely. Even the most well-trained dogs can have separation anxiety because it has nothing to do with training and everything to do with a dog being upset that their owner is “gone.”

sad english cocker spaniel dog lying on the floor looking sad
Image Credit: OlgaOvcharenko, Shutterstock

Do Cocker Spaniels Suffer From Separation Anxiety?

Unfortunately, yes, Cocker Spaniels suffer from separation anxiety. They are one of the four most common breeds to exhibit separation anxiety, along with the Labrador Retriever, Chihuahua, and German Shepherd.1

Cocker Spaniels suffer so much from this condition because they’re highly social dogs that don’t like being alone. Another reason they tend to get separation anxiety is that they’ve long been bred to be working dogs and form intense attachments to their humans. This attachment creates an extreme need to be around their owners, so when they leave, this can manifest into the condition that we know as separation anxiety. The issue can happen even if a Cocker Spaniel’s owner leaves the house for just a few minutes.

How Long Can a Cocker Spaniel Be Left Alone?

Many veterinarians recommend that you don’t leave your Cocker Spaniel alone for more than 4 hours at a time. It’s also recommended that if you have to leave your pet at home for longer than that, you ask someone to stay with them while you’re gone.

Unfortunately, for some Cocker Spaniels, even an hour might be far too much for them to handle. All dogs are different, of course, and some will be just fine being left alone for a short time. However, leaving the typical Cocker home alone for 8 hours or more is not advised.

Red cocker spaniel sitting on dog bed at home
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

What Are the Signs of Separation Anxiety in Cocker Spaniels?

Several signs will usually be present if your Cocker suffers from separation anxiety and can’t be left alone at home for long periods. Some of the following will occur before you leave, while others will happen after you’ve left. Also, some Cocker Spaniels may exhibit only one or two signs of separation anxiety, while others will have all of them.

These include:
  • Barking excessively
  • Drooling
  • Peeing and pooping on the floor
  • Eating their own poop (coprophagia)
  • Pacing the floor
  • Trying to escape
  • Acting like you’ve been gone for years when you come home

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Can You Train a Cocker Spaniel to Avoid Separation Anxiety?

While there isn’t a specific method for training a Cocker to avoid separation anxiety, you can do a few things to prevent it or at least drastically reduce it.

1. Expose Your Pet to Being Alone at a Young Age

If you adopt a Cocker Spaniel as a puppy, one of the best ways to reduce the chance of separation anxiety is to train them to be alone right from the start. No, you don’t want to go away the entire day (what a mess that would create!), but leaving them alone for an hour is a great start.

If your pet can handle an hour or two, you can gradually leave them alone for longer periods. You should note, however, that no matter how much you train them, some Cocker Spaniels will still have a problem with being left alone for more than a few hours at a time.


2. Prepare to Leave the House But Stay Home Instead

This may sound silly but it actually works. Many Cocker Spaniels will pick up on subtle cues you’re leaving, including putting on your shoes, jangling your keys, and walking toward the front door. When they see these things happen, their separation anxiety kicks in, and the problems start.

To counter this, go through the acts of leaving, including everything you usually do with your keys, coats, shoes, etc. However, instead of leaving, stay home. If you do this often enough, your dog will eventually stop reacting, and their separation anxiety will decrease.

2 month old cute english cocker spaniel puppy on the stairs
Image Credit: Switlana Sonyashna, Shutterstock

3. Gradually Increase the Time You Leave Your Adult Cocker Spaniel Home Alone

If you adopted your Cocker Spaniel as an adult and they have separation anxiety, you have your work cut out for you. One of the best methods to curb the issue is to leave your new pet alone for short periods gradually. How long? That depends on your Cocker and how intensely they suffer from this issue. For some Spaniels, you can start with as little as 5 minutes at a time. Others might be fine with being alone for longer, but patience and persistence will be necessary.


4. Provide as Many Distractions as Possible

This method is also a good one and involves making sure your Cocker Spaniel has lots of toys, bones, and other items that will distract them from the fact that you’ve left the house. Some owners play music when they leave, while others turn on the TV.

sable and tan cocker spaniel lying o the grass while holding a bone
Image Credit: Sue Robinson, Shutterstock

5. Crate Train Your Cocker

Some trainers suggest crate training can reduce separation anxiety in Cocker Spaniels and other dogs. Once they get used to their crate, it will become your pet’s “safe space,” where they feel comfortable and can relax. Crate training should start when your dog is a puppy for the best results. Also, giving your pet their favorite toys when crated is a good idea.

Conclusion

While a Cocker Spaniel can be left home alone, it’s best not to do it for long periods since the breed suffers greatly from separation anxiety. Hopefully, the tips and advice provided here will help you reduce your Cocker’s anxiety and disruptive or destructive behavior.

If your precious pet has a big problem with being home alone, it will take time, patience, and persistence to reduce or eliminate the issue. You should also know that it might never go away completely. If you’re away from home frequently, you’ll need a pet sitter or friend to keep your Cocker from becoming stressed.

See also:


Featured Image Credit: Alkhaine, Pixabay

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