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constant barking in older dog
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constant barking in older dog

I'm not sure if anyone can help with this or not. I have a 10 year old maltese mix dog who is a little overweight and was diagnosed with Cushings last year. I've really seen him age a lot this last year. He has arthritis, I think. He struggles to get up if he's been laying down for awhile. He also has trouble with stairs. The vet pointed out the blueish tinge across his eyes recently so I guess he has cataracts or something and doesn't see as well. But what is really driving all of us crazy and I don't understand why he is doing this is he is constantly barking. Every little noise he hears in the house, he barks. If one of us enters the house, he barks and barks even after we get close enough for him to see it's us. He barks if someone's walking around downstairs in the basement or making any kind of noise. He barks if we are rough housing with our 3 year old. He is contantly barking! And it's a sharp, high pitched bark which hurts the ears. Everybody is getting really annoyed with this constant barking. I do have a barking collar that I've tried using and it doesn't seem to help much. Right now he is laying down and still grumbling little barks. It's like he can't even relax. He's just constantly barking! I got a new clock that chimes and he barks at that! Is there anything we can do? And why is he doing this more and more?
He's also become more grumpy and growls and snaps if we accidently step on him or get close to stepping on him. I guess that's all part of him getting old. Is he just turning into a grumpy old man? He's still laying here by me making grumbling noises! He doesn't really listen to us either. We'll yell or tell him to stop and he just keeps doing it. Argh!
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82861_tn?1333457511
The issue is larger than just barking, so I'll share some of the things I know from my own experience.  Sometimes older dogs with health issues can exhibit strange behavior - like barking for no readily discernible reason.  If you suspect arthritis is an issue, that is a very painful condition, and some dogs just bark a lot when they're hurting.  Ask your vet for an anti-inflammatory med like rimadyl or dermaxx.  If you can treat the pain, some of the barking may recede.

Since he has cataracts and can't see nearly as well, he is relying even more on his nose to tell him what is going on in the world.  Consequently, he has to make sure that YOU know what is going on in the world.  He relays the message via barking.  That sharp, high-pitched bark sounds like he's trying to raise an alarm.  If he can't see well any longer, there's a whole lot more things to be alarmed about now.

Even though he's a senior dog, he still needs exercise.  He needs even more exercise if he has arthritis - which he probably does.  Building up his muscles helps take the strain off those arthritic joints.  How much do you walk him?  He needs to get out on the leash for a controlled walk at least once a day for 20 or 30 minutes.  This walk is also a mental exercise.  He doesn't get to be distracted by whatever is going up his nose; he doesn't get to run 25 feet ahead of you on a flex-leash and go nuts.  Keep that leash very short and don't allow him to keep his nose on the ground.  Don't allow him to walk ahead of you.  You're asking him to walk at the pace you set as well as be aware of what you want him to do at all times.  If he starts barking at something, correct him.  The correction is just a short, sharp tug on the leash.  Pull upward and slightly toward your body.  You should notice that his attention is now on you instead of what has distracted him.  Do this if he gets a distracting scent up his nose as well.  Picture his topline as being relatively straight from nose to tail.  That posture is a relaxed dog who is open and receptive to you and what you're asking of him.  If his nose is glued to the ground and his tail is up in the air, he he is distracted and paying no attention to you.  Correct him.

You can apply these corrections to the inappropriate barking in the house.  Just keep him on a short leash and set him up for the exercise with known things that make him bark - like the kids playing.  Correct him every time he barks.  Even better, get him to lie down and stay calm while the activity is going on.  You'll probably have to do this a hundred times before he gets on auto-pilot, but he WILL get it.  You just have to be very patient and very consistent.

You asked me in another thread if Cesar Millan's books and videos would help an older dog.  YES!  Chica, the dog we recently lost to renal failure, was aggressive, fearful and neurotic her entire life and it was our fault.  We didn't understand how to socialize her and did the worst possible thing: we shrank her world even further and kept her away from other dogs and people.  About 3 years ago I stumbled on The Dog Whisperer show on the National Geographic Channel, and saw every problem we ever had with Chica, including mindless barking.  I also saw the solution to her problems.  Chica was over 10 years old, and she responded beautifully once I learned the correct tools to apply to her problems.  Barking at any and everything was one of those problems.  Once she became socialized and realized that my husband and I were taking over the role of Pack Leader, she had no problem accepting that and the barking just melted away.

