Why Do Dogs Get the Zoomies?
Zoomies are a sudden release of energy and a common behavior in dogs, especially puppies.
Many dogs experience frenetic periods of high activity. This sudden release of pent-up energy is referred to as “zoomies” and generally occurs when a dog is extremely excited or stimulated. If there are multiple dogs in a household, zoomies can be infectious. One dog takes off at full speed and the other follows suit.
What separates zoomies from other canine activities, like running, is that zoomies tend to be frantic and repetitive in nature, such as spinning or running in circles. Dogs with zoomies often run quickly from one side of the room to the other, or up and down a hallway. It may even appear like the dog’s back end is running faster than his front end.
Factors that Trigger Zoomies
Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAPs), or zoomies, occur due to an excess buildup of energy that is released in one big burst, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). Zoomies usually last less than 10 minutes and you will know an episode when you see one. FRAPs are more common in puppies and adolescent dogs as most dogs grow out of this behavior. While zoomies are usually harmless, many pet parents are curious as to what triggers their pup’s explosion of energy.
Time of Day
You may notice that your dog engages in zoomies at certain times of the day. An episode of zoomies before bed is very common in a puppy trying to release energy before bed. Zoomies are also common following a meal. In addition to the mere anticipation of food, the energy that nutritional meals provide encourages hyperactivity.
Baths are a common trigger of zoomies, as well as other water-related activities like swimming and grooming. Bathing can be a stressful situation for dogs and the frenetic movements involved in zoomies can be used as a stress-relief technique. Dogs may also zoom around the house, often whilst rubbing against furniture, as a way to dry off. In some cases, dog zoomies after bath can occur when a dog is happy that bath time is over and frantic running releases feelings of joy.
Most dogs look forward to playtime but some pups take their level of excitement to the next level. When a dog gets overly excited during play, zoomies can transpire. Throwing a favorite toy, running around the yard, playing with other dogs at the park, and similar activities can cause a dog to become overstimulated resulting in a release of energy.
Aggression During Dog Zoomies
Aggressive dog zoomies refers to nipping or biting that occurs simultaneously with frantic activity. Your pup likely does not mean to be aggressive but in a state of overexcitement, he may exhibit poor behavior. As long as these episodes of nipping or biting are not frequent or cause injury, mild aggressive tendencies during dog zoomies is usually nothing to worry about. Try using a toy or treat to refocus your dog’s energy and prevent further incidents.
Safely Managing FRAPs Dogs
For some pet parents, zoomies are all too familiar and in some cases can even be disruptive. Dogs can knock over valuables, damage furniture, or even injure themselves in a bout of frenzy. While it is important to allow your dog to release pent-up energy, there are ways to do it in a safe and non-aggressive manner. As zoomies are directly tied to an overabundance of energy, finding ways to safely release energy is key.
Do Not Chase
It can be tempting to chase a dog that is causing chaos in a home in an attempt to stop the behavior. However, chasing your furry friend will likely send a signal that you are playing with him and inspire him to continue running. Instead of chasing your dog, walk the opposite way. This will usually get your pup’s attention and when he turns around to go to you, reward him with a treat or toy.
Teaching your dog commands like “come” and “stop” can sometimes help curb frenzied behavior. The use of treats, praise, and other rewards can be highly effective in encouraging your dog to maintain focus and avoid distractions. If your pup tends to get overly excited during training, consider putting him on a leash to help gain more control. It is not unusual for a dog to block out commands during zoomies. Therefore, it is important to recognize signs that your dog is getting too excited and to calm him before zoomies begin.
Regular exercise is critical to release a dog’s buildup of energy, especially for puppy zoomies. Pet parents can lessen the degree or frequency of zoomies by increasing the amount of exercise the dog receives daily. The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) recommends at least 30 minutes of walking per day in addition to play time. Certain breeds like Golden Retrievers, Siberian Huskies, Border Collies, and Boxers may need two or more hours of exercise per day.
Not all exercise is physical. Mental stimulation is also a form of exercise that can help burn a dog’s energy and challenge his mind. There are countless ways to keep your dog busy, such as a food dispensing toy or puzzle toy. Play nose games that require your dog to find a hidden treat. Teaching your dog to go through an obstacle course in the backyard can also be an excellent metal workout.
Does Your Dog Get the Zoomies?
While a case of the zoomies can take you off guard, especially as a beginner dog owner, this behavior is nothing to worry about. Dog zoomies usually stop as quickly as they start and most episodes occur free of harm. If you are worried about your pet’s behavior, speak with a veterinarian about your concerns.