How to manage your dog's zoomies

April 12, 2024 - 7 min read
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s care, treatment, or medical conditions.
Energetic Australian Cattle Dog mixed breed dog on grey background

So, there you are, unclipping the leash post-walk, and suddenly, your pittie transforms into a living room racecar—tail tucked, jaws agape, joyously zooming in every direction.

Um...what just happened?

Chances are, you're witnessing a classic case of the "zoomies," a perfectly normal and highly amusing dog behavior. (It's the ideal moment for a slow-motion video, by the way.)

But what if this whirlwind of energy takes a turn towards the rowdy or occurs at less-than-ideal moments, like mid-checkup at the vet's?

Today, we'll get into the cause of dog zoomies (formally known as "FRAPS"), how long they last, why they happen, and when you should take action.

Before we start: If you're concerned about your dog's behavior at all, reach out to your vet first. Your dog might actually have untreated health issues that are triggering certain behaviors.

What are dog "zoomies"?

Dog zoomies, or FRAPs (Frenetic Random Activity Periods), are sudden bursts of energy dogs exhibit, racing around wildly with no apparent direction. Zoomies typically include fast, repetitive running, often accompanied by a happy expression and a tucked tail.

Are zoomies a sign of a happy dog?

Absolutely! Zoomies can often indicate that your dog is feeling happy and playful. It's often just their way of releasing pent-up energy and showing contentment.

Occasionally, however, the zoomies can indicate that a dog is trying to release anxiety. And sometimes, the zoomies might flip into aggression—or trigger aggression from nearby pets.

How long do dog zoomies last?

Zoomies typically last a few minutes. They're short but intense energy bursts.

What are the signs of dog zoomies?

Signs include frantic running, tight turns, a bouncing gait, a tucked rump, and often a joyful expression. The burst of energy is hard to miss!

Why do dogs get the zoomies?

Dogs get the zoomies for several reasons, reflecting a complex mix of physical, emotional, and environmental factors. Here are a few.

Pent-up energy: One of the most common reasons is simply an excess of energy. Dogs, especially puppies or those with high energy levels, may not always get enough physical exercise or mental stimulation throughout the day. The zoomies can be a way for them to release this pent-up energy in a burst of activity.

They're excited: Zoomies might also pop up when your dog is extremely happy or excited about something, such as after a bath (yay! We're done!) during playtime or when greeting someone after being alone for a period. It's their way of expressing their elation.

They're stressed: Just as humans have various methods to relieve stress, dogs can use zoomies as a way to alleviate tension. This might seem counterintuitive, but releasing energy in a physical way can be a form of stress relief for them. Situations that may cause stress (like bath time for some dogs) can lead to a zoomie session as a way to shake it off.

Common times dogs get the zoomies

Noticing some zoomie patterns in your pup? You're not imagining. Here are some specific scenarios when a lot of our dogs get crazy zoomies:

Why do dogs get the zoomies after a bath?

The post-bath zoomies are often a blend of relief, excitement, and—more practically—a way for your dog to dry off! The sensation of water and grooming products on their skin might feel peculiar, prompting them to zoom around as a way to shake off the feeling.

If were feeling constrained during the washing process, it's also a good way to get that frustration out. (Hint: To make bath time a more enjoyable experience for your pup, explore our guide on how to bathe a puppy.)

Why do dogs get the zoomies after a walk?

For your dog, a walk is more than just physical exercise; it's a sensory adventure filled with new smells, sights, and sounds.

This sensory overload, combined with the physical exertion—and the fact that your dog's probably constrained to a leash or harness during the walk—can lead to an accumulation of energy that bursts out in the form of zoomies once you get home (or to the dog park).

Why do dogs get the zoomies after eating?

Where are our food-motivated dog owners at? If you have a Lab or another dog that's notorious for eating (and sometimes overeating) with zest, you might notice a burst of zoomies before or right after mealtime.

This might be due to a burst of energy from their meal or a reaction to being fed. Bottom line: It's usually a sign of a satisfied pup!

Are there certain times of the day when dogs get zoomies?

