how to potty train cocker spaniel puppies
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How To Potty Train Cocker Spaniel Puppies

Knowing how to potty train Cocker Spaniel puppies takes time and patience. Training your Cocker pup to potty outside doesn’t happen overnight, but it can be done if you do it the right way. 

There are a lot of so-called experts out there who share a lot of bad tips. Forget them and what you’ve tried and hasn’t worked. I’ve trained several Cocker Spaniel puppies to potty outside like a boss within a few weeks. 

Some puppies take longer than others and some Cocker pups pick up on potty training right away. Maybe your friend’s Cocker Spaniel puppy learned in a week. Your pup might take weeks to months to be fully 100 percent trained to pee and poop outside. 

Here’s what works for us and a step-by-step guide to housebreaking a Cocker puppy without pulling your hair out. 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

When To Start To Potty Train Cocker Spaniel Puppies

It’s never too early to start training your Cocker Spaniel pup. We’re assuming your new Cocker pup joins your family at 9 weeks old. Puppies have a very short attention span, so keep that in mind. 

A puppy’s bladder isn’t fully developed until they become an adult. At four to six months old, the puppy will have full control of his bladder. Since puppies don’t have fully developed bladder muscles until that time, be kind, consistent, and patient with him. 

In the first few weeks that you have your Cocker pup, take him out every hour without fail. Every hour on the hour, take your puppy out, whether he needs to potty or not. Always leave your abode from the same exit. When you go outside with the dog, associate the peeing with a command or phrase.

In our household, we say, “Go, go, go.” When the dog does go outside, celebrate like he just won best in show. You can use food rewards or puppy treats as well. Whatever works. Praise big time.

Until your puppy has received all of his puppy vaccines, take him to the same area (i.e. backyard, front yard, tree lawn, etc) If you live in an apartment, plan ahead and decide where your puppy will pee and poop.

Are There Any Exceptions To When My Puppy Should Pee?

Anytime your puppy drinks water or eats a meal, he will need to pee within 10 to 15 minutes.

Whenever your puppy wakes up from a nap, take him out. He will need to pee. 

Whenever your puppy plays with you inside, take him out afterward.

How Long Can My Cocker Puppy Hold His Bladder?

Once your puppy hits six months of age, in most cases he can hold his bladder for a longer period of time. By longer, I mean a few hours. Don’t expect your puppy to hold his pee for eight hours.

Allowing your puppy or adult dog more regular bathroom breaks, decrease the chances of a urinary tract infection, too. The longer waste sits in the bladder, the more time it has to sit and form bacteria. Let him express the pee and poop outside. 

Many professional dog trainers advise their clients that a puppy can hold his urine for the number of hours that corresponds to his age in months. For example, a 3-month-old puppy can hold it for three hours. 

I disagree.

Any Cocker Spaniel puppy I’ve ever raised needs to go potty before three hours’ time at the age of three months. Unless the puppy is sleeping, take him out hourly until he is potty trained. Then you can start taking him out every few hours unless he eats, drinks, plays, or just wakes up from a nap. 

I tend to go against the norm. My puppies grow up strong and healthy without urinary issues because I take them out more frequently. I know people who take their adult Cockers outside two to three times a day. That’s basically once every eight hours. Many of these dogs deal with urinary tract or kidney stone issues. I am not surprised. Take your dog out more often. 

Don’t leave your puppy alone for eight hours and expect her not to pee. If you are crate training, she will pee in her crate. If you aren’t, she is going to pee somewhere, maybe on piddle pads. Have someone check on your puppy so she isn’t alone that long. 

Step by Step Tips To Potty Train a Cocker Spaniel Puppy

  1. Your puppy needs to be in your line of vision at all times. You have to see your puppy. Wherever your puppy is, there you are. Give your puppy access to one room. Block everything else off. You need to be in that room. You need to see the puppy in action and anticipate when she is going to pee. 
  2. Every hour on the hour, your puppy goes outside whether she needs to or not. Always exit from the same door. Puppies love routine. 
  3. If you live on a second or third floor or in a condo or apartment building, you can use one of the tools below so the puppy can eventually ‘tell’ you she needs to go out.
  4. Remember that your puppy won’t want to pee or poop in her own territory. If she thinks it’s hers, she won’t dirty it. You may notice your pup pees in places you can’t see or around the perimeter of the carpet or floors. She doesn’t realize the house is his territory…yet. That is extremely important, so read that again. 
  5. Train your puppy what you want her to do (potty outside) which is much easier than yelling at him or repeatedly saying ‘no’ in the house. It’s easier to train your pup to do what you want instead of what not to do. Reward the good behavior. Don’t punish the bad. Positive reinforcement is key. Keep reading.

