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Why Does My Puppy Go Crazy in the Evenings?

Why does my puppy go crazy in the evenings?!

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.” My puppy goes completely nuts, running around with “the zoomies.”

Does this sound familiar? (Please say yes!)

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Why does my puppy go crazy in the evenings?

I hear it’s normal for puppies to become downright WILD at night 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.

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Why does my puppy go crazy in the evenings?

Why does my puppy go nuts before bed?

Why does my puppy go crazy in the evenings?

One of my readers said the wild puppy behavior at night happens because the puppy is actually overly tired. 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 wild 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

Why does my puppy go crazy 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!).

Why is my puppy so wild at night?

1. Stay calm when your puppy gets wild!

Oh my God, this is my biggest challenges as I can lose my patience pretty quickly when my puppy goes mad.

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. Yelling is 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.

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2. Go for a relaxing walk to calm your wild 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. A note on night time puppy zoomies!

If you have a fenced yard, the evening might be a good time to just let your puppy zoom around the yard for 15 minutes like a mad man. Then he might be able to calm down afterwards!

Cute, but crazy.

4. 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. Using high-valued treats your puppy loves makes a big difference with focus, too.

5. 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:

If you freeze the Kong, the cold sensation might feel good on his teeth and gums if he’s teething. Plus, this makes the treat last longer.

You can put a leash on your puppy if that helps him settle down. For example, if you’re sitting on the couch watching TV. 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 puzzle option. The puppy has to push it around to get dry food or treats to fall out. For more ideas, see the best puzzle toys for dogs.

Weimaraner pup Remy is a hyper puppy at night!
“Oh hi. I chew up dog beds, so I don’t get a bed. I get an old sheet.”

6. Tether the puppy when he’s wild.

You could simply try leashing your puppy up and stepping on the leash to help settle him down.

If that doesn’t work, 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 leash or a chain leash. And of course you should still be in the room to supervise your puppy.

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.

Why is my puppy so wild in the evenings

7. Put the puppy in his crate when he’s too wild.

As I’ve said, the routine that works for us is to feed Remy around 6:45 p.m., walk him from 7:30 to 8:15 p.m. 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 huge sigh of relief once Remy goes to bed.) I do let him out again for a quick potty break before I go to bed around 10 or 10:30.

If you don’t have a crate for your puppy, I recommend a fold-up wire crate. You could also consider an ex-pen or puppy play pen when you need a break, especially if you have a smaller breed.

8. Plenty of walks and play for your puppy during the day.

If you provide your puppy with at least an hour or so of walks, play and training throughout the day then he should have less pent-up energy at night.

Or, if your puppy is still going nuts in the evenings, at least you know you’ve done your part! If he’s still going MAD in the evenings, he’s not acting out due to lack of exercise. He’s just a growing pup who is overly tired or overly stimulated.

Again, a long leash is really helpful for letting your pup run around and explore during the day.

When do puppies grow out of the witching hour? 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!

Puppy chewing and teething
Why does my puppy go crazy in the evenings?

I think so much depends on the individual puppy and things like breed, personality, daily activities, etc.

Larger breeds – especially sporting breeds like Labs, weimaraners, German shorthairs and golden retrievers – do tend to mentally “mature” a little slower. The same might be true with higher-energy working breeds in general. So much just depends on the individual dog, however.

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.

Now my dog is 4 years old and we do not have to deal with this witching hour anymore, thank goodness. Sometimes we think back on it and laugh, saying, “Remember when he became a psycho every single evening?” Haha! So … there’s hope for you too!

Weimaraners are known for being pretty immature until they are at least 2 years old though. Some breeds mature much faster!

What else would you add to this list? Why does my puppy go crazy in the evenings?

In the comment section below, I would love to hear what breed of dog you have and how old your puppy is. It does seem like all breeds and types of dogs have a “witching hour” where they go completely nuts. So, for what it’s worth, you are not alone! GOOD LUCK!

Please tell me some of you have dealt with this kind of behavior! 🙂

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Our Favorite Exercise Products for Puppies:

  1. A Long Leash:
    A 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

Other resources:

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Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training and behavior, healthy raw food for pets and running with dogs.

