Cocker Spaniel Toilet Training Lapses

Cocker Spaniel toilet training issues are not unheard of. It's not just the Cocker breed either; many adult dogs may have minor setbacks with toilet training.

It's not surprising that questions about adult dog house training surface from time to time. Here are some of our visitors' questions and answers; I hope you enjoy them!

If you prefer, you can go straight to toilet training your adult Cocker Spaniel.

House Training Dogs...A Second Time Around!

Please, I need your help!

My 3-year-old Cocker Spaniel is messing in my kitchen, and I don't know what to do about it. My dog doesn't just pee; he poops too!

I've tried all the popular scent removal products with no luck at all.

My dog is fed early in the day, so it gives him plenty of time to do his business, but I still wake up in the mornings to a mess in the kitchen.

Golden Cocker Spaniel lying on a leather sofa.This little Cocker Spaniel needs no toilet training - he's dry!

When my dog sleeps with me in my bedroom, or I sleep on the settee, he doesn't do anything during the night (however, my wife is unhappy if I bring him into the bedroom - so I can't win!)

Can you please help me?

Question: My Cocker Spaniel Is Messing In My Kitchen!
By: Andy (Scotland)

Cocker Spaniel Toilet Training Issues: Messing In My Kitchen

Reply from Pauline (Website Owner)

Hi Andy,

You don't say whether your Cocker Spaniel has just started to mess on the floor or whether he has always done this.

I am assuming he was previously house-trained, but his toilet-training habits have recently slipped.

To resolve this problem, we need to work out what is causing your dog to suddenly behave this way. Then we'll be in a position to deal with it.

Ask your vet to give your Cocker Spaniel a quick once-over so that you can be sure everything is working well down there and that there are no health problems.

Here are some likely causes for peeing and pooping in the house.

Stress Caused by Change can Trigger Toilet Problems

Stress brought on by change can cause a dog to misbehave in this way.

Has there been any trauma that could be causing your dog to pee and poop in the house? For example, moving house, changes in the household, changes in routine, or the death of a pet?

Changes like these often upset our pets and cause them to react differently. Could this be why your cocker spaniel is peeing or pooping in your kitchen?

A beautiful black and white Cocker Spaniel standing waiting for his master.Okay Dad, what's next?

Is He Protesting Against Exclusion?

Is your dog getting enough attention?

Peeing and pooping are often used by dogs to get their owner's attention...and it certainly works! If you think this is the case, give him regular quality time with the family.

It sounds like he could be protesting at being left in the kitchen.

Dogs like to be with their pack (you and your family); perhaps that's why he doesn't mess in the bedroom or when you sleep on the settee. Would your wife accept it if he slept in the bedroom but in his own bed?

That might be a happy compromise!

A Change In Diet?

Have you recently changed your dog's diet? A change in his feeding might be causing him to mess up on the kitchen floor.

It might be wise to revert to his old diet for now. Later, when you discover why he's pooping/peeing, you can gradually change from the old to the new.

Is he fed regularly during the day? You say he eats in the morning, but is he given anything during the day?

Dogs eat one whole meal daily, morning or evening, or their allowance is split into two meals, morning and evening, with a few treats in between for good behaviour.

The key is to be consistent with meal times.

Adequate Exercise?

Regular exercise can help keep our dogs' digestive systems working well and encourage their bowels to move; it helps keep them regular.

Cockers need at least an hour's walk during the day and a short walk (or let into the garden/yard) at night to allow them to empty their bladder (and bowels) before bedtime.

This blue roan Cocker Spaniel is straining on the leash; he can't wait to get away!Let me run!

Cocker Spaniel Toilet Training: Other Ideas To Try

Remove His Water Bowl

If you don't already do this, try removing your dog's water bowl after 6:00 or 7:00 pm and let him out to empty his bladder just before you go to bed.

Use Pet Scent Removers

If you're using pet scent removers and your dog is still peeing or pooping indoors, it may suggest that your dog is protesting.

Has something happened that may be causing this reaction?

Sleeping in his Crate

Does your dog have his own crate?

If so, try locking him in that overnight; it may 'force' him to hold himself (as dogs avoid messing in their own den).

Cocker Spaniel Toilet Training Issues

These simple tasks can help to keep your dog dry and clean during the night.

If you'd like a refresher on potty training and crate training your puppy or dog, just follow the links. 

Good luck!

Answered By: Pauline (Website Owner)

Our Visitor's Comments

Cocker Spaniel Toilet Training - Messing In My Kitchen!

Our cocker also started doing this, but only at night, when he would get up to go out into the kitchen and poop (or pee).

Just my own personal thought, but I think he gets up and goes to the back door in the middle of the night, hoping that someone will let him out. As I'm still asleep, no one arrives to open the door.

