If you’ve noticed that your older dog is starting to bark a lot more, you’re not alone. The truth is that it isn’t uncommon for dogs to bark more as they get older. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t annoying or concerning.
Of course, and when you research how to train an older dog to stop barking, you’ll find that doing this isn’t as difficult as you might think. Barring any serious medical conditions and a few other things, most of the time it’s a piece of cake.
How to Train an Older Dog to Stop Barking?
Dogs can start to bark more when they get older for a variety of reasons, including pain, incontinence, frustration, or good old-fashioned anxiety. Fortunately, training them not to bark so much is relatively easy. In fact, in a lot of ways, training an older dog not to bark is similar to training a puppy, so there’s no need to feel apprehensive about it.
The first thing you’ll want to do is establish a way to let the dog know that you want them to stop barking. While this is different for everyone, you’ll want to start by deciding what to use as a verbal command, then add a body language cue to go with it.
For example, you can tell the dog “hush” or “quiet” while making eye contact with them or maybe even raising your hand.
Once you decide which command and gesture you want to use, make sure that you use those things every time you want the dog to stop barking. It shouldn’t take long for the dog to learn exactly what you mean when you do this. Afterwards, start practicing the command with your dog on a daily basis so that learning it happens quickly.
You’ll also want to establish some basic rules for the dog to learn. After all, there are going to be times when the dog should be allowed to bark. What you want in the end is for the dog not to bark excessively, which is why the training is so important.
Why Is Your Dog Barking?
Of course, if you can determine exactly why your dog is barking too much, you may be able to remedy the situation a little sooner. For instance, if you notice that your dog barks a lot when they’re bored, you can add some extra doggy toys — puzzle toys work great — so they can have something fun and even educational to do.
This doesn’t mean that you can ignore the training just because you have figured out why the dog is barking too much. If they bark because they’re bored, they may also bark because they’re in pain or because they are frustrated.
Regardless of why they’re barking, training the dog to stop barking is beneficial because you’ll never know when you might have to use this skill in the future.
If you are having trouble determining why your dog is barking, you have a few options available to you. First, you can keep a record of when the dog barks excessively. If you do this, make sure that you record as many details as possible about the dog’s environment to make it easier to determine the trigger. You should also consider a complete checkup for the dog to discover any medical issues that might exist.
Important Tips for Training the Dog Not to Bark
Naturally, you’ll always want to use positive reinforcement when training the dog not to bark. Give them lots of praise and a treat every time they do something right, and never punish the dog or use any type of negative reinforcement if they continue to bark. This means no slapping, yelling, hitting, or punishing, because these things might result in the behavior getting worse instead of better.
If you’re patient and consistent, the dog will be trained before you know it, despite being an older dog. You’ll also want to reward the dog immediately after the correct behavior — within five to ten seconds — in order to get the best results.
Otherwise, they may associate the treat with something else, which defeats the purpose of the training altogether.
You also need to consider the dog’s age and breed as potential sources of their barking. Different breeds bark for different reasons, but that doesn’t mean that finding their exact trigger is going to be simple.
Sometimes it’s rather difficult, but most of the time, the triggers include one or more of the following:
- Feeling threatened
- Basic fear
- Loud or unexpected noises
- Feeling overwhelmed
Let’s say that you’ve discovered that your dog barks every time a loud noise occurs. In this case, you can work to desensitize them to the noise by playing white noise and gradually increasing the volume. If the dog is barking due to boredom or due to being territorial, you can take them for a walk or play fetch for a while. In other words, finding the source of the trigger is the only way to do something about it.
Sometimes the source of the barking is stress, and there are numerous things you can do to reduce your dog’s stress level. For instance, dogs need exercise, socialization with other dogs, a comfortable environment, and structure and/or routine. They need all of these things so that they know that they have the support they need and so they can be healthy and happy at all times.
If you’ve already established a bond with your dog, as you should have by now, it should be easy to discover why they’re barking. This is the first step to deciding how to go about changing it so they don’t bark as much.
Older dogs can bark excessively for a variety of reasons, including boredom, fear, pain, and general anxiety. Determining the source of the barking is the first step to eliminating it, and you should eliminate it by training the dog not to bark using both verbal and physical cues.
If you repeat these steps daily, it shouldn’t be long before the dog’s behavior will change drastically in a positive way.