If your puppy is biting you non-stop in the evening, you are likely frustrated by this behavior and you may be wondering what to do to calm down your puppy so that you don't become the human impersonation of a pin cushion.
Yes, because those needle-sharp puppy teeth are very difficult to ignore without you wincing in pain. To tackle the behavior, it often helps understanding why it occurs in the first place.
A Matter of Zoomies
Many puppies go crazy after eating their meals in the evening. These episodes are called "zoomies" and are similar to what cats and kittens do when they need to release pent-up energy that hasn't been spent on hunting or playing throughout the day.
Other than zoomies, these episodes are also known as FRAP, which stands for "Frenetic Random Activity Periods."
Affected dogs with a serious case of zoomies often develop a crazy, play-face look as they perform a play bow with the tail wagging wildly side-by-side.
Next, they may go into a biting frenzy or take off zipping up and down hallways with a hunched-up posture, dashing around tables and bouncing off couches.
New puppy owners sometimes describe them as episodes where their puppies appear to be "possessed by the devil."
Zoomies are particularly popular in particular contexts.
Zoomies though can also be seen after meals, in particular after dinnertime in the evenings.
An Attention-Seeking Behavior
If you work long hours, most likely your puppy or dog anxiously awaits your return with loads of anticipation. Your puppy depends on you for his meals, but he'll also seek you out for his physical and social needs for being exercised and played with.
Your return home is therefore his biggest perk of the day. Imagine his reaction though when after waiting for you all day, he sees you plop on the couch and stare a box as you eat popcorn.
"Wait it can't be! I have waited for you so long! I am full of energy and don't know what to do with it! Please play with me, give me some attention, look at me, talk to me!"
He may therefore try barking, jumping or maybe nipping in order to get some response from you.
And surely nipping is difficult to ignore because it hurts! So he'll likely get his attention this way, even if it's just a loud "ouch!" or a "Bad puppy! Let me watch my movie in peace!"
Here's the thing: with a puppy seeking attention, any type of attention will suffix, even if it's attention of the negative type.
Because any type of engagement he gets from you is better than nothing, just as a child bugging mommy to get attention when she's on the phone, even if it's a scolding.
A Cranky Puppy
And then, on the other hand, you have puppies who get nippy and crazy because they are in dire need for a nap, but are too overstimulated, they find it difficult to relax enough to fall asleep.
Here's the thing: puppies need lots of deep, restorative sleep, the REM type of sleep. When they don't sleep enough, they tend to get cranky, and cranky puppies, just like cranky children, tend to misbehave.
It's as if they just don't know when to stop and relax fully enough to catch some zzzs.
It may therefore be up to us to provide the right environment that will help them fall asleep and finally nap.
Now That You Know...
You got your popcorn ready, the TV is on with your favorite show, and your comfortable blanket is waiting for you so you can finally relax.
The last thing you may want is a puppy nipping you and acting crazy, what can you do to stop the behavior?
As seen, there can be various possible causes for puppies who bite a lot in the evenings, Here are some tips to reduce the chances for this behavior.
Ensure your puppy gets enough daily play, exercise and mental stimulation.
You want to reshape the evening routine so that your pup's need for interaction and play are all met before the evening.
This way, it becomes clear to the pup that the evening is chillout time.
Skip the Food Bowl
Stop feeding all the food from bowls. Feed your dog's entire portion or a portion of his meal in a Kong Wobbler, Buster Cube or scatter it around the room in different spots and then let him go on a fun treasure hunt.
This helps provide more mental stimulation.
When the biting starts, walk out the room and close the door or stand behind a baby gate.
Then, try to return after a minute, if she still tries to bite, go out of the room again, always closing the door behind you.
When she's calmer, return, and start offering her something to do such as a few fun training session and end it with access to a chew toy.
Redirect to a Game
Alternatively, right upon noticing the gleam in your pup’s eye, denoting that a nipping episode is about to start, be ready to start tossing some kibble/treats to keep his nose and mouth busy in a more productive way. Make it a fun game.
For ease of convenience carry the treats/kibble in a pocket or treat bag or keep some handy on several shelves around the home.
Take Him Outside
The moment you notice the beginning of zoomies, let your dog out in the yard to burn some steam off.
Preempt the Behavior
Plan on creating a new routine where you walk your dog, play with him (fetch, tug) and/or do several minutes of training/brain games prior to your relax time and then once your show starts, give your dog something to do such as a chewing on a durable chew such as a Bully Stick or frozen Kong.
Offer a Snooze
If your puppy is cranky, put him in a quiet area with some long-lasting edible chew to settle and have a snooze.