Cocker Spaniels are really versatile and adaptable dogs. Like all of the gundog breeds they are bright, intelligent animals that can change their outlook depending on your needs and this is true about their sleeping arrangements and housing.
Can Cocker Spaniels live outside? Yes they can. Cockers are adaptable dogs that are hardy but you need to make sure that they have a good kennel or dog house that is free of damp and drafts to help them stay in the best of health.
To kennel or not to kennel? - that is the question
I’ve owned Springers and Cockers. My Springer spaniels spent all of their lives outdoors, living together in a purpose built kennel without any problems.
They were shooting and working gundogs, they were raised as youngsters in a kennel and, because there were a few of them living together they had a good pack.
My two Cocker spaniels, however, sleep with me, often piled on top of me when I am in bed, and I don’t think they suffer from doing so.
If you are planning to house your Cocker Spaniel outside then you’ll need to consider a few things, not the least, what type of dog house or kennel you are going to buy or build and something along the lines of this kennel would be an ideal choice.
Just looking for dog houses?
Why Do You Have A Cocker Spaniel?
The spaniels that I’ve had in the past were all working dogs. We worked on local shoots, beating and picking up and we also entered and ran in spaniel field trials and tests, travelling around the country to compete.
As working dogs it was natural and best for my spaniels to live in a kennel. The kennels that I used were mostly home made from garden sheds and wire runs, with the sheds being adapted to make sure that they were warm, dry and free from drafts. The runs allowed the dogs to go outside whenever they wished.
When we decided to get Cocker Spaniels we did so with the aim for them to live inside the house and our two Cockers, Boris and Nimrod are very much family members. As I type Boris is asleep in front of the wood burning stove and Nimrod is asleep on the sofa beside me. They are both real characters and I could not put either of them outside to live.
Although both Boris and Nimrod are working dogs, they are also very much pets ( in fact they are more pets than working) and, I’ve found that living in the house has not really impacted their ability when working.
As well as being pets they are also valued family members and companions which is true of Cocker Spaniels around the world, with most probably living inside with their human pack while going on adventures in the form of walks, trips and rides in the car.
Cockers, like all dogs, are pack creatures, but I’ve noticed that Cocker Spaniels really do value the human pack and the safety and company that the pack provides, this is notable in their sleeping habits and Boris and Nimrod frequently argue over who will get the prime spot on the bed. Boris often heading up as soon as it starts to go dark.
You may have different views about where your dog sleeps so, if you are looking for your Cocker to sleep elsewhere or outside let me give you a few pointers and tips.
Cocker Spaniels As Kennel Dogs
For one reason or another you may need to keep your Cocker Spaniel outdoors, in a kennel or dog house, this may be fulltime or parttime, perhaps while you are out at work.
If you do keep a dog in a kennel problems can arise which can stem from your spaniel being left alone.
The best, safest, and kindest solution is for your Cocker to get the best of both worlds by keeping him in his kennel but bringing him indoors regularly to humanise him and to integrate him into the human pack and family. this will help to keep him happy and bold and wise in the ways of the world.
Getting Started With A Kennel
A Cocker Spaniel puppy, brought away from his mother and littermates and left alone in a strange kennel will be frightened, cold and will miss the company of his brothers and sisters. Thus, if you leave him alone at night it is highly likely that he will kick up a major row, enough to wake the dead.
When Nimrod came home we left him in his bed in the kitchen. He can howl…crikey..it was a real racket.
I would now never leave a young puppy on his own when he first leaves his litter and would look to sleep with the puppy until he adapts to his new home.
A good option, to help with this, would be to use a wire pen, with the puppy’s bed in it – this will help him to get used to his own space inside the house.
This type of pen is also less restrictive than a crate and allows the puppy some freedom, just like he will have outside, while keeping him safe and secure., until he calms down and adapts to his new surroundings
I found some well priced and well made wire pens at this online pet supplier.
Once your puppy has accepted his new home, which may take a few days, then it would be time for him to spend his nights in the kennel.
Before we leave him alone overnight, we will have introduced him to his kennel during the daytime, making it a pleasurable affair and maybe feeding him his lunch inside the kennel and leaving him in there, for just a few minutes at a time while he sniffs around and becomes familiar with the smell of his new home.
The first night alone in his kennel could be interesting but, with a bit of forethought we can reduce the ‘risks’.
Make sure your dog has a nice, warm and comfortable dog bed. Don’t bother with the solid plastic ones, they may be easy to clean but they’re not really comfortable or warm.
Spaniels, and particularly Cocker spaniels, enjoy a bit of comfort.
I found some great dog beds, that are well priced, at this online pet store.
My very first spaniel Bess, lived in a kennel all of her life. As a novice spaniel owner I didn’t know too much about gundogs and she howled and howled for nights while in her kennel.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to do until I read a passage in a spaniel training book that I found in a shop.
I got hold of an old stone hot water bottle and wrapped it in one of my large, smelly socks. Before the puppy’s bedtime I filled the bottle with warm water and placed it in the puppy’s bed.
I also got a small radio and tuned it into a station that played classical music and put it on a low volume in the puppy’s kennel.
Success. It worked. Using the water bottle and radio helped young Bess to feel secure and warm and there was no more howling or barking at night time.
This was the book by the way - Joe Irving - 'Training Spaniels'
Your dog will need to be able to get outside for fresh air, to use the toilet and, if the weather is nice he might just decide to sunbathe.
Whatever type of kennel you decide on, it will need a secure run for your dog.
