View Full Version : Senior dog barking constantly and awake/restless all night. Help!

10-13-2017, 08:49 AM
ETA: I do have a vet appointment for Monday to discuss this too.

Long time no see everyone! I'm back with a question because I know there's a lot of great pet experts here.

We have an 11.5yr old English Springer Spaniel. Male. Had a check up in May and medically he's doing fine. He does have a very large benign fatty tumor on the side of his torso and weak hips so the combination is making it harder for him to get around (can't get up on the couch by himself, struggles with more than 1 or 2 steps). It doesn't seem to cause him any pain. He's always been a needy dog and likes to be where the people are. For years he's liked to sleep where we are...so upstairs on his dog bed (he doesn't sleep in bed with us) or if he's downstairs he wants someone downstairs with him..the couch. Now that he doesn't do stairs any more, he barks until DH or I join him on the couch. That'd be fine, honestly, if he just went to sleep. But at different points throughout the night he wants to move positions, wants down, stands at his full food bowl or water bowl and whines, asks to go outside, wants back up on the couch. Repeat. Needless to say, DH and I are feeling more sleep deprived than when our DDs were babies.

Additionally, he just barks all the time. We can be in the same room, or within eyesight of him in the kitchen and he'll bark until someone joins him on the couch. For the past 3 months I was training for a half marathon and going for runs before work at 5:30 am. I could spend all night on the couch with him and the minute I'd get up to put running clothes on he'd bark. Then he'd bark once I left the house waking up DH and the kids. This morning the 4 of us were downstairs for breakfast and packing lunches and he just stared at us from the couch and barked. Later, when I was the last one home and upstairs finishing my makeup/hair, he just kept on barking.

Any suggestions on what to do? We do have a "bark collar" that emits a noise or a shock that we had when he did this kind of thing as a puppy. We never used the shock setting only the noise and it would work because it was the same tweet sound as the invisible fence. We've tried that again recently but it doesn't seem to help. He'll hear the noise (though we think he's going deaf) and stop the immediate bark but then returns to barking a minute later. I feel like we have a baby that we need to do Cry It Out with but honestly, he'd just keep barking. He'd outlast us and I think he knows it. DH and I both WOH so who knows if he barks all day long or not. We have a 1 acre property so it's not like our neighbors would hear him. Ideally we'd love to get home from work and exercise him to tire him out so he'd sleep all night but with his age and physical weaknesses a walk down the block is about all he can handle.

And yes as I write this all out I think how ridiculous it is that we are taking turns sleeping on the couch with a dog. How did we get here?????

10-13-2017, 12:36 PM
I don't think you mentioned eyesight - could it be he's not seeing as well and that causes the barking? Also, perhaps he's "forgetting things" and getting lost?

I hope the vet has some good suggestions or at least ideas so you can ease the situation for all.

I think sleeping with the dog on the couch is perhaps comforting him and that's not ridiculous. Again hopefully the vet will have good ideas so everyone can rest more easily.

10-13-2017, 01:41 PM
Senior dogs can have neurological changes and that is what is sounds like to me, even those he's healthy. There are some meds from Valium or tramadol that ease anxiety to new "senior" pet meds. We've had a few senior dogs (pre-kids we rescued senior dogs) and even a healthy one can have rather sudden onset behavioral symptoms. Good luck at the vet and it is exhausting. Our 14 year old dog (got her as at 8 months or so) isn't as barky as yours, but has started with the in and out, whining and glued to us and some barking when we are gone, something she never did before. It's hard.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

10-13-2017, 02:53 PM
I would ask the vet about joint pain medicines that may help him be more mobile and if removing the tumor may help him be more mobile. Have you tried carrying him upstairs at night to sleep on his bed in your room?

He is clearly barking to make you do what he wants. A trainer may be able to help; medicine may help too. I think the vet is your best bet to give you options.

10-17-2017, 12:13 PM
Met with our awesome vet yesterday. He figures it's senior cognitive issues/senility. There's a med we can give him but it can take 2-6 weeks to become effective. He also recommended regular OTC benadryl to make him more sleepy at night. He assumes that us being gone all day and he very minimal activity even when we are home, due to age and reduced mobility, is making him wakeful at night...cause you just can't sleep 24hr a day. We did try the benadryl last night...and it never made him sleepy. Go figure!

The fatty tumor is also consuming a lot of his food calories and he's getting very thin. We know we are on borrowed time with him and just trying to weigh when it's best to say our goodbyes. I told DH that the decision of when is going to suck regardless if it's today, a week from now or a month from now. It sucks. Big time. But I don't want to have any regrets...that we gave in too quickly or that we waited too long.