There are approximately 900 million dogs in the world today, and while they can display different personalities, and show different behaviours, many of them do have one thing in common.
You may have noticed your dog, or a family member’s pet, showing some signs of extreme energetic behaviour at times. Dogs love to play, they enjoy exercise, and they exhibit this in different ways, one of which is clearly running around the open ground or sometimes even in circles.
There is more than one phrase for this, and the common one is zoomies. You may hear a dog parent refer to their pet as having the zoomies, or state that their dog often gets the zoomies at night. It doesn’t just refer to dogs either; cats can display a very similar type of behaviour, but for different reasons sometimes.
So, what are the zoomies? Are they bad, and should you be concerned about them?
What are zoomies exactly?
The zoomies are typically a display of frenetic energy being dispersed over a short period of time. They may last just a few minutes, or on rare occasions, up to eight, nine, or 10 minutes.
Frenetic random activity periods, also known as FRAPs, are how some experts refer to the zoomies. FRAPs have nothing to do with Starbucks or any other coffee outlet, but you could be forgiven for thinking that caffeine was involved somehow.
Zoomies are simply short bursts of pent-up energy that your dog needs to release. Why this happens can be down to one or more reasons.
What causes dogs to get zoomies?
One report from The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine states that the zoomies may be a sign of under-stimulation. This would then point to the dog perhaps not receiving as much exercise as they need.
This may be an oversimplification though. Zoomies, or FRAPs, can occur for other reasons too. They can also manifest themselves at different points in the day.
Some dogs will get the zoomies at night. Now, this could point to a build-up of energy throughout the day. However, other dogs display frenetic energy first thing in the morning; others do it straight after their bath time.
Anyone who has experienced their dog tearing through the house soaking wet from their bath will understand exactly what this type of FRAP is like.
Are zoomies a sign of distress or another problem?
Cats get the zoomies at night, perhaps due to their nocturnal habits. Dogs zoom around for other reasons, and one could possibly be a sign of distress.
Dogs sometimes get the zoomies after a slightly stressful experience, such as visiting the vet. There is no need to agonize about this. It is just a display of nervous energy.
When your dog gets the zoomies for the first time you may think they are acting crazy, but actually, they may be showing you that they are happy. They are often expressing their happiness and their (often) boundless energy.
Do all dogs get the zoomies?
Younger dogs and puppies seem to get these periods of frenetic activity more than older dogs. This makes sense as this is when dogs have more expendable energy and are likely to want to play and explore.
They have higher calorie diets during this time too as they are growing quickly, and could easily build up unused energy.
The crucial thing to recognise is that there is nothing wrong with a dog having the zoomies, although, when it happens often you might be concerned about their behaviour.
How can you reduce the chances of zoomies?
One of the concerns about being a dog parent is how to keep your dog calm and stress-free around other dogs. Sometimes meeting another dog can be a trigger for the zoomies.
As mentioned above, there are other triggers too, such as bath times, and simply excess energy. One way to help reduce the number of occasions that your dog takes off around the garden at high speed is to increase their playtimes.
Your dog needs exercise as you already know. You can increase this by playing more with them, and by stimulating their brains. It isn’t just your dog’s muscles that need exercising. They need mental stimulation too, and by increasing this you can then reduce the number of FRAPs that they have.
Alternatively, if your dog is just a particularly zoomy animal then make sure their environment is safe.
How should you respond if your dog gets the zoomies?
Firstly, remember that it is normal. However, there are times when the zoomies can be dangerous.
For instance, a dog having a period of frenetic activity out of the home and not on a lead could be potentially disastrous. Of course, you understand the regulations behind having your dog on a lead, but there are moments when dogs will be roaming more freely than usual.
If your dog does start having the zoomies in an open area, then try to catch them as soon as you can. But, and this is critical, do not chase them. As soon as you start to run after them they will believe it is part of a game. You clearly don't want your pet to run into a child or the road. Stay calm, and try to call them to you.
Understanding the triggers behind zoomies can help to reduce any risks too. For instance, if your dog gets the zoomies after bath time then make sure to bathe them outdoors with all the gates closed, and the house shut up. Then they can enjoy zooming around the backyard safely.
Should you try and stop the zoomies when they happen?
The only time to be concerned about the zoomies is if they are in an environment that is not suitable — slippery wooden or tiled floors for instance, near a road, or in a playground. Anywhere where your dog or someone else could get hurt.
Aggressive zoomies can occur sometimes, but usually, the dog is just trying to run off some energy. What you can do though, is to redirect them.
If you are worried about their safety or want them to move to another area to finish off their burst of activity, try throwing a ball to where you want them to head. Alternatively, run to where you want them to be so that they follow you.
Reducing the chance of zoomies might be as simple as noting when they normally happen and taking them for a walk before this time to tire them out.
The zoomies aren’t bad at all and can be beneficial to you both in some ways. If they are showing you that your dog is full of life and energy, then why not schedule some more time together?
You surely know that exercising is a great way to build a bond with your dog, and by adding in more playtime and walks, you will reduce their moments of frenetic energy. Plus, you will be bonding and getting closer to your lovely dog.
Whatever happens though, don’t worry. Zoomies are a natural part of being a dog parent. Just be thankful you don’t have a cat running around the house at 2am instead.