Why Does My Dog Get The Zoomies?

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Bringing a dog into your life is one of the best things you can do, both for yourself and for a wayward stray. Still, there are behaviors your dog can exhibit that are just plain confusing. Take, for instance, the zoomies.

The zoomies are strange bursts of energy that seem to entirely consume your dog. While these displays may be cute, they can also exhaust you or lead to destructive habits.

zoomies dog

As such, when your dog is running through the house at top speed, you’re less likely to pull out a camera and more likely to try and protect your belongings. That is, in between mad scrambles to calm them down and bring the madness to a stop.

So why do dogs run in circles at random moments during the day? What are the zoomies, and how should you deal with them?

This guide will not only help you understand why your dog goes nuts, but also what you can do to limit the bouts of energy that disrupt your home. Let’s dive in.

Understanding the Zoomies

The term “zoomies” has only recently come into being, but there is no better way to describe when your dog is overwhelmed by a surprise and frantic urge to run.

“Zoomies,” then, describe when your dog runs through your home at top speed for no reason at all, dodging your attempts to stop them, until they end up tuckered out.

Without a source, though, these zoomies can worry newer pet owners. If your dog is running about willy-nilly, then clearly something must be wrong with them, right? Not necessarily – no.

The zoomies are less colloquially known, in veterinary circles, as frenetic random activity periods – or FRAPs.

Rachel Barrak of Animal Acupuncture in New York City describes these bursts as “totally normal release[s]of pent-up energy,” suggesting that even though the zoomies don’t seem to have a source, they’re a standard part of domesticated animal behavior.

Why Do Dogs Get Zoomies?

Understanding what sparks these moments of frantic energy can help you handle and prevent these zoomie attacks.

According to Sassafras Lowrey of Dogster, there’s no veterinarian-determined cause for the zoomies. Usually, they are just a sign that your dog is feeling excited and doesn’t have another outlet for their energy.

puppy zoomies

The zoomies can also be a source of stress relief for your dog. If your pup has had a long day, has visited a new place, or had to meet a bunch of new people, they may be feeling anxious.

As such, the opportunity to run around without concern for the environment will help them calm down.

This is what they would do in the wild, after all, and since they don’t have Netflix to watch as they wind down, a burst of exercise will suffice.

So, in short, the zoomies can have a number of sources, including but not limited to:

  • The lack of an outlet for extra energy.
  • Excitement.
  • Play sessions.
  • Stressful triggers, like new people or uncomfortable experiences.
  • Too much time spent inside.
  • A need to exercise.

Signs of the Zoomies

With those causes in mind, it should be effortless to identify signs of the zoomies before the urge to run overtakes your dog. This involves watching their environment and their physical “tells.”

First things first, check out your environment and see if anything in your house, schedule, or personal behavior may be exciting your dog.

It’s sometimes better to limit the amount of extra stimulation in your home before it sends your dog running in circles.

If you can’t pin down specific triggers that linger around your home, then these physical signs of the zoomies can tip you off ahead of time.

dog running in circles

Play Bowing

The play bow is typically your dog’s way of indicating that they want to spend time running around with you. This action is quite literally a bow, meant to indicate friendly intent and energy.

Your dog will lower the front of their body and stick their butt in the air, all the while wagging their tail hard enough to fall over.

At times it will indicate a desire to play, while other times it’s a sign of pent up energy from stress.

If you are too busy to play with your dog when they play bow at you, then you may be setting yourself up for a bout of the zoomies, which your dog will use to burn off their extra energy with or without you.

Nervous Shuffling

If your dog hasn’t yet hit the stage of zooming through the house, but they’re tapping their paws against the floor and moving from window to window, you may be in for a case of the zoomies.

This nervous shuffling can often be mistaken for a sign of anxiety in your dog. In fact, most of their pacing because they haven’t had enough time to exercise or play over the course of the day.

This dance-like behavior is their way of getting energy out of their system, so they can settle in more comfortably later.

Heavy Breathing

Excessive panting can also be a sign that the zoomies are imminent.

Vetstreet emphasizes that it’s fairly standard for your dog to take 30 to 40 breaths a minute while resting, but panting dogs typically take in significantly more air.

Dogs will pant after they’ve exercised, but excessive panting can also be a sign of nervousness or excitement.

If you notice that your dog is breathing faster than normal while they move around the house, you may want to consider calling your vet, as it could indicate a sickness.

However, if they show no other symptoms, it’s far more likely that your dog is preparing to burn off their extra energy.

This video explains more about zoomies.

Danger and the Zoomies

With the sources of dog zoomies made clear, you may be asking: are dog zoomies dangerous? The answer varies.

Andrea Arden, a dog trainer, emphasizes that all breeds of dogs can get the zoomies, and that their arrival isn’t necessarily a sign of illness or any other dangerous condition. So, no need to call the vet!

