May issue

May issue
May issue

Monday, 5 March 2012

Barking at the moon

Madi (my collie cross) is driving me berserk - barking at the moon! It's not always, but when the moon is gibbous she's very bad - barking and jumping around, eyes fixed on it. It is as if she fears it.

Why do dogs bark at the moon? And why only when it is in certain phases?

Claire, Dogs Today


  1. Hi Claire.
    You need to work Madi at a comfortable distance from the moon, so I would suggest starting on Planet Pluto!
    Sorry couldn't resist.
    But I will attempt to help you with this difficult one. It is hard without seeing how anxious Madi gets. I would suggest being aware of the moon sizes first. When the moon is visible but not big enough to stress her, perhaps take Madi into the garden. The second she looks at the moon, say 'dinner' and produce her full dinner bowl. Repeat this every night the moon is visible. If she only got fed that way in the presence of the moon, it would then become a fantastic thing rather than something of fear. 'Moon equals dinner al fresco style!' If the conditioning goes far enough she will see the moon and expect her dinner! Bingo! The moon becomes a precursor of good things to come!
    But start when it isn't too stressful and you can build it up until it is a full moon.
    As to why? Only Madi knows and she 'ain't talking!


  3. Hi Claire,

    Q) what is a 'danger' to a dog?
    A) anything it doesn't understand!

    Dogs will bark at anything they dont understand but 'perceive to be a 'danger'. Madi has decided that the Moon is a 'threat' and is doing all she can to 'see it off'. She is making the decision that it is her responsibility to deal with the danger because you are not behaving in a way that would tell her its 'ok'. As Tony Cruse, has suggested start working with Madi at a 'safe' distance, when the Moon isnt so 'full'. Bring her into the garden on lead when she is calm. Remain calm yourself as she will pick up on any stress you feel. Simply walk to the middle of the garden and if she barks tell her in a nice warm tone of voice 'thank you good girl come away' then again remaining very calm gently lead her away from the 'danger'. You have just made in her eyes a very sensible decision by choosing 'flight' and getting yourself and her 'out of there'. Once inside wait till she has calmed then repeat the exercise, but do not make any fuss, she needs to see that the 'danger' is being dealt with by you and that there is nothing to worry about so when you repeat the exercise remain in the garden for as long as she is quiet. Practice this on and off lead. hope that helps :)