Why Does Your Pup Get the Zoomies?
Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on August 28, 2018
Posted in Behavior Management
Happy pups are an absolute joy to watch. Pet owners usually smile and laugh when their dogs appear to jump for joy or run around the house in excitement. Sometimes, though, this excitement appears to be taken to the next level, and your dog will run wildly around the room or yard with no signs of stopping for anything.
This phenomenon is what is called “the zoomies,” or Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAPs). It’s when your pooch goes from standing calmly to zipping around the house in seconds flat, with very little warning.
But what causes this random, excited behavior? And is it a sign that something is wrong? To ease your concerns, the zoomies are perfectly normal. They are just a way for your pooch to release some pent-up energy! Normally, if your dog gets the zoomies unexpectedly, all you need to do is make sure it’s safe, stand by and chuckle.
What exactly does the zoomies look like?
Zoomies might look a little different for each individual dog, but the main activity is the same. Your pup will be running around frantically with a very distinctive posture. Its legs will be bent, it will be low to the ground and it will usually have its butt tucked under as it runs full-force in a circle or figure-eight. This running will probably be accompanied by a wild look in its eyes.
Often, dogs will do play bows—where they bow their front ends down and stick their rear ends high in the air—before and in between bursts of running. If you’re attempting to touch your dog while it has the zoomies, it might nip at you or another dog playfully.
There’s a very real possibility that your dog will break something in the house if that’s where the zoomies happen, as it will have little regard for things in its path. However, you don’t need to worry too much about it hurting itself.
The zoomies usually lasts for a few minutes maximum, after which your dog will probably sprawl out on the floor to catch its breath.
Causes of the zoomies
The zoomies aren’t necessarily caused by anything in particular—they’re just a way for dogs to express positive and joyful energy! Some dogs get the zoomies often, and other dogs won’t express this wild behavior at all. However, there are certain instances when zoomies are more common.
The zoomies are more likely to happen when dogs have a lot of energy. Perhaps they’ve been cooped up in the house for a long time or haven’t been taken on a walk or run recently. With all that energy bottled up, it’s bound to come out at some point.
Your dog might also engage in the zoomies as a way to taunt other dogs or people and get them to play. Puppies are more prone to getting the zoomies, as they are untrained and full of excited energy.
Finally, the zoomies might be a way for your dog to relieve stress after doing something it doesn’t enjoy, like taking a bath. There are usually triggers for the zoomies, and if you pay close attention, you can pick up on how they tend to happen after certain events.
What to do when the zoomies hit
When your dog gets the zoomies, what are you supposed to do? Really, all you need to do is let your dog do its thing.
Don’t try to physically restrain the dog, as that will likely result in injury, either to you or your dog. Also, don’t chase your dog; this will likely excite it more and encourage even more frantic behavior.
If your pup is in the house when it gets the zoomies, you can try to urge it outside, so it can release that energy without breaking anything. Use toys and treats to distract your dog until it is in a place where it can safely run around to its heart’s content.
Easing the zoomies
You don’t really need to prevent the zoomies, as they are completely natural, but you can help keep your dog calmer by introducing more structured exercise and calming methods.
If your pooch is experiencing a serious case of the zoomies quite often, examine its behavior closely to try and identify its trigger. If it is triggered by stress, find a way to remove that stressor or help it cope more peacefully with calming supplements.
Additionally, tiring your pup out can help prevent random episodes of frantic behavior. Exercise your dog regularly by taking it on walks and runs or letting it play with other dogs in the dog park. Mental exercise, as well as physical, can also help calm a zany dog.
Overall, it’s completely fine to let your dog experience the zoomies and run around, having fun. As long as it is physically safe, and your house isn’t being destroyed in the process, you don’t need to worry about the zoomies being a bad thing. Just let it tire itself out, then give it the same love and care you always do.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan