What the Heck Are Dog Zoomies, Anyway?

what are dog zoomies cat

Zoomies: It’s not a fun pet name for all those annoying virtual happy hours we’ve thankfully moved past. We’re talking about dog zoomies. Also known as Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAPs), dog zoomies are exactly what they sound like: your pup running around at full speed like an absolute maniac. Don’t worry, though. Despite what it may look like, this is totally normal behavior. But what exactly are dog zoomies, you ask? We’re here to clarify the who, what, where, when and why of this bizarre phenomenon.

Who gets the zoomies?

Dogs are certainly famous for their zoomies. (Ever been to a dog beach? It’s like a zoomie convention.) Canines of all ages have been known to experience FRAPs, though puppies often have more energy to expel than senior dogs. According to Live Science, cats, rabbits, ferrets and even elephants have been known to get the zoomies. Felines often experience them after bathroom breaks in the litter box, though they don’t tend to run as fast or for as long as canines might.

What do zoomies look like?

Zoomies are synonymous with burning off energy. The American Kennel Club offers insight from Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist Jill Goldman, Ph.D., who says zoomies can look like anything from frantic frolics through backyard to Nascar-style laps around the house. Basically, zoomies are intense bursts of energy. Dogs tend to gallop at full speed in any direction they can. Often the behavior is repetitive and unexpected or sudden. 

Some dogs might bark or grab hold of their favorite toy and try to convince you to join in the excitement. If you have a puppy who nips, experts strongly advise against participating during FRAPs., as you could be the victim of an accidental bite. This would also encourage zoomie-like play in the future, which isn’t a good idea because it can be destructive. 

Why do zoomies happen?

Zoomies occur for a variety of reasons. They depend on the animal, the surrounding environment and what activities the dog has gotten up to that day. Often, zoomies happen because your pup has pent up energy. This could be physical energy built up while your dog has been waiting patiently inside his crate for the dog walker. It could be nervous energy brewing at the vet’s office. If your dog gets excited on the way to the dog park, chances are he’ll let it all out as soon as he arrives by running laps as fast as he can. (Again, ever been to a dog beach?)

FRAPs are not to be confused with OCD, which is a different affliction. The repetitive behavior associated with doggy OCD has less to do with expelling pent up energy and more to do with nervousness or anxiety.

Where do zoomies happen?

Wherever your dog goes, zoomies can happen. Huffard Animal Hospital says during a bout of zoomies, your dog may “have no regard for objects in the way and may crash into furniture or people! The dog will not heed calls to stop, come, or sit.” Your dog is effectively in the zone. Ideally you can open the door and let him out into the yard.

If you don’t have an enclosed yard or safe space for your dog to use as his own personal racetrack, herd him into a hazard-free area if you can. The last thing you want is a glass vase knocked over or your dog to run head-first into a sideboard (especially if you have a large breed like an Alaskan Malamute).

When do zoomies happen?

Usually, dog zoomies happen around the same time each day (or at least after the same activity each day). For instance, a dog who is crated between lunch and dinner time may get the zoomies every evening around six o’clock. Another pup might go nuts with FRAPs whenever he gets home from the groomer.

Get in tune with your dog! Take notes on when he goes wild with zoomies. This will not only alert you if his behavior changes, it’ll clarify whether or not you need to give your pup more playtime. Many Australian dog breeds require ample time outdoors and routines that provide plenty of activities throughout the day. If your dog gets zoomies constantly, it could be his way of showing you he needs more time out and about and less time alone or crated.

Calmer breeds probably won’t have as much pent up energy to burn off, so if they suddenly experience frequent FRAPs, it could be a health issue worth investigating.

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Freelance Writer

Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...