KEY POINT: Before we continue, we can’t stress this enough: Dogs don’t speak English. You can yell at your dog for peeing in the house or pooping behind a chair. You might even rush your dog outside to show him the correct place to relieve himself. Your dog still has no idea that ‘outside’ is where he is supposed to potty. The more you go outside with your pup, the better off you are. The less time you spend yelling and telling him NOT to soil inside, the harder the process becomes. 

  1. If your puppy cannot be supervised, he should have access to one area and be blocked off from the rest of the home/apartment or placed in her crate. 
  2. Slowly increase the amount of space your puppy has access to. She needs to be in your line of vision at all times. Do not allow her access to more rooms until she has mastered not soiling in one room first.
  3. Repeat this process for as long as you need to. The more times you can take your Cocker puppy out to potty and associate the behavior with a word, the better. 
  4. Consider taking your 9-week-old to 4-month-old Cocker pup outside at least once during the night. Wake her from her crate or sleeping area and carry her out if need be. You want her to empty her bladder and teach her where, when, and how. 

What To Do When Potty Training Accidents Happen

Cocker puppies are going to have accidents. Even once they are potty trained, accidents may still happen. You want to rule out things like a urinary tract infection or bladder stones if indoor accidents occur despite positive reinforcement potty training. 

When an accident happens, it is usually for one of several reasons:

  1. Cocker puppies are excitement pee-ers. A friend calls this “glee pee,” as they get so excited to see someone, they pee with joy. Most of the time, a puppy will grow out of this, but here’s what to do if it continues after puppyhood: Submissive urination tips.
  2. Your Cocker puppy hasn’t emptied her bladder completely. Don’t start cheering her on or celebrating until she has completely finished peeing. Puppies don’t realize they might have more pee in their bladder. They pee, you praise them, and they come inside and pee in the house. They didn’t empty enough. Keep her out there for 10 to 15 minutes during those potty training months. 
  3. She’s been made to hold it for too long. Any puppy that isn’t being taken out regularly or is in a crate or kennel and holding it for a long time will surely pee inside. 
  4. Don’t hit or spank a puppy. Ever.
  5. Fear or anxiety. If you yell at your puppy when she pees in the house after you’ve found the mess, she has no idea why you are mad. In the puppy’s mind, she thinks pee is bad. Pee makes you yell. Don’t freak out. Never spank a puppy or rub her nose in it. 
  6. Life changes. Are you moving? Stressed at work? Have a lot going on at home? Puppies, like adult dogs, have physical reactions to stress.
  7. You are not consistent. Inconsistency leads to accidents and a longer timeframe to potty train.
  8. She has a physical problem. A bladder infection? Kidney stones? Something else? Don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian.
  9. She has too much room to roam. Refer to potty training step #4 above. Puppies should not be given more room to roam until they’ve not soiled in their current area.
  10. She is confused. She has no idea what you want from her. Start from step on in the potty training tips above.
  11. You missed her cues or signals that she is going to pee or poop inside. Puppies sniff the floor, whine, pace rapidly, run to a corner, bark, squat, or become restless. 
  12. You gave her access to water late at night before bed. Some people remove their puppy’s access to water before bed. We’ve never had an issue with this, but it works for some people. 

How Not to Potty Train a Cocker Spaniel Puppy

  1. Do not give your puppy access to your full residence indoors when unsupervised.
  2. Do not ever under any circumstances “rub your puppy’s nose” in pee or poop. This is horrific, hateful behavior, and your dog will get sick and start to fear you and/or fear peeing or pooping in general. It is also abuse.
  3. Don’t let other dogs visit your residence indoors until your puppy is fully potty trained.
  4. Don’t expect your dog to be perfect. He’s going to have accidents indoors. He isn’t being spiteful. He isn’t dumb. He is a puppy. Keep a high-quality, enzymatic, pet-safe carpet and odor remover on hand like Rocco and Roxie’s, our favorite. 
  5. Don’t expect your puppy to read your mind. As you train him to potty outside, associate the act with a certain word, “wanna go out?” and/or a special movement: tapping his paw to the door, jingling PoochieBells (see below), etc.
  6. Do not think Cockers are emotionally tough. Cockers are one of the more sensitive breeds and do not respond well to harsh yelling or punishment. 
  7. Do not ignore an adult Cocker who suddenly starts peeing in the house. Bookmark our post on how to potty train an adult dog.

