How the Full Moon Affects Your Dog (And You)

How the Full Moon Affects Your Dog (And You)

Police officers, emergency room workers, teachers and even doggie daycare staff all know that sh*t gets weird on a full moon. We joke about it and maybe draw straws to see who has to take the night shift, but have you ever thought deeply about why that is or how the full moon is actually affecting our brains and bodies?

The sun also has a gravitational pull on earth, although much weaker than the moon’s. Full moons (and new moons) are the most powerful because that’s when the sun and the moon are in line with the earth, combining their gravitational pulls to cause VERY high tides (and very low tides).

We see this effect clearly on our ocean shores, but we don’t give much thought to what this gravitational pull is doing to our own bodies.

Human bodies are made of 60-70 percent water.

Did you know that your dog’s water percentage is even higher?

Dog bodies contain up to 80 percent water.

Surely, if the moon and the sun are able to influence our massive oceans so dramatically, the little oceans of water inside our bodies are not immune. 

In fact, studies have shown LOTS of measurable impacts to our human bodies during full moons—including less sleep, lower heart rates and blood pressure, increased mental health disorders, and even synchronized menstrual cycles. Emergency rooms, maternity wards and veterinarian clinics all report increased activity around full moons.

We Are Not Immune to Nature’s Power

I was in a Moon Circle (@ichelfrancis) for a couple of years, where we paid attention to each moon phase. As a group, we talked about how we were affected and how we could use the powerful energy of the moon to heal and grow.

There were two ways that most women felt the moon’s pull: physically and mentally/emotionally. I tended to be in the mental/emotional camp, meaning that I experienced moon energy as strong urges to let go of things that weren’t serving me, take steps toward my goals that scared me, and uncover truths about myself that I had never seen before. Plus lots of crying my face off.

Thankfully, I didn’t experience the more physical manifestations of the moon energy, such as headaches, exhaustion, anger, unexplainable sadness, sleeplessness and even nausea that some other women felt.

However, because I was paying attention to anything that came up during these powerful gravitational pulls, I did notice that my dogs were physically affected. Most often, it showed up as very interrupted sleep during the full moons. My dogs would all wake up several times during those nights. They would settle back down quickly, but it made for pretty poor quality sleep when I had four dogs in my room all moving around at different times.

Another effect I was able to document is that my dog, Tyler, was more likely to have a seizure on full moons than on other nights. Tyler had infrequent seizures for many years—sometimes he only had them once or twice a year. But when they happened, they were almost always on a full moon.

I wouldn’t have noticed this correlation if I wasn’t in a group where our attention was brought to the moon phases and what we experienced around them. Indigenous cultures of the past (and present) would be more aware and accepting of this phenomena, because they respect and honor the power of the moon. In recent times, we’ve become disconnected from the natural world and no longer pay attention to how the weather, seasons and moon cycles affect us.

Western medicine doesn’t ask you what phase the moon was in when you had your latest anxiety attack.

Modern culture has somehow decided that even though the moon and sun can visibly affect the oceans and land masses of Earth, we as humans are not susceptible to their power. And because our dogs are now extensions of our human family, we don’t consider the effect that the natural world has on them, either.

Unless our attention is brought back to it.

It took being connected to this beautiful moon circle for me to even begin to become aware of what we have lost and how we are operating at less than full knowledge when it comes to our health—and our dogs’ health.

The Power of Reconnecting to Nature

Let me give a clear example of how important this natural knowledge is, and how we are shorting ourselves and our dogs by not paying attention to it.

As I mentioned, Tyler’s seizures were notably almost always on a full moon. When he had one, his vet would have me give him a heavier dose of phenobarbital right away and then increase his dosage going forward. He would be seizure-free for a while until another full moon came along and he’d have a “breakthrough” seizure. Then we’d repeat the heavy dose that day and increase his daily dosage going forward. This pattern continued for years.

What if, instead of reacting to his seizures, we tried to be proactive instead?

What if I had given him the higher dose of meds BEFORE he was most likely to have a seizure, rather than permanently increasing his dosage AFTER he had already had one? If I had given him a higher dose around the full moons, would I have been able to prevent the breakthrough seizures and avoid the steadily increasing dosage that came as a result?

Tyler is gone and there is no way to test this now. And I AM NOT SUGGESTING that everyone give medicines by the phases of the moon.

But I am suggesting that we become AWARE and CURIOUS again.

By letting modern science and medicine deny our connection to the natural world, we are not giving ourselves the full picture of the causes, triggers and solutions to our health issues…for us and our dogs.

The first step to becoming aware and curious is to simply ask yourself what you believe, or what might be possible? Do you believe that humans and dogs might be affected by the pull of the moon? If so, then become aware of how it is showing up in your life. Pay attention during the full and new moon phases, and keep a record of any unusual behavior you observe in yourself or your dog. The patterns might surprise you!

I know exactly how full moons affect me and I have an awareness that my dogs also feel some sort of disruption. Even if Western medicine never acknowledges this link, I know it for myself and it allows me to give myself and my dogs extra compassion and support during these powerful events. When sh*t gets weird on a full moon and I am crying my face off for no reason and my dogs won’t settle down, I don’t take any of it personally.

