Can Dogs Sense a Full Moon?

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Introduction

Have you ever wondered if your dog could sense a full moon coming? Does your dog's behavior seem to change when there is a full moon? Whether or not a full moon will affect your dog's behavior is one of the most popular questions vets receive, especially when there is a full moon is on the horizon. 

But, is there any science or evidence behind the supposed behavioral change we may see in our dogs when there is a full moon? Although there may not be any solid proof the moon has any power over your dog, that doesn't mean it does not affect them.

Sings of a Dog Reacting to a Full Moon

Many dog owners strongly feel their dogs react to a full moon and act differently than they normally do with an impending full moon. Many people claim that their dog will bark much more, howl more, and even come across as restless and like they cannot settle down. There are also some reports that dogs can act in ways that are opposite of their personalities. 

For instance, if your dog is generally calm and relaxed, they may appear to be more hyper and agitated around the time of a full moon. If your dog tends to be hyper and full of energy, they may become much more tired and relaxed as a full moon approaches. On the other hand, they can also become more hyper.  

Your dog may seem to be much more alert, they may bark and howl more, they may growl, begin to chew things they normally would not, and may pace a lot if they are feeling restless and antsy. 

It is important to note that none of these signs are scientifically or definitively proven. Much is just speculation and observation from dog owners who have charted and observed their dog's behavior during the course of the month. They look at these behavior changes during the period of time during the week the Earth is experiencing a full moon. There is little to no evidence of how the full moon affects the behavior of dogs and what signs present when there is a full moon. 

Body Language

Here are some signs you might notice if your dog senses a full moon:

  • Growling
  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Chewing
  • Howling
  • Pacing

Other Signs

These are other signs you may notice if your dog is sensing a full moon:
  • Becoming Restless and Antsy
  • Being More Vocal
  • Acting Different
  • Becoming Very Calm

History of Dogs and the Full Moon

Dogs howling at a full moon and experiencing erratic changes in their behavior during this time of the month goes back for hundreds of years. In fact, for centuries, people have used the full moon to explain away a wide variety of strange happenings that seem to occur when the Earth is experiencing a full moon. 

It is believed that the full moon can affect both humans and animals alike. Historically, this topic has been relatively important because many people associate the full moon with an increase in aggressive animal behavior, like more dog bites occurring during the full moon period. This theory instilled fear in the population and made humans and pet owners fearful to be outside during the night. 

However, as science has progressed and humans have developed, this belief has changed a bit. Research and observation have concluded that there is no significant correlation between the full moon and dog bites. Dogs bites throughout the month occur randomly and a full moon has no more effect on dog bites than any other moon phase during any month. 

However, just because dogs do not bite more during the full moon doesn't mean other aspects of dog behavior may indeed change. 

For example, one dog owner claims that during a full moon, her dog boarding business would experience a shift in dog behavior. She claims the dogs in the facility that were normally happy and energetic would become irritable and cranky when the full moon was out. On the other hand, dogs that were calm and lower energy would experience bursts of energy. 

Science Behind Dogs and Full Moons

Recently, there have been studies conducted on how full moons may affect animal behavior, particularly in dogs. It is important to note that there is still not much literature on how the full moon and ocean tides truly affect dog behavior. Scientists still have more room for further experimentation and research. 

Studies that have been done seem to show that there is a correlation between the full moon and an increased amount of pet emergency visits to the vet. An increased amount of emergency visits take place just before the full moon and during the full moon. 

Another study was done in 2007 by Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. This study aimed to see if there was a correlation between vet emergency room visits and an increase in injuries just before, during, and after a full moon. The researchers went back through an 11 year period to chart and analyze emergency visits to the vet and compared to when full moons occurred.

They found that there was a 28% higher chance of dogs visiting the emergency vet clinic with a variety of ailments - bites, seizures, cardiac arrest, etc., during a full moon! Although there seems a correlation is present, there could be other factors that made this increase in visits happen as well.

Training Dogs to Cope With a Full Moon

Most dog owners will not see a significant increase in aggression in their dogs or any major personality changes in their dog during a full moon. However, if you do find your dog acts a bit strangely during the time of a full moon, there may be some ways you can reduce any discomfort they may experience over these few days. 

For instance, if you find your dog barking and howling more than usual, you can take this time to work on training commands for "quiet" or "no bark." You can do this by using treats to help them learn when they need to be quiet. Tell your dog "quiet" and as soon as they stop barking, even if it is just for a second, give them a treat and a lot of praise. Repeat this process every time they begin to bark. This will teach your dog what "quiet" means and that if they are quiet they will get treats and/or praise. 

If your pup seems to be uncomfortable or restless during the full moon, you can increase their exercise and playtime to keep them busy and to tire them out by the end of the day. This will make sure all of their energy has been released during the day so they are more likely to sleep and be relaxed in the evening and at night. 

How to React if Your Dog is Sensing a Full Moon

  • If they are barking a lot, try training for the "quiet" command.
  • Make sure they play and exercise during the day.
  • Keep them comfortable and calm.
Ruby and charlie
Four Months
Cavapoo
Definitely are Affected by the Moon
Signs

Yes, because they are never like this and usually relatively calm.

6 months, 3 weeks ago