Often puppies who are starting fights are struggling with their own arousal mediation and fatigue. For these puppies I have great results with increasing my focus on crate naps and crate chew time. Chewing has been found to have a profound effect on reducing stress and can act almost as a “reset button” for overly aroused puppies.
Sometimes removing just one puppy for a chewing session solves a puppy riot and the rest of the litter will settle down. Meanwhile, lowering the excitement of the environment and providing a stress releaser in the form of a chew object helps this type of puppy improve their self-soothing skills. Interestingly, in our observation this seems to stay with the puppy later, even in exciting environments. In this way, not only does the puppy benefit from crate conditioning, but it becomes a gift to the puppy’s new family, as well!
If the entire litter is cranky and tired, removing one puppy is often not enough and the entire litter needs a crate-and-chew session. VERY IMPORTANT: we condition our puppies to the crate from 4 weeks old. If you don’t crate condition your puppies, or if your puppies are not yet at the stage where they can be crated without stressing them, don’t use a crate. Just distribute chew objects to the puppies in the pen, and make sure you put in more than one object per puppy. We suggest putting in one extra item for every two puppies.