If you’ve ever seen a dog running around in circles frantically and generally appearing a little bonkers, you’ve probably witnessed a “zoomie”. But what are zoomies exactly? How do you identify them? And why do dogs get the zoomies anyway?
In this post I’m going to discuss the phenomenon of zoomies in dogs by looking at the following:
Table of Contents
- What Are Zoomies in Dogs?
- Why Do Dogs Get the Zoomies & What Are FRAPs?
- Are Zoomies Bad for Dogs?
- Related Posts
What Are Zoomies in Dogs?
The main indication that your dog is having a zoomie is that it runs around like a mad thing, often whirling or turning sharply, for seemingly no reason.
Zoomies are actually a really common behavioural phenomenon, so much so in fact that there’s actually a more formal, medical sounding name for them: frenetic random activity periods… or more easy to remember, FRAPs.
FRAPs or zoomies can occur at almost any time, though usually when your dog is off the lead of course… zoomies are not easy to undertake if you’re shackled by a harness or collar for example!
Many dog owners find that the zoomies are amusing and indicate that their dog is having fun. But the reality is that dogs get the zoomies for a variety of potential reasons.
Why Do Dogs Get the Zoomies & What Are FRAPs?
The reason why dogs get the zoomies is not 100% clear… or rather, there are probably a number of triggers that cause FRAPs.
Let’s take a look at some of the possible reasons why dogs get the zoomies…
Most dog owners have likely experienced a sudden explosion of all-in-one activity when their dog gets excited for some reason.
It may be that a loved one has returned home after a period of absence… sometimes even after only a very short time away!
We know that many dogs enjoy nothing more than spending time with their family members. After all, many dogs suffer separation anxiety when those they love leave them alone at home. It stands to reason that dogs will get very excited to see their loved ones if they’ve missed them for any length of time.
2. Dog Play Zoomies
My Whippet tends to get the zoomies when we’re out walking somewhere… especially when she’s first let off the lead.
It may be that when dogs get very excited, like when they’re out on a walk or when they encounter another dog friend, like us humans they may find that excitement difficult to contain.
Just as sports people celebrate when they achieve success, perhaps zoomies are just a way for dogs to express how happy they are.
Sometimes dogs start zooming if they get overstimulated, especially during play. If your play becomes too intense or too aggressive your dog can get the zoomies.
Overstimulation can lead to your dog becoming too hyped up, which can result in frenetic random activity.
In most circumstances this won’t be a problem, but you should be careful not to overstimulate any dog.
If overstimulation gives your dog the zoomies, under-stimulation too can have the same effect.
If your dog hasn’t had enough exercise or play throughout the day it may have excess energy that just had to come out in some way.
For some dogs this can mean that they exhibit destructive behaviours, such as chewing furniture or barking excessively. Other dogs may get zoomies.
5. Zoomies After Bathing
I’ve noticed that my Whippet gets zoomies almost every time she has a bath!
I don’t know if this is related to overstimulation, since it could be a response to the sensorial overload she experiences while being washed. It could be simply that she’s trying to escape from the water she’s been exposed to!
After bathing and drying her, my dog bolts out of the shower room and unleashes zoomies throughout the house!
Although Whippets can swim, some don’t really like water THAT much! Perhaps zoomies are a coping mechanism?
6. After Pooping
I’ve heard that some dogs get the zoomies after having a poop. I’ve seen my Whippet do this on one or two occasions but I have absolutely no idea why.
Perhaps it’s caused by excitement!
7. Night Time Dog Zoomies
Some dogs get the zoomies late at night… during the witching hours! This may of course happen because a dog hasn’t been exercised properly and has energy it needs to use.
However, it’s also perhaps caused by something primal. Domesticated dogs are descended from wolves, which are largely nocturnal creatures that start hunting when it gets dark.
Maybe our dogs get the zoomies at night as a kind of “call of the wild”.
Similar to overstimulation, canine stress could likely be another trigger for zoomies. It’s possible that dogs find anxiety and stress very hard to process and perhaps the only way they can cope with these feelings is through frenetic random activity.
9. Energy Release
I’ve touched on this already, but one of the most likely reasons for FRAPs is a lack of sufficient exercise.
A dog that’s not enjoyed the exercise it needs will have a surfeit of energy it has to get rid of. Having seen zoomies firsthand it’s easy to see why they burn off excess energy quickly.
Zoomies must be fed by a huge amount of energy, so if your dog is going hyper or being destructive, especially later in the day, it may mean it needs exercise.
Are Zoomies Bad for Dogs?
The frenetic activity characterising zoomies is not harmful in itself. For the most part it’s likely beneficial, in particular if a dog has lots of energy to burn up.
However, running around frenetically, especially in small spaces or indoors can result in a dog bumping into something and hurting itself, especially on slippery floors.
