Around 6, 7, or 8 pm it’s time to settle down for the night and your puppy or dog is running like a psycho around the house doing zoomies, jumping, barking, biting… sound familiar?

The puppy witching hour is what it’s called. The time of day when your dog has a burst of energy out of nowhere that makes you wonder why they are acting so crazy.

What is the puppy (or dog) witching hour

The puppy witching hour is a time of day when the dog has a short and sudden change in energy level or behavior. The witching hour can occur in any dog of any age.

During the witching hour, your dog may run zoomies around the house, and show bad behavior such as stealing your shoes, jumping, or barking. 

What causes puppy witching hour

There are many causes of the puppy witching hour:

  • Lack of physical and mental exercise
  • Night/darkness anxiety
  • Anxiety from a change in schedule
  • Overstimulation throughout the day
puppy ready to go laying in a pile of torn up paper

How long does puppy witching hour last

Puppy witching hour can last a few seconds, a few minutes, or an hour. How long your dog’s witching hour lasts will depend on your dog’s situation and how you both handle it.

Read some of the tips below to limit the length of time and even eliminate your dog’s witching hour.

At what age does puppy witching hour stop?

The witching hour is not age specific, it doesn’t only occur in puppies, adult dogs can have a dog witching hour too. But as dog’s age, they generally will slow down and have less energetic outbursts.

When the puppy’s witching hour stops will depend on your dog’s overall energy level and how you handle their needs for physical and mental stimulation.

husky type dog howling and people laughing

Tips for puppy witching hour

 

Physical and mental stimulation

Giving your dog the appropriate physical and mental stimulation is key to a happy and healthy dog. A bored dog is a troubled dog.

Some dogs need more exercise than others, but most dogs will benefit from a long walk at least once a day. Even a few minutes of fun training each day will go a long way.

And on days when the weather isn’t cooperating, try some of these indoor dog games.

Be careful not to overstimulate your puppy, because it could have the opposite effect and turn your adorable puppy into a cranky puppy.

Create a calming time

You may not realize it but laughing or yelling at the dog to stop zooming around or jumping is fueling the crazy behavior.

Instead, give the dog a calming activity, such as a frozen Kong or lick mat. A simple dog puzzle could help stimulate your dog’s brain yet promote calm behavior.

This depends on your dog’s personality, if puzzles excite your dog, then find another activity that calms your dog.

The idea is to slow the brain down and create a calming environment.

Change the schedule

I normally recommend a consistent schedule for most rescue dogs, but if your dog anticipates activities to the extreme, it may be time to switch things up a little.

If you can’t always stick to a schedule, then try changing the time of day you take walks, feed dinner, etc.

Changing the schedule could help your dog cope with change more easily, helping to eliminate the anxiety when you can’t take that walk or be home at 5 pm to feed them dinner.

Training Time

If you have a dog that is easily excited and go “over the top” then SpiritDog’s Calm Down Course may be a perfect solution.

Teaching your dog how to calm down on its own can change your life forever. Not only for the witching hour phase but in everyday living.

The Calm Down course will help you:

  • Understand WHY your dog is so wild
  • Discover how to calm down your dog in daily life
  • Practice switching between high-drive and stillness
  • Build up impulse control around food and toys
  • Teach your dog how to solve home-made food puzzles and brain games
  • Make lasting changes in your dog’s behavior

When to be concerned about your dog’s witching hour

If your dog becomes increasingly agitated, confused, or aggressive during witching hours, despite your efforts to eliminate the restless behavior, I recommend having a talk with your vet about the behavior.

Taking videos to show your vet will be helpful for them to assess the behavior.

One of the symptoms of both Alzheimer’s disease and canine cognitive dysfunction is a behavioral disorder known as Sundowner Syndrome, aka Witching Hour. 

I’m not telling you this to scare you. The chances your dog has a serious health condition because they have the zoomies is unlikely. But if you are concerned, it doesn’t hurt to have a conversation with your vet.

Puppy witching hour all summed up

The puppy witching hour is very common in puppies and dogs. We usually don’t pay much attention to it, other than to laugh (not the best choice) at them zooming around the house like a crazy dog.

Knowing WHY your dog is experiencing the puppy witching hour will help you alleviate the activity with our tips above.

Giving your dog the appropriate physical and mental stimulation, creating a calming time, and changing your schedule may help eliminate the puppy witching hour.

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About the Author

Debi McKee

Debi McKee is the expert behind Rescue Dogs 101 where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She is a mom of 3 human kids and 4 dogs and volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society. Click here for more about Debi and her passion for helping you and your dog.

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