Crazy puppies! Sometimes fun, sometimes not so fun! Is your puppy zooming around, going off their head, barking, snarling, or doing wall of death on your furniture? Are they anxious, are they happy, can you tell the difference? Do you need help to calm them down? Well, you’ve come to the right place to learn how to calm your puppy down.
In this article we’ll help you
- Understand why puppies go so cray-cray
- Discover what triggers these mad episodes
- Teach you what to do in the moment, when your puppy is going full scale gaga
- Figure out if a crate is best in these circumstances
Why is your puppy over-excited: top triggers to watch out for
Over excitement or over-arousal can be caused by many things and it’s important to understand what they are in order to help your puppy calm down when they’re feeling ‘triggered’. Yes, even puppies get triggered by stuff.
During instances of excessive excitability, your puppy may exhibit behaviour known as ‘zoomies.’ These puppy zoomies do have an official technical term! Frenetic random activity periods (or FRAPs for short) are when your puppy has a surge of energy and sprints about the house doing a wall of death or imitating Evel Knievel across sofas, up on walls, and generally causing havoc!
Zoomies are sometimes accompanied by biting – ouch, it could be a trouser leg or skirt and it’s often ankles and socks, it hurts and can be alarming.
Don’t worry, they’re very typical for pups, and they’re often rather amusing unless things get out of hand.
Zoomies are a great stress release for pups, but if they’re happening often, you should look into the triggers to determine what’s causing them.
Common triggers for puppy over-excitability are:
- Tiredness – did you know that puppies require 16-18 hours of sleep per day? Sleep deprivation is a common cause of puppy hyperactivity and irritability. When you’re tired, don’t you get a little irritable and ’emosh’?
- Stressful Events – Different dogs react differently to stress – Some are ‘stress low,’ where your puppy is shut down and very quiet, while others are ‘stress high,’ where we see excitability or clowning around. Either way your puppy could be struggling.
- New Situations – It’s not just us who feel a little overwhelmed when we visit new places. Don’t forget that puppies ‘see’ with their noses as well, so they can see things that we can’t.
- Frustration – Being unable to get to what you want can be extremely frustrating and contribute to puppy hyperactivity. Remember how Scrappy Doo used to yell, ‘Lemme at ’em!’? We can see where your puppy got that attitude from.
- Getting Overly Excited About SOMETHING – Squirrels, cats and too much play with other dogs can all cause an overload of excitement that your puppy can’t handle.
How to calm down a puppy successfully
Calming a puppy is actually quite simple; all it takes is a little patience and methodical thinking. We’ve listed our top tips for calming your puppy down below. We promise that zen days are on their way!
- Identify Triggers
We’ve given you a few triggers that cause excitability in puppies above, but every puppy is unique, so sit down with a nice cup of tea and think about all of the times your puppy went OTT and what might have caused it.
- Teach them to do something else ‘in the moment’
Teaching your puppy to make eye contact with you (watch me) can be a great way of lowering arousal and calming them down. You’ll want to practice this when they’re not so high on life – we call this ‘rehearsing behaviour’ and the more they do it the better they get!
You can also teach them to sit or lie down if that’s more your thing. Are they a barker? Perhaps our article on teaching your puppy to be quiet is the one for you.
- Distract and redirect
If your puppy is going ‘ga ga’ and you haven’t taught them anything else, scattering treats into a snuffle mat or sprinkling treats on the floor can be a good tactic. Head down sniffing combined with eating resets everything and will quickly calm down your puppy. Lovely.
If your puppy is more toy motivated, a good game of tug is also a great stress reliever!
- Reward calm behaviour more
Quite simply the more we reward something, the more it’s going to happen so if we reward our puppy when they’re calm they’re going to get used to doing that more for treats. Get your puppy’s feeling of zen going on!
- Keep Calm and Carry On
I know, I know, it’s easy to say, and harder to do! But dogs pick up on our stress a huge amount, and if we’re getting stressed and worked up about their behaviour, they’re going to get more stressed. In effect, us getting wound up is going to encourage more of the craziness.
When do puppies calm down?
‘Will my puppy ever really be calm?’ Yes, we’ve heard that question before, and the answer is, well, it depends.
Your puppy will emotionally mature with age, and given appropriate training and socialisation experiences, won’t get so stressed and frustrated with the world. So yes, puppy energy will definitely die down, but if you don’t teach your puppy those important life skills, and how to be a well-behaved dog in society i.e not lose your mind when you see another dog, then this is likely to continue, so it’s best to start now.
You can learn everything you need to know about teaching your puppy obedience exercises in our guide.
Some breeds are definitely prone to being ‘busier’ than others, herding breeds and terrier types have been developed to undertake specific jobs that require them to be quick on their feet and respond swiftly. These breeds require an outlet for their energy, and happily for you, our Zigzag puppy training app has a specialised programme for every breed.
Should I put my puppy in a crate to calm them down?
For some puppies it can feel like there is just no off switch, they have real trouble dialing back that energy and are really terrorising you with those zoomies and biting, sound familiar?
Tiredness is a major cause of this, and many puppies, like small children, suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out, in case you didn’t know). They simply cannot go to bed when they are tired, so they stay up way past their bedtime, becoming overtired, fractious and irritable – seemingly impossible to calm down.
Lack of sleep was mentioned earlier as one of the most common causes of puppy excitability. It’s well worth getting your puppy into a proper sleep routine and crate training them so they learn to switch off and get some much-needed shut eye.
If your puppy is overly excited, putting them in their crate with a stuffed chew toy is generally a good idea. We always emphasise that it is a safe environment, not a prison, so practice calm behaviour outside of the crate and don’t overuse it.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on teaching your puppy to calm down. We have many more nuggets of advice as well as a personalised lesson programme in our Zigzag puppy training app. There’s also a team of puppy training experts on hand to answer any of your questions so download and give it a go.