As you get to know the dog that you have adopted, you will come to realize that many dogs have a personality of their own. Some dogs are lackadaisical, other dogs are high-strung and always moving around. Some dogs are social and will run up to new people to greet them happily, while other dogs will cower back and hide behind you if a stranger enters the house.
Dogs, much like people, come in all different shapes, sizes, and attitudes. However, many dogs share the same types of behavior across breeds. Almost all dogs are loyal to the people who are around the dog the most. Almost all dogs enjoy their time outside and their time playing. Almost all dogs have bouts of “zoomies.”
“Zoomies” is the name dedicated to those bouts of energy when your dog feels the immense need to run around as fast as it can around the house. Chances are that if you have owned a dog for any period of time, you have seen your dog do this. It might get you thinking why the dog does it, or what you can do to help your dog get its energy out so that it doesn’t need to have zoomies. As a part of owning an animal, it is important to understand their common behaviors, and this includes learning about what zoomies are, what causes them, and what you can do about them.
What Are Zoomies?
If your dog has ever had an explosion of energy, tearing through your house as if it were being chased, and running in circles for seemingly no reason, then this means that you have experienced the phenomenon that people call dog zoomies. The more official name for this behavior is Frenetic Random Activity Periods, or FRAPS, although the colloquial term for this is zoomies.
Typically, dogs will act out a repetitive behavior depending on their environment and how much space is available to run around wildly. Some dogs will run circles around fixtures and furniture, other dogs will run laps around the backyard if they have access to it, and many dogs will just run in circles, as if they are chasing their own tails.
Some experts believe that zoomies are essentially a way that dogs release excess energy and nervous energy after a situation that has made them uncomfortable. Other times, it might seem as if your dog began running around the house with absolutely no cue or trigger to cause it. If you are worried about your dog’s health when zoomies occur, then you won’t have to worry about a thing.
The only major problem that zoomies pose is the potential for your dog to slip on a slick floor or to hit an obstacle, but this has more to do with your dog’s agility rather than the zoomie itself. While some amount of zoomies are normal in all dogs, do keep in mind that if you believe your dog is having excessive zoomies, then that might be something to discuss with your vet or with an animal behaviorist.
What Causes Zoomies?
Unfortunately, zoomies are a phenomenon that, while normal, are not entirely understood. It has been well documented that this happens to dogs of all different types, so it is believed to be a normal and typical part of a dog’s behavior. However, scientists still haven’t been able to pin down exact triggers for this to happen.
There are several theories out there though. One widely accepted theory is that your dog is experiencing zoomies because it has too much pent-up energy that it needs to release one way or another. This could be nervous energy from a stressful situation, such as a bath or being crated, or it could just be typical puppy energy as zoomies happen more frequently in younger dogs.
In this theory, it is believed that when the dog has that much pent-up energy, whether physical or nervous in origin, it converts into physical energy that your dog expresses by running wildly around the area. Oftentimes, zoomies can happen after a stressful situation, such as after a dog training class, bath time, meeting new dogs, and so on. In fact, after a bath is one of the most common times that a dog has its zoomies.
Other people believe that zoomies can happen when a dog watches another dog play rigorously, or using high energy. Similar to the idea that laughter and yawns are contagious in humans, it could be that this need to play in a high-energy manner could be contagious in dogs and when one dog sees another doing so, it has to play like that as well. This is something to consider observing if you take your dog to a dog park on a regular basis.
Some people believe that dogs are more prone to zoomies at certain times of the day, partially based on the idea that it is a way for dogs to get energy out. For example, dogs are often very high-energy first thing in the morning after being kept inside all night without any owners to play with. Because of this, many dogs have their zoomies first thing in the morning.
What Can You Do About Zoomies in Dogs?
When it comes to dealing with a dog that has zoomies, there isn’t a lot that you can do to prevent them from happening, especially in puppies. There are a few measures that you can take to ensure that your dog isn’t doing them out of pure pent-up energy and stress though.
First things first, one of the things you need to remember about zoomies is that you should never try to chase your dog if it is actively zooming. While you might be inclined to chase your dog if it goes zooming at the park or at another time that could be potentially dangerous, it is actually not good. Some dogs might interpret you chasing them as a sign of play and might be encouraged to run faster or in a different direction.
If a dog is already zooming in a dangerous place, you should never encourage it to continue. Instead, you are going to want to run in the opposite direction, preferably toward a safer area, and encourage your dog to come toward you using a higher-pitched, happy voice. Make sure that you have your dog’s favorite toys or treats on-hand in case this situation happens to you. You can also use these moments to teach your dog to “come” to you if it hasn’t learned this command yet.
If your dog is zooming and you would like it to calm down, or if you want to prevent too many zoomie episodes in the future, there are several things that you can do. For one, you should always make sure that your dog is well-exercised. Of course, for puppies that seem to have a boundless reserve of energy this might not be enough, but for adult dogs, this will often get the job done. Keeping your dog well exercised will help tone down the amount of pent-up physical energy your dog has.
If your dog is prone to zoomies after getting a bath, you can try to tire your dog out before the bath occurs. To do this, all you will need to do is take your dog out on a rigorous walk before the bath. This can be a long, brisk walk, or a jog, or even just a rough play session with your dog’s favorite toys in the backyard. This will increase the chances that your dog will be a bit too tired to zoom around the house after its bath. Additionally, you can consider the idea of keeping your dog safe after its bath so that it is free to zoom to its heart’s content without disrupting home life.
If you have a spare room, then you can set this up as the bath zoomies room. This room should be off-limits to small children and frail pets, and it should have no wires to trip on and nothing breakable that can injure your dog. Preferably, this room should be close to the bathroom so that it is only a short distance to escort your dog before the zoomies kick in.
Do Other Animals Experience Zoomies?
Some people might be wondering if zoomies are exclusive to dogs or if other animals experience them as well. While they aren’t as well-talked about as in dogs, cats also experience zoomies much like dogs do. Cat zoomies usually take the form of your cat running up and down the hallway for seemingly no reason. Everyone has heard of the stories of cats galloping down the hall as loud as physically possible in the dead of night; these are an example of zoomies in cats. Cats have a tendency to also meow loudly while experiencing zoomies, especially if their zoomies take place in the form of climbing off and on your lap.
Aside from this, because zoomies are not a very well studied subject, it is not quite known if other animals experience them. There is a chance that wild dogs and cats might experience them, as wild dogs have nearly identical brains to domestic dogs and cats, since they are their ancestors.