Puppies have a tendency to be a little crazy sometimes- especially during the witching hours late in the evening.
Many dog owners will have experienced being woken from sound slumber by the thump thump thump of their pup running around the house at midnight, deep amidst their zoomies and puppy crazies.
They may even give your toes a little nip from under the bed!
This all begs the question, “Why does my puppy go crazy at night?”
It is important to recognize when your dog is showing signs of puppy play and puppy behavior, rather than aggression. Signs of play can include play-bowing, wagging their tails and yawning.
If your dog displays aggressive signs such as growling, dominance, barking, and other similar behaviors, then this aggression will need to be addressed through puppy training sessions.
Some explanations for why puppies go crazy at night are also able to explain why mature dogs go crazy during nighttime as well. Preventative measures for aggression, and solutions to aggressive behavior can be equally applied for both puppies and older dogs.
When trying to calm your dog down, never shout at it or chase as it is likely to make them more aggressive. Restraining your pet forcefully can also increase aggression.
Puppies have abundant amounts of energy, and aggression is often a way for them to release their pent-up energy. Aggression can also be caused by dietary changes, injuries, fear, stress, or anxiety.
Zoomies, or Frenetic Random Activity Period (FRAP) is a period where your dog can display excessive excitement and random behavior.
This type of aggression is often a result of excess energy. Your puppy may become especially hyperactive at night if it does not get the chance to exercise enough during the day.
When dogs are overly excited at night time, they may also hiccup during their sleep which may prevent your dog from resting comfortably.
During the night, your puppy may have detected something foreign and is acting aggressively and defensively as a result. If the stimulus, such as a strange sound or smell, consistently appears during the night, it may explain their ‘craziness’.
In other instances, your pup may associate nighttime or night-related events to something uncomfortable or threatening. This can be a result of previous trauma.
During the night, some owners separate themselves from the puppies, and puppies with separation anxiety may display extra energy to get attention or company. Other signs of separation anxiety can include whining or pacing.
Stressful situations such as baths or other instances which your puppy does not understand can cause them to become agitated before, during and after the event.
Your dog may be acting more hyper than usual due to a desire to protect its possessions, such as a toy or a rawhide chew.
If their objects are approached by people during the night, your puppy may behave aggressively to stop them from getting any closer to their prize.
Puppies can become restless when something in the area is preventing them from sleeping comfortably. The area where your pup normally sleeps can be too hot, too uncomfortable, or too noisy.
Changes in feeding schedule, giving different foods, or altering the amount of food given can make your puppy more excitable.
They can have excess energy from eating too much before bedtime- or could even be throwing a tantrum from not getting the food they want!
When your pup is injured, they may become more defensive and aggressive. They may not want any attention or to be distubred, and definitely do not want to be physically handled.
Other signs of injury can include limping or whining.
Puppies generally have more energy and do not have a consistent sleep-wake cycle.
As a result, they may want your attention during the night so that you can feed them or play with them. Your puppy may believe that it will receive what it wants by acting more crazily.
It is important to remain calm, as your emotional behavior will be seen and reflected by your puppy.
There are several approaches that you can take to calm your puppy down, such as physical and mental stimulation, physical attention, and giving treats or snacks.
Sometimes, a puppy can be acting crazily simply (and counterintuitively) because it is feeling tired! Try to lure your pup to its crate using treats or toys, and if it is truly tired you will find that it will fall asleep very quickly.
Occasionally, ignoring your pup while it is having the crazies will induce it to calm down. By ignoring your puppy, you are communicating to it that it will not get any attention when they behave this way.
If your dog is overexcited late into the evening, you can get them to use up their final reserves of energy through short games such as playing fetch.
Alternatively, you can channel this energy towards something productive– i.e. dog training. Just don’t forget to reward with peanut butter! Walking your pup for a short period could also do the trick and tire him out.
If your puppy is going crazy chewing and biting objects, you can give highly recommended wood-like chew toys, Bully Sticks or Lick Mats to occupy their attention. Food puzzle toys can also be highly effective to provide mental stimulation.
Providing these items in a crate can help to develop a positive association between the crate and rewards as a bonus!
Sometimes all a puppy wants is cuddles, massages and hugs.
You can gently massage your dog by caressing its body or massaging its ears. They will show what they like the most by wagging their tail. The release of endorphins from physical attention will make your dog more relaxed and calm.
Some massage techniques include:
- Softly stroking along its face and body
- Massaging its ears in a circular motion
- Gently rubbing its chest in a circular motion
You can also try cradling your puppy between your legs for a few minutes, as this can be very effective in calming some dogs down.
Treats can be given to distract your puppy, but do make sure that you are not encouraging any unwanted behavior as giving treats may condition them to continue! Giving treats when they are calmer can help associate nighttime and relaxing with yummy rewards.
In some cases, your dog may be acting crazily due to hunger. In the human world, this is something called ‘being hangry’– I’m sure that you can relate!
