Zoomies are fun to watch, but have you ever wondered what’s going on with the zoomies, and why dogs get them? The official name for zoomies is ‘frenetic random activity periods’ (FRAPs), and there are multiple reasons why dogs get into this intensely energized and excited state. We’ll look at common reasons, along with some helpful insights for dog parents.
What Are the Zoomies?
Dogs can act out the zoomies in a number of different ways, but one thing they all have in common is high-energy activity! Dog zoomies can look like any combination of:
- Running around like crazy
- Spinning in circles
- Barking, yipping or howling
- Jumping onto and off of furniture, people, and whatever else is around
- Trying to start a game of chase with you or other animals
- General hyperactivity and wildness
Typically, zoomies only last for a few minutes, but every dog is different. Dogs of all breeds and ages can get the zoomies, though they may be more common in puppies and younger dogs (they have the highest energy levels).
When & Why Dogs Get the Zoomies
Zoomies are often triggered by a certain time of day or a specific activity. Here are some of the most frequent causes:
After a bath
Zoomies after a bath or shower are super common, for multiple reasons:
- Expressing pure joy that the ‘ordeal’ of bathing is finally over
- Getting the blood flowing again after being still during the bath
- Trying to dry off faster or shake water out of their ears
- Reestablishing their scent
Even for dogs who don’t mind getting wet, they may feel uncomfortable or even stressed during bathtime. Zoomies are a way of celebrating, releasing nervous energy, and trying to replace that terrible shampoo scent with something more natural (and—let’s be real—probably gross).
After a walk
Zoomies can be a way to release pent-up energy but also a result of too much stimulation. This is because (just like us) dogs have a lot of cortisol in their bloodstream when they’re stressed and when they’re excited.
Some dogs get so excited about taking a walk that they get overstimulated and hyperactive, and this can last even after the walk. Dogs can also feel confined by a leash, and zoomies are a way of shaking it off and feeling the freedom!
When zoomies happen at the end of the day or at night, it’s usually in puppies or younger dogs who’ve been in a crate or otherwise haven’t had enough exercise during the day. Zoomies at night could also be because your dog didn’t get enough social interaction or mental stimulation during the day.
A dog with zoomies at night could also be trying to initiate play, or because they need a relief break.
Zoomies after pooping are probably what they look like: celebration after a deed well done. Just like us, dogs feel better after relieving themselves, only they don’t have any pesky social norms telling them not to openly rejoice after a satisfying elimination.
Keep in mind while we humans typically have access to a bathroom throughout the day, your dog may have been waiting for hours. In that context, enthusiastically expressing relief afterwards is perfectly understandable!
Dogs who get the zoomies after eating could be filled with energy from the food they’ve just had. Zoomies might be more noticeable after eating food high in refined carbohydrates (essentially a sugar rush).
Post-meal zoomies could also mean your dog is thrilled with the fact that food was served to them without having to work for it (as their wild ancestors did).
If zoomies are happening after the evening meal, your dog could also just be excited that you’re home for the day.
When you get home
Zoomies welcoming you home come from sheer excitement! It’s likely a combination of being happy to see you and knowing that enjoyable things like a walk, relief and food are in the near future.
In the snow
Do you remember the excitement of being a kid and waking up to the first real snowfall of the season? A dog experiencing the first snow of winter (or of their life!) may simply be super excited, and the excitement is expressed as zoomies. Snow also changes how everything looks, smells and sounds outside, which is a lot of stimulation for your dog’s senses.
If your dog gets excited about snow, be sure to check out our blog with winter activities for dogs!
Dog parents have also noticed zoomies can be triggered by meeting new people or after being confined (as in a crate or car ride). Some dogs even get the zoomies as a result of boredom, or when they know you’re going to leave soon. Every dog is different, and your pup will express themselves in their own unique way!
Do Zoomies Mean My Dog Is Happy?
In most cases, yes, zoomies are a sign of happiness, excitement, enthusiasm and all the good things. Essentially, zoomies are an energy burst. The cause is almost always positive, whether it’s release from a stressful or uncomfortable situation, the end of boredom, or expressing joy at whatever is happening in the moment.
But zoomies can also simply be a release of excess energy. You might notice your dog gets the zoomies more often in winter when walks tend to be shorter. If your dog or puppy starts having the zoomies more frequently, it could be a sign they’re not getting enough exercise.
How to Help Your Dog Come Down from the Zoomies
Remember that if you’ve been participating in the zoomies by giving your dog attention (laughing, taking pictures, or giving verbal encouragement) this will reinforce the behavior. The best way to calm the zoomies is to stay calm yourself. Don’t chase your dog, try to stop them, or raise your voice.
The goal is to engage your dog in a different activity. You can try walking away to get your dog’s attention, and if they slow down and follow, you can reward them with praise or a treat. You can also try redirecting their attention with a favorite toy. Long-lasting treats like a lick mat, stuffed Kong or durable chew toy can also do the trick, because sniffing, licking and chewing can be soothing behaviors for dogs.
If your dog has the zoomies excessively, think about ways to give them more exercise and mental stimulation during the day. A puzzle feeder can also slow down mealtime which may help curb post-meal zoomies.
Learn more about dog enrichment activities, which can help prevent boredom, relieve stress, and burn off energy. Or check out our blog with fun ideas for helping your dog get more exercise, which is so important whether they’re prone to the zoomies or not.
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