Even if you don’t own a dog, you’ve probably seen a canine with the dog zoomies – either while hanging with a friend’s pet or in a hilarious online video. This funny behavior concerns some pet parents, but it’s completely natural and generally safe. Still, that doesn’t prevent our curiosity. What are the dog zoomies? Why do they happen? And if needed, how can you ensure your dog stays calm and doesn’t get the zoomies at an inconvenient time?
What Are the Dog Zoomies?
Here’s what you need to know about this funny dog behavior:
- What it looks like when a dog gets the zoomies
- The scientific name for zoomies
- Zoomies are simply a release of energy
What Do the Zoomies Look Like?
You’ve probably seen a dog with a case of the zoomies and maybe just not realized what it was. An animal who is experiencing FRAP, or frenetic random activity periods, will sprint a short distance or even chase their tail, running frantically around in a circle. They will often tuck their tail and rapidly change directions, and they might even vocalize during this outburst. Dogs' eyes will widen with the sudden burst of energy during a zoomie, and the exertion of the experience will cause them to pant. This makes for pretty funny photos and videos of dogs with the zoomies.
The zoomies are brief, usually only lasting a minute or so before the excitement wears off and your dog goes back to their normal energy level. Afterwards, it’s normal for a dog to take a break and even lie down with some exhaustion after their crazy behavior.
FRAPs: Frenetic Random Activity Periods
This behavior is so common in dogs that it actually has a scientific name: frenetic random activity periods, or FRAPs. Other names for this funny dog behavior include midnight crazies, scrumbling, and frapper fugue.
The Zoomies Are a Natural Result of Pent-Up Energy
One of the most important things to know about the dog zoomies is that they are totally normal and result from pent-up energy. Even a dog with an appropriate exercise routine might get the zoomies every now and then. Some dogs might never display this behavior, which is also not concerning. Zoomies are just another one of the quirky dog behaviors that make us love our canines so much.
Why Do Dogs Get the Zoomies?
Because these sudden bursts of energy are not a health concern, there hasn’t been a lot of research done into what causes the zoomies. That said, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that a case of the zoomies can be caused by:
- Bath time
- Crate time
- Play time
- The arrival of the owner
A Case of the Zoomies After a Bath
One of the most common times for dogs to get the zoomies is immediately after they’ve had a bath or exited a body of water. You might think this would be an effort to dry themselves off, but that’s unlikely. The often-messy body shaking that you see a dog demonstrate after getting wet is a far more effective way for canines to dry off. When a dog gets a case of the zoomies after a bath, it’s because they’re excited that bath time is over and they’ve had to sit still for a while during the bath itself, causing them to store up some energy they then release in a zoomie extravaganza.
Extended Crate Time Can Cause a FRAP
Some owners have noticed that their dog gets the zoomies when they open the crate door. Again, this is a natural result of their being cooped up in a small space for a period of time. They have been quietly storing their physical momentum while hanging out in their crate, so upon exiting, they want to burn off some of that excess energy. Always be careful of how long you leave your dog in a crate, and make sure you complete effective crate training with them before using the crate for extended periods of time.
Play Time with Both People and Dogs Might Trigger Zoomies
Even if your dog is tired, you might notice them doing zoomies at the dog park with other dogs. Play time with other animals as well as just some backyard fun with you can trigger a FRAP because your dog is excited. Dogs are sensitive to their surroundings and they are naturally social creatures, so engaging with others makes them feel happy and pumped up. Sometimes that translates to a case of the zoomies.
Does Your Dog Have a Sudden Burst of Energy When You Get Home?
Another common cause for the zoomies is when a dog’s owner comes home from work or time away. A FRAP can be triggered by a long period of rest, which creates physical energy, or simple emotional and mental excitement caused by a trigger like your arrival home, or a combination of the two. When you return home after a few hours away while your dog has been napping, it’s a perfect storm for a case of the zoomies.
Other Fun Facts About the Dog Zoomies
Here are some other fun tidbits to help you understand and appreciate this special dog behavior:
- The zoomies are normal and safe
- They can be contagious
- FRAPs usually happen in the morning and evening
- Dogs aren’t the only ones who experience this
- Zoomies are less common in older dogs
This Behavior Is Almost Always Safe and Healthy
Pet owners sometimes worry that their dog’s nervous energy and FRAPs might be a symptom of obsessive-compulsiveness rather than a natural behavior. Dogs can be diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), but the zoomies alone are not a symptom of that condition. If your dog’s bouts of tail-chasing are accompanied by other signs of this disorder, such as self-mutilation (chewing on skin or limbs), eating non-food items, or pacing, you might have a dog with anxiety and should consult a veterinarian. Generally, though, zoomies are easily identifiable as an innocent and natural burst of joyful energy – not a problematic canine condition.
The Zoomies Can Be Contagious
Even if your dog doesn’t experience the zoomies with any regularity, you might see them display a FRAP when another dog is doing so. The zoomies can be contagious! When dogs gather with each other, you’ll often catch them sprinting around and rapidly changing direction, often following a zoomie leader in a classic group FRAP. Again, this is a normal and fun behavior that should not only be tolerated but even encouraged. It’s healthy for your dog to have fun!
