Many puppies act hyper in the evening, so much so, that a term was purposely crafted with their night-time antics in mind: "The puppy witching hour."
But what makes dogs go crazy at night, and most of all, what can be done about it?
When puppies act hyper in the evening or at night, puppy owners often feel overwhelmed by the behavior. A puppy rushing around, acting crazy and out of control may be no fun especially when it involves jumping, nipping and even humping behaviors.
So what's up with puppies acting so hyper in the evening? Turns out, there may be several explanations. Let's discover some of them!
Celebrating Your Return
If you work during the day and come home in the evening, your puppy has likely been eagerly waiting for you.
Dogs are social beings and they tend to perceive our return as the biggest perk of the day. It's not surprising therefore if when we open the door, our puppies are greeting us enthusiastically as if we were missing for a long time.
Such greetings may include many hyper behaviors such as jumping, barking, tail chasing, nipping and even humping owner's legs.
A Way to Grab Your Attention
Puppies depend on us to meet their needs for exercise, mental stimulation, play, socialization and training. If you work outside of the home for a good part of the day, your puppy may therefore expect you to interact with him upon returning home.
Fail to do that though, and your puppy may easily become frustrated when you take him out to potty, feed him and then plop yourself in front of the T.V. staring at the screen.
With lots of energy to disperse and a strong need for interaction denied, it's therefore not surprising when puppies engage in a variety of hyper behavior just to grab your attention.
Even if you work at home during the day and finish working in the evening, your puppy will understand that when you are away from your desk your body language is more loose, and he is more likely to garner your attention.
Barking, pawing at you, nipping when you're lying on the couch may be some ways to encourage interaction.
And because to an attention-seeking puppy, any form of interaction will do to satisfy his needs, scolding him or pushing him away doesn't work and may actually do just the opposite: that is, encouraging the hyper behaviors.
A Matter of Post-Prandial Zoomies
For many pups, rushing around the home acting crazy is a fun way to celebrate life.
Basically, it's a manifestation of their joie de vivre, (joy of life). And what's more worthy of celebrating than the sensation of satiety?
The post-prandial zoomies, in other words, dogs acting crazy after eating their meals, is a very common behavior in puppies. Food has an energizing effect and feeling full is a nice sensation.
In a dog's past history, they had to work hard to find food, walking many miles in search of food and sometimes that meant leading a feast -or- famine lifestyle. In other words, food was often scarce, but at other times it was quite plentiful.
Domesticated dogs no longer have to hunt or scavenge for food. They are now fed in shiny bowls and have the luxury of having the security of daily meals.
Since they no longer have to work hard to find food, this often leads to a surplus of energy that can be drained by acting crazy, running around and playing.
A Matter of Puppies Getting "Cranky"
Another phenomenon to consider is the fact that puppies, just like babies and toddlers, may turn particularly irritable and cranky before bedtime.
If your puppy has been awake for a good part of the day and now he is due for nap, consider that excessive hyper behaviors such as biting, jumping, humping may be a sign that he is getting irritable and tired.
Puppies seem to sometimes struggle falling asleep, it's as if they have no "off button" and it's therefore up to us helping them relax enough to catch a wink.
The Puppy "Witching Hour "
In popular folklore, the witching hour, also known as "devil's hour," consists of a time at night when supernatural events are believed to occur the most.
The exact time the witching hour took place could have varied greatly based on who you asked.
In ancients times, it was believed that the time slot between 3 and 4 a.m. was a time of peak supernatural activity while others believed it was the time between 12 and 1 a.m.
Some others reported it to be anytime between sunset and sunrise.
In modern times, the term witching hour has been transferred to include a variety of circumstances, such as times when the stock market undergoes more volatility or when infants or young children become cranky before their bedtime.
Among puppy owners, the witching hour, also known as zoomies or FRAP (Frenetic Random Activity Period) is therefore used to describe the crazy, hyper behaviors often observed during the evening hours.
During this time, you'll therefore see crazy behaviors as cognitive functions shut down. Frenetic activity leads to loss of thresholds, so it's close to impossible getting your pup into that thinking state to get him to listen to you and sit.
Frenetic activity also leads to loss of inhibitions, so the rules are no longer followed. Getting on the couch, jumping off the walls, losing bite inhibition are just "side effects" associated with FRAPs.
Now That Your Know...
As seen, puppies have their own good reasons for acting hyper in the evening! Whether your puppy is celebrating your return home, acting hyper after a meal or seeking interaction from you, your next question may be: "What can I do to stop my puppy from acting so hyper in the evening? Here are some tips and ideas.
Act calm when returning home. If you greet your puppy excitedly at the door, launching a big party, most likely this behavior will encourage your puppy's hyper behaviors which may get more and more out of control over time. Instead, try to act calm and practice making your arrivals low key. When you come home, ignore your dog until he or she settles down (this may take 10 to 15 minutes) recommend veterinary behaviorists Debra Horwitz and Gary Landsberg in an article for VCA Animal Hospitals. Your puppy this way should soon learn that the faster he or she settles, the sooner you'll provide attention.
Give your puppy something else to do. Many puppies struggle acting calm when owners come home, even when owners are ignoring. These pups may be set up for success by giving them something else to do than acting hyper. For instance, you can train your puppy to go grab a toy and carry it around or you can toss a handful of kibble/treats you keep on a tall shelf by the door for a fun treasure hunt or you can ask your puppy to sit and toss a piece of kibble and then ask for a sit and toss again, rinsing and repeating as you walk through.
Watch what you feed. While eating has a nourishing and energizing effect on dogs, this effect can be exacerbated by diets loaded with high-glycemic index carbs.
"Have you ever experienced a child who becomes wildly hyperactive shortly after consuming a sugary food or drink and then crashes into a state of sluggishness a couple of hours later? High-GI foods such as corn and wheat create similar mood swings in dogs as they do in people" explains veterinarian Dr. Jean Dodds in the book: Canine Nutrigenomics, the New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health.
Skipping foods with high-glycemic carbs is therefore an important step in curbing dietary induced behavior problems. Switching to a better diet made of wholesome ingredients is recommended. Ask your vet for specific recommendations.
Pre-empt the zoomies. Knowledge is power when it comes to changing dog behavior for the best. If you know your puppy every evening starts engaging in crazy, out-of-control behaviors after eating, you can easily pre-empt it by strategically taking him out to the yard for some games of fetch, taking him on a walk or organizing a fun training session using your clicker or putting his nose to work in some nosework activities. The goal is to burn that excess energy in more productive, calmer ways.
Help your puppy fall asleep. Last but not least, it's important to recognize that puppies need lots of sleep and their batteries discharge quickly. Help your puppy fall asleep with these tips: How to help a cranky puppy falls asleep.