How to Potty Train a Cocker Spaniel

How to Potty Train a Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels are eager to please, so you can use their natural disposition to get them potty trained pretty painlessly. Learn how here.

Cocker Spaniels are known for their gentle disposition and sociable nature. As the smallest dogs registered with the American Kennel Club in the sporting group, these dogs require daily exercise to keep them happy and healthy, and part of that includes bathroom breaks outdoors. Because they were originally bred as hunting dogs, Cocker Spaniels are eager to please their owners and take to positive, reward-based training quickly. Use this technique to prevent any soiling accidents in your home by properly potty training your Cocker Spaniel.

Step 1

Choose a spot outdoors, in a quiet corner of your yard or the surrounding area, that you can bring your Cocker Spaniel to every time the dog needs to eliminate. In areas where inclement weather is prevalent, pick a spot sheltered from the weather by an awning or roof overhang.

Take your Cocker Spaniel's preference into consideration. The dog may prefer a surface other than grass to eliminate on, such as soil or mulch.

Step 2

Interrupt your Cocker Spaniel if you catch your cocker spaniel eliminating indoors by making a loud sound, such as clapping your hands. Bring your dog outdoors as quickly as possible on a leash when this happens. Cocker Spaniel weight varies from 15 to 30 pounds -- if your dog is small enough, pick your dog up and carry your dog outdoors to the elimination spot. Carrying your Cocker Spaniel outside makes it impossible for your dog to void or defecate inside and reinforces the outdoor potty training. Do not punish your dog. Simply clean up the excrement and move on. Punishment does nothing to train cocker spaniels and can make them fearful of you and the training process.

Step 3

Leash your Cocker Spaniel and bring your dog outdoors to the bathroom spot. Make sure your dog is comfortable. If there is inclement weather, you could even dress your dog in a raincoat or a sweater! If your Cocker Spaniel is not comfortable, it may develop an aversion to going outside. Carry small treats in your pocket, but don't let your Cocker Spaniel know you have the treats, or you will distract them.

Step 4

Say "Potty" or "Get Busy," and wait a few minutes for your cocker spaniel to eliminate. If your dog does eliminate, praise your dog verbally and give the dog a treat. Because Cocker Spaniels are an active breed, engage your dog in a fun game of fetch or a walk as part of the dog's reward.

Step 5

Return back indoors if your Cocker Spaniel didn't eliminate, and wait 15 minutes before returning to the spot outdoors again. While in the house, keep your Cocker Spaniel on a leash to supervise your dog and prevent it from eliminating indoors. If you can't supervise the dog, put your dog in a crate for 15 minutes. Continue this process until your cocker spaniel eliminates in the outdoor bathroom spot. Praise and reward the dog when it eliminates properly. Always wait until the deed has been done. Never interrupt the dog while it is in the process of eliminating, or it will get excited and stop the act.

Step 6

Feed your Cocker Spaniel on a consistent schedule and take the dog out every two hours until it regularly eliminates outdoors. Once your dog eliminates properly, increase the time between bathroom breaks. Because Cocker Spaniels are small dogs, more frequent bathroom breaks are necessary for them due to their small bladders, even as adults.

If you are out of the house for long periods during the day, arrange for a dog walker to come to your home at least once during the day so that your cocker spaniel doesn't have to hold their urine for more than four to five hours at a time. A dog should never be crated for more than four to five hours anyway.

Tips & Warnings

  • Smaller Cocker Spaniels can also be trained to go potty indoors using a doggie litter box or artificial grass patch. Use the same series of steps to teach your dog to use this area.
  • If your Cocker Spaniel has trouble eliminating, this could indicate a medical issue, such as urinary stones. Bring your dog to a veterinarian for treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to toilet-train a cocker spaniel puppy?

The amount of time it takes to toilet-train a cocker spaniel puppy can vary. It typically takes between 4 to 6 months for a puppy to be fully toilet-trained, although some puppies may take longer. Consistency and patience are key factors in successful toilet training. It's important to establish a regular routine for your puppy and to reward them for going to the toilet in the appropriate place. Positive reinforcement and consistency in training will help the puppy understand what is expected of them.

What age should a cocker spaniel be toilet trained?

Most puppies can begin learning the basics of toilet training at around 3 to 4 months of age. It's important to remember that puppies have small bladders and may not be able to hold their urine for long periods of time, so they will need to go outside frequently. By 6 months old, most cocker spaniel puppies should be fully toilet-trained, but this can vary depending on the individual puppy and how well they have been trained. It's best to start toilet training as soon as you bring the puppy home by taking them out to the designated potty area frequently, rewarding them for going potty there, and keeping a close eye on them to prevent accidents.

How often do cocker spaniel puppies pee?

Cocker spaniel puppies, like all puppies, have small bladders and will need to go to the toilet frequently. Generally, puppies need to go outside to pee about once every hour, but this can vary depending on the individual puppy, their age, and their level of training. During the early stages of toilet training, it's important to take your puppy out to their designated potty area frequently, such as after they wake up from a nap, after they eat or drink, and before they go to bed. As they get older and their bladder control improves, they will be able to hold their urine for longer periods of time. It's important to keep a close eye on the puppy, especially when they are inside the house, to prevent accidents. If you notice your puppy sniffing, circling, or whining, take them outside right away.

What is the hardest dog to house train?

House-training any dog can be a challenge, but some breeds may be more difficult to train than others. Small breeds, like toy breeds and miniature breeds, may be more difficult to house-train because they have small bladders and may not be able to hold their urine for long periods of time. Also, breeds that are naturally more independent or stubborn may take longer to train. Dogs with high energy levels and hunting breeds like Beagles, Basset hounds, and some Terrier breeds can be harder to house-train, as their natural instincts to follow their nose may override their training.

Why are cocker spaniels hard to potty train?

Cocker spaniels are not inherently difficult to potty train, but like all dogs, they can present their own set of challenges during the training process. One reason that some people may find cocker spaniels hard to potty train is that they are naturally curious and eager to explore their environment, which can make it difficult for them to focus on going to the toilet in a specific spot. This means that it may take them longer to understand where they are supposed to go. Another reason that cocker spaniels may be harder to potty train is that they are known to be sensitive and may become easily stressed or anxious. This can make training more difficult as the puppy may not respond well to harsh training methods. Also, Cocker spaniels are also known to be prone to separation anxiety, which can lead to accidents if they are left alone for too long. This can make it difficult to train them to hold their urine until they are taken out.

More on Dog Training

7 Tricks To House Training A Puppy
Training An Older Dog
Products To Improve Your Dog Training

References & Resources

American Kennel Club: AKC Meet the Breeds: Cocker Spaniel
The American Spaniel Club: Owning a Cocker
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: House Training Your Puppy
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: House Training Your Adult Dog
The Humane Society of the United States: Housetraining Puppies

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by,your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.

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