Help! My Puppy Is Aggressive When Tired

Photo by Ashley Webb on Flickr

Has your family just been blessed by the addition of a new puppy? Are they the most adorable thing ever, a happy bundle of loving fur, until they get tired or are disturbed in their sleep?

Does a switch seem to flip turning your puppy from cute to aggressive?

One of our dogs (Sylvie) as a puppy could be very aggressive when she was tired- although not as aggressive as the pup in the photo!

4 common signs of puppy aggression?

As a new pet parent, it’s important to watch out for any signs of aggression in your new fur baby. Even as you’re excited about your adorable ball of fur, the joy she brings to the family can quickly be marred by signs of aggression. However subtle these signs may be, you have to be able to tell when there is a danger of things getting serious and out of hand. Here are the common aggressive puppy signs


When a puppy nips, it could mean a lot of different things. A dog can nip while being playful, while nipping due to excitement isn’t something you should be worried about, it also isn’t something you should condone. When a puppy nips out of anger of fear, the behaviour becomes aggressive, and it can easily escalate to biting. Nipping as a sign of aggression is usually accompanied by a stiff body, bare teeth and maybe a growl.  


There is nothing friendly about dogs growling and baring their teeth. When a dog growls, it’s usually due to a perceived threat, and the growl is a warning to let you know that it may bite.

If your puppy growls at you, it may be because she’s scared or protecting her food or favourite toy, but even these are not enough reasons for a dog to growl at its owner. It is not a good sign for a puppy to growl at its owner or any live-in member of the family, this is even more dangerous if there are kids in the house. 


Snapping is similar to growling, dogs snap when they are warning you to stay back. They snap when they are being defensive and want to be left alone. If your puppy frequently snaps at the air, it may be a behavioural problem which can easily progress to biting. If a dog snaps and the perceived threat doesn’t go away, it may proceed to biting. 


Your puppy should never try to bite you or any live-in member of the family, this is very aggressive and unacceptable. Even if your puppy only tried to bite you and ended up biting your clothes, it’s still not acceptable as she won’t hesitate to bite someone else. Dogs should never be aggressive towards their owners.

[3] How to get an aggressive puppy to sleep?

If your puppy is acting aggressive, getting her to calm down and sleep can be a challenge. Puppies usually get aggressive and start acting out at night. Just when you’d expect her to start nodding off, she gets the zoomies. 

Many puppies have zoomies just before bedtime, and most times this isn’t your puppy trying to be a nuisance. The little one is only trying to work off excess energy, so she can relax and be calm enough for a good night sleep. When your puppy gets the zoomies at night, it could also be due to anxiety, probably because she’s very tired but is still getting stimulation. 

To help her relax while working off her frustration or any left-over energy, give her something to chew. Chewing is great in helping dogs unwind and de-stress, give your pup a safe chew toy or something else she can chew on while trying to calm down. And while you’re at it, don’t try to pick her up or restrain her while she’s being aggressive as this may not end well. 

If your dog is always getting aggressive before bedtime, try crate training her, put her in her crate just before she gets mad, this will help her stay calm enough to fall asleep. Also ensure that she gets enough activities and mental stimulation during the day, so that she can be tired enough to easily fall asleep at night.

4 common signs of puppy tiredness

Most puppies don’t stop when they are tired, they will continue trailing behind you even if their legs are about to give up. An over-tired and exhausted dog can show signs of aggression, therefore it’s important that you recognize when your puppy is tired so you can make her rest. While yawning and lying around are the most obvious signs of a tired dog, there are a few other signs to watch out for, and here they are. 

Slowing down on walks: puppies are usually excited when going for walks and they will seize every opportunity they get to sniff and explore things on the way. So when your pup starts to slow down and is no longer as excited as they were at the beginning of the walk, this only means that your furry friend is tired and needs some rest. 

Stopping for a break: during a walk, your puppy will certainly pause several times to catch her breath before moving on. But if she simply stops and is very reluctant to go on, then she’s definitely tired and wants to go home. While taking your pup out on walks, always remember that puppies can’t walk for as long as adult dogs and they get tired much faster. 

Not interested in playing: puppies generally love to run about and play. A healthy puppy is full of life and very energetic, so when yours is reluctant and doesn’t care about exerting herself, then she simply doesn’t have the energy. If you throw a ball and she doesn’t respond or responds slower than usual, it’s time to get her to rest and take a nap. 

May forget commands: another sign that your dog is very tired is when she forgets commands without any distraction. Tiredness and mental fatigue will make a usually obedient dog seem stubborn, but this has nothing to do with being stubborn, your pup is just exhausted and needs a break from all forms of stimulation. And a nap will leave her refreshed and back to her normal self. 

How much sleep do puppies need?

Sleep is very important for the healthy growth and development of puppies, and on average a puppy will need at least 17 hours of sleep every day. The actual amount of sleep a puppy needs for healthy growth depends on the breed type. 

Some puppies will need only about 16 hours of sleep in a day while some other breed types will need up to 20 hours of sleep. As a new pet parent, you may notice that your pup can be up and about right now and the very next minute she’s curled up in a corner sound asleep, this is perfectly normal and healthy for her. 

Puppies are much like babies and sleep a lot during the day, they also find it difficult to sleep all through the night. Very young puppies need potty breaks at night and will wake up several times before dawn until about 16 weeks. They usually sleep for about 6 to 10 hours at night, and during the day, they can take several short naps each one lasting between 30 minutes to 2 hours. 

Why is a fixed routine so important for a puppy?

As creatures of habit, dogs need consistency in their daily lives. A dog’s environment and how they feel about it directly affects how they act and behave. Dogs that live in homes with set daily routines are much happier and are better at handling changes in routines and different forms of training. 

These dogs know what to expect from their owners which helps them feel happier and a lot more comfortable in their environment. On the other hand, dogs living in chaotic homes with very little and inconsistent routine tend to feel lost and are more prone to anxiety, frustration and depression. 

Without a reasonable amount of consistency in their lives, dogs will feel insecure and stressed which can affect their health. Therefore it’s important to ensure that your dog gets a well-balanced life, be fairly consistent with meal times, play times, exercise times, training times, bedtimes and so on. 

This helps your dogs feel good about themselves and their environment, they’ll feel loved, secure, and behave better with good habits. With a stable and consistent daily routine, your puppies will grow to be very obedient dogs who will be responsive to changes and adjustments in their routine.