Why do dogs get the zoomies?
‘Zoomies’ describes the sudden running around that most dogs do from time to time, but why do dogs get the zoomies?
Most dog owners will have wondered “Why do dogs get the zoomies?” “Zoomies” is the informal name given to the crazy racing around that dogs do from time to time, suddenly going from 0 to 100 mph, but their technical name is actually ‘Frenetic Random Activity Periods’ (or FRAPs). These will usually only last a short period and some dogs will manage to do them even in relatively small back yards or houses, running from one end to the other.
It is usually an amusing sight, watching your dog running around, full of life and enthusiasm. But have you ever wondered why dogs do zoomies? Let’s explore this further.
Why do dogs get the zoomies? Five reasons from a vet
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 is completely normal behaviour, 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!
2. After mealtimes
After having a meal some dogs 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.
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?
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. Some puppies may get carried away and start nipping or biting during FRAPs. This is again something that most dogs will grow out of, but in the meantime, you should make sure you try and distract him, and encourage him to play appropriately. Get him some of the best dog toys or play games like tug of war with a rope toy 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 behavioural 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 behavioural 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 behaviourist.
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 clapping or 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. Get him some of the best dog toys or play games like tug of war with a rope toy to expend some of his boisterousness. You will find that most dogs will grow out of FRAPs as they get older, and the frequency of these episodes will get less.
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) are perfectly normal behaviour 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.
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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.