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I have a 12 week old Brittany puppy that overall is a great puppy; she has taken to potty training well, learns things quickly, and is very loving.

About once per day though, she gets VERY excited and it is like a switch has been flipped. She starts biting my feet, tugging at my pants, and playing really rough (we work on bite inhibition and she is very gentle most of the time but during this excitement period it is like everything she learned has gone out the window and she is basically uncontrollable). This lasts for probably 20 minutes or so, then she is back to being herself.

When she bites my feet, pants, shoelaces, etc. I take a chew toy and try to get her to chew that instead. She will for a second, but she would rather chew my hand, pants, cords, the wall... again though, it is just for this short period of high excitement.

My question: How should I handle this situation so that she doesn't get so over excited? I know that she is a puppy and they get excited and they love to chew, I just wanted to ask this question because I don't want to be in the situation where I say "She is a puppy and will grow out of it" when there is something I should be doing to avoid carrying this behavior into adulthood. I feel like she just needs a few minutes to calm down, but I don't think I want to put her in her kennel because I don't want the kennel to be a punishment. Is a "timeout" like this a good idea? Any other ideas?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

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    Give her opportunities for vigorous/energetic play everyday. Maybe twice a day.
    – ahron
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 18:51
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    How often and how long do you walk and/or play with her daily? This sounds like she might not get enough exercise or entertainment and at a certain point all her pent up energy just "boils over".
    – Elmy
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 19:48
  • We play with her many times throughout the day (pretty much whenever she is awake), however we were advised not to take her on a walk until she gets her last round of vaccinations (which she gets today). Maybe once we are able to get her some better exercise this "boiling over" effect won't happen.
    – jteezy14
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 19:52
  • Have a look here to games and excercises when not able to walk a dog: pets.stackexchange.com/questions/23521/… Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 21:45

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If your puppy has all her needs met (as in well-exercised, has been getting attention, is fed, doesn't need to go to the bathroom, etc.) but is excited and seems to not quite know what to do with herself and resorts to chewing, it's very possible she is simply over-tired. Puppies are similar to toddlers in that they can't regulate their bodies themselves and often need to be encouraged to take a nap. You are absolutely right that she just needs a few minutes to calm down.

Calming activities for puppies

Putting her in her kennel is a good option only if she loves her kennel. If she already loves it, going there when she needs to nap won't feel like punishment. But there are good alternatives as well:

  1. Puppy airplane: have your puppy sit in front of you. Put a treat in your hand and hold your arm out straight and parallel to the floor so that the treat is above the puppy's head. Slowly move the treat down closer to the puppy. If she jumps for it, simply move the treat back up to where it started, then try again. It will likely take several tries, but eventually she will understand she needs to stay sitting to get the treat. This forces her to focus her attention on you and allows her to calm down.

  2. Impulse control game: have your puppy lie down with her paws out, and sit in front of her. Place a treat on the floor, say "wait," and don't take your hand away. If she starts pawing at your hand, remove the treat and try again in a few seconds. The eventual goal is for her to not go for the treat until you say "okay." Once she gets good at it, you can even add a "look" command before saying "okay" so she makes eye contact with you rather than fixating on the treat. In addition to improving impulse control (which is always helpful) this game rewards calmness and gives your puppy something concrete to focus on.

  3. Settle: grab several treats and keep them handy. Get your puppy to lie down somewhere cozy, whether that's her bed or on a couch next to you if she's allowed. Give her a treat as soon as she lays down, then another a few seconds after. You should give her a treat every few seconds she stays laying down, but increase the time between each one. So you might start out with every 3 seconds, then 5, then 10, and so on. While you are doing this, feel free to pet her and speak to her in a calming voice. When I do this with my puppy, she tends to settle after 2-3 minutes and often falls asleep.

Rewarding calmness

In addition to playing calming games with your puppy while she's actively over-excited, it is helpful to reward calmness when you see her being calm. This is called "capturing." Any time throughout the day you see her laying down and being calm, give her a treat. Don't make a big deal of it or anything—you can literally just give her a treat and go back to whatever you were doing before. Make it a habit for you to notice when she's calm and reward her for it. This reinforces the behavior and shows her that good things happen when she's calm.

Taking this two-pronged approach—capturing and rewarding calmness when she does it naturally and helping calm her down when she's over-excited—has been very effective for my puppy, and I've seen a noticeable change in her behavior over a couple weeks.

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