The zoomies are often seen in puppies, and given the common nature of puppy zoomies, it seems this energy-burning method is one that dogs are born with. As such, it’s a natural behavior for adult domesticated dogs.

However, while the zoomies aren’t dangerous to your pup, they can be dangerous to your household items! The set-up of your home may also not be designed as a dog race-track, and that means the zoomies can have unfortunate side effects on your dog.

Dr. Natalie Waggener of the South Boston Animal Hospital notes that if your dog isn’t used to the feel of a hardwood floor, they could take a tumble mid-zoom.

Likewise, if your pup bumps into a bookshelf or coffee table, not only could your belongings spill everywhere, but your dog risks serious injury.

As such, if your dog is prone to the zoomies, it’s wise to safeguard your house – both for your items’ protection and your dog’s.

How to Manage Dog Zoomies

Dog-proofing your home is a wise choice, but there are also ways to redirect your dog’s energy.

In fact, you can prevent the zoomies altogether with a few changes to your pet’s lifestyle. If you notice the preludes to an energy spike, you can:

Take Your Dog Outside

An open environment will ensure that they can run around as much as they like without putting themselves at risk for collision with anything in your home.

zoomies

Give Your Dog a Difficult Toy

Enriching toys are a fantastic way to engage your dog’s brain and keep them busy for an extended period of time.

You can disrupt the zoomies by offering your dog a difficult toy to play with that keeps a treat at its center. This pairing of motivation and thought-provoking work can wear your dog out.

Extend Your Dog’s Daily Playtime

The more tired your dog is, the less likely they are to develop the zoomies.

If you notice that your dog frequently gets the zoomies, then it’s wise to extend the amount of time you spend playing with them, the length of their walks, or the ways in which you interact with them.

Make sure you’re tailoring play sessions with your dog to their intelligence. If they seem disinterested, give them activities to perform that’ll engage them more effectively.

The Zoomies and Dog ADHD

Zoomies are normal – but when do they become abnormal? Can zoomies be mistaken for something more serious?

Some pet owners believe that the zoomies are a sign of ADHD in their dogs. This isn’t frequently the case, but it’s still worthwhile to compare the behavior of your average dog to that of a dog with higher levels of energy.

How do you know when they have ADHD, and what are the distinctive signs? Let’s discuss this below.

Normal Dog Behavior

According to writers at the Dogfather, the vast majority of dogs, especially young ones, can seem like they have too much energy to handle.

Puppies, in particular, aren’t going to be as obedient as dogs that have spent multiple years in the same home.

Likewise, dogs that spend the bulk of their lives in shelters aren’t going to be as well-trained as dogs that were adopted early in life.

dog running in circles

If you notice that your new dog has an unusual degree of energy and isn’t listening to commands, routines, or training, then don’t dismiss their behavior as a sign of ADHD.

It’s more likely that you need to spend additional time getting to know them and training them to listen to you. With a firm hand, they will become more attentive.

High Energy Dog Behavior

Alternatively, dogs can have unusual levels of energy due to their genetic history. This trait is intentional and has been honed into their unique breed.

Collies and German Shepards, for example, are known as breeds with a great deal of energy, as they were intended to be working dogs.

As such, they have high levels of stamina. Because of this, most dogs that are advertised as “working breeds” are very energetic.

When you’re adopting a canine, be sure to consider their breed and the amount of physical effort you’re willing to put into caring for this animal.

It’s possible their excessive zoomie attacks are just their response to a sedentary lifestyle when they were born to lead a very active life. As such, running around willy-nilly is their way of finding a middle ground.

This video shows an example of exercises for high-energy dogs.

ADHD Dog Behavior

Dogs with ADHD may exhibit the same kind of high energy. However, there is a distinct difference between ADHD behavior and behavior that’s spawned from a high stamina background.

Dogs with ADHD are going to be easily distracted, as opposed to just highly active. The attention span of dogs with ADHD will also be noticeably shorter.

As such, when observing your dog, take note of their habits. Do they quickly switch back and forth between one toy, another, and their seat in the window? Or are they tearing into one toy specifically?

This attention span will help you determine whether or not you need to schedule a check-up in the near future.

With all of that said, it should be noted that the zoomies are not necessarily a symptom or sign of dog ADHD. They can be an entirely natural habit.

Conclusion

Why do dogs get zoomies? Because they have a significant amount of energy to burn off and no outlets – besides racing around your home at great speeds.

The best way to deal with the zoomies is to ensure your dog gets enough exercise throughout the course of a day.

Take them outside more often or give them more complicated toys to play with, and you’ll notice a decrease in the amount of time they spend sprinting around your home.

Do keep in mind, though, that the zoomies aren’t a sign of a disorder or illness. They’re a normal part of your dog’s life – one you need only to workaround.


How do you deal with dog zoomies?

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