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Suddenly, your dog zips around the corner, bouncing around like a ping-pong ball. He’s almost a blur as he zooms around the room!
You’re in disbelief and feel that this behavior came out of the blue. Usually, there are signs prior to his activity.
Like clockwork, my Aussie mix puppy Millie does zoomies late at night. One minute, she’s comfortably lying by my side.
The next, she looks like a roadrunner cartoon bouncing off the furniture.
She jumps from a chair to the sofa, and around the other side, and loops around the room again and again–until she finally runs out of steam and lies down as if nothing happened.
What Are Zoomies?
Zoomies are sudden bursts of energy. They occur when a dog has pent-up energy that he needs to get rid of.
Sometimes they occur after the dog has in some way been physically unable to exercise, such as when he’s been crated for a while.
The dog suddenly seems to bounce off the walls. Experts call them FRAPs, meaning Frenetic Random Activity Periods.
You can often anticipate when a dog’s about to get the zoomies. Some get a glint in their eyes, some first do a play bow.
Then, the zoomies start!
What Causes Zoomies?
Zoomies often occur after the dog has been restrained in some manner. Sometimes they happen after a stressful event. Some things that trigger zoomies are:
1. After a dog was crated or confined in some manner.
Your dog comes out of his crate a little sleepy.
As he wakes up, his demeanor changes and he takes off, bouncing off the walls. He needs to expel the excess energy that was stored up.
2. After an uncomfortable or stressful situation
When the pup exits from a visit to the vet, he’s so excited that the anxiety-producing event’s over, he starts zooming around on his leash.
He’s happy to be free again!
Zoomies can also occur after any uncomfortable, anxiety-producing situation.
3. After a bath or being groomed
Most dogs don’t love their baths. Even water-loving labs usually don’t find baths to be much fun.
So when they get out, they’re ready to roll! They literally roll around, then sprint around, happily free from their beauty treatment.
The same is true of their being groomed.
After my dogs are bathed and dried, they zoom around the room, stopping only to roll around or rub up against furniture.
Then, as fast as it started, they lie down and relax.
4. After defecating
Some dogs get all excited after they poop!
It’s not known exactly why. Is it because they literally feel relieved?
5. When playing
Your dog’s playing fetch, retrieving his ball as he normally does. All of a sudden, he takes off with the ball like a jet plane.
After a few minutes, he settles down and plays again.
6. When seeing another dog or person
Some dogs get super excited when they see another being.
They could be in your yard, and the neighbor passes by with her pooch. Suddenly, your dog runs circles around the yard.
This usually happens when dogs are happily excited to see the passers-by.
But it can happen if they’re not people or dog friendly too. Then, it’s a stress reliever.
7. When a favorite person comes home
You’re home! The dog anxiously awaits your arrival. Now the fun begins! He tags you like a base and takes off around the room.
He’s so happy! And you are, too. Where else do we get a greeting like we do from our dog?
8. When they go outside
The excitement begins when they’re going out to play–or even for a walk.
Some dogs even try to zoom on their leashes, frantically running as much as the leash will allow.
9. When it snows
Many dogs just love to play in the snow.
Overnight, their world amazingly becomes a winter wonderland!
They expend the energy they’ve been storing up by running loops around the yard.
10. After a long car ride
Even though car rides are fun for many dogs, they’re confined and can’t expend their stored energy.
So, when they get out, they’re often wild and ready to run around
11. After removing a leash, harness, or collar
After being confined for safety and training reasons, some dogs are so excited! And ready to let that stored energy loose by running around–free!
Are Zoomies Normal?
Yes! Zoomies are perfectly normal. Many dogs get them. So there’s usually nothing to be worried about.
Some high-energy breeds may get the zoomies more often than a lower-energy breed.
For example, a border collie who’s been crated may really have the urge to zoom around more than a shih tzu would. But both can get “the zoomies.”
Zoomies usually last only a few minutes though they can occasionally last even 10 minutes.
Other than expending pent-up energy, it’s not known why dogs get them.
A dog who has them usually looks like a cartoon character: hunched up, rear legs catching up to the front, ears flying, mouth open, and tongue flapping around.
Enjoy them as much as your dog does. You can see the joy in your dog when he takes off and runs like he’s having so much fun.
Most dogs crash after a good zoomie run; some even nap!
Caveat: If your dog zooms because of a stressful situation, you may have to work through the issue. Some shy or fearful dogs are stressed by new, unfamiliar people or situations.
After they “freeze” when the person is present, they may zoom around the room after the person leaves. It expels the pent-up stress of having a “scary” person near.
If this happens often, it probably would be best to access the services of a canine behavior specialist.
What Dogs Get Zoomies?
Usually puppies or young dogs get zoomies. They get over-stimulated by many events and their way of “letting off steam.”