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Anne-Marie

Wednesday 24th of March 2021

I have a 10 week old puppy. Her name is Bonny (I'm Scottish). During the day she's a bright, curious and adorable little girl, but in the evenings? Well,let's just say I giggled when I read the comment by a girl saying, she got to the point where she thought her pup had rabies lol. I can certainly relate to that! Because every evening sweet little Bonny disappears and again, that little demon shines out from them there eyes! She turns into a psychotic devil . It starts between 6.30pm and 7pm, and she really is a handful. I came across this blog after googling " my puppy turns into a psycho every night." That's the point I was at. I clicked on this and am now so glad that I'd reached that point! Every comment here has made me feel so much more relaxed. I even toyed with the idea earlier that she might have a urinary tract infection! I had one years ago. It lasted around 3 weeks and trust me, it isn't fun. I remember it messed with my emotions, which was worse than the physical discomfort. But now,after reading all your experiences I do feel so much more relaxed and optimistic about it. It's such a huge relief to know that it's normal. Her insanity begins each evening by attacking me and my partner at every opportunity. Our ankles, shoes/slippers, hands, fingers, nipping our arm or leg, and it's painful! After enough's enough, she's sent to her bed and told to stay! You know something remarkable? She does it! Ok, every 3 or 4 minutes she starts wiggling forward, hoping to sneakily escape, but after 3 times of me repeating the word stay!, she goes to sleep. But, that's only the aperitif. When she awakes around 30 to 40 minutes later that's when the storm really starts. I have 2 X 6 month old kittens. Very quiet, stress-free little cats, and Bonny will not give them a minutes peace. I've now given them a bedroom in the house lol, they have their little bed with food and water, and a litter tray. I carry them off to their bedroom at around 8.30 or 9 o'clock so they can de-stress with their toys for a while. Now that the cats are off the scene she attacks everything in sight. Only momentarily though, running at full pelt from a cushion to a table leg, to the curtain. She does love a good hard tug on a curtain. By around 9.30 I can see light at the end of the tunnel. There are little moments of sanity. Bonny's making her way back through the madness, and I just start showing her affection. Giving cuddles, asking for nice kisses when she does try to bite, and slowly she comes around. She's in her bed now, fast asleep. I'll take her out again around 11 oclock and then we'll both be in bed, hopefully for the night, fingers crossed! She sometimes still wakes me in the night to go out. Her bed is on the floor next to mine, and she sleeps great. Never cries to get on the bed with me. She just goes straight to bed, curls up and goes to sleep. Thankfully, more and more she's sleeping through the night until around 7am.

That's the drama over now until tomorrow night. But now I feel more educated and in a better place to handle it.

One more thing, she does get VERY cranky when she needs a poo. Often when I spot this and take her outside, she doesn't go. I've noticed that a short walk of around 10 minutes does the trick, and loosens off her bowels. It's normally right at the start of her demonic possession, so I take her for a short walk at 6 o'clock and then a 15 minute one around 8pm. The later walk really does nothing to calm her down, yet I hate to think how she might be were she not getting that walk!

Goodnight, wishing you all a good night's sleep and honestly, thank you everyone .

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 25th of March 2021

So glad I could help! Hang in there!

Teresa

Wednesday 10th of February 2021

I have a 7 month old pit/shepherd. We are very active people who myself or my husband will take him for a 2 to 8 mile run everyday so it’s not necessarily exercise that he needs or overly tired because he naps a lot during the day when we’re working. Every night at 7:30pm he goes psycho...but not in a way where he actually wants to hurt us it’s just he’s so strong that it does hurt. He gets aggressive, bits, wants to play ruff and his heart rate is fast he can’t slow his breathing down. I try getting him to calm down by petting him and talking to him but in these moments there is no listening so I end up putting him in his crate for timeout until he seems to have calmed down. When he’s in his create I will also talk to him and let him know that his behavior is not aloud “he tends to listen better when he’s confined.” What also helps is a rawhide bone I only give it to him in these moments then take it away as soon as he seems more calm because there not to good for them to digest “but it sure does help!!” I’m glad to hear that there are others experiencing the same craziness we are and that there hope for mine.

Deidre Howard

Thursday 8th of October 2020

We have a 12 week lab and our experiencing the same thing. She spends most of her day outside with, playtime, walks, and training. She is able to entertain herself during day but at night watch out! After dinner we bring her inside to her x pen/crate, she pulls all her toys out, plays with her blanket, tries to jump out of pen, and when we try to let her out of x pen, she gets nippy. We can't let her run @ house, she's not housebroken inside yet. She takes a nap @ 8:30 pm, then we put her in crate by 10 pm and sleeps til 7 am. Glad I'm not crazy after reading the tips.

Donna Knight

Wednesday 2nd of September 2020

Happy to see all this- my 13 week old mini cockapoo goes crazy every evening and terrorizes our 11 year old dog and tears up all my plants in the yard, he pulls grass out by the roots and does Zoomies all over . I have a hard time catching him but when I can I put him in the house in his play pen for a time out then try again a few minutes later- repeating the process as necessary. It has been a while since i have had a puppy and this will be my last one - I am retired- I put him in his night time crate by my bed about 9:30 or 10 and he sleeps tile 6:45. I take him outside for a few then put him in his playpen with food and water and let him listen to tv and I can go back to bed for another hour or so before i get up and we walk a couple of blocks to coffee stand to get coffee- and a treat for him. So good to now this is normal behavior

Sandy

Sunday 28th of June 2020

Well for those of you who wonder when your puppy will grow out of this stage, I am here to report that I have 14 year cocker spaniel that lately turns into a complete psycho every night around 8:00. It is like she is a wild puppy again. During the day she walks around pretty slowly and has trouble on the stairs but somehow during the bewitching hour she runs around like a terror. Last night along with the incessant barking, she was also causing quite a racket using her paws to bang at the fireplace tools. She makes us crazy but we are happy to see her have this energy.