Much like we human beings sometimes love to hear ourselves talk (or update our Facebook status messages over and over), dogs seem to gather a certain level of enjoyment out of barking.

The fact is that when a dog is barking, he or she is trying to communicate with you.

So how do you tone down the barking while still respecting your older dog’s right to free speech?

Furthermore, can you tone down the barking? Should you? Those are really good questions.

For senior dogs who bark for no apparent reason, Senior Dog Wisdom can help. It helps with confusion and other mental and cognitive issues often seen in older dogs.  You can learn more here.

senior dog wisdom for dog alzheimersUnderstand Why

The first thing you need to do is understand why your senior dog is barking. There are a number of reasons for this behavior, all of which tend to circulate around the idea that your pooch has something to say.  When they bark; they’re talking ( in their own language of course) and believe it or not, but many dogs are even taught sign language. Observe!

  • Some dogs bark for attention, plain and simple. They may bark because they want to be let outside or they may bark because they’re hungry, but the basic foundation of this barking behavior is attention-grabbing.
  • Some dogs bark because they’re bored. If he or she lacks in social stimulation or exercise, for instance, he or she may take to barking as a way to quite literally pass the time.
  • Some dogs bark out of frustration. This may come for a number of reasons and may be interrelated to other barking reasons, like boredom or attention-seeking. Some dogs get frustrated when their owners walk too slow, for exam
  • Like kids, some dogs bark when they aren’t getting enough positive reinforcement.
  • Some dogs bark because of separation anxiety (see my note below), a subject we covered somewhat with this piece. Barking included with separation anxiety may result in some other problems, like home destruction or soiling, and may require more assistance from a trained professional.
  • Some dogs bark because they want to play. This is a way of demanding more immediate, active attention. While this sort of barking isn’t the most common in older dogs, senior pooches still like to get active with their owners and still like to roll around and have fun. Barking is par for the course.
  •  Older dogs who are suffering from dementia will often bark at night when you go to bed.
  •  Finally, some dogs bark to call alert to something. A dog may have spotted a stranger coming up the walkway, for instance, or may be responding to a knock at the door or an unfamiliar presence.

*Note: Dogs who are left out doors with little involvement from the owners or anyone else for that matter may bark out of  frustration.  DO NOT ignore an outdoor dog who is constantly barking.  Find out why and see if you can do something to help!

With Understanding Comes Wisdom

So here’s the thing: dogs bark for all sorts of reasons. Some of these reasons are “good,” while some are on the more annoying side of things. Regardless, you can’t stop a dog from barking any more than you can stop yourself from talking and/or updating your Facebook status.

The best course of action is one of understanding. You must relate to your dog and determine why he or she is barking.

Controlling or augmenting the behavior of an older dog will go absolutely nowhere if you don’t “get” your dog’s behavior first. Once you truly understand why your dog barks, you can move on. We’ll have more on this subject, including a compassionate approach to barking, in future entries.

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Showing 17 comments
  • dave

    my old lab 11 years old has started barking through the day for no reason ?? hes layed in his bed happy and the he starts not at night because hes in with us now

    • janie

      Hi Dave:

      Senior Dog Formula was created to help with cognitive issues such as barking at night or night pacing, etc. I works VERY well. You can read about it here.

      I think you’ll notice a difference in your old boy.