Younger dogs usually have more frequent zoomies than older ones.
But any dog can get zoomies. Even seniors can start running wildly around the room.
My 16-year-old shih tzu Trevor sleeps most of the time. But when he hears something exciting–like the crinkle of a treat bag being opened–he zooms around the room in anticipation of the cookies to come.
What Should You Do When Your Dog Gets the Zoomies?
Generally, you just let the dog zoom around until he’s run himself out and expended the extra energy.
But you can do the following.
1. Safety first!
Ensure that the room or area is dog-proofed so that he doesn’t get injured
Make sure there are no sharp edges that he can run into. Secure any moveable rugs so that they’re not pulled up.
Make sure that there aren’t slippery floors in the area so that he won’t slide and get injured.
Also watch that you get out of the way so that you’re not injured.
Don’t let a dog off-leash when he may zoom around in an unsafe area such as an unfenced yard. While zooming, dogs won’t be aware of the danger of a street with traffic.
So make sure that the dog’s in a secure place before he zooms.
2. Watch for any compulsive behaviors
If a dog has too many zoomies, it may be a compulsive behavior. Generally, dogs may have a few zoomies a day. But if he’s having them after all events, you should think why.
If he hasn’t had enough exercise and is expelling his energy through zoomies, the answer is probably more exercise. Walks and games like fetch may fit the bill.
If he’s had enough mental and physical exercise, you may need to get the expertise of a canine behavior specialist.
Sometimes some obsessive compulsive behaviors like excessive tail chasing may be mistaken for zoomies.
Just watch your dog’s behaviors to see whether they seem excessive.
Most dogs’ behaviors–including zoomies–aren’t OCD ones.
3. Don’t chase!
Even though we might want to run after the zooming dog, it’s not advisable to do so.
The dog will think “great! They’re joining in my game!” It will usually up the level of excitement and prolong the behavior.
Also, a dog with zoomies who’s chased may be more prone to injury as he’ll go faster and not watch where he’s going.
4. Teach a reliable recall
It’s a matter of safety. All dogs should reliably come when you call them.
Proof your dog’s recall in various environments. It’s especially important when a dog gets the zoomies.
I always advise people not to let their dogs off-leash in an unfenced area until they know that the dog will reliably obey obedience commands–especially come.
5. Run the other way
If you need your pup to race to you to stop zooming for any reason it’s usually best to run in the other direction making a happy sound such as “WHEEEEE.”
Praise and reward when he comes.
6. Throw a toy to play
If for some reason you want to interrupt the zoomies, get a toy he loves–such as one with a squeaker–and have him chase it.
7. Exercise your dog physically and mentally
Some dogs need more physical exercise than others. Generally, younger dogs need more than older ones.
Some classes of dogs such as working and herding breeds and terriers require more exercise than toy breeds.
My shelties would have too much pent-up energy if I didn’t play frisbee with them.
When it’s raining out and they can’t go out and play like they usually do, they’ll be much more active inside. And they’ll excitedly zoom around the room a few times a day rather than their usual once or twice.
I do various obedience commands with them to help exercise their minds.
Activity toys such as the Kong Wobbler and other puzzle toys also can help your dog be mentally stimulated.
I set up an activity toy course around the family room to stimulate my dogs’ minds–and for them to have FUN!
It’s neat to watch them them figure out how they work–like a Nina Otterson puzzle toy.
Obedience training also helps take the edge off. All dogs should learn come, sit, down, stay, targeting (touch), settle, and wait.
A dog who’s sufficiently exercised mentally and physically won’t need to zoom excessively.
8. If it’s too hot out, don’t let the dogs zoom around
Dogs can suffer heat stroke when it’s too hot out. And they’re more likely to suffer the more they exert themselves.
Some breeds are more subject to problems in the heat than others. Brachycephalic breeds with short muzzles such as pekingese, Lhasa apso, pugs,and shih tzus can’t tolerate the heat.
If it’a a hotter than normal day–or if there’s no shade on even a seventy-degree day–it may be too much for a dog to exert himself.
Under these conditions, even if your dog is playing for a short time in the yard and he suddenly starts zooming around, it’s advisable to stop the zoomies and get him inside before he overheats.
This is when a reliable recall discussed above or redirecting him to a game would be helpful.
Practice these skills when he’s not as stimulated as he is when he’s zooming around. Then, if he’s proofed many times with various distractions, he should be able to stop zooming and come to you.
When he comes, make it a big party–praise (“Yes! Good dog!) and reward with a few high-value treats.
Zoomies are normal canine behavior. They’re a lot of fun to watch. Our dogs look so happy as they wildly run around!
Dogs who are sufficiently exercised physically and mentally normally don’t have excessive zoomies.
So enjoy the show!
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