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Overtired puppy biting is probably one of the most annoying puppy behaviors out there. One of the main reasons for it is that many new dog parents are unaware of the amount of sleep their puppy actually needs.
And I’m no exception here!
When I first got my dog Baloo he was sooo hyper all the time. So, while I knew that I should only walk him for about 5 minutes per month of age, I thought he just needs a lot of playtime to get rid of his excess energy.
Well, turned out it was the exact opposite…
He definitely has more energy than the average dog but his hyperactivity – and this includes biting and nipping – got significantly better once I made sure he got enough sleep!
So, in this article I’ll show you how surprisingly much sleep puppies actually need. Then I’ll go over the most common (over) tired puppy behaviors and finally, I’ll show you how you can stop that overtired puppy biting for good.
If you feel like your puppy’s biting might have a different cause than your puppy being overtired, then check out my article about how to stop your puppy’s biting habit for good.
Can puppies be overtired?
Let’s start with a very important question: can puppies be overtired?
Looking at zooming puppies, you would instinctively say: no, puppies never get tired!
To many people’s surprise, the opposite is the case: Puppies have a whole lot of energy for about 15 minutes (depending on their age) and then they need to rest for a long long time!
Similar to children, puppies don’t like resting all that much, though.
Have you ever seen a toddler trying everything in order to avoid going to bed? He seems full of energy. However, you know that he should actually be really tired.
Well, puppies are baby dogs. So, they’re pretty similar to children.
And when puppies are overtired they tend to become zooming machines and biting little sharks!
How much sleep do puppies need?
Dogs sleep a lot! And puppies even more so.
Puppies sleep an average of 18 to 20 hours per day. Sleeping doesn’t necessarily mean deep sleep. For part of the time, they’re just relaxing. But 20+ hours of sleeping, relaxing and doing nothing are completely normal for puppies.
This means that a puppy should only be active for 4 to 6 hours per day! This includes potty breaks, playtime, feeding time, walks etc.
The younger your puppy is, the more sleep he needs. However, not all dogs realize when it’s time for a nap. This is why it’s very important that you keep that in mind and force him to rest if necessary.
It also means that it’s absolutely counterproductive trying to entertain your puppy nonstop. If he doesn’t get at least 18 to 20 hours of sleep per day, overtired puppy biting is almost guaranteed!
If you wish your puppy slept a little more, make sure to check out my article on how to get your puppy to sleep longer.
How do you calm an overtired puppy?
An overtired puppy needs rest but is pumped up with adrenaline.
That’s not gonna work!
The thing that is gonna work, is to stop the adrenaline production. Once all the excitement is gone, your puppy will feel that he’s actually tired and will fall asleep very easily!
There are a few ways to do this:
By far the fastest is to hold him by his shoulders until he’s calmed down. The other very efficient way is to put him in his crate or in a room where there’s no distraction. Only when he can’t run around like crazy and when there’s nothing to do, he’ll be able to calm down and relax.
Another useful thing is to give your overtired puppy a chewy when you put him in his crate. He can get rid of the last bit of his energy and will probably sleep within minutes.
Do puppies get aggressive when tired?
Aggressive is a pretty strong word and I don’t think it’s appropriate to use for puppies.
However, puppies definitely don’t feel themselves anymore when they’re overtired. This means that their behavior becomes totally uncontrolled and it certainly also contains biting or nipping.
Biting and nipping is a completely normal puppy behavior, though. They constantly do it when they play with their litter mates.
Puppies and dogs have fur to protect them from those sharp teeth, though. If one is getting a little too rough, the other puppy will yelp. This signals the other puppy that it hurt and will make him stop.
What is the most common (over) tired puppy behavior?
Now, let’s look at the most common overtired or tired puppy behaviors. As I’ve just said, an overtired puppy completely loses it. So, all of these behaviors are an expression of the puppy losing control.
I’m only listing the 3 most common and most annoying behaviors here. For a full list of all the possible behaviors, head over to the 10 overtired puppy symptoms. If you’re pup is an adult dog but still behaves like crazy sometimes, check out these slightly different 10 signs and symptoms your dog is overtired or exhausted.
One very common behavior your overtired puppy might show are the zoomies. If you’re puppy is running around without any sense of control, it’s a very clear sign that he’s overdue for a nap!
He forgets his manners
So, you’re doing obedience with your puppy and he learns so well. But sometimes he just seems to have completely forgotten everything, right?
Yes, that’s another tired puppy behavior that indicates it’s time for his bed.
Overtired puppy biting
The last most common overtired puppy behavior is of course the overtired puppy biting.
