My Dog Gets Aggressive When Tired—What Can I Do?

my dog gets aggressive when tired

Is your dog getting aggressive when he’s tired?

That definitely isn’t fun and potentially dangerous. Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for dogs to act out when they’re tired. But it happens even more often when they’re overtired.

At this point they’re just overwhelmed and their behavior basically shows you that they’re overdue for a nap.

Luckily, there are ways to make sure your dog isn’t even getting into that state.

So, in this article we’ll go over the signs of puppy or dog aggression. Then, we’ll look at the reasons why your dog might become aggressive when he’s tired. And after that, I’ll show you a few ways that will help you deal better with this dog behavior.

Signs of Puppy or Dog Aggression

Does your dog get cranky when tired? Dogs are really similar to children, and being overtired can often result in acting out.

But there’s a difference between dogs that are just feeling a little cranky and dogs that are aggressive.

If you think your puppy might be overtired, then check out these 10 overtired puppy symptoms and what to do about it.

But if you think that your dog or puppy might be exhibiting some aggressive behavior, here are a few signs of aggression.

Getting Very Hyper

One really common thing that happens when dogs get too tired is that they become super hyper.

When your dog gets overtired, he loses control of himself. Of course, this leads to your dog acting out, racing around your house, and, yes, showing signs of aggression.

It’s important to make sure that your dog is getting enough rest during the day. Adult dogs sleep around 12 to 14 hours every day, while puppies will sleep about 18 to 20 hours.

Chasing Everything That Moves

Dogs that are feeling aggressive feel this way because they think they are in danger. Dog aggression is usually a result of your dog feeling unsafe or out of control.

As a way to try and defend himself, your dog may start chasing anything he sees moving, since he might consider it a threat.

Chasing may also be a way for your dog to try and release some of his overtired energy.

Whatever the reason, chasing-based aggression can be extremely dangerous for your dog and those around him. It’s important to work with your dog as much as possible to curb this behavior.

Dogs love chasing things. But when it becomes excessive and they want to chase literally everything that moves, then that can be a sign of aggression
Dogs love chasing things. But when it becomes excessive and they want to chase literally everything that moves, then that can be a sign of aggression

Excessive Biting/Nipping

It’s normal for dogs to use their mouths, especially with playing. A little mouthiness with you or with other dogs when playing is usually nothing to be worried about, as long as he isn’t biting hard.

But biting and nipping that’s excessive is a serious sign that something is wrong.

If your dog is biting and nipping a lot even when he’s not playing, then that’s the sort of behavior you want to be keeping an eye on and working on consistently. This will help you prevent even more serious issues down the road.

Here are a few related articles:

Barking, Growling and Baring Teeth

Just like it’s normal for dogs to be a little mouthy while playing, it’s also natural for them to bark or growl sometimes when playing. Verbalizations like this can also be your dog’s way of telling you that he’s feeling uncomfortable with something going on.

But if your puppy is doing it a lot, and baring his teeth, those are a few signs of an aggressive puppy.

Just like biting and chasing, this is a problem that you’re going to want to address right away.

Getting Overprotective of Food or Toys

If your dog is trying to defend his food or his toys and seems way too protective of them, he may be experiencing something called resource guarding.

Lunging, growling, and biting when you approach your dog’s things are all signs of this issue. You may also find that your dog gives you “whale eye,” or showing the whites of his eyes when you get close to his food or toys.

Get your free puppy schedule planner

Why Does My Dog Get Aggressive When Tired?

Now that we’ve gone over the signs of dog aggression, we can talk about the why.

Paying attention to the causes of your dog’s aggression will tell you what it is he actually needs, which will, in turn, lessen the aggression.

Here are some reasons why being too tired is making your dog aggressive.

He’s Likely Overtired

There’s a difference between a dog that’s tired and a dog that’s overtired. If your dog is just regular tired, then he won’t find it hard to go to sleep. It’s also unlikely that he’ll act out.

If your dog is overtired, then you’ll probably find that he’s acting out more. He may also show signs of aggression.

This is why it’s important to make sure that your dog is getting the amount of sleep that he needs.

Here are a few articles that will help you figure out how much sleep your pup needs and when he might be overtired:

He’s Telling You That He Really Needs His Naptime

Is your dog snapping and growling at you when you wake him up from his sleep? He’s probably trying to tell you that he really needs his rest. You’d be pretty grumpy too if someone woke you up from your much needed nap!

