My sweet, little puppy becomes a complete psycho around 7 p.m.
We know to start watching for “the demon” to come out around this time every night.
Typical behaviors from my Demon Puppy during the “witching hour” include barking, growling, biting and frantically looking for things to shred.
He torments the cats, bites the leash and is just a complete terror.
He forgets all training and chases “imaginary friends.”
Does this sound familiar? (Please say yes!)
This post contains affiliate links to Chewy.com.
Why does my puppy go crazy in the evenings?
I hear it’s normal for puppies to become downright “WILD” in the evenings as I’ve read person after person explaining the exact same thing. (Some people are very concerned about this puppy madness! No one warned them about it!)
So, is the puppy’s evening WILDNESS from being overly tired or is it from not enough exercise?
I think, usually, it’s a little of both.
Why does my puppy go crazy in the evenings?
One of my readers (thanks, Sean!) said the behavior is often because the puppy is actually overly tired and instead of needing more exercise he is ready for bed. (Think of little kids throwing tantrums in the evenings when they’re tired.)
In our case, I think this is true. Remy is acting out from being overly tired.
Remy falls asleep as soon as I put him in his kennel. He does get plenty of exercise and interaction, play and training throughout each day so I do not feel bad about putting him to bed in his kennel at 9 p.m. every night.
On the other hand, you do want to make sure your puppy or young dog is getting the exercise he needs earlier in the day. That way, when he gets his evening “crazies” you know you’ve done your part and don’t have to feel guilty about crating him.
How to manage your crazy puppy in the evenings
Clearly I could use some tips myself, but here are my suggestions. Can’t wait to read yours too. Please add them in the comments (we could all use the help!).
1. Stay calm when your puppy gets wild!
Oh my God, this is my biggest challenges as I can lose my patience pretty quickly.
As reader Jessi said recently in the comments of this post:
“I got so frustrated with him (my puppy) on Friday night that I yelled at him and stuffed him in his crate, because apparently I am about as mature as my 4-month-old puppy.”
Yep, me too … me too.
I try not to get mad and yell at my puppy. It’s not really going to help. It’s also not the best time to engage in exciting games like fetch or tug. If I do play these games in the evenings, I keep the play to just a few minutes so it’s controlled.
*If you’re enjoying this article, I’d love to send you other helpful puppy tips in my weekly newsletter. Click Here.
2. Go for a relaxing walk to calm your puppy.
I’ve recently moved Remy’s walk from 5 p.m. to about 7:30 p.m. This helps manage the craziness. We get back at 8:15 or 8:30 and I only have to put up with him for another 40 minutes or so before I put him to bed. Done.
Since most puppies can’t go running yet or on really long walks, it can help to have them on a longer leash to give them a bit more freedom to run and move around. Rotate between structured, training walks and “fun” walks where they can sniff and explore.
See my posts:
3. Don’t expect your wild puppy to focus on training.
You’d think working on some calming training exercises like down/stay would be helpful during this time. If that works for you, great! Definitely do that.
In our case, Remy seems to forget everything he’s learned and it doesn’t work well for me to practice basic training at this time. We just get frustrated with each other and he ends up biting and flailing around while I wrangle him. Just not worth it.
What does work is to practice more training during the middle of the day when he’s able to focus. I use a treat bag on walks to reward him for paying attention or doing basic obedience. That way, come evening, I don’t have to feel guilty about not spending quality training time with him.
4. Give the crazy puppy something to chew.
It can really help if you give your hyper puppy something to chew on in the evenings. Some good options include a Kong stuffed with peanut butter or a bully stick. If you freeze the Kong, I imagine the cold sensation might feel good on his teeth and gums if he’s teething.
Put him on a leash if that helps (although some will just freak out and chew the leash, right Remy?). This would be a good time to get out any of your puzzle toys or interactive toys. A Kong Wobbler is another good chew toy or puzzle option.
For more ideas, see the best puzzle toys for dogs.
“Oh hi. I chew up dog beds, so I don’t get a bed. I get an old sheet.”
5. Tether the puppy.
You can also try tethering the pup to something heavy, assuming he won’t chew whatever he’s tethered too. I recommend a chew proof cable leash.
Confession: sometimes we tether Remy to our two 30-pound dumbbells and set him across the room for us while we watch TV.
Some will think this looks like dog abuse. I call it puppy management. 🙂
I don’t recommend this if your puppy is getting frustrated and barking or pulling, but it can work well if he’s able to stay on a blanket chewing a bone.
6. Put the puppy in his crate.
As I’ve said, the routine that works for us is to feed Remy around 6:45, walk him from 7:30 to 8:15 and then in the crate he goes at 9 p.m. every night (weekends too).
I simply can’t take it anymore by 9 and we all need some time to relax without the puppy. (Pretty sure myself, my husband and our 3 senior animals all let out a sigh of relief once Remy goes to bed.) I do let him out again for a quick potty break before I go to bed.
*Note, you can take 30% off your order when you signup for your first autoshipment with Chewy. That’s a great deal, especially when you’re buying a more expensive item, like a crate.
7. Plenty of walks and play during the day.
That way there’s less pent-up energy at night. Or, at least you know you’ve done your part and he’s not acting out due to lack of exercise. Again, a long leash can help with this.
What age do puppy crazies stop? When will my puppy calm down?
You may be wondering, when will my 12 week old puppy calm down? Good question! I’d love to hear your answers to that one in the comments!
I think so much depends on the individual puppy and things like breed, personality, daily activities, etc.
With my weimaraner, he was pretty wild in the evenings until he was about a year and a half old. At that time, we did notice a significant difference. Instead of a full evening of puppy shenanigans, he was only wild for about 20 minutes after he ate dinner.
Weimaraners are known for being pretty immature until they are at least 2 years old though. Some breeds mature much faster!
*If you would like to receive our down-to-earth, weekly dog training tips, Click Here
What else would you add to this list? Does your puppy go crazy at night?
Why does my puppy go crazy in the evenings?!
Please tell me some of you have dealt with this kind of behavior! 🙂
Our Favorite Exercise Products for Puppies:
- Mighty Paw Long Leash:
Mighty Paw’s 15 or 30-ft long leash allows your puppy to explore, run and play on his own when you don’t have a fenced area.
- Mighty Paw Treat Pouch:
A treat pouch allows you to easily carry treats so you can help your puppy focus. This is helpful on walks as well as for short training sessions.
- Kong Flier Fetch Toy
The Kong Flier Frisbee is a durable toy that’s soft on the puppy’s mouth. It’s great for playing fetch in the yard and getting in some much-needed activity!
Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training and behavior, healthy raw food for pets and running with dogs.