Why Does My Dog Howl at the Moon

Behavior Recent April 15, 2022
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Why Does My Dog Howl at the Moon

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Why Does My Dog Howl at the Moon?

Like their wolf ancestors, dogs are known to howl at the moon. While some pet owners claim their dog acts differently around and during a full moon, there is no research to prove this theory.

So, what is it that makes dogs seem anxious, restless, or agitated by the moon? Keep reading to learn more about why dogs might be howling at the moon and what other nocturnal effects could be at play.

So Why Do They Do It?

The plain and simple answer is, that your dog is not barking or howling at the moon but is instead communicating with other dogs. The light that emanates from a moonlit night may just push your dog into distress, which means his barks and howls are the results of fear or anxiety.

When the moon is brighter, you may notice your dog barking more. This may be because, most nights, when your dog goes out, it is fairly dark but as the moon is waxing, the night seems brighter. Because a dog’s eyes are sensitive to light, a fuller moon appears to be a guiding light in what is normally darkness. This can make it more difficult for your dog to find his way. Therefore, your pup may be showing his frustration by barking or howling at other dogs suffering the same anguish.

If you notice your dogs barking more in the early morning hours like 3 am, it is more likely they hear something that sets them off. If there is wildlife in your area, the barking could be an assortment of creatures in the night like:

  • Cats
  • Rats or mice
  • Coyotes
  • Owls
  • Rabbits
  • Squirrels
  • Raccoons
  • Foxes
  • Bats

Dogs are more likely to react to sounds late into the night because everything is much quieter than during the day. During the day there is typically noise from vehicles, people airplanes, TV, and more which makes the sound of a dog barking less likely to be heard. With fewer atmospheric disturbances at night, the sound can travel further.

How Do I Stop My Dog’s Howling?

There are several things you can do to stop your dog’s moon-driven howling and barking. If you are at your wit end with your dog’s nighttime barking then consider trying the following:

  • Reward – consider rewarding your pup with treats when he stops barking or howling at night. Ignore bad behavior though.
  • Toys – This also goes along with exercise. Make sure your pup has a variety of toys to distract him and keep him stimulated. More toys mean less time to go out and howl at the moon.
  • Calming aid treats – Calming aids treats for dogs can help to curb stress and get your pup through evening-induced separation anxiety. These come in the form of chews that contain tryptophan and natural ingredients to help your pup relax and sleep.
  • Night time routine – Dogs do better with routines. Whether that is an evening walk to wear him out or cuddle time before bed, this could help calm your dog’s anxiety as the moon is rising.
  • Close Windows – Close the curtains and keep your dog away from windows to prevent him from spotting any movement outside when it begins to get dark.
  • Crate train- Dogs like having a safe space to relax in the event there are fireworks, thunder, or other anxiety-driven events. Having a crate provides your pup with his own “room” to go to when he is feeling stressed.
  • Exercise – Barking can sometimes be a cry for exercise. Try taking your dog for an evening walk before bed and see if it helps with the issue. Try and get him out to play with you or other dogs to release as much energy as possible to wear him out.
  • Socialize – Be sure and get your dog out to meet other dogs and humans. This will not only assist with exercise but can help with anxiety and unfamiliar sounds. The more sounds he is familiar with the better

Remember every dog is different and some of these solutions may work better than others. You may need to implement several until your dog is more comfortable with the evening moonlight.

Does the Full Moon Affect Dogs?

As we mentioned before, your dog might not see as well during a full moon due to increased light. Dogs navigate in the dark with ease due to their eye structure. Dogs, cats, and various other animals have larger pupils than humans.

Dogs also have mirror-like membranes in the back of the eye and more retinal light-sensitive cells or rods, which help to see in low light. This can be seen when your dog’s eyes glow green or yellow when hit with a bright light which causes a reflection in the eye.

While dogs may not see small details, they do have better night vision.

Several studies found that emergency vet visits for dogs increased by nearly 30% during the full moons but that is most likely due to poor vision in the moonlight and nothing else.

Final Thoughts

Most likely your dog is not barking and howling at the moon but instead triggered by external noises. Your pup’s super-sensitive hearing may be picking up dogs barking, nearby critters, cars backfiring and sirens that you cannot even hear.

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Amy Towry is a Certified NAVC Pet Nutritionist and pet lover. She is the proud owner of two rescue cats and a rescue dog and her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care, nutrition, and product reviews.
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