Owners of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels may face several behavioral problems, including separation anxiety, greediness, resource guarding, jumping up on people, pulling on the leash, and barking. While there are solutions to these issues, it’s important to note that not every Cavalier will display behavioral issues.
In this post, I’ll cover some of the most common causes of behavior problems in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, along with practical solutions.
Common Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Behavior Problems
According to the University of Melbourne, every one in four to six dogs suffers from separation anxiety. Being alone can stress out canines, leading to undesirable behavioral habits.
This is especially true with CKCS, sometimes called “velcro dogs” because they become highly attached to and dependent on their human owners.
As a result, separation anxiety is among the most frequent behavior issues in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Signs of separation stress include:
- Excessive barking and howling
- Defecating and urinating in the house
- Attempting to escape or break out of the house or crate
If you plan to get yourself a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, greediness and begging for food could be discipline issues you’ll need to address.
In general, all Spaniel breeds have the trait of being big foodies, and untrained individuals will even steal food from your hand or the table.
If not managed, greed can result in obesity, which can further lead to several health issues, including back pain, heart problems, joint issues, digestive disorders, etc.
Resource guarding is when a dog becomes protective of something valuable, like food, toys, or even people.
While resource guarding is a normal and instinctive behavior in all dogs (small or large), we humans don’t like it. However, guarding may indeed become dangerous if your pet is ready to bite or attack to keep its item “safe.”
Signs of resource guarding may include the following:
- Rigged stance
- Showing teeth
Jumping on People
Another common issue that many owners (not just Cavalier owners) face is jumping on people.
There are three main motivations for jumping up:
- Attention Seeking
Even though this behavior is usually a sign of happiness, it can be annoying if your dog does it often. Jumping up can be particularly irritating when your pet “greets” guests in the home (especially those who are uneasy around dogs).
Also, in the worst-case scenario, your Cavalier may accidentally hurt someone, whether they are small children, elderly people, or anyone who is unsteady on their feet.
Woof, woof. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are known for being quiet, and barking isn’t usually a problem with these popular pets.
Yet, some Cavies could pick up this bad habit if they don’t receive the proper training.
Barking dogs are often those who are bored. In other words, if your pet is not mentally and/or physically stimulated, it will let you know vocally.
Also, aside from separation anxiety, other things that might make a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel bark are fear, hunger, pain, or being territorial.
Pulling on the Leash
The last behavior “problem” you may face with your beloved pup is pulling on the leash. I put the problem in quotation marks because this behavior (similar to resource guarding) is typical for most dogs.
However, many dog owners claim that this is the thing about their pets that bothers them the most.
There are many reasons why dogs pull on the leash, including the following:
- Exploring sounds
- Exploring sights
- Exploring scents
- Following another dog or a person
- Wanting to move at their own pace
Can we fix this behavior? Absolutely!
You should read this post about how to stop CKCS from pulling on the leash if this is something that really upsets you.
Causes of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Behavior Problems
In the veterinary world, behavioral and medical concerns have usually been treated separately. However, many unwanted behaviors can be triggered due to underlying health issues.
Cavaliers are prone to a number of health problems, such as mitral valve heart disease, hip dysplasia, syringomyelia, and luxating patella, among other health complications.
These health issues can cause pain and discomfort, which may lead to different behavioral problems.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can change a lot because of trauma or bad things that happened to them in the past. These dogs are sensitive, and with negative experiences, behavioral issues may follow.
In particular, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels that go through traumatic events may develop fear-based behaviors like aggression, excessive barking, or anxiety.
Also, a dog that has been neglected or abused may have trouble trusting people or other dogs, which can make it behave aggressively or defensively.
Similarly, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that has been through a traumatic experience can sometimes develop a phobia and act scared and anxious when there are loud noises like thunder or fireworks.
Lack of Socialization
The process of exposing your puppy to unfamiliar people, animals, and settings in a healthy and controlled way is known as socialization. I can’t stress enough how important early socialization for dogs is.
Many new dog owners overlook the fact that early socialization is one of the most critical factors that will shape their pet’s behavior and temperament.