Dogs tend to experience zoomies during times when their energy is at its highest or when they're transitioning from one part of their routine to another—typically in the early morning or late evening.

Once you get the hang of their habits, try scheduling playtime or walks right before or during these peak times.

When can dog zoomies be dangerous?

Most of the time, the zoomies are safe expressions for your dog, but sometimes, they can be downright unsafe.

Here are a couple times when zoomies might take a turn that isn't quite so fun:

When your dog isn't in a safe spot

Bull(mastiff) in a china shop with a full-blown case of the zoomies? Not ideal. Provide a safe space where your dog can freely run without getting hurt or damaging property. Outdoors in a fenced yard or in a large, uncluttered room is ideal.

When your dog's zoomies turn to aggression

Zoomies themselves aren't typically aggressive, but they can lead to rough play. If your dog's body language changes negatively, it might be time to redirect them. But how exactly should you redirect them—and does ignoring the zoomies work?

Should I ignore my dog when they have the zoomies?

Ignoring your dog during their zoomies isn't generally recommended when you're in a dangerous spot (like a crosswalk) or a public space (like a dog park).

If your dog is around other dogs while zooming around, you may notice they'll attract negative attention from other dogs. Unfortunately, that excitement level can take a scary turn and result in some aggression or even dog attacks.

That said, while you shouldn't actively ignore them for safety reasons, you also don't need to engage directly with their zoomies, especially if they're in a safe environment where they can't harm themselves or anything around them.

Should I stop my dog when they have the zoomies?

Again, while the zoomies are a natural and healthy expression of a dog's pent-up energy, there are scenarios where you may need to step in for the safety of your dog and others. It's important to distinguish between stopping and safely redirecting their energy.

Check out the area for safety

First, quickly assess the environment.

Is it safe? Are there hazards like nearby busy roads, sharp objects, or fragile items that could be damaged? If the area is secure and there's no immediate risk of harm, it's usually best to let your dog enjoy this burst of energy.

Safely redirect their energy

If the situation calls for intervention, here's how to safely redirect your dog's zoomies:

Use verbal commands: If your dog is trained and responds well to commands, a firm yet calm command like "sit" or "stay" can momentarily pause their zoomies, allowing you to guide them to a safer area.

Offer alternatives: Redirect their energy by offering a favorite toy or initiating a game that's safely playable in the current environment. This switch can provide an outlet for their energy while keeping them safe.

Change environments: If indoors, try to move them to a room where they have more space to run without bumping into furniture or fragile items. If outdoors, steer them away from potential dangers like roads or water bodies.

However you choose to intervene, consistency is key. It's easy to inadvertently reinforce or encourage our dog's behavior by giving them attention—positive or negative—during a zoomies episode.

How to prevent aggression during zoomies

Zoomies are generally joyful, but if your dog shows signs of aggression (e.g., growling, snapping), it's crucial to address this immediately:

First off, stay calm. Dogs can pick up on your energy. Staying calm and assertive can help influence their behavior. Secondly, avoid physically restraining them. Trying to physically stop a dog mid-zoomie can escalate aggression or result in injury. Instead, use your voice and body language to guide them.

Again, if your dog's zoomies take an aggressive turn, reach out to your vet ASAP. Whether it's an untreated health issue or something else, it's always best to take precautions before anything devastating happens.

In many cases, when it comes to zoomies, the best action is inaction.

Watching from a safe distance ensures you're there to intervene if necessary but also acknowledges your dog's need for these natural bursts of energy.

The key is balance and understanding—knowing when to let your dog be a dog and when to gently steer their zoomies in a safe direction. Always prioritize safety, but remember, the zoomies are often a sign of a happy, energetic dog enjoying life to the fullest.

Looking to take protecting your pet's health a step further? Look into dog insurance! It's designed to help pay for those unexpected accidents and illnesses that your pup might get into.*

*Pre-existing conditions excluded. See your policy for details.

Leanna Zeibak
Content Manager

Leanna Zeibak is a Content Manager at ManyPets. In her spare time, she paints pet portraits and bakes far too many chocolate chip cookies.