Why do dogs get the zoomies?

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Written by Pure Pet FoodPure Pet Food are the experts in healthy dog food and healthy dogs featured in media outlets such as BBC, Good Housekeeping and The Telegraph. Working with high profile veterinary professionals and nutritionists, Pure Pet Food are changing dog food for the better. Rosie BescobyRosie is a fully qualified Clinical Animal Behaviourist with a degree in Zoology & Psychology and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Companion Animal Behaviour Counselling. She is an ASAB Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourist, a full member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (No. 1006), and registered as both a Clinical Animal Behaviourist & as an Animal Training Instructor with the Animal Behaviour & Training Council. - Our editorial process

We’ve all seen a dog with a case of the “zoomies”, running around at top speed like they’re being chased, or spinning around the room like a Tasmanian devil. It’s funny to watch, although you might think your dog’s gone barking mad!

However, zoomies are a perfectly normal behaviour for our furry friends even if it is a bit weird. But what are these bonkers bursts of energy, and why do dogs get the zoomies?

What are the “zoomies”?

The zoomies are random bursts of energy and most dogs will get them from time to time. The proper name for the zoomies is “Frenetic Random Activity Periods”, or “FRAPs”. So you could say that Fido is frapping around the room!

Cats can get the zoomies too and you’ve probably noticed your feline friend has a mad five minutes during the night. This is also an example of “frapping” just like dog zoomies. It’s just as normal and natural for cats to get the zoomies too.

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What do the zoomies look like?

When your dog’s got the zoomies they might sprint in wide circles with tons of sharp turns and maybe even a few tight spins. It’s like your dog’s become a boy racer doing doughnuts in a car park.

Some dogs with the zoomies will even leap onto furniture to race along it then leap onto the floor again. Typically, the zoomies only last several seconds or a few minutes, and your dog looks like they’re loving it.

Although your dog doesn't have a destination in mind when they’re dashing about, the zoomies can look very focused. Their bottom might be tucked up underneath them, their tongue lolling, ears flapping, and maybe even have a doggy grin and other positive body language.

It’s important to learn the difference between the zoomies, which are a normal and perfectly safe behaviour, and other compulsive behaviours like chasing their tail or chasing shadows. Meanwhile, pacing, circling, and aimless wandering can all be signs that something isn’t right with your dog, and could be a symptom of illness or stress.

Why do dogs get the zoomies?

There are a few reasons why dogs get the zoomies but it’s usually some sort of release, whether that’s venting stress or letting off steam. So why do dogs get the zoomies?

To release energy

One of the main reasons dogs get the zoomies is because they’ve got energy to burn. Racing around at top speed is going to burn a lot of energy really quickly, so it’s a great way to let off steam.

You might notice your dog gets the zoomies after they’ve been in their crate, or first thing in the morning, and this could be because they’ve been sitting still for a while and they can’t contain themselves any longer.

Your pup might also get a case of the zoomies if they haven’t had a walk that day, or if they’ve not had enough playtime. Dogs who get plenty of mental stimulation and physical activity might not get the zoomies as often as dogs that don’t, because they have other uses for their energy. However, some dogs do seem to have boundless energy and might still get the zoomies after a three-mile hike and playtime!

They’ve been stressed

Another reason why dogs get the zoomies is because they’ve been stressed or anxious. For example, if you’ve just come home from the vet your pooch might take off and run erratically round the room the second you’re through the door. This is because the zoomies are a way for your dog to release all that nervous energy and adrenaline that’s been building up inside them.

They can’t contain their excitement

A bit like overexcited kids running around screaming, dogs get rambunctious when they’re excited. Loads of dogs get the zoomies when they’re super happy and excited, like if they’ve got to the dog park, or they’ve met their best bud for a puppy play date. Sometimes something as simple as having a good poop seems to set them off sprinting!

Dogs get the zoomies when they’re excited, and just like when they’re energetic or stressed, it’s just a way for them to vent their adrenaline and excess energy.

They’ve caught the zoomies!

Dogs are social animals and they’re great at reading the emotion and energy of other humans and hounds. They also like to join in with absolutely anything their friends are doing. Sometimes your dog might catch the zoomies if they’ve seen another dog doing it, if there are kids playing nearby, or people running around. Which could be because your dog reckons it’s great fun and just wants to join in.

That’s why if your dog is already amped up and zooming around, you shouldn’t chase them because this will only make them even more excited and erratic, egging them on to race around even more.

Routine zoomies

Some dogs get the zoomies at certain times of day, usually just before bed or right after they’ve woken up. Other dogs seem to get the zoomies routinely after doing something like taking a bath, before dinner, or even after a poop!

The zoomies can be triggered by certain stimuli and you can probably figure out why your dog is doing it using the reasons above. But, let’s take a quick look at some of the popular zoomie times and why your dog might be whizzing round.

Why do dogs get the zoomies after a bath?

Bathtime seems to trigger a case of the zoomies more than anything else, and after your pup has been washed and dried they tend to tear off around the house. But why do dogs get the zoomies after a bath?

Well, it’s no secret that most dogs don’t like bath time and it can be stressful for people and pooches alike. During a bath your dog also has to stay still for a while, either trapped in the tub or with you holding them still so you can shower them.

This combination of being stressed and staying still will lead to nervous energy building up inside your dog like a fizzy drink being shaken in a can, and eventually, they just need to explode! The second your dog’s out the tub and they know the ordeal of bathtime is finished, they’ll start racing around the house to let out all that nervous energy.

Why does my dog get the zoomies at night?

Some dogs, and cats, get the zoomies every night just before they go to bed. This is usually to let out any excess energy they’ve got and to tire themselves out, so they’re ready to flop over and conk out. There’s nothing worse than going to bed and feeling restless, so maybe your dog is just getting all that movement out so they can hunker down and doze off more easily.

Do all dogs get the zoomies?

All dogs can get the zoomies regardless of their age and breed. However, not every dog will do it. So if your dog doesn’t get the zoomies, it’s nothing to worry about.

It depends on your dog’s personality and energy levels. If your pup is an energetic breed with a bouncy personality, they’re more likely to get the zoomies than a couch potato!

The zoomies are also more common in puppies and young dogs because they have more energy than older dogs. Your pooch might grow out of their zoomies eventually, although even old dogs can have their moment.

Should I let my dog get the zoomies?

Zoomies are a perfectly normal and natural behaviour for pups, and they seem to help your dog to balance their energy levels and experience an emotional release. The zoomies also seem enjoyable for our furry friends, so there's no reason to spoil their fun and stop them from doing the zoomies. Besides, they only last for a few seconds.

The only reason you might want to stop your dog from getting the zoomies is if they’re a potential danger to themselves or others. For example, if you’re by a busy road, or in a room with small children or breakable objects.

When your dog gets the zoomies make sure there’s nothing nearby that could hurt them if they run into it by accident, or that could get hurt if your pup bumps into it. If your room or garden is free of obstacles, feel free to let your dog whizz around like a whirlwind.

If you do want to stop your dog’s zoomies for whatever reason, you can try to call them back if they’ve got good recall. You can also try offering your pup a distraction and an alternative use for their energy, such as an active play session like a game of fetch or a tug of war.

Finally, just remember you should never chase a dog that’s got the zoomies. Chasing after a dog will only rile them up more, causing even more hectic behaviour. It’s better to just stay still and supervise your dog, waiting for them to burn themselves out and come back to you under their own steam.