Why Does My Puppy Pee on My Bed? 

Puppies, like dogs, do not pee for spite. Revenge is a human condition, not a canine one.

The folks at Ask a Dog Trainer say the “number one reason dogs pee on your bed is the exact same reason they chew your dirty socks and underwear…it smells like you.”

Further, they say in nature, wild and young dogs run into different predators. In those situations, they can fight or flight (run away). Neither of these is in the best interest of the dog. So what do they do?

To avoid a confrontation with one of their enemies, they try to cover their scent. Dogs in the wild roll in some pretty disgusting things (and my Cockers love cow poop for some reason). They will roll in dead animals, too. In your house, however, they can’t do that. 

Instead, they roll in your dirty underwear and yes, on your bed. Younger dogs will try to cover the smell of their urine in the wild. Well, in your home, what better place to ‘hide’ or ‘cover’ the smell of their urine than in the scent of the person or people who protect them: YOU! 

Your bed really smells like you–as in a whole lot. Your dog is hiding his urine scent in his bed.

“By peeing in your bed and hiding the smell of his urine, your dog is making himself feel less vulnerable and less exposed.”

products to help train cocker puppy with housebreaking

Products to Help Potty Train Cocker Spaniel Puppies

We all need help now and then, and there are plenty of products to help the process of potty training your Cocker Spaniel pup. Here are a few of our favorites:

Doggie Playpen

We used a doggy playpen with some of our Cocker puppies while we worked and they sat in the office with us. We knew where the puppy was and we could easily keep an eye on her, waiting for her to wake up and take her outside. Buy the Doggie Playpen on Amazon.

Poochie Bells

Poochie Bells have been around for years. You easily teach your dog to “tap” or “ring” the Poochie Bells which hang from a doorknob or the area of your choice. These travel well, too, and you can hang them up in a friend or family member’s home or in a hotel on vacation. Buy Poochie Bells on Amazon.

Mighty Paw Smart Bell 2.0

We trained our Cocker Spaniel puppy, Alvin, using the Mighty Paw smart bell. No wires or batteries are required. Simply mount the “doorbell” on a door or wall (or floor) using a 3M adhesive strop. Plug the receiver into an electrical outlet. Train your dog to tap the “doorbell” to ring when it’s time to potty. Buy the Mighty Paw smart bell on Amazon.

Washable Dog Pee Pads

With four layers of material and an anti-slip bottom, these are the washable pee pads we used while potty training our Cocker puppy, Alvin. We bought a few of these to line the hall area in our home. Slowly but surely, we moved the piddle pad outside when Alvin went to pee on them. Buy the SincoPet washable pee pads on Amazon.

Urine Test Strips

One of the best ways to stay on top of your dog’s urine health is by monitoring his urine with multi-parameter urine test strips. Just do a free catch of your puppy’s urine and dip the strip into the urine. Wait the allocated time and compare it to the chart included. Discuss any changes or concerns with your veterinarian. Buy the Diagnox Urine Test Strips on Amazon

Vimtag Pet Camera

Watch your puppy from another room or while you aren’t home with the Vimtag Pet Camera. We like this one for its quality and affordable price tag. Makes a great gift for a new Cocker puppy parent, too. Buy the Pet Camera on Amazon.

Potty Training Your Cocker Spaniel Puppy Summary

Training a puppy takes time and patience. Your Cocker puppy depends on you as his pack leader and role model to teach him through positive reinforcement. 

If you catch your pup ready to pee inside, come up with a phrase like ‘uh oh’ or ‘ah ah’ and scoop her up and take her out. This means 11 pm at night or 6 in the morning. Consistency matters. 

Show your Cocker pup what you want from her, and reward good behavior. Focus more on how to get her to go outside and less on telling her ‘no no’ and ‘bad dog’ for soiling inside. 

It’s easier to reward a particular behavior so that the behavior is repeated. 

If a behavior is not rewarded, it decreases.

Dogs’ lives are a flicker of time on this earth compared to humans. Keep that in mind as you enter the potty training phase of puppyhood. Before long, you’ll long for those Cocker puppy moments as you watch your little one grow into a happy, merry adult.

how to potty train cocker spaniel puppies

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