It’s very common for overtired puppies to become nippy. They want your attention all cost and they certainly don’t want to show that they’re tired! And because they don’t really feel themselves anymore, they also loose sense of how strong they engage their teeth…
How to stop overtired puppy biting
Now that we know where overtired puppy biting comes from, let’s look at how you can get your little shark monster to be your loving puppy again!
Make sure he gets enough sleep
While puppies can also become nippy just to test their boundaries and be playful, it happens very often when they’re overtired or overstimulated. This is why it’s absolutely crucial to make sure your puppy gets enough sleep in the first place. If you can prevent that he gets in overtired hyper mode it makes training him to be softer much easier.
This means that you should make sure your puppy sleeps at least 18 to 20 hours per day! The younger the puppy, the more sleep he needs. I know it looks as if he had endless energy. But growing can be exhausting and he needs his cutie sleep.
To help him relax I recommend using a crate and crate training him as early as possible.
Here’s a step by step guide for crate training:
For the remaining waking hours stick to the rule of thumb. Don’t walk him for more than 5 minutes per month of age. And remember, he doesn’t need to be entertained the whole time. Watching you or following you around the house is also an activity where he’s learning a lot. That’s equally exhausting and requires nap time after it.
Related article: can a 10-week-old puppy sleep through the night?
Stop playing even before the biting might come up
The next important thing is to keep playing time short. Better make 2 short play sessions during the day than 1 big one. 5 to 10 minutes at a time are enough. This helps to keep your puppy below the point where he can’t control himself anymore.
Immediately stop playing when your puppy gets nippy
If your pup gets too nippy at a point the best thing is to stop play immediately, stand up, do something else and completely ignore him for a little bit.
If he’s overtired he’s likely going to follow you and bite your feet, ankle or pant leg. In that case he needs a timeout. Put him in a puppy safe room or leash him somewhere where he can’t get at you. Wait until he’s calmed down, stop the timeout and then – very calmly – put him in his crate.
If possible at all, I wouldn’t use his crate as a timeout place. His crate is supposed to be a comfy sleeping den and shouldn’t be used as punishment. This is why I recommend using one of the other methods and only putting him in his crate when he’s calm and ready to sleep.
Make sure he takes a nap
I know I’m repeating myself but this point is really crucial: After the timeout has ended it’s very important that he actually gets a nap!
Since many puppies struggle to calm themselves down after so much arousal it’s best to put them in their crate. Then there aren’t any distractions anymore and he can finally snooze away.
Also play softer games
Another thing that can help is to play softer games for a little while. Use games for mental stimulations for instance. This is very exhausting for a puppy, so you should really only do 5 minutes of it at a time before he’ll likely become overtired again.
But since these are games where his teeth aren’t involved he learns that playtime can also be fun without biting and nipping.
To learn more about how to mentally stimulate your dog click here.
Show him where he can chew
Puppies can also become particularly nippy when they’re teething. This is why your puppy should always have enough chewys and toys where he can put his teeth in as much as he wants.
It’s also great to give him something to chew in his box. If he’s still a little hyper he can chew on that which will calm him down and surely make him super tired.
Puppies who like to chew will likely need new toys on a regular basis. This is why I like dog subscription boxes such as BoxDog. You only need to subscribe once, and you get a box every 3 months delivered to your house. Definitely the easiest way to release some puppy energy!
I particularly like BoxDog because of 3 reasons:
- They send their boxes quarterly, so you don’t get overwhelmed by piling treats and toys from receiving a box every month.
- Each box contains handmade cookies.
- You can build you own box, so you can choose exactly which toys your puppy likes. How cool is that?
They currently even have a limited promotion going on where you get a free memory foam dog bed with your first box. Get your first box here.
Teach bite inhibition
One last important thing that can help to stop overtired puppy biting: Your pup needs to learn with what intensity he’s allowed to use his mouth. This means you can let him nibble a little, as long as it’s very soft. Licking is fine too. As soon as it gets too rough, yelp, stand up and do the other steps I just mentioned.
However, this can only be trained when he’s still calm. Once he’s in crazy overtired puppy mode, he’s unable to control the intensity of his nipping.
When should I be concerned about my puppy biting?
As long as he still young, there’s no need to be concerned. Puppy biting is a completely normal behavior. As long as you teach him that this is not okay, he’ll get it pretty quickly. Most puppies stop this behavior latest when they’re 4 to 6 months old.
If it continues after that then it would probably be a good time to talk to a dog trainer. When your pup is 6 months old then nips and bites will likely get pretty strong and painful. So, it’s important that you can really stop it at that age.