When a puppy goes crazy at night, it’s usually a classic case of frapping, also known as “The Zoomies”. The zoomies typically take place after a period of rest. The puppy will feel a burst of energy and wildly run around the house. This behavior is entirely normal and will likely go away as the puppy gets older.
Everyone who has raised a puppy has probably thrown their hands up at some point and wondered, “What has gotten into my dog? Is it ever going to stop?”
Unlike older dogs, puppies alternate like crazy between rest and play. This can result in something colloquially known as “the witching hour”, where puppies go mad in the evening and resist all attempts at calming.
They might run around uncontrollably, bite everything that moves, and throw all their training out the window.
The good news is that this behavior goes away as the puppy grows up. The bad news, at least for newborn puppy owners, is that it might not go away until the puppy is one or two years old.
Persevering through this time in the puppy’s life (and getting a good night’s sleep) requires a combination of patience, training, and routines.
Is it Bad If My Puppy Goes Crazy at Night?
There is no need to worry if your puppy starts running wildly around the house, changing direction quickly, bowing, and even running into things.
This behavior is affectionately known as “getting the zoomies”. The more scientific name is frapping, which stands for “frenetic random activity period”.
Animals of all ages and species get the zoomies from time to time, especially if they are very excited. It indicates happiness, excitement, and play…all good things!
It is possible, though not as common, for dogs to frap because of stress or overstimulation. Looking at your puppy’s environment should give you some clues as to his motivation.
Frapping usually occurs in puppies after a period of rest, when they feel a burst of energy. They will often grab toys or play-bow as they run, begging you to play with them.
This is an excellent opportunity to help them practice appropriate play by engaging them without hyping them up and overstimulating them.
If they get out of control, you can step back and wait until they calm down. Try to redirect your puppy with treats and toys if he behaves inappropriately or destructively while frapping, rather than punishing him.
Frapping is a natural and healthy behavior that shouldn’t be prevented.
When Will Frapping Stop?
When your puppy reaches the age of one and a half to two years, they should start to settle down.
Adult dogs still get the zoomies, but usually only for short periods and with predictable triggers. It also usually doesn’t happen at night.
Adult dogs are able to listen and apply their training during frapping, making it easier to handle. Keep in mind that your dog’s breed and temperament will play a big part in their development and when they mature. Even dogs that remain hyper in adulthood can be trained to manage their behavior.
If your puppy has a permanent case of the zoomies, unable to rest or calm down, consider talking to your vet to make sure everything is in order. You could also see the vet if your dog is not growing out of his behavior at the appropriate age. Your vet might also direct you to a behaviorist if your dog is becoming reactive or aggressive.
Dialing Down The Excitement
Puppy owners aren’t doomed to sit back and watch their pet wreak havoc. Instead of waiting for the witching hour to start, begin making changes to the rest of the day to set yourself up for success.
Clear Rest and Play Times
Your puppy should have a clear routine of rest and play. During playtime, try to include a variety of activities that challenge their body and mind. Go outside for a walk or play in the yard if your puppy is vaccinated.
Dogs have bodies that are built for endurance, so even taking your dog on an exhausting run can leave him restless and bored when you get home. Adding mental games such as puzzle toys and sniffing games can really tire your puppy out.
Teach Basic Commands
You can also start working on basic commands; most puppies love to engage their minds in learning new tricks.
Two of the most useful commands to teach a puppy are “leave it” and “settle”.
To teach “leave it”, offer them an exciting item, give the command, then reward them for looking or moving away from the item.
For “settle”, encourage them to lie in their bed or crate and reward them for obeying and waiting for your permission to get up.
These commands can be directly applied during your puppy’s most hyper times.
Since puppies’ bodies are still developing, some activities are not appropriate. This includes exceptionally long runs or walks, as well as highly physical activities like agility training. Very hard chews are also off-limits since they can damage the puppy’s mouth.
Helping The Crazy Pup Feel Secure
Dogs love routine, and if your puppy feels secure and confident in his routine, he will likely become calmer.
If you want a peaceful bedtime, try to establish several play times earlier in the day so the puppy is in “rest mode” during the evening.
If you can’t be home during the day, this is likely one reason the puppy is so excited in the evening.
Consider hiring a pet sitter or asking a family member to let the puppy out and play with him through the day.
A critical part of your puppy’s routine is meals. If your puppy becomes agitated at a particular time of day, check whether he might be feeling hungry and adjust meal times accordingly.
If you have kids in the house, this can also throw off the puppy’s routine. Kids are likely to bring a lot of excitement and stress to the puppy’s day.
In addition to showing your kids how to play calmly with the puppy, encourage the kids to sit peacefully with the puppy during his rest time and interact with him gently.
What if My Crazy Pup Starts Biting?
Puppies have not yet learned not to bite or chew on their humans, and getting the zoomies can make that behavior even worse.
Even though they are small and cute, a frantically biting puppy can cause his humans a lot of pain and stress. In nature, dogs teach their babies bite inhibition at a very young age.
This means that you can work with your puppy on improving his biting, even if it seems out of control.
When your puppy is in play mode, do not offer him hands or feet. Collect a mix of hard and soft toys and rotate rapidly through them to prevent him from getting bored.
If your puppy needs some extra tasty motivation to play with his toys, get a small Kong, fill it with peanut butter, and then freeze it.
One great training exercise is to work on the “drop it” command by encouraging and rewarding your dog for letting go of the other end of a toy while playing.
Avoid encouraging the puppy to cling on by lifting him up or swinging him around. Instead, focus on teaching calm, controlled playing.
If your dog bites you as you are playing with him, do not shout or strike out. Simply stop playing and step away. If the puppy isn’t getting the message, gently and calmly put him in time out.
Sometimes puppies are so over-excited that none of these methods work. It might look funny for someone to get chased by a puppy who is desperate to bite, but it doesn’t feel good or lead to productive teaching moments.
There are several useful ways to get your dog away from you so that he can focus on something else.
One method is to tether your dog to something in your house so that it cannot reach you. This is not a punishment, so make sure he has a toy and continue to supervise him.
A toy called a flirt pole—a long stick with a toy on the far end, commonly used with cats—can be great for puppies because you can play at a distance without letting them redirect their excitement on you.
Using a Crate to Teach Bedtime Routines
Crates can be a terrific way to give your puppy a safe space and teach him his bedtime routine. While you might occasionally make use of the crate for a time out, do your best to make sure the crate is seen as the dog’s private shelter.
Dogs who have a positive relationship with their crate often voluntarily go inside for some peace and quiet.
Let your puppy take his time in getting used to his crate and avoid shutting the door on him until he is totally comfortable.
Teaching a hyper puppy to lie quietly in their crate for periods of time can give both the human and dog a break from the excitement. It can also provide the puppy a place to go at bedtime. Crate training can take a long time, even weeks, but can give lifelong benefits.
A lot of the work in dealing with hyper puppies happens during the rest of the day when they are calmer and more willing to work with you. Training and intentional playtime can help you bond with your puppy while teaching him to listen and obey.
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.