Hannah Richter (aka Mary Puppins) is a certified dog trainer and current instructor at Andrea Arden Dog Training in NYC. If you have something you want to ask Mary Puppins be sure to email us at email@example.com!
Dear Mary Puppins,
My 16 week-old rescue terrier mix puppy, Coco, gets into a crazy mood every evening and is an absolute terror! She will start running around the apartment and will bite and nip a lot. We find it difficult to redirect her to her toys or chew when she is in these moods. Usually, the frenzies last about 20 minutes and then she settles back down. We would love to be able to interact and help burn energy with her if she needs some stimulation, but it is hard to do so without getting nipped. Sometimes we try saying “No” or “Ouch”, but it doesn’t seem to matter much to her. We want to handle these situations in a way that doesn’t make us or Coco frustrated. Thank you for your help!
Dear Sleepless in the Puppy Crate,
Ah, yes… the puppy witching hour! Most puppies have evening bursts of energy where they will run around in circles and become very nippy. Most pet owners end their work day around 4 or 5 and Coco has probably started to pick up on the pattern. The zoomies are often caused by built-up energy or an exciting stimulus. I recommend letting your pup run it out for a few minutes as long as they aren’t putting themselves or you in a dangerous situation.
Many dogs find any kind of verbal reprimanding to be reinforcing because you are still giving your attention to your dog. As a general rule of thumb, I recommend walking away and ignoring Coco when she nips or bites you. It is important to start to teach her that if she nips you, your attention is going to go elsewhere. If she isn’t nipping, your attention can go back to her. This will start to teach her that nipping does the opposite of what she was trying to accomplish. If possible, try to engage with her in some fetch or tug. Teaching her that toys get you to play with her will help to discourage her from biting your skin.
Coco is going to start losing her teeth soon which means that she will have an increased need to chew. Be sure to have a lot of outlets for her mouth. Food toys and chews are incredibly helpful at this age. Hang in there as once her teeth fall out, she will be less nippy.
In times that she is extremely worked up, let her run it out and then give her a project to work on in her own space such as her crate or pen. Using a leash indoors can also be a very helpful tool. You can either let the leash loosely drag behind your puppy or try gently tethering it to a piece of furniture near you. If your puppy nips you, you will have an easier time creating distance by using the tether. Be consistent with the time-outs and stay patient with Coco as she loses her teeth.
The zoomies are often caused by built-up energy or an exciting stimulus. I recommend letting your pup run it out for a few minutes as long as they aren’t putting themselves or you in a dangerous situation.