  • Amy Troscher

    We adopted a 13 year old greyhound, Blue. (We have 2 younger (ages 4 &5) greyhounds that we’ve had for a couple of years) Blue had a great life for 10 years, and then the original owner passed away. A family member took her and locked her in the back yard, ignored her and did not feed for at least a year (starved and flea bitten so bad, her hair was all gone from rib cage back). Another family member saw this and took her to save her life, but he couldn’t handle her, she was then passed to another woman who eventually had trouble as well because Blue needs to go out several times a night, and this woman had to walk her to let her out, so she was exhausted. Me and my husband agreed to take her, because we have a large yard and a doggie door where she can go out and do her business as many times as she needs. We promised that we would not give up on her, she has been through too much, so this is her forever home. She is missing a toe, has been stepped on by a horse, and does this raspy whine and bark for what seems to us as “no reason.” (We know there is one, we just haven’t figured it out yet.) . She does it several times a day, and at least once a night, but usually 3 times a night. The vet gave us pain meds and some anti-anxiety medication and it does seem to help a little, but I think there is more going on and of course I’m concerned about the long term use of these medications. Since she was saved from the evil woman, she has gained about 20lbs, got all of her hair back, and the vet says she is in over all great health for her age. She has a hitch in her hip when she walks, we think because she favored one side for so long after losing a toe, but vet x-rayed and said she didn’t see any serious arthritis or anything. I know, I know, get to the point! My question is, should we continue the pain medication (carprofen) and anti-anxiety meds (trazodone) and try them in conjunction with some of the other suggestions here? Blue has been on those two meds for about 10 days. Or, should we maybe run that course of meds for two weeks, and then stop them and try the other stuff suggested here? I know based on her history, she has anxiety or “issues” and I know based on age, she could have dementia, and I know that based on her injuries and her age, she could just have soreness and pain (we have been exercising her a little more trying to build some muscle back up that she lost from being neglected). As I was typing this she barked and barked and did that raspy noise. I gave her a treat and it was time for her medicine dose, and now she is on the dog bed that Maci (the younger female ) had been on, and she’s as quiet as can be, but she still seems fidgety or annoyed. Forgive my rambling, I just feel so helpless. I don’t yell at her, I don’t hit her. I “hush” her, and sometimes I snap my fingers which weirdly worked once or twice. And, sometimes I just ignore her (don’t know if I should be doing that, but sometimes when I try to give her affection when she’s like that, she just pulls away). I just don’t know which step to take next or should I even take a next step?? Is this just my life now?

    • janie

      Hi Amy:

      Since it’s been awhile since you contacted me, I will send you a private email.


    • Jennifer

      How is Blue now? Did you keep her on the carprofen and the trazadone? I’m wondering what dose of each she takes?

      My Lab Lilly takes thyroid and carprofen 2x day. We have increase her dose of carprofen but haven’t seen any relief.

      This has been going on for almost a month. Sometimes sitting with her helps. She generally doesn’t want to me to cuddle with her when she’s doing the barking jag.

      We are going back to vet in a few days.

  • Karen G

    I have a 14 year old Daschund. She doesn’t like it when we all are not home. She barks constantly like a loud warning bark. I know it is anxiety. she doesn’t like to be alone. I feel so bad. I usually walk her before I leave. I give her a treat. It doesn’t seem to work. I live in an apartment. She was like that too when we owned a house. She used to do that barking when she was a puppy and stopped up until she got older recently about a year ago. What do I do?

    • janie

      Hi Karen:

      Have you tried using the herb Valerian? You might want to read my article here which will give you some ideas. Safely Using Valerian for Dogs
      I would also include something such as the “thunder shirt” which uses compression to help calming. Compression is often used as a therapy option for autism.

      I hope this helps!


  • Susy

    My dog is about 11 years old now he never use to bark now he barks all the time he gets attention day in and day out but the barking is getting worse and worse I don’t understand it. He will be laying there sleeping in wakes up and starts barking for no apparent reason

    • janie

      Hi Susy:

      I’m sorry to hear about your old boy, but this isn’t uncommon with age. This can have a lot to do with dementia aka senility. I would try him on our Senior Dog Wisdom which includes Ginkgo Biloba, fatty acids and antioxidants to help with his brain health.

      You can read about it here. Also, make sure you feeding him correctly with a good diet. Not just kibble. If you need help here, let me know. Daily exercise is also very important. Both diet and exercise are important for brain health.


    • Jennifer

      Yes I’m dealing with the same from my 15 year old Lab ☹️

  • Linda

    I dont understand why my dog tried to bite another with a bark first for an unknown reason at school where all dogs are closely watched and he is not aggressive at all?

    • admin

      Hi Linda:
      Believe it or not, but dogs just like to show a little “muscle” once in awhile especially if they’re on the timid side themselves and they come across another dog who is timid as well.


  • Phyllis Dandy

    My barks when she sees people it animal walking down the street.

    • admin

      Hi Phyllis:
      She’s probably thinking “hey, who is that walking down my street!” 😮


  • Bev M.

    My dog barks whenever my mother calls me. I guess he knows that I am going downstairs and wants to go with me or does not want me to leave. He is very possessive.

    • admin

      That’s funny Bev. You’re all his!

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