Cocker spaniels are a highly sociable dog breed that loves to be with their human companions. Not enough time with their people can lead to the blues, as can major life changes and events. Some signs of depression can also mask illness -- a vet checkup is in order any time Fido’s behavior changes significantly.
Cocker Spaniel Temperament
Cocker spaniels are known for being playful and sometimes a little needy in their behavior. You might feel like your spaniel is constantly at your heels, but it's just because he truly loves being around you. Understanding the emotional needs of a cocker spaniel before bringing one home is helpful, as these sweet pups need a lot of time and attention from their owners.
Signs of Depression
If you come home from work and find your cocker spaniel has eaten your favorite shoes, pooped in your kitchen and chewed up his dog bed, it's not that he's necessarily mad or destructive -- it's more likely he's experiencing anxiety when you're gone and is showing signs of depression. He may also be aloof, extra clingy, whiny, barky or have changes in appetite, sleep patterns or interaction levels.
Causes of Depression
Lots of things can impact a normally chipper cocker spaniel’s mood. The loss of a companion animal or owner, a move to a new house or the introduction of a baby or a new pet can all throw him into a tizzy of anxiety and depression. Even a change in schedule or a new boyfriend or girlfriend can impact his mood or lead to separation anxiety. Cockers are also emotionally sensitive -- if you’re upset, stressed or depressed, he may pick up on your vibe.
Any time your cocker spaniel’s behavior changes significantly, it's time for a vet visit to make sure there aren't any underlying health issues. Once you get a clean bill of health, make an effort to give extra time and attention to your pup to ensure he's entertained, both when you're around, and when you’re out. Give him interactive toys to play with when you’re gone to keep him occupied and follow your vet’s recommendations. Behavioral training or medication may be in order.
Keeping Your Cocker Spaniel Happy
Consider hiring a dog sitter or dog walker to take care of your pup during the day, or just ask a friend to stop by your house and visit your dog when you're not around. Make every asked effort to socialize your cocker spaniel so he's open to meeting new people and other animals. This can expand his world and help decrease his dependence on you and his levels of anxiety. Build in lots of play time and exercise -- just like with people, physical activity can help beat the blues.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.