Dog Zoomies – Why Do Dogs Run Around Like Crazy?

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Zoomies - dog behavior that looks a little crazy may be quite normal. Find out all about the zoomies here

Dog owners are often amazed and even horrified the first time they witness a case of the dog zoomies.

The zoomies is quite common in Labradors, so today we are going to investigate this strange behavior.

Let’s find out what causes the dog zoomies, why dogs do it, and how you can reduce or manage your dog when he runs around like crazy.

Is this the dog zoomies?

Does your dog suddenly runs madly around the house like a wild animal, low to the ground with legs bent.

Do his eyes look a little crazy, is his butt tucked underneath him, and does he appear to have no regard for his own safety or your best china?

If so, you’re probably watching a case of the zoomies in action

The word zoomies really does sum up this crazy behavior very well.

What do dog zoomies look like?

A dog with the zoomies isn’t just clumsy or restless. The behavior is quite distinctive, as is the posture of the dog.

It’s almost a squatting kind of run – difficult to describe but you’ll recognize it once you’ve seen it.

You may also see play bows (where the dog goes down on his elbows with his butt in the air) interspersed with the running.

Another feature is the sudden way that the zoomies start.

A dog with a case of the zoomies will break into a flat out gallop from a standing start.

Sometimes right in the middle of your living room! There is often very little warning.

Why does my dog run around like crazy?

People often use the word ‘crazy’ to describe the dog zoomies. The dog will be oblivious to any damage, often crashing into tables and knocking chairs flying.

If he’s outdoors in your yard, he’ll often race in a big circle at break neck speed, leaning right over to turn as tight as he can. And perhaps stopping on occasion to spin around and set off in the opposite direction.

The dog zoomies explained. Find out why dogs get them and what you should do.

He may well not hear your pleas to ‘stop’ or ‘look out’

The zoomies don’t last long. But they can leave a trail of destruction behind them. And for a new dog owner, they can be quite shocking.

So what exactly is going on here. Has a dog with the zoomies got a problem? Or is the problem all yours?

Let’s discover what the scientists say

Frap dog behavior

Of course, biologists have come up with another name, so you’ll also hear zoomies referred to as ‘frapping’

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Frapping dog is not an expletive (though you might feel inclined to use one)!

Frap is an abbreviation

F = frenetic
R = random
A = activity
P = period

And it’s a pretty self explanatory one.

Why do dogs get the zoomies?

We don’t know exactly why some dogs are prone to frapping or getting the zoomies and other dogs aren’t.

We do know that the zoomies are more common during time periods when a dog is full of energy – in other words he hasn’t been exercised for a while, or has been shut in the house for a few hours.

Sometimes you’ll see a playbow before the zoomies start!

Some dogs never get the zoomies, no matter how full of energy they are, and others get them frequently. So that isn’t the only explanation.

Some dogs may have a particular trigger or triggers. Such as after grooming, a game or a bath.  Though if this is your dog’s only trigger, this may not be a true case of the zoomies

Why do dogs run around after a bath?

If your dog races around after his bath he might not have the zoomies. He may just be expressing his delight at the bath being over.

Other dogs will zoom around with their head on the ground and their butt in the air after a bath, as they try to rub themselves dry on your carpets. One of my spaniels does this.

Again, it isn’t quite the same as the zoomies, which involves that distinctive posture I describe above.

And a dog that is just drying himself will be more responsive to you than a dog with the zoomies.

So how can you tell if your dog is about to get the zoomies?  Is it possible to recognize the signs?

Zoomies – dog on the brink!

Zoomies are most common in dogs that are puppies or quite young, that haven’t had much exercise in the last few hours, and that are starting to get a bit excited, or playful

Play bows can be a sign

If your dog has had the zoomies in the past and starts to play bow indoors, there is a good chance you are about to see a case of the zoomies.

