Cognitive Dysfunction: Barking Dog and Old Age
All animals age, but not all animals can age gracefully. If you can grow old and start forgetting things that have always been otherwise familiar and important to you, so can your dog. But as dogs and humans don't speak the same language, it will often be hard - even for you as an ownder - to detect and accept that your pet has started to suffer from a cognitive dysfunction - in other words, if he is becoming senile. One of the telltale signs of senility in an old dog is incessant barking, but it's only one of the most in-your-face signs: there are certainly more. This article will help teach you how to recognize it if you have a cognitive dysfunction barking dog.
Like senility, a cognitive dysfunction means a degeneration of brain activities... therefore it may occur in young dogs, but very rarely. A cognitive dysfunction barking dog will almost always be of an advanced age. Very old dogs are normally sedate and slow to provoke, so when your aged pet suddenly starts barking in the middle of the night for no reason - it's time to look into taking him to the vet.
Training your aged dogs yourself to stop compulsive barking may be extremely tricky, if not futile and potentially harmful. Younger dogs - even ones as young as puppies - are easily trained to keep from compulsive barking with several reinforcement methods, both positive and negative. But it may all be rather useless if your dog is old and has cognitive dysfunction, because he will no longer understand what you are doing, and may react violently to any interruption. In fact, it's rather tragic, but your dog may no longer even recognize you at all.
Sometimes dogs of all ages bark compulsively because of loneliness, so reassuring the pet with your presence may work to soothe the dog's nerves. If it's not sheer loneliness, but a problem with perception - i.e. your dog imagines a threat that isn't really there - it might be best to let it last for as long as your pet is disturbed. Repetitive performance may warrant a visit to the vet, who might be able to prescribe medications or other sedatives that would temper the hallucinations and allow your dog to sleep well.
Another sign of cognitive dysfunction is confusion and listlessness. A dog who has cognitive dysfunction may find himself in a familiar area but act strangely in it, moving about as if he couldn't find the exit, or failing to differentiate an indoor setting from an outdoor setting. Wandering aimlessly is not uncommon, so fences or restraints may be necessary in extreme cases. Lack of sleep may also be an issue. Your veterinarian should be able to advise you on the best mode of action for your cognitive dysfunction barking dog.
Articles of Interest ...