black and white border collie dog running outdoors in winter

Dog Zoomies: Why They Happen and What to Do

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Dog zoomies are what they sound like. It’s hard not to smile when you see a joyful dog running wildly around your house or yard, zipping back and forth for a few moments before collapsing after a case of what most of us call the “zoomies.” Dog zoomies, or Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAPS) as they’re technically called, generally only last a few minutes at most.

An excited dog with his tongue lolling out.
A glint in your dog’s eyes might be a sign that he is about to start zooming. Photography ©amandafoundation.org | E+/Getty Images.

What happens before the dog zoomies hit?

Before the zoomies hit, dogs often get a glint in their eyes, and they may start to play-bow at you or other dogs. Dogs with the zoomies often run quickly from one side of the yard or room to the other, back and forth, or spin in circles until they fall down. My youngest dog really enjoys trying to catch her tail when she has the zoomies. While zoomies in dogs and the frantic movements your dog exhibits when they hit might seem concerning, they are actually a normal part of happy dog behavior, and as long as your dog is zooming in a safe space, these FRAPS are nothing to be concerned about. 

Why do zoomies in dogs happen?

Dog zoomies tend to hit puppies and young dogs more frequently than older dogs, but zoomies are a great way for dogs of any age to release pent-up energy. Dogs get the zoomies for a variety of reasons — when they are highly excited or aroused or after watching another dog engage in high-energy play. Sometimes, dogs get the zoomies when they are confused or slightly stressed at a dog-training class, such as when the skills being worked on are challenging and they need to blow off some of that nervous energy.

For many dogs of all ages, bath time brings out the zoomies! Even my 15-year-old dog starts zooming around like a puppy after bath time is over. While dog zoomies are very natural for dogs, if they happen very frequently, it might be a good idea to think about how much exercise your pup gets, and if there are ways to add more structured exercise outlets into his day.

Controlling dog zoomies

Zoomies are a natural part of behavior for dogs, and not something you should worry about preventing or discouraging, so long as your dog is zooming in a safe place. This means inside your home or fenced yard, ideally on carpet, and away from breakable items, or small children or elderly family members who could be accidentally knocked over by a large, zooming dog. Try to avoid letting your dog zoom on hardwood floors, or other slick surfaces. While it might seem funny to see a frapping dog slipping and skidding on floors, it can be very dangerous as your dog could slip and injure himself.

So, instead of trying to control the zoomies in dogs, control the environment in which he zooms. For example, if you know your dog gets the FRAPS after a bath, be sure to take him directly from the bath (either being carried or by leash) to a room or yard where he can safely zoom.

Never chase a dog with the zoomies

Sometimes the dog zoomies will strike your dog not just at a moment that’s inconvenient (like when dinner guests are about to arrive), but at a time or place that’s actually dangerous, like off leash at a dog park that isn’t fenced (please always obey leash laws). In a situation like that, you need to catch your dog quickly, and when a dog has the zoomies he might “forget” his training.

The most important thing, which seems counterintuitive, is not chasing after a frapping dog. If you chase your dog, he is likely to misinterpret this as you playing with him. That will inspire him to continue running! Instead of chasing your dog, run away from him (in a direction free of roads or other dangers) and encourage your dog to follow you in a happy voice. It’s good to be prepared for this moment, and make sure to have high-value treats and/or toys on you at all times.

On a related note, teach your dog that “come” is always a fun idea. To do this, regularly practice recalls with your dog on a longline or in a safely fenced area using treats, praise and other positive techniques to teach your dog to reliably come. Never punish your dog for not coming when called, instead set up training situations that enable him to be successful next time by decreasing distractions, adding a leash or longline, decreasing the distance you are from your dog when you call her, and/or using a higher value treat as a reward.

Dealing with a dog who seems to have a permanent case of the zoomies? Does he have ADHD? What to know about high-energy, hyperactive dogs >>

This piece was originally published on February 13, 2018. 

Featured photo: Ksenia Raykova/Getty Images

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30 thoughts on “Dog Zoomies: Why They Happen and What to Do”

  1. To add to my first comment, that characteristic 'wild look' that article and some commenters here describe as a prelude to zoomies is the look of a dog whose energy circuits are overloaded. The zoomies are a coping mechanism – an attempt to discharge that pent-up energy charge.

    While zoomies look harmless, provide amusement and no apparent aggression is involved, there is a catch here…

    In my decades of experience (shelter work, raising dogs of very strong temperament, Schutzhund etc.) it is the fear in dogs that causes inappropriate aggression / biting. The most confident dogs are clearheaded. They have a solid presence and steady gaze – contrasted with the wild-eyed dog just about to do 'zoomies.'

  2. FRAPS (zoomies) – while they can be entertaining, are not well understood! While we all love the things our dogs do that make us laugh, to look deeper can benefit our dogs.

    My first German Shepherd was raised conventionally – bite inhibition, obedience training, and even competed with her in high-level obedience competition. She was nearly always with me from puppyhood – crated some when very young but basically had the run of the house early on. I gave her all the best of everything – AND made sure she understood that my word was law.

    She did not like being groomed – was rather sullen about it. When her grooming session was over, she would jump up, super-animated, and do – zoomies – usually lasting a couple of minutes.