Zoomies Are Most Common in the Morning and At Night
Many pet owners report that their dog’s zoomies happen first thing in the morning, after a long night of sleep and the impending excitement of breakfast. Others say that there is a notable uptick in the likelihood of a case of the zoomies in the evening. The edges of the day seem to be a popular time for dogs to have these sudden bursts of energy.
It’s Not Just Dogs That Get the Zoomies
Other animals experience FRAPs – it’s not unique to the canine species. Cats can also get the zoomies, though the triggers for their excitement are often a little different and the crazy cat behavior often lasts for less time. FRAPs have also been reported in rabbits, elephants, and ferrets.
Your Dog’s Age and Breed Will Impact the Regularity of FRAPs
An older, senior dog generally has less energy, so they are less likely to have a sudden burst of activity than a puppy or young adult dog. It’s normal for your dog’s behavior to change as they get older, and one thing you will likely notice as they don’t partake in the super excitability of their younger years. The reverse is true, too – puppies are likely to experience the zoomies daily or even multiple times a day!
Likewise, your dog’s breed may make them more inclined to have FRAPs. Some breeds, such as hunting dogs like Jack Russell Terriers and work dogs like Australian Shepherds, have more energy and excitability than other breeds. You're less likely to see regular zoomies from a sleepier breed like a Basset Hound.
How to Help Your Dog Stay Calm
Though the zoomies are a totally normal behavior, they can sometimes be inconvenient. You might need some techniques for helping your dog maintain their daily calm, and it’s even useful to know how to snap your dog out of a zoomie if you’re worried about their safety. Here are some tips for keeping your dog calm:
- Train your dog and use commands
- Maintain a consistent daily routine
- Give your dog sufficient exercise
- Don’t encourage the zoomies
- Keep your dog’s environment safe
Practice and Use Commands and Training to Support Calm
Dog commands, even the most basic ones, are a multi-use tool. The training required to get your dog to respond to commands is a wonderful way to bond and engage your dog’s mind and body. Plus, a dog that responds to commands is much safer and can experience a wider array of situations comfortably.
It will obviously be easier to snap your dog out of a case of the zoomies if they know and respond to some commands. Don’t get angry with your dog if the commands don’t work as well during a FRAP. These experiences are highly instinctual and physical, and it might be harder for your dog to respond, even to a command they know well. That said, you can’t know unless you try – and to try, you have to train your dog to respond to commands.
Maintain a Solid Daily Routine for Your Pet
Consistency is key in keeping your dog calm. When a dog knows what to expect each day, they feel safe, and a dog that feels safe is likely to be more relaxed and have less nervous energy. This routine should include all of the important daily practices for your pet: a healthy, balanced diet; physical exercise, play time and mental stimulation, affection and attention from you, plenty of rest and sleep, and any other wellness supports that can help them maintain calm, such as their daily serving of CBD calming chews. Try to keep to a schedule so your pet knows when to expect these events each day to increase their sense of security.
Make Sure Your Dog Is Getting Plenty of Exercise
Physical movement is really important for your dog’s overall physical and mental health. Because the zoomies are a result of pent-up energy, a dog that is exhausted from their daily exercise regimen is much less likely to experience a FRAP. The amount and type of exercise your dog needs will depend on their breed, age, and other factors such as medical history and prior injuries. Consult your veterinarian if you’re not sure about your dog’s exercise needs.
It’s important not to let your schedule dictate your pet’s care. Just because you only have time for one walk a day doesn’t mean that is going to be enough for Sparky, and limiting your dog’s care in this way might increase zoomies and keep your dog from feeling calm. Instead, consider hiring a dog walker or engaging in some activities that are more physically demanding than walking, like running or obstacle courses.
Don’t Accidentally (or Intentionally) Encourage the Zoomies
Many pet owners think the zoomies are really funny and cute, especially if they happen at a convenient and appropriate time (such as at the dog park). But remember that if you encourage the zoomies with laughter, praise, and/or treats, your dog will learn that it is an acceptable behavior. This means that if your dog starts a FRAP at an inconvenient time – such as when you’re hiking and come near a cliff’s edge – it will be more difficult to snap them out of their experience. While you shouldn’t punish or chastise your dog during the zoomies, you also don’t want to actively encourage them. It’s best to stay neutral and let your dog’s FRAPs happen naturally.
Keep Your Dog’s Environment Safe and Secure
The only real risk to the zoomies is that your dog bumps into something that could injure them or zooms into an unsafe space, such as a busy road. This can easily be prevented by ensuring your dog’s space is safe and secure at all times. For most dog owners, this means a fenced yard and a dog-proof house (no breakables on low shelves or otherwise fragile items). If you’re worried about your dog being overcome by the zoomies while you’re on a walk, be sure they’re trained to walk with a properly fitted leash, and make sure you keep a good distance from the road.
Dog Zoomies Are a Fun and Natural Behavior
Dog zoomies are not only a completely normal way for your dog to expel energy, but they can also be hilarious and entertaining for you. As long as your dog isn’t exhibiting any other concerning symptoms of stress, and their daily routine is healthy and robust, don’t worry at all about this crazy dog behavior. Zoom on, Fido!