Why Your Dog Gets "The Zoomies"
Have you ever been settled in, watching TV quietly or getting ready for bed when all of a sudden it seems your pup just goes crazy? Do they suddenly start running around, with a slightly crazed look in their eye, seemingly possessed by Energizer Bunny levels of excitement like they just have to move? Then, just when you're unsure what to do next, the fit has passed. Your pup is laying on the floor, panting, totally exhausted. What just happened?
What Are "The Zoomies"?
Congratulations, you have just experienced what many pet owners affectionately refer to as "the zoomies," due to the dog's need to zoom around everywhere. Animal behavior specialists call this phenomenon Frenetic Random Activity Periods (also referred to as FRAPs or frapping), but all it really means is your dog has a sudden burst of energy. These are especially common in young puppies, but dogs of all ages and breeds can experience a case of the zoomies.
Common indicators of frapping or zoomies are:
- a squatted run, often with the dog's tail or bottom tucked underneath them
- excited eyes
- suddenly breaking into a gallop from standing still
- engaging in tight turns and spinning to take off in the other direction
What Causes a Case of The Zoomies?The short answer is increased energy, but the truth is no one really knows. Zoomies can be caused by:
- a lack of exercise
- being inside too long
- a trigger, such as a bath
Some veterinarians suggest FRAPs are a way for dogs to deal with stress, much like a child who gets really excited at the end of a school day or during a birthday party. After a vet visit or a bath, your dog may just be celebrating that event being over with. Anything that causes a high level of excitement can trigger a case of the zoomies.
"If your #dog gets "the zoomies" frequently, figure out the trigger. A stressful or highly exciting situation may be to blame." TWEET THIS
Are The Zoomies Dangerous?
Usually, the answer is no. The zoomies are a perfectly normal dog behavior, and should not worry you as a pet owner. It is highly unlikely that your pet will harm themselves during a period of the zoomies, and it will likely be over quickly.
However, if you live in a small space, a case of the zoomies can pose a threat to the cleanliness of your abode, as dogs are likely to knock things over in their frenzy. If you don't want to clean up any accidental spills, are worried about small children, or the dog's safety, there are plenty of safe ways to deal with frapping.
Dealing Safely With The Zoomies
Inside a house, or other small space, zoomies do have a few potential risks. A pup can slip on a rug or hardwood floor and fall. They may bump into a coffee table or bookshelf, and knock something off on top onto themselves. They might even bump into children and accidentally hurt them.
There are a few safe ways to deal with zoomies to keep your entire household intact, and maybe even allow you to enjoy your dog's behavior. We suggest:
- letting the dog outside, if possible. A fenced yard or large area for them to play in is best.
- unleashing your dog, if in a fenced area. Zoomies cause them to move very quickly, and they may get tangled up in a leash and hurt themselves—or you. (Note: never unleash your dog on a city street or outside of a fenced enclosure.)
- making sure your dog is receiving plenty of mental and physical exercise. A tired dog will not get the zoomies, as all their energy is already expended.
If you think your dog may be frapping due to stress, the best way to deal with it is to treat the stressful issue. Increase their training, take them on a walk, or reframe stressful activities as fun ones with treats and toys. Your dog may never experience the zoomies. Alternatively, they may never grow out of them.
If you are worried about whether or not the zoomies could be caused by stress or another issue, please reach out to us. We would love to put your mind at ease, and ensure that your dog is safe, happy, and healthy!
About Dr. Natalie Waggener
Dr. Natalie Waggener has 17 years of experience in emergency work and general practice in Rhode Island, Florida and Massachusetts. She has a special interest in dentistry, wellness care and rehabilitation therapy. She is currently licensed in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.