Got a Cranky Dog? I May Know Why!

My Fur Face Gets Cranky When She is Tired

My Fur Face Gets Cranky When She is Tired

Have you ever played or worked so hard that it literally makes you sick and cranky?

I swear when I am overworked and I can’t sleep (i.e. I am too tired) I get a little looney.

I need rest and sleep in order to be successful in life, it is one of those fundamental puzzle pieces I need in order to survive.

I have friends and family that can function on very little sleep and rest.  4 hours or less works for them.

I am not that person.

I need rest and relaxation more I suppose.

Dogs Are the Same Way

Dogs can be the very same way!

Some dogs need a little rest or else they get really cranky.

I have seen dogs in doggy daycare that play so hard and want to play so long (because they don’t know when to stop) that they get very irritable.

I used to have a puppy like this, many years ago.

He would play and play and play in doggy groups, until he needed to pass out from exhaustion.

I would see him shade seeking (looking for a shady spot to lay) and I knew it was time to get him out of the play group.

He needed rest.

If I left him, he could get extremely aggressive with the dogs he had just played with 2 minutes previously.

He was social, but I think his body and mind had its limits!

Kind of like mine.

My ex-husband used to get really, really cranky if he didn’t eat every few hours.

Dogs Have LimitsCollie dogs in snow

All dogs have limits.

Some of them don’t listen to their limits because they are easily over stimulated and they have a desire to still work, play or train.

I have seen police working dogs have seizures because they couldn’t stop working in the heat.

Thankfully, that is rare for most dogs!

But, you may have a dog that gets cranky when he gets tired.

How Do You Know

Actually it can be hard for some owners to tell.

The dog can get possessive over his toys, treats and things (even his water bowl) or his place in the shade.

Sometimes these are the dogs that snap at owners, children, and other animals when they are bothered while they are sleeping.

If another dog poked my puppy after he found his piece of shade and settled in, he would get furious almost immediately.

He is just genuinely irritable after a long day, even though he is fighting sleep.

I have another dog who gets cranky and snarls at the other dogs when we have a long drive or a long training day!

What to Do?

flying Frisbee dog catching disc in jump

flying Frisbee dog catching disc in jump

So you have an irritably cranky, over exercised dog, what do you do?

Dogs need exercise!

In my opinion, no exercise is much worse to your dog’s mental state  than over exercise or over activity.

Dogs need exercise and mental stimulation, above anything else.

So whatever you do, don’t stop letting him play or exercise!

Pay attention!

Not all dogs are alike and not all situations are alike.

My dog can trot next to my recumbent trike for 5 miles or more, but 20 minutes of HARD play and retrieve and he is sucking wind.

Watch his tongue.

A long tongue is one of the first signs of overheating and being overstimulated and over tired.

If you are hot he is hot!

If hanging out outside throwing his ball is getting toasty for you, chances are he is too hot!

I used to work with a vet who said anything over 70 degrees (especially in the heat) can cause heat exhaustion and danger.

If you are exercising your dog in the heat (above 70 and in the sun) he may need some water to dip his feet and body into.

If you don’t have that available, get a kiddie pool and put some cool water or ice water in it.  This will help him cool down when he gets overly hot.

If you think he looks tired, he probably is!

When my dogs start running and moving a bit slower, their tongues are long, and they seem tired, chances are it is time to stop for now.

I work on endurance and adding more exercise to his life, but when he is tired or hot he needs a rest.

I Used to Live with a Police Dog

When I was in my 20’s I lived with a police dog in training.

He was a NUT and needed almost constant stimulation, unless he was tired.

So I would hook him up to a scooter and let him run laps around our neighborhood until he was pretty tired.

I stayed close to home so that we could go home when he needed to, but we would make laps until he looked like it was nap time!

Then I would let him nap, which is what I needed for sanity.

And, he had a great physique when he started his new job!


So make sure he gets exercise, play, and stimulation!  His mind and body need it!

If it is sunny and over 70 stay close to a body of water if you want to exercise him and make sure he has drinking water.

Watch him for signs.

As you get to know what he looks like tired, just before exhaustion, then make sure to stop him and let him rest.

You can take him out again, after a nap (like we do with the dogs at daycare) but allow him to rest his body and mind for a bit.

Exercise builds on itself.

Exercise increases stamina and builds on itself (if you do it right and consistently), so that means what exhausted him 2 weeks ago, he can now do with little problem.

So work, play, train and exercise together, just make sure you put an end to it before you have to deal with the cranky dog!

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  1. Maria says:

    Now that it is 3 weeks before Summer, I have noticed our 14 mo. GSD Puppy getting hot in the sun. He loves to soak his feet/legs and do dog paddle splashing in the round “pool” we fill regularly. He has his Varsity Ball, chew tug rings, and water proof ball he plays with or removes from his water to get his face, feet, belly…wet! Since he is part C. Republic/East German DDR, with his black with sable…coloration, he does go for the shade when he is hot. I know you have said to exercise him, (he is quite muscular and buff), but you are right about getting rest when he comes inside! I am glad to see you have explained how important it is to recognize what you have mentioned explicitly! In lieu of this, we still try to think whether he was exercised enough if he jumps up or doesn’t have his best good manners when he gets back up from napping. He usually gets to go for a walk after a few minutes of time out for jumping. I read yesterday in a past blog you did about stopping if he pulls while walking, which has improved immensely! He really wants to go further to new areas of yard or by gardens which he has seen our kitty go. Everything you write helps me be a better trainer while my big boy puppy is going through his hormonal growing stages! Just want you to know I appreciate all you do and have done for so many looking for why our dog(s) is acting the way he is.
    Basically, you give me hope and appreciation for knowing I am doing what is right before mistakes are learned. I respect you for all your knowledge considering all the animals in shelters, day care, one on one training with dogs you have worked with. God Bless You Minette!


  2. Julie Wake says:

    This is the most useful article I’ve read. My dog loves all dogs and playing and when setting out on a walk he wants to meet all dogs and play. Coming home once he’s done a good 3 mile round trip if he comes across other dogs he can’t be bothered and is cranky occasionally, I never looked at it this way and it all makes sense. Thank you for this, I can understand my dog even further.


  3. Raquel says:

    My yorkie papillion cash was never grumpy always a happy boy, we adopted my moms senior chihuahua when she passed away and he did fine with her he teased her a lot to play and she was the grumpy one. After 2 years she got really sick and passed away and he hid under the bed. I was devestated and was having a very difficult time missing cheeks maybe cuz she was the last thing that was so close to my mom. So my sister suggested i get another chihuhua. So i was looking for an adult one and by pure miracle i found a family whos chihuahua had pups so it was between adopting the mom or a pup. Momma was indoor trained and never went out so i decided to bring home the pup. I dont know if the change from loss to getting another puppy overwhelmed cash so now he is grumpy a lot. Especially when hea trying to lay down to rest is laying down or sleeping next to me on the bed. He does seem all puppied out plus once in a blue moon. I just started dog sitting. Cash was glad to play with him and seemed leas grumply cuz my puppy played and bugged the itlian greyhound instead. Now cash is grumpy again. R there any suggestions u may have on helping him be leas grumpy. Cash also get allergies from chicken dog food and he is off it but is very sensative about his paws. So dont know if ita a combo. His paws arent red but just seems more grumpy these days. I also keep him appart from the puppy when im gone. I let him have the house and the pup in his cubby to see if that helps cash rest more or if hea just picked up on cheeks grumpiness now that shes gone.


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