Dog Zoomies: Where Does All That Energy Come From?

Golden Retriever running

Nearly every dog owner knows about dog zoomies: those sudden bursts of energy that have your pup shooting across the room or chasing its tail like there's a dog treat attached to the end of it. You've probably had a good laugh about your dog's case of the zoomies, but have you ever wondered where all that energy comes from and why your dog suddenly has it? 

Below, we explain zoomies' meaning and tell you everything you need to know about dog zoomies, including those extra-wild puppy zoomies.

Zoomies Meaning: What Are Dog Zoomies, Exactly?

Zoomies is essentially a cute name for what veterinary professionals know as Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAPs), which are caused by built-up energy. You'll recognize these periods when you see your pup suddenly running in circles, either around the yard, around the garden or after their tail.

If you have more than one dog in the house, it's not uncommon for both dogs to engage in these sudden activity bursts simultaneously, and in those cases, the behaviour might include chasing and playfighting. Some dogs grow out of zoomies as they age; however, most will occasionally experience these bursts throughout their lifetime.

Should I Worry If My Dog Gets Zoomies? 

Zoomies themselves aren't harmful to your dog, and in most cases, they're nothing to worry about at all. However, if your dog is in a tightly enclosed space or near items that might injure them, there's some risk of them getting hurt. If you don't have a large open space in your home for your dog to burn off their energy safely, it's usually best to put them in the yard until the zoomies subside.

If your dog experiences zoomies often, it can indicate a lack of exercise or stimulation. To help, you can try longer or more frequent walks, as well as snuffle mats or puzzle toys to keep them entertained.

Managing Dog Zoomies at Inopportune Times

From time to time, you might find that your dog gets a FRAP while you're out for a walk or playing at a dog park. If you're in an unfenced area or your dog has broken away from their leash, it's important to follow a few steps to ensure your dog stays safe and doesn't get away from you. 

  1. Don't chase your dog — if you do, they're likely to think you're playing along and continue to run away from you.
  2. Call your dog and begin running in the opposite direction, encouraging them to chase you. 
  3. Let them catch you and reward them with a treat when they do. 

When you do provide your dog with a treat after a case of public zoomies, be sure to offer them something special they don't normally get at home. This is a great way to teach your dog not to run away from you when they feel a buildup of energy but instead to run towards you for playtime and a treat.

Of course, if your dog is prone to zoomies in outdoor spaces, the best thing you can do is invest in a long leash and take walks in open spaces so they're able to safely run and play while still on their leash.

Alternatively, your dog may get excited and experience zoomies when houseguests come to visit, either out of excitement for new friends to play with or as a result of anxiety about new people coming into your home. In either case, you can often reduce these instances by playing with your dog or taking them for a walk before expected visitors arrive.

When You're Most Likely to Witness Dog and Puppy Zoomies

Dog zoomies can happen at any time, but there are several instances when you're more likely to see your dog experience a FRAP. These include: 

  • When they're learning something new: If you're trying to teach your pup to sit, stay or learn another new trick, they might experience some anxiety and nervousness, which can lead to built-up energy.
  • At the end of the day: When it's time for bed, some dogs tend to burn off the last of their energy just before they lay down to sleep for the night.
  • After a good meal: Many dogs are driven by a good meal, and the excitement of enjoying something to eat often leads to a case of dog zoomies.
  • Getting out of the bathtub: Some dogs are nervous bathers and as such, the act of being bathed can cause built-up nervous energy, while the relief of getting out of the tub and drying off can cause a rush of adrenaline.

Dog and puppy zoomies can be disruptive when they happen at mealtimes or as the family is going to bed, but they're a completely normal part of being a canine. To learn more about why your dog acts the way they do, browse our other dog behaviour articles.

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