While dog zoomies are not in anyway linked with aggression, occasionally a young dog will start nipping during frapping behavior

Dog zoomies – biting

If your dog is nipping or biting during an attack of the zoomies, you need to change the way you manage him

Avoid physically handling him, and stop any game you might have been playing. He needs to have a chance to calm down.

If you can open a door and let the dog outside to burn up some energy in your yard, then do so.

Have your dog wear a house line indoors, so that you can restrain him at arms length if you need to. Check out our section on calming an over excited puppy for more information

Are the zoomies harmful to my dog?

Dog zoomies are not intrinsically harmful. They won’t give your dog a seizure or take him into some kind of permanent emotional melt down.

Despite the clumsiness of dogs that get the zoomies, they don’t usually hurt themselves in any significant way, especially outdoors.

What to do when your dog gets the zoomies

Don’t be tempted to chase your dog when he gets the zoomies, indoor or out.  Chasing him is likely to excite him even further.

Move him outdoors if at all possible

I have had a lot of success with simply opening the back door and waving the dog outside the instant the zoomies begin.

If the zoomies are a big problem for you, think about what might have triggered them so that you can work on preventing or reducing them in the future.

How to prevent dog zoomies

Because dog zoomies is normal behavior you don’t need to do anything, other than help your dog learn to express this behavior in your yard, rather than around your coffee table.

But, you may find that offering your dog more ways to dispel his energy helps to reduce frapping episodes, or even stop him from doing it altogether

Exercise will help to prevent the zoomies. Dogs won’t normally zoom when they are physically tired.

Mental stimulation helps too. Dogs may be more prone to the zoomies when they are bored. A couple of training sessions each day will help to exercise your dog’s mind

Most dogs are more likely to have the zoomies when they are already in a playful of excited state.  So learning how to calm a puppy or an older dog will help you.

Dog zoomies – summary

A dog with the zoomies is not going mad. Nor is he bad, or dangerous.

Apart from the risk of tripping over something or smashing up the furniture the zoomies isn’t harmful to him.

Frapping or dog zoomies is a normal dog behavior but if it’s causing you a problem, there are steps you can take to reduce it. Increases in exercise and training are the most effective solutions.

Dogs can be taught that zooming is only appropriate outdoors. And if you are alert to your dog’s triggers, you can anticipate most cases of the dog zoomies and move them into your yard.

How about you?

Does your dog get the zoomies?  Tell us about him in the comments and share your tips for coping.

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Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of several books on dogs. She is the founder of the Labrador Site and a regular contributor. She is passionate about helping people enjoy their Labradors and lives in Hampshire with her husband and four dogs.

65 COMMENTS

  1. I call it scatterpup – thankfully Bumble (3) has never done it in the house – she does it at gundog training! We just wait til she’s got over it and it’s never worried me – just exhuberance. It doesn’t happen so often now she’s nearly a grown-up! Thanks for the article, much enjoyed!

  2. Billy often gets the zoomies, he spins round a few times then off around And back to spin again, it’s funny and he loves it but look out, he can knock anyone over, especially as he uses us as a spring board mid zoom!

  3. My 3 year old choc lab has regular zoomies both inside and out. Luckily he hasn’t destroyed anything when doing it inside. It’s very funny to watch and with no warning! You just have to mind he doesn’t run into your legs!

  4. Yes our lab gets zoomies he seems to take them out on the cat whom he is mean to he runs crazy around the table then couch pauses to nip at the cat and off again

  5. My 14 year old lab x Kelpie started doing this yesterday and I’ve been researching what’s wrong with her as when we take her for walks she is tired after 10 mins. With our first baby on the way we thought it may be something to do with that but glad to know it’s just boredom…

  6. My yellow Lab Shelby was famous for doing Zoomies I just let her rip and zoom around the yard. So funny watching her tuck in her behind and just take off. It was always entertaining to see her zoom all over the back yard. She has now since passed away. But always remembered her doing her daily run of Zoomies. Thanks for the info on Labs and that it’s natural for them to do Zoomies.
    Thanks Again

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