As stated earlier, adult dogs need about 12 to 14 hours of sleep every day, and puppies need even more! If that seems like a lot, then it’ll make more sense to know that a dog’s sleep patterns are different than ours.

While humans get by with a few hours of deep sleep, dogs tend to have light sleeps and require more naps throughout the day to get the full benefits of their rest.

If your dog is getting aggressive when he's tired then he just doesn't know how else to tell you that he desperately needs a nap
If your dog is getting aggressive when he’s tired then he just doesn’t know how else to tell you that he desperately needs a nap

He’s Afraid That You’ll Take Something from Him

We talked about resource guarding earlier. The reason why your dog might be showing this kind of behavior is because he’s scared that you’re going to take his things.

This is especially common among rescue dogs, particularly those that may not have had regular access to food or toys.

However, resource guarding can show up in dogs from responsible breeders too.

Bear in mind that this behavior can be exacerbated when your dog is overtired and starts feeling like he’s losing control of himself.

What Can I Do If My Dog Gets Aggressive When Tired?

We’ve gone over the signs of aggression and the reasons why your dog is feeling aggressive. Now we can talk about how to help.

Before we get into it, remember that if your dog is showing true aggression, it’s important to take baby steps. Don’t push a dog that’s displaying aggression beyond his limits, since that could cause serious harm to either one or both of you.

Instead, focus on preventing your dog’s aggression in the first place.

And if nothing helps, better see a dog trainer or behaviorist before it gets worse.

Set Up a Schedule

Dogs love schedules!

Aggression can often stem from uncertainty and feeling out of control. If your dog knows what to expect and when to expect it, that removes all the uncertainty from his day.

Having a schedule also helps you make sure that your dog is having all his needs met.

If your dog is still young, then setting up a good crate training schedule for a puppy will help you both stay on top of training and work on staying calm.

To help you get started, I created a free puppy schedule planner that you can use to figure out the perfect schedule for you and your puppy.

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Provide the Right Amount of Exercise

Under exercising a dog can lead to issues like boredom. But over exercising your dog can result in him becoming overtired and aggressive.

Unfortunately, there’s no exact number of minutes or hours you should be exercising your dog every day. All dogs are different, and depending on his age, breed, and overall temperament your dog will require different levels of activity than your neighbor’s dog.

Research your dog’s breed, and if your dog is becoming aggressive because he’s too tired, then reduce the amount of exercise you’re giving him.

Here are a few articles that might help you further:

When in doubt, you can always speak to your vet!

Make Sure He Gets Enough Sleep

Sleep is an important element of your dog’s overall health. You need to make sure that your dog is getting enough sleep throughout the day.

Getting enough sleep will prevent your dog from becoming overtired, aggressive, and will keep him happy and healthy in general.

Don’t Disturb Him While Sleeping

Some dogs are able to sleep pretty much anywhere, anytime. But other dogs are more easily distracted or disturbed when sleeping.

If your dog is sleeping, it’s important to leave him alone. This is especially true if he’s the kind of dog that gets woken up easily.

Make sure that everyone else in your household also knows not to disturb your dog.

Providing a calm spot for your dog can help him get enough sleep and therefore make sure he doesn't get aggressive
Providing a calm spot for your dog can help him get enough sleep and therefore make sure he doesn’t get aggressive

Provide a Calm Sleeping Spot

If your dog has trouble settling down, or your house tends to be particularly busy, giving your dog a calm sleeping spot will help.

This can be an area in any part of your house that’s quiet and secluded. Make a corner of your bedroom nice and cozy with a super comfy dog bed, or set up your dog’s crate in a quiet part of the house.

If your dog isn’t crate trained, then you might want to consider getting started on that! Your dog’s crate is a great place for him to go if he’s feeling overwhelmed, or if he just wants to be alone for a nap.

Check out how to crate train a dog easily in 13 steps for an in-depth look on how to crate train your dog.


If your dog is becoming aggressive because he’s tired, that can be scary for both of you. It’s important to remember never to cross a dog’s boundaries if he’s acting aggressive.

Rather, you should use the above tips as preventative measures to keep your dog from becoming aggressive at all. Give these tips a try for a happier and more comfortable dog—and you!

Don’t forget to download my free daily puppy schedule planner to find a good daily routine for you and your dog.

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*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you.

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