An under-socialized CKCS could pick up any of (or a combination of) the following problems:
- Being nervous around other dogs and people
Lack of Physical and Mental Stimulation
In the same way that a lack of socialization can cause undesirable habits, so can a lack of discipline and mental stimulation. In fact, one of the main reasons why your dog might misbehave is because of one or both of these causes.
Even though they aren’t among the breeds with the highest levels of energy, Cavaliers still need to release their energy in a healthy way.
If your doggy isn’t getting enough mental and physical stimulation, he or she might get bored and do things like bark too much, dig too much, or be destructive.
Genetics play an immense role in shaping dog temperament, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is no exception.
While socialization and mental and physical stimulation are essential for behavior patterns, genetic factors also greatly impact how dogs behave.
Studies have shown that certain traits in dogs, such as fearfulness, trainability, energy levels, and tendencies toward aggression, can be inherited through genetics.
Prevention and Management of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Behavior Problems
Being the proud owner of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, I can tell with certainty that my dog’s desire to interact and play with people and other dogs is a result of early socialization.
However, I know that socialization is an ongoing process, so I ensure my pet is constantly exposed to new situations, environments, and animals.
Here are some steps I practiced during my pet’s early socialization process:
The socialization process should begin as early as possible, as puppies have a critical period of social development during weeks 3 to 12.
Start with gradual exposure to different stimulation, such as new people, animals, sights, and sounds. Progressive introduction lowers the likelihood of stress and negative effects during socialization.
Use positive reinforcement to motivate your dog to engage in social interactions. When your furry friend behaves well during socialization, treat and praise it.
Socialization should take place in a controlled environment. It would be best to avoid places with too much noise or activity that could overstimulate your dog (especially during the early socialization stages).
Make socialization a regular part of your dog’s routine. Daily socialization will ensure your Cavvy remains well-adjusted and confident in new situations.
Arguably the most effective to manage indiscipline and remove unwanted behavior in your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is through training.
Whether we talk about jumping on people, barking, pulling on the leash, or even separation anxiety – training is the key.
For me, training has been a lifesaver in managing behavior issues with my Cavalier. As a puppy, she struggled with barking and jumping on people. Through positive reinforcement, training, and consistency, we eliminated those problems.
I also appreciate how training gives my dog mental stimulation and a sense of purpose. By teaching her new tricks and commands, I can see her confidence grow, and her curiosity and excitement for learning new things is always rewarding to see.
Additionally, training has helped me to understand my pet’s behavior and body language.
Physical Activity and Mental Stimulation
In addition to helping regulate behavior, physical activity is necessary for the general health and well-being of your Cavvy.
However, if your dog is well-socialized, potty trained, and physically active but still carries undesirable habits, the problem may be a lack of mental stimulation.
Puzzle toys and mind games that challenge your dog’s problem-solving abilities and keep it entertained while keeping its mind busy are great for warding off negative behaviors.
You can also try hiding treats around the house or yard to encourage your dog to use its senses and search for the reward.
You may occupy your Cavvy’s mind in a variety of ways. Be creative.
Can Medication or Therapy Help Address Behavior Problems in Cavaliers?
Yes, medication or therapy can help address behavior problems in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, but they are not a standalone solution. For some issues, a doctor may prescribe medicine, while in other cases, therapy may help. But make sure to work with a qualified vet to figure out the best way to treat your dog’s specific problems.
How Long Does it Take to Improve a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s Behavior?
I know this is not the answer you are looking for, but it depends. The time it takes to improve a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s behavior through training varies from dog to dog. Some dogs may show significant improvement in just a few weeks, while others may take several months or more to see results.
When Should you Seek Professional Help for your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s Behavior Issues?
If your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel keeps doing the same bad things even after you’ve tried to train it over and over, you should talk to a licensed dog behaviorist. They can look at the situation and tell you what to do next.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can sometimes have behavior problems, but this is not always the case. This dog breed is generally known for its gentle nature. Still, some may have separation anxiety, be greedy, guard their resources, jump on people, pull on their leashes, or bark.
The causes can range from health issues and genetics to past traumas and a lack of stimulation and socialization. However, the best ways to address these challenges are through training, socialization, and mental and physical activity.
By using these tips, owners of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can help their dogs live long, happy, and well-mannered lives.