If you have a dog, you’ve mostly likely experienced what’s called the zoomies: when your pup gets a sudden burst of excitement — like they have ants in their pants and need to run around in circles or up and down the stairs to get all their energy out. Behaviorists call this animal phenomenon Frenetic Random Activity Periods or (FRAPs), but that doesn’t have the same ring as zoomies. And if you’ve experienced them, you probably understand how they get their name.
Why do dogs get the zoomies? And is there any way to get them to calm the heck down before they destroy your entire house? Read on to learn what can cause a zoomie episode, and what you can do when your dog is in the middle of one.
Zoomies occur when your dog has an unpredictable burst of energy. They can occur any time, and are usually triggered when your pup has pent-up energy or stress. “When it’s happening frequently, it can indicate that your dog needs more exercise,” Dr. Frey, founder of the house call veterinary practice, Vet At Your Door, explains. “Zoomies can happen after stressful events or after having not exercised in awhile, such as being housed in a crate for hours.” Certain triggering events, like taking a bath, can also cause your pup to get a case of the zoomies.
You can tell your dog might be succumbing to a zoomie episode if they bark and get in the “play bow” position, where their chest is low to the floor and their tail is in the air. And while younger dogs may be more prone to zoomies than older dogs (they have more energy, after all) a pup of any age can get have these hyperactive outbursts from time to time.
The good news about zoomies is that they’re not a serious medical condition — the activity once in a while is in fact completely normal. “Zoomies aren’t harmful,” Dr. Frey explains, “unless they accidentally knock something over during their travails.”
In order to mitigate that risk to your house, the best option, if possible, is to let your dog outside into a larger enclosed area. If you don’t have a fenced-in yard or a dog park nearby, other options include removing certain items, like throw rugs or expensive porcelain vases from their usual running path and staying out of their way.
If your pup’s zoomies seem to be caused by stress, it also may help to identify the trigger of their stress and work to either reduce that stressor from their life or train them to associate the stressor with happy things, like extra treats. If the cases are frequent or severe, getting your pup some behavioral training with a professional might also be an option to consider.
And what if your dog gets zoomies frequently for the non-stress related reason that they simply have too much energy to hold in their furry body? The solution is also a simple one — you can reduce the frequency of their in-home hyperactivity by making sure they have more opportunities to exercise, either by taking them to the dog park, going on longer walks or even running with them if you’re so inclined. All that energy has to go somewhere, and getting them outside where they can move around is a safer place not only for them, but also for your house.
And if your pup gets a little excited from time to time and you and your house can survive the ordeal — don’t worry about it! Zoomies are just part of being a dog, after all, and having sudden bursts of energy comes with the territory. So let them romp and wear themselves out — they’ll be happier for it.