Older Dog Barking – What to Do About It

By Kyoko •  Updated: 07/21/21 •  6 min read
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Has your older dog started barking? Are you wondering what’s causing him to bark so much? Are you looking for ways to deal with the problem? If so, then you’ve come to the right place!

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In this article, we’ll take a look at what may cause an older dog to bark, as well as what you can do about this situation. Let’s get started!

Can My Dog Be Lactose Intolerant?
Can My Dog Be Lactose Intolerant?

What Causes an Older Dog to Bark So Much?

Is there a reason an older dog starts to bark more? It can be frustrating when your dog appears to be fine other than for this new barking behavior. However, rest assured, this is a very common problem found in senior dogs.

Here are some of the most common reasons an older dog may begin barking excessively:

Incontinence

As a dog becomes older, it’s possible he may develop bladder issues, which cause incontinence. Your senior dog may start barking in the middle of the night when he needs to go outside.

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Incontinence issues may be caused by a urinary tract problem, poor muscle control, and more. It can sometimes be painful, too. Your dog may not have enough control to make it through the night. Some dogs even have a hard time not urinating on their bedding, the floor, etc.

Anxiety

Another common problem that can cause an older dog to bark is anxiety. Some dogs go through personality changes as they age. This is a normal part of aging, which may or may not be tied to canine dementia.

Older dogs sometimes have a tendency to become more anxious when they see people they don’t know. Some dogs may bark at loud noises, cars, or even if you happen to leave the room.

If your dog barks when he can’t see you, this could be a form of separation anxiety.

Sensory Issues

As dogs age, their senses may not work like they used to. This includes hearing, sight, smell, and more. These changes can lead a dog to start barking more often.

For instance, a dog who has eyesight issues may not be able to see well. He becomes anxious and barks more as a result. Older dogs can suffer from glaucoma, cataracts, and even blindness.

Dogs who are also becoming deaf may bark for the same reason. They are anxious or even afraid. Some older dogs may not even hear themselves bark. In that case, the dog may start to bark more often and loudly.

Frustration

Older dogs may bark more often because they’re frustrated. For instance, the dog may have some trouble managing something he used to do easily. A dog may bark if he’s unable to go up or down staircases, for example. In that case, he’s letting you know he needs your help.

Pain

As dogs age and their bodies change, they can also develop some problems with their joints. This can include arthritis and other issues.

The pain may cause mobility issues, such as going up or down the stairs, jumping off/on the bed, and more.

Confusion

Just like humans, dogs can develop a form of dementia as they age. In dogs, this condition is called canine cognitive dysfunction (also called doggie dementia or old dog syndrome). Canine cognitive dysfunction is very similar to Alzheimer’s in humans.

All of this causes the dog to become anxious and confused. You can imagine how unsettling this can be for your dog!

What You Can Do About Excessive Barking in Your Older Dog

First, we’d like to say that the best thing you can do to help your dog is to make an appointment with the vet. If your dog has started barking excessively, there may be an underlying health issue causing the problem. An exam from the vet can find any health problems your fur baby may have. This is the best place to start.

It can take some trial and error to determine exactly what’s going on with your older dog. The vet may treat any health issues. They may also recommend treating your dog with supplements or even a change in diet to help his excessive barking.

If your dog has a condition that’s causing pain, then the vet may prescribe pain-relieving medications for your senior fur baby. This may help him feel better and relieve his barking.

For dogs that bark at night, it may be necessary to make sure he’s sleeping in the same room with you. This may help to cut his anxiety and fear, as well as confusion caused by dementia. Some pet parents have said that a ticking clock works to calm down an older dog. This is a method that’s often used to help puppies not cry during the night.

Another option is to make sure your dog’s bed is comfortable. There are specialized dog beds made for older dogs that may work to ease his pain and discomfort at night. You may also want to think about providing your fur baby with a special snuggly dog toy to curl up with at night.

For dogs who seem to be afraid at night, a night light may be helpful. Newer night lights contain sensors that turn the light on/off depending on how much light is in the room or space.

The vet may also suggest a prescription medication or supplements that can help your dog sleep better through the night.

If your dog seems to be too hot or cold during the night, special bedding can keep him more comfortable. Having access to a warm blanket, for instance, maybe all your dog needs to feel more comfortable.

Summing It Up

When your dog suddenly starts barking excessively, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with the vet. A checkup is in order to make sure your dog doesn’t have some health condition that may cause him to bark.

Once the vet has made a diagnosis and developed a treatment plan (if needed), then it’s still recommended that you work with the vet to find a solution to your older dog’s barking. It may take some trial or error to find what’s going on. But when you find the right mix of solutions, your fur baby will feel better and not need to bark so much.

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Kyoko

Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!

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