I speak from experience here since although not caused by zoomies, my Whippet ran into a tree and cut herself very badly once. It’s easy to imagine a dog in zoomie mode injuring itself badly.
Additionally, the cause of the zoomie might alert you to something that’s not good. For example, if your dog gets the zoomies and displays negative body language or aggression, there may be a negative reason why they’re zooming: fear, stress or pain. In this instance it would be prudent to try to calm your dog down.
If it appears your dog is distressed or in pain it would be best to take it to a veterinary professional for an expert’s opinion.
Summary: Why Do Dogs Get the Zoomies
Dogs get the zoomies for a variety of reasons. In most cases, zoomies don’t indicate a problem, they’re merely a way for your dog to let off some steam.
Assuming a dog is happy, watching it get the zoomies can be a truly amusing thing to watch!
As long as your dog has plenty of space, zoomies are for the most part just a way to burn off some energy.
Of course, there are some scenarios where zoomies might indicate that your dog is stressed or in discomfort. As with most things in dog life, if you’re at all worried about your dog’s behaviour or its zoomies, consult a veterinarian at the earliest convenience.
Does your dog enjoy FRAPs? Have you identified when or why your dog gets the zoomies? Please tell us about it or drop us a question in the comment section at the bottom of this page.
- 39 House Plants That Are Poisonous to Dogs
- Why Do Dogs Scratch Floors?
- Are Whippets Lazy?
- Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?
- Are Whippets Affectionate?
- Why Do Whippets Sleep Under Covers?
- Are Whippets Easy to Train?
- Why Is My Dog Peeing in My Bed?
- What Were Whippets Bred For?
- Are Whippets Good First Dogs?
Betty D. says
My dog gets them and so did my small grandchildren… usually overly excited, stimulated, or happy. I can get my dogs in the mode by just talking to them excitedly and usually they will rub against me during the running sometimes nocking me off balance. My kid and grandkid used to do it when they were little for much the same reason. Like at holiday or gatherings where there is a lot of thing going on to get them over stressed or stimulated.
Also outside when there is freedom, I think that feeling makes both kids and dogs stimulated. I have even seen my cat do it at times when the dogs are doing it. It’s an excitement, stimulus thing with the cats where they join in, like at Christmas time when all the decorations are coming out. The smells, bright lights and new objects. The old Christmas tree is a big stimulus factor for kids and animals alike. Something about being under it is a big draw and then the zoomies begin.
You can see in adults how their eyes light up and they would like to zoom around, but have learned to control the urge, lol. That’s why adults like to chase kids around outside or around water, because it is allowed in those settings. I admit, I like to and some times do just run around crazy outside with my dogs, just darting and zooming aimlessly for a few minutes gives you a good feeling.
I 67 and I hope I can keep getting the zoomies with my does for along time. Also, hoping to teach my great grand kids to do it when I get some. 😊
Such a great comment Betty!
Karen Bisset says
Excellent. My corgi gets the Zoomies as I grab her leash to take her out in the am she races up and down the hall going into a play position as she passes me. She is excited, burning off energy but most especially being a wise guy… GingerSnap 23. So many species FRAP.
My border terrier gets the zoomies every now and again so funny to watch
Alec Blunden says
Long before the term “zoomies” was invented, our trusty and well-beloved Labradors used to indulge in “mad dogs”. I still prefer that term.
I like that term too Alec!
Izzy, our 5 year old Black Mouth Cur, gets the zoomies and it is pure joy to watch!
This article still has typos, despite the comment and reply above: cookie for zoomie, hunting for hurting.
Thanks Dave… updated!
Our Pointer mix has sort of gotten the zoomies, but our little Maltese mix often gets them – definitely after bathing and sometimes after we arrive home. It is so hilarious & cute!
Avril kennedy says
My dog used to get zoomies. Every night same time unfortunately I lost him 2 yes ago just wish had him to zoom around now.
I’m so sorry Avril. It’s heartbreaking to lose the very best of friends we could ever hope to have.
Karen Drage says
I have no problem with zoomies except the ones that race around you and take a nip at every pass!
Pat Caddy says
My dog gets his version of the Zoomies after he’s had his evening meal. He runs around with his favourite squeaky ball throwing it up in the air and chasing it! Not after breakfast though!
My 2 dogs a Bedlington x whippet and a Bichon x terrier both 2 yrs old, always get the zoomies after being out in morning, they usually get hour n half off lead playing with dog friends, chasing rabbits etc. They zoom after each other through the house and garden for about 5 mins then settle down for a good sleep.
Interesting article! You have some typos as the zoomies are referred to at times as cookies or roomies.
Hi Cordy… thanks for pointing out the typos! I wrote this on my Kindle while travelling on a train… like most devices these days, Kindles try to predict what you’re typing and they replace words they don’t have in their dictionary with a “best guess”!
I’ve updated the typos now!