Why Do Dogs Get the Zoomies?

Photo of a dog running across the grass

Why Do Dogs Get the Zoomies?

Welcome to the second blog post in a series of articles designed to help answer questions dog parents might have about some of their pups’ most entertaining, strange, and occasionally exasperating behaviors. In our first installment, we explored “Why Do Dogs Sniff Everything?” This time, we are tackling the topic of one of the silliest of dog behaviors, the zoomies. We will share information about what they are, what might cause them, and whether there is anything a dog parent should do when their pup gets a case of them—besides hitting “record video” on their phone and getting out of the way!

What are the zoomies?

It all starts with that wide-eyed, excited look on your dog’s face. This is often followed by a signature tuck of the butt or maybe a playful pounce or bark. Oh my, you know what’s coming next, don’t you? Whoosh! Your pup is off to the races, running wildly in circles and navigating a complex obstacle course that is only visible to them.

Whether you’re at home, in the yard, or at the dog park when this explosion of energy shoots through your dog, anybody witnessing this event is not going to question why this behavior has earned nicknames from dog parents like the “crazy eights,” “midnight madness,” and, of course, the “zoomies.”

However, it may interest you to know that the zoomies actually do have a scientific name as well. They have been termed frenetic random activity periods, or FRAPs, and they are not unique to dogs. FRAPs is widely used to describe spontaneous outbursts of energy in all types of domesticated and wild animals, from cats and dogs to bunnies, ferrets, and even elephants. (While it is almost always hysterically funny when your dog gets the zoomies, we’re pretty sure we do not want to be around an elephant with the FRAPs!)

As you may have experienced with your own dog, the zoomies can come and go like a tornado throughout all stages of your fur-baby’s life. However, puppies and younger dogs are certainly more prone to getting them. In addition, while the research is still out on a direct correlation between specific dog breeds and the zoomies, dogs that are generally athletic and energetic, such as Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, and Labrador Retrievers, are typically more likely to get the zoomies versus relatively chill dogs, like Basset Hounds and Bulldogs.

What might cause my dog to get the zoomies?

The zoomies may appear to come on at completely random moments, but they are usually a sign that your pup is super pumped and happy about something, or they have a lot of pent-up energy, or a combination of both things.

Following are some specific examples of activities and situations that may be more likely to bring out an extraordinary level of enthusiasm—and the zoomies—in your pup:

  • A good sleep. Waking up from a snooze creates the perfect environment for the zoomies to hit. Your dog has likely stored up a bunch of energy while at rest and now is ready to let it all out. Similarly, if your dog has been in its crate, on a long drive with you, or at the groomer’s, the periods of stillness these situations often require may make for an exceptionally spirited pup when they are finally free to move around.
  • A bath or a swim. Whether they’ve just jumped from a sudsy tub or waded out of the pool or lake, your dog probably gets a big pep in their step after getting wet. Part of this is actually practical, as zipping around after getting wet helps your pup dry off and warm up.
  • The sight of you. There’s nobody who makes your dog happier than you, of course. So, when you go away and come back, and they suddenly get the urge to zoom around, just know it’s their way of saying, “Hello, I am so overjoyed to see you!” A social pup may also have this same reaction when they see one of their furry friends. If your dog’s fur-buddy is just as happy to see them, you just may get a demonstration of the double zoomies.
  • A good meal. Your pup may get particularly lively after scarfing down some chow, because food often replenishes their energy. Interestingly enough, having to relieve themselves of said food may also have the same impact. In fact, it’s not just little kids who do a dance when they need to go to the bathroom; your pup may race around excitedly, too. Then, after your pup has done their business, it may bring on a renewed sense of lightness and feelings of get-up-and-go, and then here come the zoomies over again!
  • Any activity they love. If you and your pup take a daily evening stroll together, you may notice they often get the zoomies right around the time you normally get ready for your walk. This is because your best buddy is highly anticipating something they absolutely love to do, with someone they really enjoy doing it with. Similarly, if your dog knows they typically get a delicious homemade treat when you both get home from your walk, the zooming around might start the minute you get in the door and the expectation of something yummy is on their mind. Not to mention what might happen if you surprise your dog with a new toy—the sheer joy of getting a new stuffy, chew bone, or ball often sets a dog off spinning, jumping, and tail-chasing.

What should I do when my dog gets the zoomies?

According to veterinarians, when your pup gets the zoomies, there’s not a lot you need to do but kick back and enjoy how adorable and funny they are. Their high-energy behavior typically lasts only a few minutes. However, because the zoomies are a bit of a rowdy activity, you do want to do a quick scan of the area, whether it’s outside or inside, and make sure your pup has enough space to move around without hurting themselves or someone else or breaking something.

As you might imagine, the staff at Wagsworth has had its fair share of interactions with zooming dogs. So, one piece of advice we have for you if you’re standing by watching your dog’s escapades is to make sure you’re in an athletic position, with your feet shoulder width apart and knees bent, for optimal stability. This way, if your dog happens to get too close, you’re hopefully less likely to have your feet taken completely out from under you!

If you feel your pup’s energy rising when you’re in a place where the zoomies are just not going to be appropriate, like sitting outside at a restaurant, you can try redirecting their energy with a treat or toy or calming them down with gentle petting. Dogs often feed off the energy levels of their owners, so if you are giving off peaceful vibes, they may just take it down a notch and relax.

Overall, getting the zoomies means your dog is very healthy and happy, but on a rare occasion, they might get a case of the FRAPs if they are feeling a little anxious or out of place. If you’re ever concerned that your pup is experiencing the zoomies for longer periods of time or too frequently, we encourage you to have a discussion with your vet.

Your dog is welcome to zoom around Wagsworth all day long!

While you go about your busy day, Wagsworth’s Daycamp is the perfect destination spot for your pup. Here, they can stay active and expend all their bottled-up energy, under the watchful eye of our experienced staff. Our award-winning pet resort has six acres of play space, a full-sized indoor pool, and tons of customizable activities to keep your dog’s body and mind stimulated.

If your pup is especially high-energy and loves to learn new things, you may want to add an Enrichment Session to their stay. As part of this training program, your dog will receive one-on-one guidance to navigate entertaining and mentally challenging activities, such as treat puzzles, nose work, and the doggie flirt pole. Then, after both you and your dog have been on the go all day long, you two will be much more likely to enjoy a calm and relaxing evening together.