I remember when I first started leaving my spaniel at home, I wasn’t sure how long was too long, and I was eager to find a way to make this less stressful for my best buddy. It’s not ideal to leave our dog’s home alone, but it’s often something we can’t avoid, so for those moments it helps to know the following tips and tricks laid out in this article.
Most adult cocker spaniels can be left home alone for 4-5 hours without issues. Puppies and seniors, on the other hand, should not be left alone for this long. It’s important to work out your spaniel’s tolerance and stick within it.
Can Cocker Spaniels Be Left Alone?
Although the simple answer is yes they can be left alone, it’s no secret that cockers hate being left alone. Cocker spaniels are highly social and crave being with their owners, family, and other dogs as much as possible.
While it’s inevitable that we have to leave our spaniels home alone, it’s certainly recommended to keep the time down to a minimum in all cases. As I will explain further below, there can be many unwanted side effects when a social dog like the spaniel is left alone for too long and too often.
How Long Can Cocker Spaniels Be Left Alone
I gave the average of 4-5 hours after speaking to many cocker spaniel owners at the park, online, and at doggy groups. Four to five hours seemed to be the threshold for most healthy adults.
- Puppy cocker spaniel: 1-3 hours
- Adult cocker spaniel: 4-5 hours
- Senior cocker spaniel: 2-3 hours
When it comes to seniors and puppies, the advice changes. This may sound a little impractical, but dog behavior experts and breeders alike, have come out and said it’s best not to leave puppies under 12 weeks alone at all. Yup, pups under 3 months should ideally have constant company in order for them to remain calm and avoid triggering early anxiety issues.
For senior cocker spaniels (those over 9 years old) they too will need company sooner than an adult would. Depending on their health and life at home, some may tolerate a few hours, and others even less.
Each Cocker Spaniel Has Their Own Tolerance
Although 4-5 hours will be okay for most, the truth is that all cocker spaniels will develop their own tolerance and some will handle being left alone better than others.
For this reason, it’s worth observing your spaniel carefully every time you come home to see if you’ve been gone too long. Signs that indicate you’ve been gone too long include:
- Jittery and overly anxious reaction to your arrival (excessive)
- Excessive howling or barking as you arrive
- Potty accidents (despite being trained and let out earlier)
- Evidence of destructive behavior (scratching on doors, ripping things)
If you notice your cocker spaniel do any of these things, you were probably gone a little too long for their liking.
If you come home to a cocker spaniel that’s sleeping, napping, or looking well-rested, then that’s a good sign. If your spaniel is awake, happy, and excited to see you, that’s also a good sign. But just be cautious of when this excitement appears to be excessive.
It may take a while before you figure out your cocker spaniels personal tolerance, but once you do, it’s crucial to stick within it for the reasons covered below.
Why Cocker Spaniels Shouldn’t Be Left Alone Too Long
So what’s the big deal with leaving our spaniels alone? Let’s run through some of the reasons why you want to avoid leaving your CS home alone all day.
The common issues are seen in dogs that are left home alone too much:
- Increased stress
- Anxiety issues
- Increased aloofness & aggression
- Needy behavior
- Destructive behavior
- Unpredictable behavior
Of course, these issues don’t happen overnight or after one time of leaving them home alone too long. But they are very serious and no dog is immune to these issues. For your spaniel, it could take just a few months of being left alone a little too long before any of those issues develop.
As responsible owners, we have to do what we can to avoid issues like this, and ensure our dogs remain calm and stress-free on a daily basis.
Keeping Your Cocker Spaniel Happy When Home Alone
The following tips and advice are exactly what I wish I knew before I started leaving my spaniel alone. I will admit, some of these are easier to implement than others, but it’s worth taking note of all. These will no doubt help your cocker spaniel remain calm and happy while you’re out.
1. Exercise your spaniel before you leave
It sounds like an obvious one but you would be surprised by how many owners aren’t doing this (including me for a long time). Your spaniel will be far more content if before you leave you spend 30-45 minutes throwing the ball for them at the park.
Without releasing their pent-up energy after a night’s sleep they’re going to get bored, frustrated, and stressed rather quickly. Exercising your cocker spaniel before you leave will be a significant help right off the bat.
2. Leave the radio or TV on
It’s true that leaving the radio or TV helps our dogs, but it’s not because they love the sound of the local host’s voice… It’s because it drowns out external noises that may otherwise keep our dogs on high alert.
If your cocker spaniel can constantly hear people walking by, traffic, or building works, it can really prevent them from resting. If we drown out these noises, our dogs are instantly better ready to calm down and nap.
3. Use an unwashed t-shirt as a comforter
This is one of my favorite tricks, but it’s not suitable for every spaniel. If your spaniel has an issue with chewing and destroying toys or ripping things to shreds, skip this one.
Leaving an unwashed t-shirt down in their bed will provide a potent source of your smell for the duration you are out. As the sense of smell is so powerful in dogs (10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than ours), simply having your smell close by will reassure them. Some experts believe dogs will assume their owner is still at home if they can easily smell them.
4. Hire a dog sitter
The most effective way of keeping your cocker spaniel happy when alone, is, well, to not leave them alone! Hiring a dog sitter for the days you’ll be gone for extra time is a very good idea.
Dog sitting is a well-known service nowadays and you’ll likely have many results appear with a simple Google search. Of course, do your due diligence and check the reviews of each candidate, some services may even let you interview them first.
While this sounds like a lot of work, it’s certainly worth it in the long run. Having someone to come round and play with your spaniel (or even take them for a walk) is hands down the best thing you could do for them. Although many are uncomfortable with the thought of this, we haven’t heard of a single owner regretting it once the setup process is out of the way.
5. Puzzle toys
puzzle toys or otherwise known as interactive toys are a great way to provide mental stimulation and keep your spaniel busy while you’re gone.
Some puzzle toys are most suited for when you are there to assist, but others are set and forget. Toys like the StarMark, KONG, or a SnuffleMat are excellent for setting up just before you leave. These toys (particularly the StarMark) can keep your spaniel occupied for at least 30-45 minutes.
6. Install a pet cam
Pet cameras are essentially indoor CCTV cameras. You can set them up and link the feed to your smartphone. This was you can look at your spaniel at any moment throughout the day.
This can help you understand how she’s doing… You’ll see whether she’s sleeping peacefully, or destroying your couch… Although your situation may not allow you to leave and attend to her, it will at least give you a heads up and you could message a friend or family to check in.
Pet cams are great and I would recommend them to anyone.
Can cocker spaniels be left home alone?
Yes they can but the time should be kept to a minimum. Cocker spaniels are highly social and crave having their owner’s company most of the time.
How long can cocker spaniels be left home alone?
Healthy adult cocker spaniels can usually be left alone for 4-5 hours without issues, but this is just a guideline and should be taken as such. Some spaniels will not tolerate this long, especially puppies and seniors.
When can I leave a puppy cocker spaniel alone?
Puppies under 12 weeks old should not be left alone at all. After 3 months old puppies may be left alone, but it should be kept to an absolute minimum. 1-3 hours is ok for most puppies under 1-year-old.
What will happen If I leave my cocker spaniel alone too long/much?
Many negative side effects can result from leaving your spaniel home alone too often for too long. Stress, anxiety, destructive behavior, depression, disobedience, aloofness, and aggression are all potential issues.
How do you keep a cocker spaniel happy when home alone?
The ultimate way to keep your spaniel happy when home alone is to hire a dog sitter to be with them. Other tips and tricks include exercising them before you leave, leaving the radio on, providing puzzle toys, or using an unwashed t-shirt of yours as a comforter.
Back to more Cocker Spaniel articles