Happy Australian shepherd with the zoomies running around the park

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Many pet parents have experienced the strange behavior known as dog zoomies. It may happen every time you bring your dog inside from a walk or throughout the day. One minute your dog is calmly sitting or standing, and the next, they’re taking off, running around the house, jumping on the furniture, and circling you with a wild look in their eye. 

Dog zoomies can happen anywhere, at any time, whether they’re in the yard, at the dog park, or inside at home, and they’re one of the weirdest behaviors your dog has. But what are dog zoomies, and should you be concerned? This article will discuss everything you need to know about this behavior, so if you’re wondering, “why do dogs do zoomies?” you’ve come to the right place. 

What Are The Zoomies?

Dog zoomies, also known as frenetic random activity periods (FRAPS), crazy eights, and midnight madness, are a normal part of dog behavior.1 Why do dogs get the zoomies? This seemingly random explosion of energy is your dog’s way of releasing pent-up energy and alleviating stress. For example, a dog might experience the zoomies after a walk if they still have tons of energy, or they might get the zoomies throughout the day when you’re not home to play with them. 

Zoomies are also known as FRAPS

Dog zoomies are characterized by frenetic behaviors, such as:

  • Running as fast as possible with no clear direction (running in circles)
  • Barking, howling, or other vocalizations
  • Jumping on and off of furniture, beds, people, etc
  • Trying to play with you, using the play bow position to get you to chase them or engage them in play
  • Uncontrollable hyperactivity 

Zoomies can also occur when dogs get excited.1 For example, your dog might get the zoomies when they see their favorite dog friends at the park or when you come home from a long day at work. Researchers have been asking themselves, “why do dogs get zoomies” for a long time, and there’s no single known reason for them. However, they’re most common in puppies and young dogs, likely because they have more energy to spare.1 

Additionally, some pet parents can make their dogs get the zoomies by initiating play or making a sound that makes them run around the house. Sometimes dogs get zoomies for seemingly no reason at all. Even if your dog has had their long daily walk and tons of attention and exercise, they can still get the zoomies. The zoomies last only a few minutes long, usually until your dog tires themselves out enough. 

Why Do Dogs Get The Zoomies?

Unfortunately for owners, there’s often no warning when your dog is going to have an episode of the zoomies, but if your dog gets zoomies frequently, it could indicate an underlying issue, such as stress or anxiety due to overstimulation. Zoomies appear to help dogs release energy and alleviate stress, so overstimulation may be one of the many potential causes.1

Therefore, zoomies can occur for almost any reason. For example, a dog might get the zoomies after a stressful event, when they’re excited, or just because they feel like it. While zoomies are normal, getting the zoomies frequently can indicate that your dog’s mental and physical stimulation needs aren’t being met. For example, if your dog zoomies around the house while you’re away, it might mean they need more mental or physical stimulation throughout the day. 

Graphic listing when zoomies happen

When Do Zoomies Happen?

The zoomies are normal dog behavior, like digging, howling, and barking. So why do dogs get zoomies? There’s no single reason or cause. However, times your dog is more likely to get the zoomies include the following:

  • After being alone for a while: Dogs get bored when you’re gone, and when you come home, they can get incredibly excited. The excitement gets them riled up, and seeing their favorite person after many hours of being alone can make them overly excited, with their only outlet being to run around. 
  • Late at night: Dogs can experience behavioral issues when they get overtired. Many dogs get the zoomies at night because they need to release pent-up energy before going to bed. Additionally, some dogs may get the zoomies after a walk at night because physical stimulation can give them a boost of energy. 
  • During play: Dogs can get over-excited during play, which can cause the zoomies. Over-excitement is typically associated with younger dogs, but it can happen to any dog. If your dog frequently gets the zoomies while you’re playing with them, consider exercising your dog more frequently or giving them a mentally stimulating activity they can do on their own to tire them out. 
  • During training: Training is highly stimulating for dogs, but when dogs are overstimulated, they can get a burst of energy that results in the zoomies. Training can be confusing and stressful for dogs, so don’t be surprised if your dog gets the zoomies to expel some extra stress. 
  • Overstimulation: Overstimulation occurs when dogs are exposed to more stimuli than they can handle in a short time. For example, when you take your dog on a walk, they have so many distractions, like all the various smells, people, other dogs, and wild animals. Dogs often get the zoomies after a walk because they’re finally off the leash and can expel some of the excitement caused by overstimulation. 
  • After elimination: Many pet parents notice their dogs getting a burst of energy after elimination because it can help them further mark their territory by using the scents secreted from their paw pads. Also, it’s more than likely they’re simply just thrilled about relieving themselves.  
  • After a bath: Many dogs run around the house after a bath because the experience is stressful, so their energetic sprint around your home might be because they’re finally free from the tub. However, running around also helps them dry their fur. 
  • When they’re excited: The two most common possible causes of dog zoomies are stress and excitement. Any time your dog is excited, they’re prone to zooming around as a way to release some of their pent-up energy and celebrate whatever it is they’re happy about. 

