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Help! My Old Dog is Deaf and Barks All the Time

Shaggy tan and white dog outdoors barking

Aging dogs usually display unusual behavior, including nonstop barking. This undue barking can be highly irritating yet concerning. Although various factors can be responsible for this behavioral problem, old age deafness is the most common reason. Read on to find out how you can communicate (and deal) with an old dog who is deaf and barks.

Why is My Old Age Dog Barking?

One might think that dogs are barking only to gain some attention, but that is where you can be wrong. Yes, deliberate barking is a possibility, but old dogs often suffer from a difficult-to-detect affliction. Some major causes that can make your senior dog bark continuously are discussed below.

Deafness

Closeup of furry tan dog looking up

Hearing impairment is quite common among canines. In fact, American Kennel Club suggests that nearly 10% of all dogs in the U.S. suffer from deafness.

Dogs perceive the world around them with their senses. If anyone of these senses become weak, it can change the entire perception of your pup. Therefore, a deaf dog becomes frustrated and indulges in negative barking as his/her anxiety grows.

Canine Dysfunction Syndrome

This is another disease that is very common in old-aged dogs. Senior Tail Waggers explain that this condition severely hampers the cognitive function of dogs. This syndrome is equivalent to Alzheimer’s disease in human beings because it can cause confusion, anxiety, anger, and forgetfulness. It makes your furry friend confused and scared, which results in non-stop barking.

Incontinence

Boxer outdoor peeing on a trashcan

Sometimes, old dogs might be barking as they are having difficulties in holding pee or bowel movement. This is quite common with senior dogs because their bladders are not as “efficient” as they were earlier. The problem of incontinence is more common in spayed female pooches, but it can also affect both the male canines. Late-night barking is usually caused by this disease.

Pain

This is another common cause of old age barking because the body of your canine companion becomes weak. Your dog could well be suffering from many body aches, such as joint and muscle pains. It might look like deliberate barking on the surface, but your pooch could be crumbling with pain on the inside.

Signs that Your Dog is Deaf

Beagle outdoors standing in grass with head tilted

Forever Vets mention some of the signs that might point towards canine deafness.

  • Startling behavior
  • Undue Barking
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Abrupt Disobedience
  • Sleepiness
  • Head shaking or tilting

Generally, the Brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) test is used to ascertain whether a dog is suffering from hearing impairment or not.

What Can I Do if My Old Dog is Deaf and Barks All the Time?

Hand holding a flashlight that is turned on against a black background

As dogs lose their hearing ability, they need time and training to circumvent their impairment. This would a lot of effort on the part of the owner. The following are some steps that can be used to train your old, deaf dog. You will need a lot of tasty treats, pointing flashlights, and a leash for this training.

Address Visual Triggers

Old dogs who can’t hear properly must be carefully studied to identify visual factors that trigger negative barking. It could be a visual stimulus seen from the window where he/she usually resides. If that’s the case, you must use curtains or baby gates to block their vision. This would help them to remain calm.

Alternatively, you can also train your pup not to bark. Here’s how you can do it.

  • Put a leash on your dog and hold a treat in your hand.
  • Wait for the visual trigger (e.g. someone’s passing by the window) and let your dog bark through it.
  • Once he/she stops barking, immediately point a flashlight on his/her feet and give him the treat.
  • Repeat this training a few times and your pup will learn that staying quiet does him/her more good than barking.

Handle Frustration

Old deaf dogs usually suffer from a lot of frustration. This behavioral issue can be curbed by giving your pooch a fair bit of time. Taking your dog out for daily walks, giving him/her interactive toys, and offering tasty treats can uplift their mood. You can also play fetch (through hand signals) with them to soothe their minds.

Seek Professional Help

Sometimes, the situation becomes too much for us to handle and professional help becomes a necessity. These dog trainers have extensive experience with deaf dogs and can train your canine quickly and more efficiently.

How to Communicate with My Dog if He/She is Deaf and Barks?

Small corgi on porch barking

Hearing impairment in old dogs must not be considered as the end of the world. Through proper training, old deaf pups can be brought back into life by communicating with them through signs and symbols.

The Signal Collar Method

This method is used by employing a vibrating collar on the neck of your dog. It gives out a small vibration cue whenever the owner wants the dog’s attention.

  • Whenever your pooch begins barking, wait for him/her to pause.
  • Then trigger the vibrating collar and give him/her a hand signal to stop barking immediately.
  • If he/she obeys the command, give him/her a treat.
  • Repeat this method multiple times to achieve perfection.

The Trigger Method

Woman holding a coffee mug and a dog sitting on a window ledge, 
 looking out of a window

In this technique, we need a visual stimulus to cue your dog to start barking.

  • Put a leash on your dog and allow him/her to stand near a window.
  • Grab the leash and ask your friend/neighbor to walk past the window. Your dog will start barking.
  • Wait for him/her to stop. Once it happens, attract the attention of your pooch towards you and give a tasty treat.
  • Practice this training many times so that your dog becomes accustomed to it.

The Alternative Behavior Method

You will need a crate to train your canine friend with this technique. Make sure that the thing you are using gives a positive vibe to your pup. A vibrating collar is also needed.

  • Keep the dog on a leash and wait for a visual trigger for barking.
  • When the dog starts barking, gain his/her attention by using the vibrating collar.
  • Give your dog a signal to stop barking and take him/her to the crate.
  • Place him/her in the personal den and provide your canine with a chewing toy, such as rawhide bone.

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