Don't be fooled by that old saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."  It might take a little more time, but you certainly can do it.  One thing I really like about Cesar's methodology is that the whole idea is learning about how dog's think and what they need mentally to be balanced.  You'll have an entirely new and wonderful relationship with your dog once that communication is in place.  If you don't get the Nat'l Geo. channel in your area, do rent some Dog Whisperer DVDs and check out his books at the library.  He puts everything so clearly that it's very easy to understand and begin applying the techniques immediately.  I've done it with a dog I thought was hopeless, and the results were nothing short of miraculous.  :-)

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203342_tn?1328740807
Wow, thanks! I'll have to check out the DVD. Did you say there's more than one?
I have tried walking him but I can't even get down the street until he's dragging back on the leash (behind me) and trying to sit down. He'll refuse to walk after awhile and I have to pick him up and carry him! Or he'll start limping and wimper and look at me holding a paw up as if he hurt his paw and then I have to pick him up and carry him again! We live about 1/2 mile from a park and I used to be able to walk him down to the park, rest awhile there and then come back. This last Summer when I tried to walk him down to the park, he didn't even make it half way down there. So that was about 1/4 of a mile? It's kinda sad. He's really aged this last year. I've really noticed that. I don't know for sure if he has arthritis but he'll struggle to get up when he's been laying down for awhile and he has trouble with stairs sometimes and he walks kinda stiff or limping sometimes. I did get some doggy aspirin for arthriits pain and some Joint Assure for his joints. I've been giving him that lately.
I'll be sure to check out the Dog Whisperer DVD's. Thanks again.
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418927_tn?1202931649
In some older dogs they like to make sure you know they are still around You mention you shout at him or tell him to be quiet but do you also go to him when he is barking and gently touch him, stroke his coat and tell him you are still there for him, then gently holding his head between your hands say firmly but gently "Thats enough" and imediately give him a treat.  It wont happen overnight but eventually when you say "Thats enough" he will stop.  I wouldnt over exercise an older arthritic dog if hes not used to it.  Start with short walks and he himself will know how far he can go.  If he is stiff and sore it can be miserable for them.  Jan Fennell - the Dog Listener is good also.  Some vets arent keen to give medication such as anti inflammatory drugs as they can cause gastric upsets but you can also be prescribed something to coat the digestion so do go alon and discuss it with your vet.  When they bark like that they are really just saying  to you they are still there .  Shouting is contraproductive as he will think you are just joining in.
M
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203342_tn?1328740807
Thanks for the advice. Yeah, I've tried things like that and he'll just pull away from me and continue barking. He's always been a bit stubborn! I usually will just pick him up and sometimes hold his mouth shut for a minute and then let him back down. But I'll keep working on it!
I'll check out this Jan Fennell you talked about. Thanks again!
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Avatar_m_tn
I personally think you are far too rough on your dog; I am going through EXACTLY the same problems you are, right to the type of dog - Maltese/Shisui - with arthritis, loss of hearing and eyesight (16 yrs old) but I am extremely understanding and tender with him - I know when he  barks he wants something and even if it's attention, I give him kindness and talk to him and pet him, even letting him lie on my bed with me at times.  They need tenderness and caring at this time of their lives - and not expecting them to act as they did when they were pups - your dog obviously cannot take the long walks you try with him - in fact he probably is in too much pain to wantg to walk at all.  You need to be more sensitive to your pet.
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974371_tn?1364538460
I don't know why these forums are this way but you are replying to a post from 2008
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203342_tn?1328740807
Decook, you do not know me and know nothing about how well I've ALWAYS treated my pets. I have NEVER been rough with my pets. Where did it say I was being rough? I said it made me sad when I could see he couldn't walk so far and would sit down and I would pick him up and carry him and that's exactly what I did. Just because I was a little exasperated with his barking doesn't mean I was EVER rough! I loved this dog with everything I had. He had a good home and lots of love. I rescued him from the pound and had to help him learn to trust people again by giving lots of love and being patient with him because he was abused. With lots of TLC he turned out to be a wonderful, faithful dog who followed me all over the house.
I never smacked my animals, or yanked on them or anything of that sort so please don't make assumptions and hurtful comments to someone you know nothing about. I gave him all my love and the best care I could and I held and petted him constantly. I never let him go while he lay dying just a little over a year after I made this post and I bawled my eyes out as I held him as he passed over the Rainbow Bridge. He was a good dog and well loved.
Maybe you would like to read this to know a little more about my Willow who I still miss today.
http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Pet-Grief-Support---In-Loving-Memory-of-Our-Pet/Willow/show/1224659
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