Unfortunately, zoomies often occur without warning. However, you may be able to distinguish a pattern in your dog’s behavior. For example, many dogs experience the zoomies after a walk due to overstimulation. Therefore, you can expect the zoomies after bringing your dog inside and prepare for it if need be. 

Other times, you can’t prepare for the zoomies, so staying out of your dog’s way is the best way to handle the situation. Eventually, they’ll tire themselves out and calm down again. 

Letting The Zoomies Out Safely

Dogs typically grow out of the zoomies by the time they reach adulthood. However, some adult dogs still get the zoomies, while some puppies never get them.2 In any case, it’s usually best to stay out of your dog’s way whenever they’re having an episode. 

Dog zoomies aren’t harmful but can occur in dangerous areas. For example, if your dog gets the zoomies in the house, they may run into a door or break something when jumping over the furniture. If possible, try to direct your dog’s behavior outside.

Unfortunately, if you live in an apartment or don’t have a yard, you can’t direct your dog’s behavior outside. Additionally, you won’t always know when a bout of the zoomies will happen, so preparing for them is challenging. Keep your zooming dog away from slippery floors like tile or hardwood flooring, stairs, and obstacles whenever possible. You should also try to prevent them from running out of the yard by keeping them in an enclosed area anytime they’re off-leash.1

As long as your dog appears happy and is safe during their zoomies, let them continue the behavior until they calm down. If your dog is on-leash, don’t let them off leash until you’ve made it to an enclosed area like your fenced-in yard or inside your home because they might run off.

FAQs

Do the zoomies mean dogs are happy?

The zoomies are your dog’s way of releasing pent-up energy, possibly due to excitement or stress. So are zoomies a sign of a happy dog? It depends. Zoomies typically mean your dog is happy or excited. However, they can also be your dog’s way of alleviating anxiety. 

Consider the times your dog zoomies. For example, if your dog zoomies after a trip to the vet, it might mean they have anxiety in that particular situation. Meanwhile, if your dog zoomies after a walk, it could be due to stress and overstimulation from seeing other dogs and  people outside. 

Should I stop my dog from doing zoomies?

You should never stop or try to prevent your dog from doing the zoomies. In most cases, the zoomies are healthy because they allow them to release pent-up energy that could otherwise lead to destructive or even aggressive behavior. 

Letting your dog release their stress or excitement by running and jumping around is beneficial in the same way physical activity is for you. However, you should ensure your dog only zooms in safe areas, and you can redirect them when necessary. Additionally, avoid engaging your dog in a game of chase when they get the zoomies because it could add to the excitement or stress and make it more difficult for them to calm down. Instead, give them some space and let them zoom around until they’re calm again. 

Excited pit bull with the zoomies

Final Notes

Dog zoomies are a normal behavior that most dogs grow out of in adulthood. Additionally, not all dogs get the zoomies. So why do dogs get the zoomies? Ultimately, it’s either because of excitement or stress. Most cases of the zoomies are nothing to worry about, but if your dog zoomies frequently or their zoomies have become dangerous. 

Worried your dog’s zoomies are due to underlying anxiety? Talk to a Dutch vet today. We can diagnose and treat dog anxiety to improve your dog’s quality of life.
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References

  1. “What Are Zoomies?” Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, 28 July 2022, https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/riney-canine-health-center/health-info/what-are-zoomies

  2. Stephanie Gibeault, MSc. “What Are Dog Zoomies? Why Your Dog Run Around in Circles.” American Kennel Club, 22 Nov. 2019, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/what-are-zoomies/

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

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During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

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