You can provide light snacks initially as during the early stages of your pup’s life it will develop at a rapid pace and will require more nutrition to keep up with these changes.
However, it is usually best to not provide food and water around 2 hours before they sleep unless you want to take your dog to poop outside in pitch darkness!
Make a comfortable area for them to relax in. You can consider providing memory foam beds or beds that fit the size of your dog. Some dogs like resting at a higher position as it increases their peripheral vision.
Other methods which may soothe your dog can include:
- Relaxing scents such as dog appeasing pheromones
- Gadgets imitating a heartbeat sound
- Soothing music
The sounds and smells do not need to be loud or intense as dogs have very sensitive ears and noses.
Older dogs can become vicious for various reasons, such as sensory loss, physical disabilities, and cognitive decline. Other reasons can also include use of certain medication and conditioned behavior.
Your dog may have become conditioned through previous interactions to believe that by acting vicious at night, it will be able to gain attention and receive treats or toys.
Any sensory loss caused by aging, genetics or medications can cause your dog to become more alert and confused about their surroundings. A dog’s vicious behavior could be a defensive adaptation from being unable to hear or see clearly.
These effects can be exacerbated at night when it becomes darker to see and strange noises can become more difficult to discern.
As your dog gets older, there will be changes in their brain patterns. Your dog may not recognize familiar environments or people, and they may have altered sleep-wake cycles.
As a result of cognitive dysfunction, your dog may become scared and confused of their surroundings, causing them to become more aggressive and afraid.
Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter which helps to regulate your dog’s sleep-wake cycle and emotions. Abnormal levels of serotonin resulting from medical issues may be what’s causing your dog to be more aggressive and alert at night.
Certain medications that are prescribed to older dogs can cause aggressive bouts or reduce serotonin levels. Some examples include antivirals and antidepressants.
If you provide medicine during the night, this might explain why your dog is acting aggressively.
As dogs are territorial creatures and have keen senses, it may pick up on foreign objects which it may view as threats.
Rescue dogs in particular will be even more defensive if they have a history of fending for themselves against foreign threats.
As dogs get older their body will deteriorate, and their joints will not be able to handle as much stress. Applying pressure at certain points may cause your dog to become irritated and aggressive due to the pain or discomfort they are experiencing.
It is important to be calm during any aggressive bouts, as your own emotional behavior can worsen your dog’s aggression. You can try to use methods that deal with aggressive puppies as suggested in the previous section.
Firstly, try to figure out why your dog is being overly aggressive. Note down any potential stimulus causing this behavior.
Some simple fixes may include:
- Leaving the light on at night
- Providing their favorite toys or something with sentimental value
- Removing the stimulus
If your dog is aggressive at night because of a conditioned behavior, you should ignore your dog and reward them only when they become calm.
For older dogs, it is often best to consult with a vet as medical issues such as injuries, irregular serotonin levels and infections are a relatively common cause of abnormal aggression.
When consulting with your vet or a dog behaviorist, you should provide details regarding the symptoms and observations of your dog’s aggressive behavior.
You can also give your dog’s medical history and inform of any changes in their sleeping or eating patterns. A complete examination can help to identify the cause, and thereby provide the appropriate treatment.
Behavioral training as advised by dog behaviorists can lead to more obedience and altered reactions to certain stimuli. Methods used may include crate training and the use of tie out leashes.
There are a few different ways that you can calm down a hyperactive puppy before the night comes.
During the day, try to provide more training and exercise. By doing so, it will lessen the amount of energy your dog has during the night.
You can also consider increasing their social time with other dogs or external environments. By desensitizing your dog to stimuli during the day, it will likely reduce their aggression towards anything foreign during the night.
To stop your puppy from acting crazily due to separation anxiety, it is important to train them early by gradually increasing the time they are away from others. This will help reduce their anxiety incrementally.
Treats can be helpful as a reward to be given for being relaxed and behaving normally.
It is best to try to develop a routine during the day which can be easily followed to prevent aggression during the night. An example would be providing appropriate meals on a scheduled basis.
In response to the question, “Why does my puppy go crazy at night?”, it can come down to factors such as irritation, injuries, diet changes, ‘the zoomies’, and possessive aggression.
In older dogs, aggression is more likely to occur due to medical issues such as cognitive decline, physical aging, and changes to serotonin levels.
To curb their aggression, increasing physical and mental stimulation, providing physical attention, giving treats appropriately, or consulting with a vet or dog behaviorist can be of great help.
You can also try to provide a daily schedule involving more exercise, healthier diets, and increased social interaction with other dogs, other people, and foreign objects. These will further reduce the chances of crazy behavior at night.
Elena Gherman is a highly skilled and knowledgeable animal care expert. At the start of her career, she gained practical expertise with multiple animals. In addition to that, she works as a DVM veterinary editor for Joy Pet Products, which focuses on offering reliable information on pet health and wellbeing. She meticulously reviews each piece of writing before it is published to make sure pet owners get the most precise and updated information possible.