“Stand back! The dog’s gone crazy!” All dog parents have thought this at one time as they watch their beloved pooch race around the room. This bizarre behavior is called ‘having the zoomies’ and is something that experienced dog parents are very used to. To those who are not so used to dogs, however, this behavior can seem bizarre and a little disturbing. So, why do dogs get the zoomies and what do they mean? Read on to get the low down on this uniquely canine behavior and some top advice on what you should and should not do about it.
What Are Dog Zoomies?
‘Zoomies’ is the common name for a recognized type of dog behavior called Frenetic Random Activity Periods or FRAPs. During the zoomies, a dog will experience a sudden and explosive release of energy that seems to come from nowhere and lasts a few minutes. The zoomies entail your dog running around wildly but the zoomies are different from the normal running that you would see them doing on a walk.
This activity is more frantic and mostly pointless because it is repetitive. Typically, a dog runs around in circles, runs from one side of the room to the other and back again, or spins around on the spot.
What Types of Dogs Get The Zoomies?
All breeds of dogs can get the zoomies. Even if you have one of the more laid-back breeds, such as an English Bulldog or a Basset Hound, you will probably still get to experience this. If you have one of the working breeds, like a Cocker Spaniel, you need to get used to them because they are going to happen a lot!
Very young pups will not exhibit this behavior because they have not yet developed complete control of their bodies. But once they hit eight weeks of age or so, look out! Even seniors have the zoomies as long as they are physically fit enough to do so. Sadly, the only dog that will not have the zoomies is one that is very ill.
Do Dogs Outgrow The Zoomies?
The zoomies can happen at most ages and are not confined to young dogs. Having said that, you are more likely to see them happen often in a younger dog. Zoomies in dogs over 10 years of age are less frequent and last for a shorter period of time.
Why Do Dogs Gets The Zoomies?
So, why does this happen? Experts think that it can be associated with a release of stress and excitement. Your dog feels agitated by some excess energy that they simply have to ‘burn off’ so that they can settle down and feel more relaxed.
However, many owners have their own theories about why their dog gets the zoomies because they have noticed a pattern in the behavior and have identified what seems to trigger them in their particular dog. This leads to some interesting theories about what causes the zoomies!
What Causes Your Dog’s Hyper Run?
So, here are the top causes of the zoomies. Although, a combination of any or all of these can also happen to produce a spectacular zoomie out of nowhere!
Relief of stress
You may head to the gym after a stressful day at work and it is exactly the same for your dog. Some owners notice that their pooch tends to have the zoomies after a trip to the vet or a day spent on their own. It is their way of saying “Phew, I’m glad that’s over. Life is good again!”
Some owners notice that when their dog spots other dogs or humans leaping around and being energetic, it can trigger the zoomies. There is a certain element of peer pressure here and your four-legged friend is simply trying to join in. They want to be part of the group activity – don’t forget that dogs are pack animals and like to be part of a gang.
Your dog cannot say “Oh wow this is soooo exciting” so they show it in the way they move around. When something happens that your pooch finds exciting, they may respond by tearing around the house. This could be a human that they are especially fond of, or you getting the leash or the car keys from a cupboard so they know that they are going out on a trip.
Pent up energy
We ask a lot of our dogs. We want them to sit or lie still for quite long periods so that they fit into our lifestyle. The problem is that many dogs have way too much energy for this to be comfortable for them. That energy has to be released somehow!
Why Do Some Dogs Get Them After They Poop?
This can be one of the trickiest zoomies situations to cope with – especially when your dog is on a long leash. As you are fumbling with the poop bags and trying to clear up after them, your dog is tearing around in circles and tying you in a knot with their leash. So, why does this happen?
Again, there are a number of theories and the truth is probably a combination of all of them.
- Relief. Dogs hold in their poop until you choose to take them outside and when they finally get to go it feels good. So, they celebrate!
- Reward. Do you remember when they were pups and you got all excited when they pooped outside and gave them a tasty treat? Yep, so does your dog! They still get the sense that they have done something good.
- Clean-up. If their poop has left any fecal matter clinging onto their coat, the zoomies are highly effective at shaking it off.
- Scenting. Dogs mark their territory with pee and poop but also with scent glands on their feet. By racing around they are re-enforcing the territory marking of their poop.
Why Some Dogs Get Zoomies After A Bath
The combination of a soaking wet dog, an expensive sofa, and the zoomies is not a happy one for the dog owner! But unfortunately, post-bath zoomies are a common occurrence. So, why is this? Once again, it is probably a combination of factors.
It may be a relief from stress. Not all dogs like to be bathed and find the experience very unpleasant. Even dogs that don’t mind having a bath need to keep still whilst you are lathering and rinsing them. The zoomies could be a sign of relief that it is all over.
The zoomies are an excellent way of shaking excess moisture from their coat. This is when dogs often combine running around with frantic rubbing on sofas and chairs. No matter how much you try to dry them – they still prefer the sofa method!
Finally, dogs use the zoomies as a way of getting the scent of the shampoo out of their coat. You may think that the fragrance of that very expensive pet shampoo is wonderful but your dog may have different ideas. Don’t forget that dogs like the odor of fox poop so much that they like rolling in it. They have very different fragrance preferences from humans!
Are Zoomies a Sign of a Happy Dog?
Yes – most of the time. Experts believe that this is perfectly normal dog behavior. If they don’t happen too often and your dog appears happy, they are not an issue. However, sometimes the zoomies can go too far and the dog starts nipping and biting. This is unacceptable behavior and your pooch needs to learn some impulse control. Speak to a dog training expert or get some tips from a book or online. If all else fails, talk to your vet.
Rarely, the zoomies are a sign that something is wrong and this is more likely if your dog looks unhappy. They can be part of generalized anxiety and stress issues with your dog. Keep a record of how often your dog has the zoomies and for how long. Also, try to spot any triggers. Then, have a chat with your vet.
Are These Energetic Sprints Dangerous?
Zoomies are a natural behavior but that does not mean that you should always let them happen. Sometimes there is a risk of injury for your dog or humans. The environment may not be appropriate, for example, you may be in someone else’s house with a lot of breakable objects around. Or, you may have very young children or elderly relatives visiting who could get bowled over by an over-exuberant dog.
Dogs should learn how to control the zoomies as part of wider training on impulse control and we give you some tips on this later.
Should You Let Your Dog Do them?
Yes, absolutely! As long as no humans or dogs are at risk of injury and they cannot break any of your belongings, let them go for it! It won’t last for long and it is hilarious to watch. It is a good way for your pup to burn off some excess energy before settling down to bed and may result in you getting a more restful night.
There are several things that you can do to try and reduce the risk of injury. Once your dog starts zooming, try to direct them away from stairs and ledges, slippery floors, and sharp edges. Zoomies near roads and livestock are very dangerous and should never be allowed. If your dog is having the zoomies in the park or yard, don’t chase them. This will only make them even more excited! Instead, try and lure them back with a treat or a favorite toy. Then slip a leash on them. Running in the opposite direction often helps too.
How To Stop The Zoomies
Sometimes, it is simply not safe to allow your dog to have the zoomies unchecked. Under these circumstances, it is your job to redirect your dog’s energy and attention.
There are several toys that are very useful for this purpose. Ball launchers mean that your dog has to run for miles to keep retrieving the ball. Other dogs prefer to interact with you and tug toys are great for this.
If you have guests over and need to head off the zoomies, get your dog used to settling in a crate with a toy. But don’t forget to take them for a long walk first!
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