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Why Is My Cocker Spaniel So Needy: (SOLVED)

If your Cocker Spaniel’s clingy behavior is becoming overwhelming, you may be wondering why they are so needy and how you can help.

Most needy behavior in cocker spaniels stems from a lack of physical exercise and mental stimulation. In most cases, clingy behavior can be prevented altogether when a sufficient daily routine is in place.

What’s Considered Needy Behavior In Spaniels

needy cocker spaniel

What can be considered clingy behavior?

We must first explain that sporadic acts of needy and clingy behavior don’t automatically suggest your spaniel is “needy.”

Sometimes your cocker spaniel might be trying to get your attention for a legitimate reason.

Examples of true needy behavior:

  • When your cocker spaniel can’t be away from you even for a few minutes
  • When your spaniel cries the moment you are not there
  • When your spaniel can’t stop following you around
  • When your spaniel forces themselves on you when you’re present
  • When your spaniel doesn’t stop staring at you, waiting for your every move

These kinds of attention-seeking behaviors are usually considered excessive. This is when owners know their cocker spaniel is truly needy.

5 Causes Behind Needy Cocker Spaniels

Let’s explain the five main reasons why cocker spaniels become needy and clingy.

1. Lack of physical & mental stimulation

Cocker spaniels are intelligent, energetic working dogs with highly active minds.

If a spaniel doesn’t receive sufficient amounts of both mental stimulation and physical exercise, they’ll become bored and frustrated in no time at all!

Once this happens, they’ll look to their owners for attention in the hopes that you entertain them. This could come across as clingy behavior if it’s their routine lacks on a daily basis.


Provide your cocker spaniel with 45 minutes of exercise first thing in the morning, and another 30-45 minutes in the evening.

Splitting up their exercise like this not only calms them down during the day, but it’s enough to satisfy their need to run and move around.

When it comes to mental stimulation, try to provide at least one hour of activities that get their mind working!

This could be in the form of command training, socialization, puzzle toys, nose work games, or going to new places.

Both physical and mental stimulation is extremely important.

2. Reinforcing clingy behavior by mistake

This is surprisingly easy to do! Owners may be unintentionally reinforcing their spaniels’ needy behavior.

This all depends on how you react and respond to your spaniel in times of clinginess.

Your spaniel understands things in black or white. When they seek your attention, you either give it, or you don’t. If you give it, directly after they seek it, then this is a lesson to them that they did the right thing.

As you can see, this can quickly train your cocker spaniel to keep on with their clingy behavior.


It’s crucial to give less attention and reaction to when your cocker spaniel displays obvious signs of neediness. Yep, it will be hard, but it’s necessary.

Owners must stop rewarding clingy behavior with attention of any kind.

It’s important to start praising your cocker spaniel only for the behavior you like.

So the next time they are playing with their toys nicely, or not being needy, reward them heavily.

And the next time they display neediness, ignore as much as possible.

Soon enough your spaniel will understand they get more of your attention when they don’t seek it.

3. Age

Some cocker spaniels can become clingy with old age.

This is surprisingly common across all breeds.

Elder dogs tend to feel less independent in their twilight years and often stick to their owners side.

While it is important to give your elderly dog ample attention, it remains essential not to reinforce the behavior accidentally.


Try encouraging your elder cocker spaniel to do things on their own, such as eating their meals without your presence.

You can also involve other members of the household in showing your Cocker Spaniel attention, rather than just one person being responsible for all the love and affection.

Socializing with other dogs can also help your Cocker Spaniel become more independent. This allows them to interact with and play with another dog, taking some of the focus off you.

When choosing a playmate for your Cocker Spaniel, it’s important to consider the age and energy level of the other dog, especially if your Cocker Spaniel is older and may prefer a more laid-back, elderly dog rather than a lively puppy.

4. Separation anxiety disguised as clinginess

Separation anxiety is a common and severe condition that can affect Cocker Spaniels.

It occurs when a dog becomes overly attached to a specific person and cannot be without them.

This can be mistaken for clingy behavior.

However, separation anxiety is more severe than just being clingy and follows the dog when they are away from their owner.

  • When clingy dogs cannot be with their owner, they are generally fine, but dogs with separation anxiety panic and lose control when they are away from their owner.

Other signs of separation anxiety in dogs include excessive shaking and jitters, increased panting and drooling, loud whining, crying, and irritation when the owner leaves, urination and defecation when alone (despite already being outside), destructive behavior, attempts to escape when the owner is not present, and anxiety when the owner prepares to leave the house.

It can be challenging to differentiate between clingy behavior and separation anxiety in Cocker Spaniels.

If you suspect your Cocker Spaniel may have separation anxiety, it is important to seek guidance from a veterinarian or professional dog trainer on how to manage and treat the condition.

5. Underlying health problems

Sickness and illness can cause a range of unusual behavioral changes in dogs, and neediness can be one of them.

If your Cocker Spaniel is feeling unwell, being closer to you may be a coping mechanism for any pain or discomfort they are experiencing.

If you notice that your Cocker Spaniel has become more clingy and needy, it is important to rule out any underlying health issues.

Your veterinarian can help with this, so it is recommended to schedule a check-up if you notice any sudden changes in your Cocker Spaniel’s behavior.

In most cases, there will not be any underlying health issues causing the neediness, but it is important to have any potential health concerns ruled out as early as possible.

This can often make a big difference in the treatment and management of any conditions that may be present.

Why It’s Recommended To Stop Needy Behavior

Although some owners might be inclined to let clingy behavior slide, “if it isn’t that bad”, this is not advised.

It’s always recommended to stop clingy behavior for an important reason:

  • By allowing needy behavior, it reinforces to the spaniel that they need their owner…

This feeling of dependency can transform into separation anxiety if left to progress on it’s own.

Separation anxiety is a big problem that is extremely difficult to overcome. Owners should always do everything they can to avoid this.



Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.