For some dogs, training them to be quiet on cue and rewarding quiet behavior is effective. For other dogs, nonshock bark-control collars, such as the citronella collar, may be needed. Drug therapy may also help if your dog’s vocalizations are motivated by anxiety.
One of the most noticeable things senior dogs exhibit is increased barking. This may be a result of separation anxiety but it could also be your aging dog’s way of getting your attention. However, it can also be a sign of cognitive dysfunction. Senile barking is something very common.
Ignore the barking
How to Help Older Dogs Bark Less
Ignore him If your old dog has learned that barking will bring you running, then he could be barking for attention. The only way to end this behavior is to ignore your dog when he barks at night. That means no shouting at him, no looking at him, and no talking to him.
Loss of hearing, cognitive dysfunction, central nervous system disorders and medical conditions can all contribute to your dog’s excessive vocalization. He might whine or howl if he feels the urge to eliminate more, if he’s overeating and wants you to give him more food, or if he’s in pain.
What are the signs of dementia in pets?
Signs that you should be observant of in an elderly dog or a sick dog in hospice care include:
All dogs bark, it is their main form of communication and it is completely normal. Their reasons for barking, however, are not always obvious to humans. Often it seems they are barking at absolutely nothing and you may think they are crazy or have a sense of the supernatural. Rest assured, they are perfectly sane.
It may take weeks of practice, but your old dog will eventually get the message and bark less and less, until he’s so quiet you actually miss the odd bark!
Adding a half-cup or so of water to his food (both dry and canned) will help hydrate him as well; he won’t mind the soupiness. As with people, dogs’ dietary needs and preferences usually change as they age. Try adjusting his feeding schedule; reluctant eaters can often be tempted by small portions throughout the day.
If your dog is heading towards the “senior” years, changes in his behavior could be due to not feeling good. Maybe he has arthritis or he’s losing his hearing. Some dogs will start to show signs of dementia as they age, and different medications can also affect each dog’s behavior differently. 7
How to Comfort an Older Dog
To help your pet, try to be consistent about when your dog wakes up, goes to bed, has a walk, and is fed. This isn’t always easy, but can help reduce anxiety. A consistent sleep schedule may also make it less likely for your dog to become confused during the night.
Unusual night-time barking is a classic symptom of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (aka ‘Old Dog Syndrome’ or CCD). This condition is pretty similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. If your older dog has CCD he might seem lost, confused, dazed or ‘out of it’ for periods of time.
Symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction