My Cocker Spaniel Howls
My cocker spaniel is now 7 months old and she howls. In the day, if I go to the toilet, she will howl.
She didn't do this when we first got her.
When we leave to go out, she will howl. I don't think she keeps howling the whole time but my neighbours report that she does do it.
It's becoming an issue as occasionally she will howl at 3:00am.
Some people say ignore it and we have tried that but it doesn't appear to be working...have you any advice?
Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)
It sounds like you cocker may be suffering from separation anxiety and then some, especially if she howls when you're in the toilet!
Dogs howl as a way of communicating with each other over long distances (the howl carries much further than a bark or a growl) and it may be that she's trying to 'communicate' with you when you're not there.
Howling can be fairly disturbing, especially if it happens during the night, but it is possible to remedy with a bit of additional training.
You might like to try the following:
- Try giving her more exercise to tire her out so that when you go out, she's relaxed and may settle down more quietly, perhaps even sleep!
- Give her lots of playtime - throw her a ball, a Frisbee, play tug-of-war or hide and seek, etc. and give her a stuffed Kong if you're going out for any length of time. A Kong will keep her occupied which means she'll have less time to miss you.
- Leave her with a worn t-shirt or nightwear that will have your scent on it - that may be a great comfort to her while you're away.
- Use her crate more often. Make a point of placing her in there, even while you're at home. Leave her for a few minutes and gradually build up to an hour or so. You want her to feel happy in her crate, and not want to have her following you around the house all day. The less 'dependent' on you she is, the better.
When you leave the room, or leave the house, no fuss, no long goodbyes - just go. When you return, act as though you've never been away and don't pet her until she's calm. Take off your coat, shoes, put away your shopping - settle yourself in before petting her. Sounds rather cruel doesn't it? It's not, I promise you. You will be helping her by doing this. When you're ready you can give her lots of cuddles and a little treat.
There's a lot more to separation anxiety
than I've written here and I recommend you follow the link to the article and read it fully. There are many recommendations to help with your dog's anxiety.
Follow the recommendations and you may see an improvement in a week or so, but it usually takes a couple of months at least to remedy. Don't expect it to ever go away completely as it's also a lot to do with your dog's sensitivity.
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