Do Dogs Get Cranky When Tired?

One of the most accurate comparisons that people make to their pets is when people compare their dogs to young children. There are many similarities between the two, ranging from both of them being able to learn words and concepts to behavioral issues that both young children and dogs share. For instance, just as toddlers will throw temper tantrums over the strangest things, dogs may become “cranky” out of nowhere, going from a playful dog to yappy and even nippy. Of course, this behavior is not acceptable in either case, but in dogs, it can pose a real danger depending on just how aggressive your dog gets.

Aggression in dogs is something that needs to be controlled, and to properly control a dog’s aggression, it is important to know where it comes from. Some dogs are more inclined to react aggressively to perceived threats, while other dogs are simply not trained well and do not know any better. In some cases, your dog may be more aggressive due to a change in mood, such as being too tired. That’s right, just like children, dogs can become overtired. An overtired dog will often experience behavioral changes, being defiant and even aggressive.

With this being said, the term “overtired” doesn’t necessarily refer to a dog that has tuckered itself out from playing too much with its person. It can refer to dogs that have not gotten enough sleep (much like a toddler who refuses to take a nap), and dogs who have underlying medical conditions resulting in feeling fatigued. To take control of the aggression your dog may display when it is overtired, you first need to learn the signs of a tired dog.

The Fine Line Between Tired and Overtired

There is a bit of a difference between a dog that is tired and a dog that has become overtired. A dog that is tired is going to be much more compliant with winding down and settling into its bed for a nap. A tired dog will be much easier to control and will be far more peaceful than a dog that is overtired. A human equivalent would be being tired after a long day at work and settling down into bed.

A dog that is overtired is a dog that has, for whatever reason, pushed past being tired and going to sleep and staying up to the point of being irritable. Consider how in people, it is common for those who haven’t slept well and those who are exhausted to be more irritable and quick to anger. The situation is the same for an overtired dog. It may be harder to get an overtired dog to settle down, as it may be too wound up to sit down and rest. The dog may also not be in the best mindset to listen to you when you are trying to calm it down. The best way to handle this is to first figure out why the dog has become overtired, and go from there.

What Causes Overtiredness in Dogs?

Overtiredness is pretty common in puppies that are more likely to overexert themselves with playtime and exercising. One of the most common causes of overtiredness in dogs is simply too much exercise. If your dog seems as if it wants to go inside or that it doesn’t want to go outside to exercise, then it may be best to follow what the dog wants, unless you want to deal with the dog more aggressive when tired.

Another common cause for dogs of all ages to become overtired is when they have had too much stimulation for the day. This could be the dog keeping on its best behavior while in the dog park, the dog getting tired of hearing city noises when it isn’t used to it, or the dog becoming tired because of chronic pain conditions, such as joint pain. Dogs can get overwhelmed just like people can, and just like people, dogs can lash out when they become overwhelmed because they no longer have the resources to be on their best behavior. If you notice your dog slipping from being its best self, it might be time to go home to let the dog rest.

Finally, and most unfortunately, overtiredness is common as a symptom of underlying health conditions. It is another way of saying that increased aggression is a symptom of health problems. If your dog seems to be more aggressive without any other triggers for overtiredness to kick in, it might be worth taking your dog to the vet to see what is going on. If you know that your dog has a chronic pain condition, you may want to be more patient when handling the dog, as aggression is one of the only ways that it can convey to you that it is having a bad day with the pain. Dogs with chronic pain conditions will not be able to move around as much without getting exhausted, leading to the same problem of becoming aggressive when tired.