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Dog Zoomies Demystified: What's Behind This Behavior?

Usually, the zoomies — are simply your dog's way of getting out pent-up energy and managing excitement. As long as they’re safe, there’s no need to worry.

Dog Zoomies Demystified: What's Behind This Behavior?

Usually, the zoomies — are simply your dog's way of getting out pent-up energy and managing excitement. As long as they’re safe, there’s no need to worry.

Your dog shakes the remaining moisture from his coat after bath time, then stretches out on the floor. All of the sudden, he looks up, wide-eyed, and starts dashing around the house like a madman. After a few minutes of tearing this way and that at full speed, your dog stands still again, panting happily, and settles down.

What happened?

You've just witnessed what is commonly known as a case of the zoomies. The zoomies refers to random bursts of energy that your dog displays every now and then, usually characterized by rapid running, perhaps in circles. 

You might be surprised to learn that the zoomies have a scientific name. The technical term is Frenetic Random Activity Periods, or FRAPs. Other animals get them, too, including cats, but our canine friends are the pets most commonly associated with the zoomies. 

The question is, what exactly are the zoomies? Why do dogs get the zoomies at all? And can the zoomies indicate a problem of any kind? Read on to learn more about this strange and silly dog behavior. 

What Do Zoomies Look Like?

dog panting after having the zoomies

Different dogs might exhibit different kinds of FRAPs. It's characterized by a sudden burst of energy. Most dogs run back and forth or in a big circle. (This might depend on whether you're outdoors or inside and the layout of your home.) You'll probably see a wild, excited look in your pooch's eyes. Some dogs tuck their tail between their legs when zooming. Your dog might bark or growl, or they might start to sneeze in rapid succession.

Dogs of all ages can get the zoomies, at virtually any time of day. It's more common in young dogs, simply because they have more energy than older dogs, but even senior dogs can get the occasional bout of zoomies. 

It also doesn't seem to matter what breed your dog is. All kinds of dogs can get FRAPs, although high-energy breeds are typically more likely to zoom than low-key breeds.

Why Do Zoomies Happen?

little dog having the zoomies

In the vast majority of cases, zoomies are a perfectly normal behavior.

While the experts aren't completely sure of the exact cause, there are a few leading theories:

  • Letting out excess energy: Does your dog zoom when they’re let out of the crate after spending a long time inside? In the morning shortly after waking up from a long sleep? Most often, dogs seem to get the zoomies when they're ready to let out some pent-up energy.
  • Managing excitement: Does your dog start to zoom when they get to the dog park? When you come home from work after a long day? After they poop? In cases like these, your dog is zooming as a way of managing their excitement. 
  • Relieving stress: You might have noticed your dog gets a case of FRAPs after bath time or perhaps after a thunderstorm rolls through. Some animal behaviorists and veterinary professionals theorize that the zoomies are your dog's way of relieving stress.

Do you think your dog could use a little stress relief? Native Pet's Calming Chicken Chews may be able to help. With ingredients like melatonin and l-theanine, this chew can help lower your dog's generalized anxiety and even improve sleep.

Can Zoomies Become a Problem?

beagle hiding his nose

Zoomies themselves are almost never a problem, unless a dog zooms in a crowded space. If they zoom in the living room and run themselves into the heavy coffee table, for example, they could injure themselves. A dog who gets the zoomies outside could end up running into the road. 

Other pets or people could be hurt by zoomies, too. If you have small children at home, you might not want your dog running around the house at full tilt. Your dog can be so excited during a case of the zoomies that their normal decision-making power is lowered.

Sometimes, zoomies can tell you about an underlying problem, like a lack of exercise or mental stimulation. This isn't good for your dog's mental or physical health. 

Another cause for concern is that in some cases, what dog owners think is the zoomies is really something else, like obsessive-compulsive disorder. Perhaps your dog is constantly chasing their tail, for instance. You chalk it up to a case of the zoomies, but it's really OCD. 

What If My Dog's Zoomies Are an Issue?

woman holding a French bulldog

Worried that Fido's zooming behavior is something more than pent-up energy and excitement? Is your dog's zooming putting them in harm's way? It might be time to seek the help of a professional dog trainer or your veterinarian.

Dogs who are constantly zooming may not be getting enough play and exercise throughout their day. You may need to make some adjustments to make sure your dog is going for walks, getting regular playtime, and experiencing mental stimulation through the use of fun toys and games. Puzzle-style toys that give your pet’s mind a workout are great options, and classic games of fetch and tug-of-war always work, too. Native Pet’s Yak Chews are another good choice — it gives your dog’s brain and body something to work on while providing a boost of nutrition at the same time.

If you think your dog might have obsessive-compulsive disorder, check with your vet. Since certain symptoms of OCD like random spinning, pacing, and tail-chasing can mirror the zoomies. In this case, your dog might need treatment. That could include behavior modification and dog training techniques, as well as medications to help your dog stay calm

If your dog's zoomies are dangerous because of where they zoom, you might need to set up a safe space for your dog to zoom in. You could put their crate in an empty room of the house, for example, so that your dog gets excited in a safe place when you get home from work. If your dog tends to get the zoomies outdoors, make sure they're on a leash or you have a fenced-in yard to prevent your pup from running into the road or running away entirely.

While it's not always possible to stop a case of the dog zoomies once it's in full swing, you can try. Distraction is one technique that often works. You might entice your dog with a toy or treat, for example. We don’t recommend chasing your dog, as this will probably only get them more excited and possibly drive them into an area you don't want them to go.

Dog Zoomies: Understanding Your Dog’s FRAPs

dog rolling around after having the zoomies

While it's possible that the zoomies are a cause for concern, this isn't the case most of the time. Usually, the zoomies — or FRAPs, as they're technically known — are simply your dog's way of getting out their pent-up energy and managing their excitement. Dogs may also zoom in order to relieve stress, like after a vet visit or bath time. 

Most cases of the zoomies are perfectly normal canine behavior. And unless your dog is putting themselves or someone else in harm's way when zooming, it should be perfectly fine to let them zoom until they're done. (Most cases of FRAPs only last a few minutes at most.)

If you do think your dog's zoomies are a problem, let your vet know. You can work together to find solutions to curb your dog's zooming behavior. Typically, all it takes is exercising your dog more so that they can get out all that pent-up energy. Behavior modification and training, as well as medication, might be considered in some cases if the problem is serious enough.

Want to learn more about your dog's behavior, health, and wellness? Visit the Native Pet blog.

illustration of dog's tail & the dog is digging

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illustration of dog's tail & the dog is digging
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