My dog Max used to go berserk EVERY evening. He would whine and run about and we couldn’t figure out why. Why is my dog so hyper at night!
Every dog has their own unique quirks and personality – it’s what makes them so loveable! While we become accustomed to funny habits, dealing with a hyper dog can be difficult.
The reality is that this is quite a common phenomenon, with many a restless dog having energy spurts at night. As a dog owner it can be a real issue! Disrupted sleep, destroyed furniture – and a grumpy anxious dog!
We take a look at this common behavior, exploring why it happens and what we pet owners can do about it.
What do we mean when we say a dog is hyper?
If you’ve ever had a dog explode in a fit of hyperactivity, you’ll know what we are talking about. Brace yourself for an incoming PUPPY TORNADO of energy!
Some dogs tend to have sudden energy releases, racing around the house or yard in a seemingly chaotic manner.
This is often referred to as the ‘zoomies’ or ‘puppy witching hour,’ as it is pretty standard behavior at night, especially in puppies. Scientifically, this behavior is known as FRAPS: Frenetic Random Activity Periods.
What dogs are more prone to being hyper?
All dogs can be affected by the zoomies, from a Siberian Husky to a Teacup Chihuahua.
Big, small, short-haired, long-haired, family pet or guard dog – the urge can strike them all! That being said, the behavior is more common in younger dogs who have more energy to burn than their older counterparts.
You might find that dogs in the puppy or adolescent stage are especially prone to being hyper. They become overwhelmed with energy that they don’t know how to handle.
The result is a quick energy release that typically comes out as a crazy, haphazard run.
When might a dog become hyper?
A case of the zoomies can strike at any time. One minute your dog will be quietly sitting there. The next they will be off and racing.
While it can happen at any time of the day, periods of hyperactivity are more likely to occur at nighttime, especially when it comes to younger dogs.
Dogs may also become hyper after a bath or getting wet, or even during play if they get really worked up.
What causes dogs to be hyper at night?
There is a whole range of reasons why dogs become hyper at night. Pay attention to your dog’s behavior, the timing of their hyperactivity, and if there are any apparent triggers to determine why they might be acting in this way.
Here’s a list of the most common causes for a dog being hyper at night.
Insufficient physical exercise
Getting hyper at night can simply be a way for a dog to burn excess energy. This is especially common in active breeds, like German Shepherds, if they are not getting enough daily exercise. It also might happen if you haven’t had a chance to walk your dog that day or give them their typical physical workout. Puppies especially are likely to get the zoomies if they haven’t been sufficiently tired out through the day.
Lack of mental stimulation
The need to expel excess energy isn’t always caused by a lack of physical exertion. Sometimes, dogs get hyper at night because they aren’t getting enough mental stimulation.
Like with people, there are ways to exercise and tire the body, and there are ways to exercise and tire the brain. If a dog’s brain has not been engaged, they are likely to get bored, and this may keep them wide awake, even at night.
Try to incorporate some mental stimulation into their daily routine by playing games or exploring new places. This way, your dog is more likely to be mentally satisfied when it comes to sleep time.
There are simple indoor games and acitvities you can play with your adult dog or pup to tire their brain and also help with dog training.
Hyperactivity is often associated with excess energy, but the opposite can also have the same effect. If a dog becomes overtired, it might struggle to understand the sensation.
The resulting outcome is random bursts of crazy energy. The good news is that if they are hyperactive at night due to being overtired, they’re likely to crash pretty quickly!
A learned behavior
Sometimes we reward our dogs for behavior without meaning to. This can undoubtedly be the case with the zoomies.
The first time we see our dog act in this way, we are amused. We might laugh, call the dog over, even give them a pat once they’ve managed to stop.
We might try to distract them with attention or food, not realizing that we are rewarding and encouraging annoying behavior. If a dog receives positive reinforcement for a behavior, they will likely do it again to receive the same reaction.
This means that a pet dog might become hyperactive for no reason other than to evoke a positive response. Always be aware of your actions and reactions to ensure your training is consistent.
You don’t want to reward behaviors that will become problematic in the long term.
Eating too close to sleep time
Food is an energy source, therefore eating too close to bedtime may cause a dog to have a sudden energy burst that results in hyperactivity.
If you notice this becoming a problem, try to feed your dog earlier to give them time to digest their food and burn off some of the associated energy.
Dogs can find it challenging to understand pain and discomfort. This means that their natural instinct is often to run from the sensation, attempting to get away from it even though we know that’s impossible.