This is when my dog begins to sniff around in the kitchen. Because he can still smell the ammonia from his pee on the floor (and perhaps on the rug), he figures that's his toilet area, and the ammonia scent encourages him to pee, or worse!

I changed our floor cleaner to one that didn't contain ammonia; after a week, he stopped.

Cocker Spaniel Toilet Training - Messing In My Kitchen!
By: Anonymous

Golden cocker spaniel looking for rabbitsWhere's that pesky rabbit?

Visitor Question: 

One of our visitors has a cocker spaniel with toilet training issues. Her dog has started peeing in the house, which is out of character, and has just begun. Our visitor is asking for help. Let's see what we can do for her, shall we?

Adult Cocker Peeing in the House

My cocker spaniel is no longer housetrained; he has suddenly begun peeing and pooping in my home! I need help.

Let me start from the beginning.

We adopted a 3-year-old male almost 6 months ago, after the passing of our 11-year-old. The Cocker rescue location was hesitant to foster him to a family because he had some aggression issues (fear-based).

He was perfectly housetrained, and we felt that we could handle him, and, to date, we have.

We've been working on him for six months. He's civil with cats and no longer resource guards. He lets us in his space and clip and bathe him without a muzzle.

However, he has started urinating and defecating in our living room or the boys' bedroom within the last two weeks.

He exhibits no stomach upset or illness that would cause this. Nor has he had a change in diet.

We take him outside, and he stands or plays where he used to do his business. It's like all of a sudden, he's forgotten that the potty is outside and instead thinks it has moved to the living room.

This dog has made considerable strides in social behaviour.

I can't understand what is causing this issue now.

Thanks, Gina.

Question: Cocker Spaniel Toilet Training Problem
By: Gina

Reply from Pauline (Website Owner)

Hello Gina,

If you're confident your dog has no health problems, such as kidney or urinary, we can safely say this is a behavioural problem.

Before tackling this problem, it's necessary to understand what may have triggered this new behaviour so that it can either be removed or alleviated.

Have there been any changes that could have triggered your dog's new behaviour?

Is it possible that some event or 'trauma' could be causing your dog to suddenly behave in this way? For example, have there been any significant changes in the household; have you recently moved home, got a new pet, someone left home, someone joined the family or had a new baby...?

Has he been left on his own for longer than usual? Could this be his form of 'protest'?

Changes in domestic circumstances can easily upset our pets and cause behavioural problems. If you can pin it down to environmental changes, you're in luck because, with a little bit of understanding and TLC, the problem will right itself.

It may be that your pet's toilet training has lapsed, and he needs a reminder of the rules. It may be nothing more complicated than that.

I recommend you begin housetraining him all over again. Keep an eye on him and ensure he understands you won't tolerate his new misbehaviour.

Has your Cocker been neutered? Is it possible he's marking his territory?

Don't forget to remove all traces of his pee and poop using a proper enzyme cleaner, as everyday cleaning products will only mask the smell from humans. Your dog will still be able to smell his scent, encouraging him to go there again.

You can buy an efficient urine cleanser from any good pet store. Once you've done this, keep the boys' bedroom door (in fact, all bedroom doors) firmly closed.

It's not impossible, although unlikely, with a 'fearful' dog that your pet is trying to assume the role of the alpha male...but you never know.

I don't have any experience with your dog, so it's difficult to tell.

From what you've said, I don't believe this is the case, but you know your dog.

(Either way, here's a link to an article on re-establishing your home's ground rules.) 

Dogs rarely toilet in their own 'den'. When you're unable to supervise your dog, crate him. You'll find advice and information on crate training your dog here.

Summary: Housebreaking An Older Dog

  • Try to determine what has changed to trigger this new behaviour.

  • Take him outside every hour and encourage him to 'do the business'.

  • Watch him like a hawk at all times when he's indoors.

  • Crate him while you're busy; don't allow him to get into mischief.

  • If you think he may be competing for the position of top dog, then concentrate on re-establishing your position as the alpha male. It's surprising how much his behaviour may change by reinforcing your alpha position. 

Best of luck!

Visitor Comments:

Housebreaking An Adult Dog

I agree with everything Pauline said. Also, what I found with my Cocker Spaniel is that she responds to a specific sound to help her go to the bathroom.

I can't whistle, but I say 'wee wee' a couple of times and use different pitches in my voice.

More importantly, I have a word, i.e.' home,' which indicates to her we are going inside. She then knows to do whatever she needs before we re-enter the building.

So decide on a routine, and stick to it - your dog will fit in. I find my Sally will sit right in front of me when she needs the bathroom with a distinctive look in her eyes.

Pay attention, and you will learn to recognise the 'look'.

Hope this helps!

Question: Housebreaking an Adult Dog
Comment by: Suzette

Photo Credits for Cocker Spaniel Toilet Training Issues:
1. Visitor Photo: Alfie
2. Jane Halper -
3. Lios at