What are the Zoomies & Why Do Dogs Get Them?

If you have a dog, especially a younger dog, then “the zoomies” is a term you are probably familiar with! If you’re not familiar with the term, then you will probably recognize the activity!

The term “zoomies” refers to the sudden bursts of energy and wild running or play behavior commonly exhibited by dogs. Zoomies often feature frantic, repetitive behavior such as running in circles or spinning around. While not all dogs experience the zoomies, it is a pretty common behavior observed in many breeds. As long as it’s happening in a safe environment, the zoomies are pretty harmless…and can be fun for you to engage with!

Why Do Dogs Get The Zoomies?

There are a few reasons why your dog might engage in this behavior:

  1. Release of Energy: Dogs, especially younger ones, have a lot of pent-up energy that needs to be released. Zoomies can be a way for them to burn off this excess energy in a short burst of intense activity. If you’re interested, the technical name for dog zoomies is frenetic random activity periods (FRAPs), according to the American Kennel Club. I think Zoomies is a much more representative name for the behavior than FRAPs!
  2. Playful Behavior: Zoomies are often seen during or after play sessions with other dogs, or with their humans. It’s a way for dogs to express their joy and enthusiasm, and it can also be a form of self-amusement. Dogs will often try to engage their human family in playtime zoomies. Usually, a play bow (with a playful glint in their eye) will be your invitation to go crazy! Just be careful of yourself! If you get caught up in your dog’s happy dance, you may find yourself rushing around the coffee or dinner table joining in the fun!
  3. Instinctual Behavior: Dogs are descended from wolves, and the zoomies might have some roots in their instinctual need to run and hunt. It’s a way for them to practice their natural behaviors, even if they are domesticated pets.  This instinctual behavior can happen after eating for some dogs; if you have a very food motivated dog, this may be a common occurrence!
  4. Emotional Release: Just like humans might engage in physical activities to release stress or tension, dogs also have their way of coping with emotions. Zoomies could be a way for dogs to release built-up tension or frustration. Some dogs may enjoy a bout of the zoomies after coming home from stressful situations, like visiting the vet!  I don’t take it personally!
  5. Environmental Triggers: Sometimes, changes in the environment or new stimuli can trigger zoomies. For example, a change in weather, a new toy, or a different location might excite a dog and prompt them to engage in this somewhat manic behavior!
  6. Social Communication: Zoomies can also be a form of communication between dogs. During play, a dog might exhibit zoomies to signal that they are in a playful mood or to encourage other dogs to join in the fun.
  7. Bath time: Some dogs get zoomies after a bath! These dogs experience an adrenaline rush and are enjoying the relief they feel that they’re out of the bath, or maybe they are just trying to dry off. Dogs don’t like heavy water-soaked coats!

Are They Safe?

Zoomies are generally harmless and are considered a normal behavior in dogs. However, it’s essential to ensure your dog’s safety during these episodes, especially if they are indoors or near potential hazards. Providing regular exercise, mental stimulation, and playtime can help reduce the frequency, and contribute to a well-balanced, happy dog.

However, too many zoomie sessions may indicate that your dog needs more exercise or more mental stimulation.  Zoomies can happen regardless of how much physical activity your dog gets. But if these frenetic random activity periods are becoming unmanageable, your dog probably needs more exercise.

Questions? Concerns? Contact Compassionate Animal Care

As always, if you have any concerns about your pet’s behavior, please talk to your veterinarian. If you are in Queen Creek or the East Valley, call 480.774.6995 to schedule an appointment with Compassionate Animal Care. We’d love to see you and your zoomer!