After I give my dog Mary Berry a bath and towel dry her, she sprints away as soon as I set her on the ground. She then starts playing “chase” with herself, zooming back and forth around the house. She’ll often head to the couch and rub herself all over it, knocking pillows off and acting like an all-around crazy dog.
Why do dogs get the zoomies? I decided to ask Preventive Vet's certified dog trainer and behavior consultant, Cathy Madson.
What Are Dog "Zoomies"?
"The technical term for zoomies is 'frenetic random activity periods', or 'FRAPs'," says Cathy. "Your dog might run in circles or loops around your home or yard, burning off excess energy."
"Zoomies, in most cases, are a normal dog behavior and tons of fun to watch. There's nothing like watching a pup just tear around the yard just for the joy of movement. Some breeds zoom around more than others, and some dogs start to zoom when encouraged to do so by their owners. Zoomies are usually short-lived and last for a minute or two."
Is It Normal for Dogs to Get the Zoomies?
"While getting the zoomies is normal dog behavior, if they are happening frequently, it might be a sign your dog is stressed or unsure about what's going on. Zoomies can become what's called a displacement behavior. Displacement behaviors are normal dog behaviors that happen out of their usual context. Ever been at an awkward dinner party and felt the urge to laugh, even though nothing was particularly funny? That's a human example of a displacement behavior."
"If your dog isn't sure about what they're supposed to do or feels anxious, they might start running around as a way to get rid of that build up of nervous energy," explains Cathy. "Pay attention to when your dog tends to get the zoomies, as this could tell you that the situation might be stressful for them. Then you can work on creating a more positive association with those things through desensitization and counter conditioning training."
When Do Dogs Get the Zoomies?
"You usually will see these after a bath, after eating, before bedtime, or when a puppy or dog gets super excited to see a particular person or friend. After bath time, dogs also like to rub up against different things, since it probably feels really good and helps to dry off. Zoomies, or frapping, can really come out of nowhere — the urge to move might strike anytime! Just make sure your pup has room to run and won't knock over anything (or anyone!) in your home that might break," cautions Cathy. "You also want to avoid letting your dog zoom up or down stairs, or other obstacles, where they could injure themselves."
"If you need to stop your dog's zoomies, try to engage them in some toy play to redirect their attention back to you. Playing with a flirt pole is a great way for our dogs to still get to run around and play. Keeping them engaged in play with you, rather than running willy-nilly through a muddy yard, will mean all your work getting them clean isn't immediately ruined."
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