Puppies get aggressive at night when they either have too much energy or they are exhausted. Boredom, a lack of playtime, and the “zoomies” can cause excess energy, leading to possible aggression. On the other hand, exhaustion can lead to agitation, causing your puppy to snap when it normally wouldn’t.
Ah, the puppy days. The nights are long, the training never officially ends, and there are countless trips outside to instill appropriate potty manners.
But the innocence in the puppy’s eyes, the cuddles, and lifelong companionship more than make up for these pitfalls.
Even if you’ve read all the manuals on training your puppy or have successfully trained other dogs, there is one behavioral aspect that many puppy owners find difficult to navigate: aggression in their puppies at night.
Nighttime aggression in puppies can present itself in a couple of different ways, from the “zoomies” to nipping to barking.
This is not truly aggressive behavior where the intent is to harm someone. It’s your puppy’s way of expending energy that they did not release during the day.
Puppies, when awake, are like little balls of endless energy that need a direction to run in. These bursts of energy can be trying, especially when trying to settle everyone down for the night.
Read on to learn more about nighttime aggression in puppies and how to manage it.
Why is My Puppy Aggressive at Night?
There are a variety of reasons your puppy is seemingly more aggressive at night, all of which tie back to their energy levels throughout the day.
Here are the most common reasons your puppy is acting up when it is time to wind down for the night:
They Are Bored
Your puppy is looking for something to do because they are bored. If your puppy has been in the crate all day while you are at work, or if they do not have adequate time for training or physical activities, then the puppy could have entirely too much energy at the end of the day.
To engage your puppy productively, start by setting a regular schedule with plenty of training, enrichment, and physical exercise for your puppy.
They Want to Play
Your puppy wants to play! Just as the reason above, your puppy simply has too much energy to go to sleep.
Redirect their energy with an appropriate toy for them to gnaw on. This is especially true if your puppy is prone to nipping outside of playtime, i.e., if the puppy bites at your ankles or shoes when walking through a room.
Redirecting their attention to an appropriate toy will keep their teeth off your trousers and teach them that biting their owner is not an acceptable play activity.
Use positive reinforcement when they engage in gnawing on the appropriate item instead of you.
They Are Exhausted
Your puppy is tired. Just like you, your puppy can become easily agitated when exhausted. If you find your puppy is frequently aggressive at night, try placing them in a crate or wherever they sleep to take a nap in the afternoon to quell the nighttime aggression.
They Have The Zoomies
Your puppy could have the “zoomies” or “F.R.A.P.,” “Frenetic Random Activity Period” if you notice them running around frantically.
If you are unsure of what the zoomies are, you have likely seen a dog on the Internet engage in intense and random activity for a brief burst of time. Often, the zoomies exhibit itself in running in circles and stopping and starting at the drop of a hat.
Your puppy could have the zoomies at night due to lack of exercise opportunity or having been crated for long periods throughout the day.
Incorporate additional opportunities for your puppy to exercise earlier in the afternoon, such as a longer walk through the neighborhood, 30 minutes of fetch, or playtime with their favorite toy.
How to End Nighttime Puppy Aggression
As you can see, eliminating nighttime puppy aggression starts with managing your puppy’s energy and activities during the day.
If you are like many other puppy parents, you cannot be with your puppy every second of the day because of other responsibilities.
While crate training your puppy is the best option for training your puppy during this period, consider recruiting a family member, friend, or professional dog walker to take your puppy for a walk or for some enrichment time while you are otherwise occupied.
While puppies spend most of their days resting, if they do not burn off energy throughout the day, it accumulates and they will not need to rest by the time bedtime rolls around.
By managing your puppy’s energy levels throughout the day and consistently following a set schedule, you can help curb excess energy at the end of the day.
Sticking to a consistent schedule is imperative with puppies, so the more frequently you can create a routine where your puppy releases some of that pent-up energy during the day, the better they will respond at night.
If you cannot find someone to take your puppy out during the day, another option is to intentionally incorporate additional play and exercise time into your puppy’s schedule once you are home and able to interact.
Minor changes to your existing schedule should be enough to mitigate the extra energy your puppy possesses.
Extending your current walking route with your puppy to add 10-15 minutes, incorporating new enrichment tools and toys for your puppy to explore their instincts, and playing fetch or tug-of-war with your puppy are all simple, easy ways to curb nighttime aggression with minimal changes to your schedule.
By keeping your dog’s mind entertained and their body tired, they will be more willing to fall asleep at night.
Another way to mitigate your puppy’s nighttime aggression is to assist them in redirecting. If your puppy is prone to nipping or biting, redirect their attention to a toy that is appropriate for them to have in their mouth.
You will need to reinforce that your arm, pants, or ankles are not chew toys and should not be treated as such.
As annoying as it might be at bedtime, this is a perfect opportunity to work on additional training with your puppy that will pay off as they get older. The goal is to take the negative behavior that your dog is displaying and translate it into a more desirable one while helping your dog burn energy.
Nighttime Aggression in Puppies: You Can Handle It
Nighttime aggression in puppies is a very common behavioral issue that many puppy parents run into while training the newest addition to their family.
Knowing how and why your puppy displays aggression at night will assist you in developing a training plan to curb the undesirable behavior.
For the most part, your puppy wants more attention from you that they feel is lacking throughout the day. The key to removing nighttime aggression from your puppy is to make consistent changes, ones that you will repeat daily to enforce. Over time, your puppy will become more ready to sleep at night with little to no resistance.
If you have implemented the suggestions in this article and find that you are still unable to manage your puppy’s nighttime aggression, consult a certified dog trainer for a consultation on what you and your puppy specifically need to move past nighttime aggression.
While normal in puppies, nighttime aggression is not a behavior you want your dog to continue into adulthood. By intervening with a licensed trainer, you will be able to eliminate this from your dog’s behavior.
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