There is nothing wrong with me.

There is nothing wrong with my dogs.

We’re just tiny oceans getting tossed around by that beautiful, powerful Grandmother Moon, Mama Quilla.

As it always was, as it always will be.

I’d love to hear from you. Do you notice any strange behavior from your dog (or yourself!) during full or new moons? Would you like to have a reminder on every full and new moon so that you can pay better attention to what goes on? Drop your thoughts in the comments below and I will read them all and respond.

jennifer waters happy dog mom signature

19 Ways Your Dog Is Trying to Communicate with You

19 Ways Your Dog Is Trying to Communicate with You

I used to look at Smokey and think, ‘If you were a little smarter you could tell me what you were thinking,’ and he’d look at me like he was saying, ‘If you were a little smarter, I wouldn’t have to.” ~ Fred Jungclaus

Your dog is talking. Are you listening?

How many different ways do our dogs talk to us?

Dogs can bark and beg, whimper and whine, right? Some howl. Some even do an impressive Chewbacca impersonation.

But what about the ways they talk WITHOUT using their voice?

Beyond Verbal Communication

Humans have written and spoken language, so we tend to think of communication as verbal.

But dogs primarily communicate through body language. They only rarely resort to using their voice.

Scientists in England wanted to better understand how much dogs are communicating with us through body language, and more specifically, what they are trying to tell us when they do.
What they found had them using words like “impressive,” “remarkable,” and “skilled”—and even comparing what dogs are doing to how human babies and great apes develop language.

For the study (Cross-species referential signalling events in domestic dogs, Canis familiaris), they reviewed hundreds of videos of dogs interacting with their humans. Once they categorized all the behaviors they saw, they came up with 47 distinct gestures. Nineteen of those met all the criteria they were looking for, in that the dogs were purposely (not accidentally) trying to get their person’s attention using an intentional and repeatable body movement.

They then worked out what each of those 19 gestures typically mean. The most common meanings were:

  • Pet me/scratch me
  • Feed me/give me water
  • Open the door
  • Play with me/get my toy

What Is Your Dog Trying to Say?

I’ve put all the gestures and possible meanings in a printable sheet below for you.

Free printable downloadfree download for 19 ways your dog is trying to communicate with you

Remember that what each gesture means can vary widely and is totally dependent on you and your dog. This list is based on the total numbers that the researchers found, but what’s more important here is recognizing when your dog is using one of these communication methods and understanding what he is asking for.

Here’s what I find fascinating about all of this: when I reviewed this list, I realized how much I take this “language” for granted. It’s easy to look at a dog rolling over on his back for a stomach rub and say, “That’s just what dogs do!” But in fact, your dog is doing something pretty remarkable, something that almost no other animals on Earth are capable of—communicating with a species outside of their own.

So to truly appreciate the effort your dog puts in to communicating with you, and to better understand what he’s wanting to say, try going through this list and spotting as many signals as you can. Approach it like a scavenger hunt! How many of these gestures can you recognize, what additional gestures can you add, and what does each one mean when your dog uses it?

You and Your Dog Create Your Own Language

In the study, the most common gesture was the head turn, where a dog makes eye contact with his person, then turns his head toward what he wants. The head turn could be used to mean a lot of different things, depending on if the dog turns to look at the door (open the door), his bowl (feed me), the toy box (play with me) or something else entirely.

Tyler uses this all the time, such as when he wants to go outside (open the door) or when it’s time for his treat (combo of open the cupboard door/feed me).

Lily and Georgia will use this when they want to go to bed for the night, looking at me and then turning to look up the stairs toward the bedroom. When they do that I always say “go to bed!” as if I’m giving them permission, but I never really realized the extent to which they truly were asking for permission and I was giving it to them. When they do this now I’ll have a greater appreciation for just how much we communicate.

Duke, sadly, does not use the head turn now that he is blind, but he does use the paw hover when he wants me to hurry up with dinner, as well as paw rest (pet me), jump (his version of play with me) and roll over (pet me). Lately, I think he’s started a variation of the nose gesture. Instead of his nose, he has been pressing his forehead against my cheek and resting there for a bit (swoon).

You and your dog will likely develop your own unique signals, too. My dogs do some of the gestures on the list with different meanings (such as flick toy, jump and front paws on—I really question the conclusions the researchers reached on those). Some dogs might combine one or more of these into one meaning. Or if you have a lot of people in your house, chances are great that your dog has developed even more gestures than are on this list. Remember that there were initially 47 gestures identified, but only 19 met all the criteria for the study. And this list doesn’t even include what dogs can communicate to us using eye contact, facial expressions and vocal expressions!

I’d love to hear about what you find! What new gestures could you and your dog add to this list? Are there gestures that you were misunderstanding or taking for granted? Does this change your awareness of your dog’s behaviors and communication skills in any way?

Comment below and let’s see how we can get to know our best friends better.

jennifer waters happy dog mom signature


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