If your dog has a stomach ache or is experiencing any type of gut discomfort, this may be causing them to run around. Make sure that your dog is eating a good diet and try to rule out any allergies.
Fear or anxiety
Being scared or anxious can send a dog into a fit of chaos. This means that a dog suffering from separation anxiety is likely to become hyperactive in certain situations.
This is often because they can’t deal with their feelings. Just like with physical discomfort, dogs think the best way to cope is to try to escape.
Additionally, dogs are light sleepers and can be disrupted easily. An unexpected sound may suddenly frighten them, causing them to wake and run.
Crate training can help calm a dog, reducing anxiery and preventing hyper behavior.
How to deal with a dog that is hyper at night
While having a dog that gets hyper at night can be hugely inconvenient, there are ways to deal with it. Try the following actions to get your dog under control and help you all relax at night.
Consider the circumstances
Begin by evaluating the situation and identifying any triggers. Has your dog always been prone to getting hyper at night, or is it new behavior? If it’s old behavior, think of when and how it might have become a habit. If it’s a new behavior, consider any recent changes to your dog’s life or the environment.
Next, have a think about when and where your dog is hyper. Are there situations where your dog is less hyper? Do you notice a difference when your dog has particular food/exercise/more attention?
Finally, consider your specific dog. Puppies are much more likely to get hyper at night than older dogs, so if your dog is still young, then they will likely grow out of it.
If your dog is an active breed, it might simply have massive energy levels that aren’t getting used. From Goldendoodles to Australian Shepherds – some dogs need to run!
Whatever the case, it’s essential to understand your individual dog to address the behavior.
Ensure your dog is getting enough exercise
A good starting point for dogs suffering from hyperactivity at night is to give them more exercise.
Remember that a hyper dog might lack physical or mental stimulation, so taking them for regular walks and activities can help on both fronts.
It is generally recommended that dogs get exercised for 1 hour per day. Still, the type of exercise suited to your dog will vary. Some need a really good run for the entire 60 minutes, while others will benefit from more short, fast activity throughout the day.
This can be playing with a ball, interacting with their owner, or exploring new places that also engage their brain.
Ask a friend, neighbor, or even hire a dog walker. A tired dog is less likely to act hyper or engage in barking or other undesirable behavior.
Set up a comfortable sleep environment
If a dog is becoming hyper at night, it might be uncomfortable in its sleep environment.
Ensure that they have a designated sleep spot that is safe, comfortable, and free from distractions. If the temperature is too hot or cold, this can cause your dog to wake and run around at night. It is common for senior dogs to feel temperature more as they age.
If it is a young dog you can also try implementing a nighttime routine to help them settle and try to avoid witching hour. Feed them at the same time in the same place, take them to the toilet each night, give them a pat and a cuddle.
It doesn’t matter what your exact routine is (unless the hyperactivity is being caused because you are feeding too close to bedtime), but establishing some sleep associations can help overcome your dog’s desire to run around.
How NOT to deal with a dog that is hyper at night
The things we do as dog owners can have a considerable impact on our four-legged friends. Suppose your dog’s hyperactivity at night is becoming a problem. In that case, there are many behaviors you’ll want to refrain from to address the issue.
Do not reward the behavior
It’s not uncommon for dog owners to reward specific behaviors, completely unaware that they are doing so. If your dog regularly engages in hyper-fits at night, evaluate your own behavior to make sure that you are not rewarding it.
Like with any training, you do not want to encourage unwanted behavior by giving your dog attention, treats, or positive reinforcement.
You might think that a pat or some food is a good distraction, but your dog will see it as getting something good in exchange for zooming around the house.
Do not feed too close to bedtime.
Food can give dogs a burst of energy so make sure you aren’t feeding too close to bedtime. Late meals can result in dogs experiencing this energy spike when it’s time to sleep, rather than earlier on in the day when it is more appropriate to be running or playing.
Do not feed an inconsistent, unhealthy diet.
Overall, diet can have a considerable impact on a dog and its behaviors. While it’s important to consider feeding times in relation to the zoomies, it’s essential to consider the types of food you are feeding your dog.
Dogs that are hyper at night might be impacted by their diet, so make sure you avoid unhealthy foods that could be hurting their stomachs. Also, avoid inconsistency. Just like with people, diet changes can impact energy levels and the way we feel.
Changing a diet could actually be the trigger behind your dog getting hyper at night.
Seeing your dog get hyper can be amusing the first time, but it will quickly become a problem if not controlled. These tips and tricks will help you get a handle on your dog’s hyperactivity at night, so everyone can get a good night’s sleep!