If you make your own kennel or get one without a run then this is something you’ll need to sort out.
There’s a great online supplier of galvanized dog runs and outdoor kennels that I’ve found and you can visit them to take a look at their runs here.
In the past I’ve used garden sheds as the main house for the dogs and added galvanised, steel mesh runs to the exterior, with a dog sized door for access.
This is the type of galvanized product that I’ve used for dog runs. They come in different sizes and are as tough as anything I’ve ever come across.
They last for years, are easy to assemble – they bolt together and they are easy to keep clean, you can also use them outside or indoors, such as in a barn or other building.
The other great thing is that is you move house, as I’ve done a few times, then you can take them with you.
They are also dog proof and would challenge the most determined escape artist.
Other kennel 'rules' for spaniels - location
Other things that you’ll need to consider if your Cocker Spaniel will live in a kennel – your dog will need access to a good amount of clean, fresh water for drinking.
In the summer he will need much more, kennels can get hot ( think about where you erect a kennel, direct sun is not great), and, in the winter, if the kennel is not well insulated or heated, then the water can freeze.
Make sure it’s accessible and available for your spaniel.
Security of your dogs
Sadly, it is becoming more common, particularly in the UK, for dogs to be stolen from outdoor kennels.
Keeping your dogs safe and secure should therefore extend to keeping thieves out as well as keeping the dogs in.
- Your kennels should be strong and well made, with tough galvanised fencing that is difficult to cut. Ideally the fencing should also be secured to a concrete or similar solid base to prevent the fencing from being lifted or moved.
- The kennel itself should, if possible be difficult to break into. Thieves don’t like hanging around and anything that makes life tough will tend to deter them.
- Introduce a ‘double door’ system if you can and alarm both doors. Using an outer and inner door will make the job of breaking and entering much harder and the outer door alarm will sound before an intruder has a chance to attack the inner door.
- Consider security lights and alarms, even perhaps a CCTV system – although none of these will stop a thief they may deter him.
- Get the best padlocks and fittings that you can afford and use chains and security cables as well to secure your kennels and use similar on garden or yard gates and access points to make life as difficult as possible for a thief.
- Locate the kennel as close to the house as possible and, if you can try to disguise them so that they do not look like a kennels.
- Be watchful when you are out with your dogs. Be aware of anyone that might follow you home, either on foot or by vehicle when you have your dogs with you. If you feel that you are being followed, call the police, and adopt diversionary tactics, such as driving around roundabouts, taking a different route etc.
- Be careful who you talk to and who you tell about your dogs – sadly not everyone is trustworthy, even some other gun dog owners.
- Make it as difficult as you possibly can for anyone to break into your kennels – noise, light anything that will attract attention. Most thieves are cowards and hate attention and the risk of being caught.
You should always clean your spaniel’s kennel daily. Cockers are generally clean dogs, but they can have accidents and, if your kennel has a run then they will use it as a toilet.
Keep the run and kennel clean, care for your dogs well being and he will respect you for doing so.
You’ll need to consider the size and shape of the kennel and this will, in part, be determined by the number of dogs that you have or plan to have and the amount of available space that you have for the kennel.
Above all things it must be watertight and waterproof, sturdy and free from draughts. Ideally there should be a bench inside where the dog’s bed can be, so that he is off the floor.
Your spaniel’s kennel should be warm in the winter months and cool in summer, you can help this by lining the walls with plywood boarding and filling the gaps with polystyrene chips.
In very hot or cold areas you may need to think about additional heating or air conditioning to keep the kennel at a healthy temperature.
There should be a normal sized door into the kennel – so that you can get in to clean etc and there should also be a doggy sized door into an adjoining run, fit this door with a flap to keep the rain and draughts out – I find that an old car floor mat, the types made from rubber are ideal, cut the mat up the middle for about two thirds then nail it at the top of the doggy door. It will work great and last for a couple of years.
The base of the external run should be concrete, paving slabs or compacted stone. Grass or dirt is no good Cockers are excellent diggers and most breeds of dogs are accomplished escape artists – if the ground is soft they’ll dig their way out.
Similarly don’t use chicken wire as fencing, spaniels will ‘eat their way out of it’. I recall using this on one of my spaniel kennels and coming home from work one day I found my three Springers sitting on the track outside my house.
They had demolished the chicken wire and escaped. I can only guess at how long they had been out and what they had been doing.
Finally, think about the height of the fencing. I’ve seen dogs climb over kennel fences and many Cockers are great jumpers.
Ideally the fencing should be about 8 feet tall. If your Cocker gets over this then you might have to put a roof on top of the run.
If you have or are looking to get a Cocker Spaniel as a working dog then yes, he can live outside in a suitable kennel that you can either buy or build yourself.
You’ll need to spend time with your spaniel and do as much as possible to introduce him to life and experiences so that he grows into a well rounded individual.
If your Cocker is going to be a pet then I’d recommend that he lives with the family in the house.
They want to be with you and you’ll have great fun together and learn a lot about each other.
You can get some great beds for spaniels like this one I’ve seen on Amazon and your Cocker will enjoy having his own private space where he can chill out.
Boris and Nimrod have their own beds and they enjoy spending quiet times in them most days.
Wherever your Cocker sleeps, remember to spend as much time as possible with him, he enjoys being with the pack – your family and gets unhappy when he is left on his own.
Luxury dog kennel
Many of these kennels are bespoke and suit the style of your home.
We found some great options on Etsy – you can see some of them here.
Last update on 2021-04-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API