    When doing zoomies, dogs usually do not make physical contact. The reason is, there is a measure of fear in the mix. **Zoomies are 'fear attached to the drive to make contact.'**

    Why do I say that? Because dogs whose drive to make contact (i.e. put their mouths on us) have been REPRESSED rather than utilizing and CHANNELING that energy. That means that as a pup, most dogs are scared out of putting their mouth on us by all the 'bite inhibition' techniques commonly touted. But they are still very attracted to us humans – a bond that has existed from pre-historical times. That mix of fear and attraction is the basis of zoomies.

    1. To add to my first comment, that characteristic 'wild look' that article and some commenters here describe as a prelude to zoomies is the look of a dog whose energy circuits are overloaded. The zoomies are a coping mechanism – an attempt to discharge that pent-up energy charge.

      While zoomies look harmless, provide amusement and no apparent aggression is involved, there is a catch here…

      In my decades of experience (shelter work, raising dogs of very strong temperament, Schutzhund etc.) it is the fear in dogs that causes inappropriate aggression / biting. The most confident dogs are clearheaded. They have a solid presence and steady gaze – contrasted with the wild-eyed dog just about to do 'zoomies.'

  3. The only thing I did when my dog had zoomies was laugh and let him enjoy his little burst of energy before watching him flop back down on his bed and snoring haha

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  7. My do is in Rally is 3 years old. Everytime I train her she will do good for a while and then take off doing zoomies. What can I to do

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  11. Barbara Helene Meshel

    We were at the beach the other day when Noody got The Look !!! In a second he wiggled out of his harness and and took off!! Everyone at the beach got involved to catch the rascal…Took us thirty minutes !!! Oy!!!

  12. My Rott had the (mad dog) all her life. She would zoom around and jump and play. She loved me to chase her, we had a blast! She died of old age and had a wonderful life,. I have German Shepherds now and I have a 5 year old female who has zoomed since she was three months old. She lves to be chased and actually the other GS get excited and start to play with her. Always play during these times, they want you to join in.

  13. I am a K9 Life Coach in San Francisco.
    I wish I could agree with this article fully.
    They’re is absolutely nothing wrong with zoomies. I agree there.
    I do not agree that you shouldn’t chase your dog. In fact, quite the opposite. This is your dog showing you EXACTLY how play should happen. They are encouraging you to join. Dogs chase to be chased. Just like kids. We constantly encourage two way play between 2 dogs, but rarely between a human and dog.
    Affective Neuroscience has shown that Free PLAY “no structure play styles” help increase cognition, problem solving, releases of oxytocin (and other social bonding chemicals in the brain) to help animals learn and build resilience.
    So yes, PLAY your dogs way and watch your dog want to interact with you more. Helping you training style and have “better behaviors”.

    Scott Stauffer
    2nd2no1 K9 Life Coach
    Dogtraining2nd2no1@yahoo.com

  14. I love my little Chihuahua she gets the Zoomies a lot too. I recently came across an amazing training regiment that has helped improve my dogs happiness and I thought I’d share with you since you shared such an awesome article about the Zoomies. This easy to understand information helps to eliminate bad behavior and Create the obedient, well-behaved pet of your dreams. Check it out it certainly helped me maybe it will help you too. https://aspiemarketer.com/DogTrainingHelp

  15. My 3 year old coon hound gets the zoomies and run so hard she hurts herself and limps for days afterwards. She also is prone to “episodes” on her leash where she whirls like a Dervish and gets all tangled up in the leash. She’s gotten her legs cut & I’ve had to carry all 50 lbs of her home. The zoomies are cute, but when I see the signs, I try to shut them down.

  16. Our 1 year old female westie gets the zoomies less now that she is older, but when she does get them , it is always right before she poops late in the evening before going to bed. Once she poops, the zoomies shut down instantly.When she was younger, it was obviously just pent up energy.

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  18. Lilly did that when she was a puppy, but very gentle on the ears, and lips too. But when she got hold of the collar, she was swinging from the big dog. So funny, the big old dog put up with it, and rolled her eyes, as if to say, its just a puppy, they are a pain! Ive got videos of this too, if I could only find them

  19. We used to call it the TuckTail Run, as they tucked their tails down over their butts. Then from some of Lilly’s doggie friends owners, we realized it was called the Zoomies! I am looking for some of my old videos of the grandkids running along the beach, with the dogs doing the Zoomies around them. Then they all run into the water together. Hilarious!

  20. I had no idea this was a phase . Instead I used to think he was being too naughty to obey the commands or being adamant not to hear any of usual commands like come or sit. Or I used to get the idea that he just wanted to play and not knowing it might be actually harmful I end up running song with him .He just goes on and on running around the house with tail in between his legs ..Now this article has really helped me to know more about his such episodes

  21. I love it when my dog gets this way and usually does after her bath, she runs around the house acting crazy because I know she is ecstatic because bath time is over. Lol

    1. Mine does too hahaha. I literally thought my doggy was the only good boy to be acting this way after a shower 🙂

      You know what they say. Great minds think alike!

  22. Our dog gets the Zoomies when she is on the beach with our family and sometimes other dogs including our grand-dog. Usually it involves a tennis ball as well. Labs are really good at the Zoomies. Actually grandkids are also, especially on the same beach in the summer. I have some totally Wonderful videos of all of them doing this.

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