Why do dogs get the zoomies? Vet reveals 5 reasons why your pup goes bonkers!

Australian Cattle Dog running across the grass
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Why do dogs get the zoomies? It’s a question you may find yourself asking whenever you catch sight of your canine companion hilariously running round in circles. 

Zoomies is the informal name given to the crazy racing around that dogs love to do from time to time, but their technical name is actually Frenetic Random Activity Periods (or FRAPS for short). They may occur after your pup has finished nibbling on one of the best long lasting dog chews, eating a meal or having a bath, but whatever the cause, zoomies tend to only last a few minutes. 

Discomfort, stress, physical confinement or excitement can all trigger the zoomies, which is your dog’s way of releasing a build up of energy. They’re one of many funny things dogs do and most pups will outgrow the zoomies as they reach adulthood.

For everything you need to know about zoomies (and so much more!) we turned to expert vet Dr. Rebecca MacMillan. Below, she reveals more reasons why dogs get the zoomies, whether there’s anything you can do to stop them and how to calm down aggressive dog zoomies. Let’s dive in! 

Dr Rebecca MacMillan
Dr. Rebecca MacMillan

Rebecca is a vet surgeon who graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2009. She has a wealth of experience in first opinion small animal practice, having done a mixture of day-to-day routine work, on-call emergency duties and managerial roles over the years. She enjoys medicine in particular and she is proud to have recently achieved a BSAVA postgraduate certificate in small animal medicine (with commendation). She writes on various feline and canine topics, including behavior, nutrition, and health. Outside of work and writing she enjoys walking her own dog, spending time with her young family and baking!

Why do dogs get the zoomies?

Zoomies are usually caused by pent-up energy and excitement and are seen more commonly in young, boisterous dogs. Many dogs grow out of zoomies as they get older, but some will still have the odd FRAP! 

It's completely normal behavior, and not a particular cause for concern. Your dog will usually tuck his tail and bottom right under and either race around in circles or dart around, narrowly missing people and objects as they zip about! Sometimes after an intense period of racing around they might want to crash and have a rest.

Some dogs have a pattern to their FRAPs, having these short activity bursts at the same time each day. Zoomies tend to be most common around the following parts of your dog’s routine:

1. Bath time 

Some dogs will zoom around after having a bath. This could be because they are trying to dry themselves off, or perhaps as a way of celebrating their relief that bath time is over. 

Learning how to give a dog a bath is a skill that can take some time to master, but if your dog zooms around the room after you get them out of the tub, rest assured it's not a cause for concern. 

2. After mealtimes

After enjoying a delicious meal of the best dry dog food or the best wet dog food, some hounds will want to race around. This may be due to the general excitement that surrounds mealtimes as well as the extra energy that their food has just given them.

3. When you get home

The excitement of you arriving back home, combined with some pent-up energy from being cooped up at home for a few hours, can make some dogs want to zoom around.

4. During training

During or after periods of intense concentration some dogs will want to run around. This is a way of releasing stress and tension as well as burning off physical energy. So zoomies can be seen commonly around periods of obedience training. 

Finding teaching your pup new skills a challenge? These practical tips for training your dog on your own will make life easier. 

5. Before bedtime

Some dogs can have a last-ditch attempt at expending some energy just before they turn in for the night. This seems to happen especially in puppies, just before they have an extended rest period.

How can I prevent zoomies?

Why do dogs do zoomies? A puppy running round the back yard

(Image credit: Getty)

In most cases, there is no reason to prevent your dog from having zoomies. It is a natural behavior that many dogs do from time to time, and won’t be causing your pet any harm, as long as they aren’t crashing into things. Most owners find the behaviour amusing and are accidentally encouraging it by clapping or laughing. You will find that most dogs will grow out of FRAPs as they get older, and the frequency of these episodes will get less.

The best way to deal with it is to make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, especially if they are showing any signs of aggression during their zoomies. Encourage your pup to play appropriately. Get him some of the best dog toys or play games like tug of war with a the best rope dog toys to expend some of his boisterousness.

If you are worried about your dog knocking into things or slipping over on shiny flooring whilst he’s racing around the house, you should try and encourage FRAPs outside instead.

As with most things, making sure your dog is getting suitable amounts of regular exercise and engaging in plenty of positive play can help with many behavioral quirks. If your dog seems to have a lot of excess energy then consider taking them to classes like agility or flyball, to let them wear themselves out!

If your dog is constantly having FRAPs though or showing any other behavioral issues, then there could be an underlying problem going on. Make a note of the frequency and any possible triggers, so that you can discuss them with a veterinarian or behaviorist.

How to calm down puppy zoomies

Zoomies are especially common when it comes to puppies. Although funny at first, you might soon find yourself wondering, 'do puppies grow out of the zoomies?' Some puppies may even get carried away and start nipping or biting during FRAPs. This is something that most dogs will grow out of, but there are some things you can try in the meantime.

Firstly, most owners find the behavior amusing, so it's easy to accidentally encourage it by laughing. Therefore, it's essential to try not to react to your dog or puppy's zoomies, so they don't see it as a good way to get your attention.

Secondly, you should make sure you try to distract him and encourage him to play appropriately. The best puppy toys are brilliant for this, but feel free to mix things up and try some of these great brain games for dogs

How to stop aggressive dog zoomies

On the other hand, if your dog shows signs of aggression or destructive behavior during their zoomies episodes, you should try to provide alternative outlets for their pent-up energy. The best way to deal with it is to ensure your dog is getting plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. This is particularly important if your dog growls, barks, thrashes, and damages toys or other items because they could become so worked up that they could lash out.

If your dog has suddenly started aggressive zoomies, it might be worth reaching out to your vet. Neurological problems and seizures can cause changes in behavior, so it’s best to check with your vet that there’s nothing wrong if your dog has suddenly started behaving aggressively when doing zoomies. 

Zoomies or Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAPs) is a perfectly normal behavior that many dogs demonstrate. They can occur suddenly out of the blue or may be linked to other parts of your dog’s daily routine. Most dogs will naturally do them a bit less as they get older, but exercising and stimulating your dog appropriately will usually keep excessive zoomies at bay.

Dr Rebecca MacMillan

Dr Rebecca MacMillan is a companion animal vet who has always had a passion for writing and client communication. She works in the South West and loves complex medical cases.

With contributions from