Barking At Night
Cocker Spaniels Barking At Night? No, Not Me
I have a gorgeous show cocker who I have now owned for 5 weeks. When I purchased him the breeder told me he was 14 weeks old, but he was nearly 18 weeks.
Banjo is now approximately 23 weeks old. He has a wonderful nature but is horrendous at night.
Within an hour of going to bed he howls, whines and barks and wakes the children up. I end up having to come down stairs until he goes back to sleep - this can happen several times a night.
Over a week ago he did go to sleep and didn't bother us so we know he can do it. He has 3 walks a day and is played with by the children.
What should I do to encourage him to sleep?!
Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)
Try to work out what is causing your puppy's barking. Has something disrupted his routine? Has anything changed in your home, ie new kitchen fitted, new electrical appliances buzzing at night when everything else is quiet, or a family member not around at the moment?
Is it possible that external lighting is tripping in and bothering him?
He's obviously well-exercised (and I'm sure the children have him run ragged! :) ) so I think we can rule out excess energy keeping him awake.
He could be bored and barking for attention, but I suspect not.
If there's nothing obvious springing to mind, you could try using a water pistol with a little lemon juice and squirt him when he barks. This is usually a very effective method of stopping a barking dog in its tracks but it's better if you're there to respond the minute he barks - in your case, this may not be possible if you're upstairs and he's downstairs. However, it won't hurt to try.
Do you crate your dog at night? If you don't, I strongly recommend it as it will provide him with a safe and cozy 'den' where he can sleep safely. Dogs seem to settle down more easily in a crate. You can follow the link to learn more about crate training.
If you already crate him, try placing a blanket over the crate at night, it may help to keep him quiet.
Dogs learn behaviors and, in this case, yours is probably learning that when he barks you go to him. So next time he barks, if you simply can't ignore him (and you're at the end of your tether) when you go to him don't enter the room he's in until he's quiet (if that's possible). For example, if he stops barking for 5 seconds or more it's probably okay to enter the room. That way, you won't be reinforcing his belief that if he barks you enter the room. On the contrary, it will help to reinforce that if he's quiet, he gets your attention.
I recommend you read this section of an article about your puppy's first night - just check to make sure you're already doing what we recommend.
Slow things down before bedtime (just as you would for children) so that when it's time for bed he's calm and tired. So long as he's safe, fed and watered, been outside to 'potty' and he's comfortable, he shouldn't be barking at all. You know this, I know this, but sometimes our dogs don't know this! Try one or all of the above recommendations - I'm certain at least one of them will work for you.
Don't shout at your puppy or get uptight (easier said than done, eh?) or your puppy will pick up on it and play up all the more. Just stay calm, relaxed and patient and you'll get there.